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Finding Funding: Writing in a Kickstarter World

Kristen Twardowski

Readers and writers are living in a crowdfunded world. Where once publishers oversaw which books came into print now writers just need to convince potential readers to support them. Writers suddenly have more opportunities, but they are restricted by the market as well.

Origin of the Stick.gifKickstarter is one of the largest venues for crowdfunding publishing projects. In 2016, Kickstarter surpassed $100 million given to publishing projects. Several projects have achieved massive success by appealing to potential readers. These backers raised over $1.2 million to fund a reprint of the online comic The Order of the Stickand backers pledged over $5.4 million to resurrect the children’s reading program Reading Rainbow with LeVar Burton. Of course these projects already had supporters who wanted to read their materials. The bulk of writing projects listed in the “Publishing” section of Kickstarter are less successful and are written by relatively unknown authors. A cursory glance…

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Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, a publisher of literary work in hybrid genres, and a founding member of Poems While You Wait, a team of poets and their typewriters who compose commissioned poetry on demand. She teaches English and Creative Writing at DePaul University and is the author of eight books of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, including the novel O, Democracy! (Fifth Star Press, 2014) and the novel in poems Robinson Alone (Gold Wake Press, 2012). With Eric Plattner, she is the co-editor of René Magritte: Selected Writings (University of Minnesota Press, 2016 and Alma Books, 2016). A winner of a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from Poetry magazine, her reviews and criticism have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times Magazine, The Rumpus, The Nation the Poetry Foundation website and elsewhere. She lives in Chicago with her spouse, the writer Martin Seay, and her second novel, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in January of 2017.

DESCRIPTION:

Fall 2016 Library Journal Editors’ Pick

It’s the last day of 1984, and 85-year-old Lillian Boxfish is about to take a walk.

As she traverses a grittier Manhattan, a city anxious after an attack by a still-at-large subway vigilante, she encounters bartenders, bodega clerks, chauffeurs, security guards, bohemians, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be—in surprising moments of generosity and grace. While she strolls, Lillian recalls a long and eventful life that included a brief reign as the highest-paid advertising woman in America—a career cut short by marriage, motherhood, divorce, and a breakdown.

A love letter to city life—however shiny or sleazy—Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney paints a portrait of a remarkable woman across the canvas of a changing America: from the Jazz Age to the onset of the AIDS epidemic; the Great Depression to the birth of hip-hop.

REVIEW:

The cover was the first thing that attracted me to this novel. Not only was it sophisticated and subtle, but it promised to bring something more to the table. I loved the simplicity of it, palette and most of all the faceless woman with the red lipstick… It felt like a read about an iconic woman who will engage and move me.

Little did I know that the description stated exactly that. Lilian Boxfish Takes a Walk is a profoundly deep and ground shaking read. It is partially based on the life of Margaret Fishback, the highest paid female poet and advertising copywriter of the 1930’s who actually worked for R. H. Macy’s. I wouldn’t put it in the biography section, thou, because it greatly influenced by fiction and full of wisdom that can only be transported on paper through imagination.

The main character/protagonist is Lilian Boxfish, a woman I bonded with so easily that I was caught by surprise. She was a strong, independent career woman, but what is more is she remained true to her ways and beliefs even at age 86, when she the pain plot line actually revolves. I enjoyed her flow of thought and her moments of sassyness; but most of all I find interest in the interconnections she builds between the stories random strangers tell her on her way dinner and events that happened in her own life.

I have old parents, you know, my Dad is 70, and he was a grand man himself…The way he tells stories is more or less identical, so I want to loudly applause Mrs Rooney doing an excellent job in conveying this lifelike ability to her character. While reading I couldn’t shake this Canturbuty tales feeling that smiled at me in-between the lines of the novel. I was a companion to this wonderful, respectful and full of life true lady, on her pilgrimage to memory and youth. I wish there more fictional examples for this rank nowadays, it would be way easier for young girls to pick idols and model themselves as self-respecting individuals, who know their own true value and drive.

