Monthly Archives: December 2013

Happy Holidays!

 

We’re shutting down the virtual presses for the year. We’ll flip the switch back on January 6th, provided there’s news that merits your attention at that time.

Best wishes for 2014, everyone!

The Authors Guild

Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

“Dickens, writing profusely about Christmas, reciting popular works before audiences in England and America, became the author who seemed to embody the very spirit of the season.”

That quote is from the late Jack Newcombe’s introduction to A Christmas Treasury, a book he edited in 1982. Newcombe was on the staff of Life magazine.

He quoted Dickens too, of course: “Who can be insensible to the outpourings of good feeling, and the honest exchanges of affectionate attachment, which abound in this season of the year.” That is from Dickens’ Sketches by Boz, written in 1836.

William Makepeace Thackeray wrote about Dickens’ The Christmas Carol in 1844: “It seems to be a national benefit, and to every man or woman who reads it a personal kindness. What a feeling is this for a writer to be able to inspire, and what a reward to reap!”

GOOD NEWS: Adam Kirsch is a poet and author of books about Lionel Trilling and Benjamin Disraeli. He wrote in The New York Times Book Review:

“The best literary news of 2013 is that, as Evan Hughes reported in The New Republic, books have not succumbed to the downward spiraling revenue trend: Sales of books in all formats actually grew by almost $2 billion in the last five years, and e-books have turned out to complement printed books without replacing them. It’s easy to see why writers should be happy—they can continue to get paid for their work—but this is equally good news for readers, who still need publishers to find, foster and distribute good writing.”

FACT OR FICTION: Richard Yates said of his writing, “The emotions of fiction are autobiographical but the facts never are.” He was quoted in The Guardian.

ABOUT BIOS: Gary Giddings is director of the Leon Levy Center of Biography at CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of Celebrating Bird: The Triumph of Charlie Parker.

In an essay for The Wall Street Journal, he wrote: “Comparing life-writing to fiction writing, Andre Maurois argued that ‘biography is a means of expression when the author has chosen his subject in order to respond to a secret need in his own nature.’ We may buy biographies to learn about the subject, but we keep reading because the biographer has put something undeniably personal in the portrait.”

HANDICAP: Kimberly Elkins’s first book, What Is Visible: A Novel, isn’t due out until June but promotion has already begun. Amazon is taking orders, explaining that the book’s main character is blind, deaf and has no sense of taste or smell. Illness struck when she was two years old, 40 years before Helen Keller was born.

We are told that this fiction is written “in an intricate style, populated with many true historical figures.”

Elkins’ big challenge: her seriously afflicted heroine is one of the narrators.

REPEAT: Hollywood has announced that it will remake Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. Sydney Lumet directed a 1974 version with a cast of stars that included Vanessa Redgrave, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery and Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot. It is frequently shown on TV.

There was also a TV version in 2001 with Alfred Molina as the detective.

Why a new version? I certainly remember who did it. Don’t you?

ON RELIGION: Sam Sacks writes a column, Fiction Chronicle, for The Wall Street Journal.  Recently he observed: “Reading a work of religious fiction is a little like stepping inside a house of worship. If the book professes the tenets of your faith, you read it to have your beliefs reaffirmed or refocused. But if you are an outsider to its creeds—if you are just visiting—you must be particularly open minded to resolve whatever beauties and truths it has to impart.”

AN ENDING: The late Geir Kjetsaa was professor of Russian literary history at the University of Oslo. He was also a translator and author of Fyodor Dostoyevsky: A Writer’s Life (1985).

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Bulletin Board

This week’s batch includes several fellowships and residencies and a little something for our members residing in Washington (State) and Texas. Deadlines range from January 13-15.

