by Campbell Geeslin
“I was born in a large Welsh town at the beginning of the Great War—an ugly, lovely town (or so it was and is to me) . . .”
It seemed only right to let a Dylan Thomas quote help mark the centennial of his birth, October 27, 1914. Cultural institutions in the U.S. and Britain “set the dial to Thomas nonstop, “ wrote William Grimes in The New York Times. In Swansea, his hometown in Wales, there was a Dylathon—36 hours of poems, letters and short stories read by Ian McKellen, Jonathan Pryce and Matthew Rhys. Prince Charles recorded “Fern Hill” for the occasion. A week-long festival was held in London.
In New York, the Poetry Center opened “Dylan Thomas in America: A Centennial Exhibition.” Thomas’s radio play “Under Milk Wood” was presented here and broadcast live in Wales. Actor Michael Sheen said, “Thomas is just hard-wired into the Welsh psyche. The poetry is everywhere.”
So let’s give Thomas the last words too: “Now I am a man no more no more/And a black reward for a roaring life.”
This week’s recent and upcoming books by our members include titles by Paul Austin, Ron Barrett, Bridget Birdsall, Betty Bolté, Larry Dane Brimner, Patrick A. Durantou, Russell Freedman, Alan Jacobson, Michael Largo, Bryon MacWilliams, Albert Russo, Linda Gray Sexton, and Robert W. Stock. Titles below the jump.
This week’s batch of prizes includes the multi-genre New England Book Festival prizes, a contest for those living west of the central time zone, and others. Deadlines range from Nov 18-30.
The Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition offers two prizes for two poetry collections by U.S. poets. The winners receive $4,000 each and publication by Southern Illinois University Press. Manuscripts are recommended to be a minimum of 50 pages to a recommended maximum of 100 pages of original poetry. No more than one poem should appear on a page. Entry fee: $28. Deadline: November 18, 2014. For more information, please visit the website.
Simon & Schuster and Amazon have reached a multi-year contract covering both print and digital books, reports Jeffrey Trachtenberg of the Wall Street Journal (subscription required).
This is the first deal Amazon has struck with any of the five publishers who settled with the government after having been charged with e-book price-fixing in 2012. Notably, Simon & Schuster has negotiated an agreement that “preserves the basic construct and terms of agency [pricing],” according to a source who spoke to Publishers Lunch (subscription required). This will allow the publisher to set the prices of its e-books in most cases, as Amazon’s right to discount will be confined to specific situations, according to an Amazon source quoted in the same report.
Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy said in a letter to authors that, although deals like this are not usually announced, “the high level of public speculation over the status of these talks made it important to let you know about this positive development.” She refers, of course, to the ongoing Amazon-Hachette dispute, in which Hachette authors have found themselves held hostage by the e-tailer.
by Campbell Geeslin
“A handful of new studies,” The New York Times reported on Page 1 last Tuesday, “suggest that reading to a child from an electronic device undercuts the dynamic that drives language development.”
“There’s a lot of interaction when you’re reading a book with your child, said pediatrician Pamela High. “You’re turning pages, pointing at pictures, talking about the story. Those things are lost somewhat when you’re using an e-book.”
The Times quoted from a study presented at the White House last week that stressed the power of that engagement. “The quality of the communication between children and their parents and caregivers, the researchers say, is of much greater importance than the number of words a child hears.”
Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, a psychology professor and lead author of the study said, “It’s not about shoving words in. It’s about having these clued conversations around shared rituals and objects, like pretending to have morning coffee together or using the banana as a phone. That is the stuff from which language is made.”
This week’s recent and upcoming books by our members include titles by Patricia Romanowski Bashe, Betty Bolté, Barbara Rose Brooker, Diane Chamberlain, Molly Gloss, Barbara Gregorich, B. G. Hennessy, Stephanie Hoover, Judika Illes, Jodi Picoult, Bill Roorbach, Jane Smiley, and Solange St. Brice. Titles below the jump.
This week’s batch of contests includes a Columbia University prize for history and diplomacy writers as well as two short fiction prizes. Deadlines range from Nov 1-17.
The Bancroft Prizes are awarded annually by Columbia University to the authors of distinguished works in either or both of the following categories: American History (including biography) and Diplomacy. The 2015 prizes are for books published in 2014. The term “American” includes all the Americas, North, Central, and South; however, the award is confined to works originally written in English or of which there is a published translation in English. Previous winners have received a $10,000 stipend. Deadline: November 1, 2014. For more information, please visit the website.
As the standoff between Amazon and the publishing giant Hachette enters its sixth month in the spotlight, the conversation continues—and it continues to heat up.
In the wake of news that the Authors United group, in partnership with the Authors Guild, was preparing its third letter, this one asking for an antitrust investigation of Amazon, Authors Guild President Roxana Robinson appeared on the PBS program NewsHour on September 29, telling host Jeffrey Brown that Amazon’s targeting of Hachette writers’ incomes is “unacceptable.”
When asked if there’s a good guy in this dispute, Robinson elaborated:
The big difference is [Amazon’s] attitude towards books and towards writers. What publishers do is invest in books. They pay advances to writers. They recognize the fact that it may take years to write a good book—for a biographer, for a writer of history—and they invest in the book. Amazon doesn’t do that, Amazon doesn’t do editorial tasks, they don’t take a position on the intellectual merit of a book, so in terms of supporting our endeavor, and our intellectual property, there’s a big difference between these two companies.
by Campbell Geeslin
About 40 mystery writers and would-be mystery writers showed up at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, where Herman Melville and other notables are buried. The writers spent a day touring graves and a mausoleum. They heard from a man who works for a company that builds crematories. James Barron went along to cover the event for The New York Times.
The idea for this day of background research came from Linda Fairstein, author of Bad Blood and a former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office. Her great grandparents were buried at Woodlawn, and she had visited the place as a child.
Lawrence Block, a writer of bestselling mysteries, noted on Twitter: “At Woodlawn Cemetery. Need men’s room or grave of someone we don’t like.”
This week’s batch includes a residency, as well as prizes for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Deadlines range from Nov 1-Nov 16.
The Table 4 Writers Foundation, dedicated to honoring the memory of Elaine Kaufman, is currently offering grants of $2,500. Submissions must be previously unpublished prose (fiction or nonfiction) that deals with some aspect of New York City in a meaningful way. Entries can be short stories, essays, or book excerpts, and should be limited to 4-10 pages or 1,000 to 2,500 words. Collaborative pieces are not allowed. Applicants must be at least 21 years old. Entry fee: $10. Deadline: November 15, 2014. For more information, please visit the website.