I admit finding some similarities between the two of us, especially when it comes to life philosophy: “things are the way they are”. Criminals and muggers in the city? So be it! Didn’t stop Lillian from walking! Mrs Boxfish takes life as it comes, and embraces it fully. If I allow my self to quote another full of wisdom favourite of mine:

“Newt Scamander : “My philosophy is that worrying means you suffer twice.””
― J.K. Rowling, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay

Lastly, I think it is in order to say that this book is for all people, I would never risk restrict it to women, because the men out there will benefit greatly from reading it. It is an easy 5 star for me. I wish I could forget it completely, so can experience reading it for the first time again.5FOXGIVEN

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Lament for the Fallen by Gavin Chait

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:The author of Lament for the Fallen, a science fiction novel set in Nigeria. Gavin has spent more than a decade researching and presenting ideas in data-driven economic development, and in creating and leading technical projects ranging from economic development to open data. His work and travels have taken him across Africa, Latin America, Europe, and Asia. He is fascinated by the frontiers of human progress: innovation vs ignorance; wealth vs poverty.Born in Cape Town in 1974, Gavin Chait emigrated to the UK eight years ago. He has degrees in Microbiology & Biochemistry, and Electrical Engineering. He is an economic development strategist and data scientist, and has travelled extensively in Africa, Latin America, Europe and Asia and is now based in Oxford. Lament for the Fallen – his first novel – has its origins in a story he attempted to write when he was a science fiction-obsessed twelve year old.DESCRIPTION:’Father, tell me a story?’ asks Isaiah, moments before a strange craft falls from the sky and smashes into the jungle near his isolated West African community. Inside the ruined vessel the villagers find the shattered body of a man. His name is Samara and he is a man unlike any the villagers have seen before – a man who is perhaps something more than human.With his city home of Achenia hiding in the rubble left by a devastating war, Samara has fallen 35,000 km to earth in order to escape the automated hell of an orbiting prison called Tartarus. As he struggles to heal himself, he helps transform the lives of those who rescued him but in so doing attracts the attention of the brutal warlord who rules over this benighted, ravaged post-21st century land. He is not a man to be crossed, and now he threatens the very existence of the villagers themselves and the one, slim chance Samara has of finding his way home and to the woman – and the world – he loves.And all the while – in the darkness above – waits the simmering fury that lies at the heart of Tartarus . . .REVIEW:I got fascinated and attracted to Africa a while ago when a flatmate of mine showed me how kind and similar people from that part of the world are to my people. I was drawn to this book by the synopsis which promised a new take on a “first contact” story and the beautiful cover art. It started strong, the first 50 pages were spectacular. Besides I was hungry to read about how people imagine life to change.The good stuff: the cultural importance of stories, especially in an isolated community like Ewuru. That is how information is shared and passed down, generation after generation. But it’s the future! Isn’t their any internet? Is all data not just a few clicks away? Well, yes. But in the case of this village, they are completely cut off, on purpose. The world is pretty much fucked, so they want nothing to do with it. Can’t say I blame them. If I had to choose I would probably make the exact same choices, lately I feel fed up with people, social media and the over all dumbing down that takes place around me.The book does a great job of painting the intriguing future envisioned by the author, and the story is certainly interesting. You can tell, particularly in the segments of the story dealing with the symbiotic relationship between certain humans and AI, that the author has a strong, hard-science background. Unfortunately, I was left with the conviction that the author is overly fond of certain tired plot devices and never saw a tangent he was afraid to explore, although most of this is a brief diversion. Also, since this is African Sci-Fi, there is lots of storytelling here used as parables, with not everything seeming necessary, but definitely creating an appropriate mood. Me overall opinion is that it is a good read, and interesting point of view on the matter, but I would dare to say it was like a bird with a hurt wing: it could have blown me away if only it was left to fly and reach its full potential. It is an outstanding piece of literature, and managed to keep me engaged up until the very end. Exquisite book.

Source: Lament for the Fallen by Gavin Chait

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Who Guides the Publishing Industry?

Kristen Twardowski

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Though diversity in both authors and books has increased in recent years, the publishing industry itself remains fairly homogenous. But what does a typical publishing professional look like? Who are the people who make decisions about editing, publishing, and marketing books?

Last year Lee & Low Books created the 2015 Diversity Baseline Survey (DBS) to answer those questions. Over 3400 publishing employees from over 40 North American companies including Bloomsbury Publishing, Macmillan, and Penguin Random House completed the survey. According their survey, the typical publishing employee is a lot like a fictional person who I’ll call Mary.

So who is Mary?

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Mary is a white cis-gendered woman. She is straight and non-disabled. Let’s say that Mary began her career in the marketing department of a major publisher. It was the most racially diverse department at the publishing house, and 1 in 4 staff members in it considered themselves to be a race…

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Review // Sing by Vivi Greene

Childishly Passionate

27246877Title // Sing
Author // Vivi Greene
Pages // 279 pages
Publisher // HarperCollins
Series // None
Release Date // May 2016
Find it on Goodreads and Amazon

America’s most famous pop star flees the spotlight to recover from her latest break-up in Maine—only to fall for a local boy and be faced with an impossible choice at the end of the summer: her new guy, or her music.