The Artist Trust Fellowships are designed to recognize artistic achievement, dedication to an artistic discipline, and potential for further professional development for artists living in Washington State. Fourteen fellowships of $7,500 are awarded. Applicants must be 18 years or older and must be a resident of Washington State at the time of application. This year, the Artist Trust has partnered with the Millay Colony to provide one artist each in the Literary and Music disciplines a one-month long residency at the Colony and a $1,000 stipend. The residencies will take place in September and October of 2014. Artists in these disciplines should indicate their interest in the residency when applying for the Fellowship and provide a summary of how they would use the residency. Deadline: January 13, 2014. For more information including complete submission guidelines, please visit the website.

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Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

What does it take to make a great book cover design? Nicholas Blechman is art director for The New York Times Book Review, and he selected ten jacket designs as the best in 2013.

Blechman said, “I am drawn to covers that elegantly express an idea, that beautifully integrate type and image, that have a singular vision of visual voice.”

Two of the jackets are mostly black. Red is strong on three. All have a minimum of type.

In the same issue of the Review, the Times’ 10 best books of the year were listed. Five were fiction and five were nonfiction.  Review staffer John Williams said that this was a pretty good year because in 1973 only three books had been named: Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, Doris Lessing’s The Summer Before the Dark, and John Clive’s Macaulay: The Making of a Historian.

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New Books by Members

This week’s recent and upcoming releases by Authors Guild members include titles by Barbara Rose Brooker, Darren J. Butler, Steven Fraccaro, Mary Glickman, Linda Hewitt, Janice Law, Sarah MacLean, Katherine Paterson, Charles Sheehan-Miles, Susan Wiggs, and Ronald E. Yates. Titles beneath the jump.

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Bulletin Board

This week’s batch of contests includes fiction and poetry. Deadlines range from Dec 31-Jan 14.

The Cabell First Novelist Award recognizes a rising new talent in the literary world who has successfully published a first novel. The winner receives $5,000 and a party and the winning novel is taught in courses across Virginia Commonwealth University and by gifted high school students at the Governor’s School in Petersburg, Virginia. Books published from July through December 2013 are eligible for this next deadline and must be the author’s first novel. Deadline: January 14, 2014. For more information, please visit the website.

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Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

“When I find books that I love, I feel the author is writing for me alone, and feel a private joy.” The quote is from Liu Xia, the wife of imprisoned Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo. He has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power.” Ms. Liu is living under house arrest in Beijing.

Another quote from one of her letters to a friend: “My reading has no specific goal, for me it’s rather like breathing—I have to do it in order to live.”

A translation of the letter was sent to The New York Times by Perry Link, a professor at the University of California, Riverside. Ms. Liu described herself as “feeding on books.”

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New Books by Members

This week’s recent and upcoming releases by Authors Guild members include titles by Andrew Clements, Ju Ephraime, Sue Fliess, David Lee Fowler, Peter Hoffer, Laura Long, Alex Prud’homme, Karen Robards, Anne Wilson Schaef, Dyan Sheldon, and Fay Weldon. Titles beneath the jump.

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Indies First Deemed a Success Thanks to 1000 Hand-Selling Authors

More than 1000 authors turned out for Indies First on Nov. 30, answering Sherman Alexie’s call to become a bookseller for the day.

You can watch the event unfold through photos posted by authors and booksellers on the Indies First Facebook page. (Scroll down and you’ll spot many authors you recognize, including T.C. Boyle, Pearl Cleage, Jon Scieszka, Isabel Wilkerson, and, we’re told, our very own Scott Turow looking sharp as he models the official blue Indies First tote bag.)

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Bulletin Board

This week’s batch includes a mix of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry as well as residencies. The deadline for each is December 31, 2013.

The Chautauqua Prize celebrates a book that provides a richly rewarding reading experience and honors the author for a significant contribution to the literary arts. The winner receives $7,500 and all travel and expenses for a one-week summer residency at Chautauqua Institution in western New York. The prize is open to any book of original fiction or narrative/literary nonfiction, written in English. Entry fee: $75. Deadline: December 31, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.

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