Multiplatinum pop icon Lily Ross’s biggest hits and biggest heartbreaks (because they are one and the same):

1. AGONY. (That feeling when her ex ripped her heart out of her chest and she never saw it coming.)
2. GHOSTS. (Because even famous people are ghosted by guys sometimes. And it sucks just as much.)
3. ONCE BITTEN. (As in: twice shy. Also, she’s never dating an actor or a musician ever again.)

But this summer’s going to be different. After getting…

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The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard

6489636I was doing my regular library hunt as I spotted this curious creature amongst the other books. As it was by a foreign author and had the words “library” and “shadows” in its title, I was instantly intrigued. I am not much of a thriller fan myself, but I have had my share. Without anymore fussing about I opened to the first chapter. I don’t know why but I always do that… I was instantly sucked into the world from the opening line:

“Lu­ca Campel­li’s wish to die sur­round­ed by his beloved books came true late one night in Oc­to­ber.

Shivers went up and down my spine. I said to myself:”this is it, cricket, another Setterfield-like journey awaits within the pages of this one. You have to kidnap it or it will be the ruin of you”. And so I did! I almost forgot to check it out… Almost!!! *devilish smile*

When I got home I checked its raking on Goodreads – 3.39 – Something must be wrong. After reading it I still am convinced that there is something seriously wrong with that ranking. The Library of Shadows is underestimated if you ask me. Not only is it a page turner, but the Lectures concept of “transmitters” and “receivers” left me smitten.

I admit it is unchallenging for the average reader with its clean and readable style, but it is a joy to read from cover to cover. I would probably label it as the perfect summer thriller read for the beach. It was written mostly for enjoyment rather than for anything else. I am very bold in my statement here, but both heroes and villains were stereotypical and recipe written… all in the very best way, of course! There are no fireworks, no surprising twists to it, but I couldn’t peel my eyes off of it!

After all we need to be more tolerant as it was a debut novel. Mikkel Birkegaard I will be looking forward to your next novel!

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The Teleportation Accident by Ned Bauman

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“You couldn’t truly love anything if you didn’t hate at least something. Indeed, perhaps you couldn’t truly love anything if you didn’t hate almost everything.”
― Ned Beauman, The Teleportation Accident

I chose this quote for a reason, for this is probably the most gruelling review I ever had to write. There is not a single good thing I can say about this book. I realise that this may sound slightly harsh and that probably my judgement is extremely subjective due to the amazing books that I have been reading lately, but The Teleportation Accident has disappointed me severely.

The writing is of acceptable level, but the characters… Don’t get me wrong: I have had my share in remembering names of characters from books that involve over 50 of them, sometimes even I have made the attempt to re-read whole books so I can make sense and differentiate between them, but for this work I didn’t have the energy. All of them were at best stodgy. Mind you I even managed to find the narrator’s voice aggravating due to his pretentiousness.

as I am sitting here struggling to write this review I am beginning to feel glad I borrowed this one from the library in stead of buying it for that would have been money wasted on bull crap! How it got published, let alone how people got to write praising reviews for it all over the web, is beyond my humble comprehension.

Don’t be too quick to stigmatize me as lover of easy and frivolous literature, for I read heavy works with easy, and love sophisticated language in fiction, but random over-use of dictionaries for the mere puspose of showing off vocabulary just won’t do! IT SHALL NOT PASS!

Comparing The Teleportation Accident to all of Bauman’s other works is just offensive to his talent. At best I can call it a misfit.

Usually, I would try to give a resume of the book, but I fear that this one will bore you to death. The Teleportation Accident is the book equivelent of that annoying friend we all have that would just never stop blabbing about and whining about this and that.

I will not recommend this book to anyone, unless you are up for hours lost on not pointless conversations on not having sex.

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Shylock is My Name by Howard Jacobson

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As you know I studied English Literature in University, therefore it is not that hard to guess my love for all Shakespearean works. What you might not know is that I participated in an anniversary audio-visual play production of Love’s Labor’s Lost. That was a few years ago but I still cherish the memory with special fondness.  It was a great experience which enabled me to build on my knowledge of Shakespeare’s works. My love for the themes discussed in his art stays with me till this very day and so with a blog at hand and a love for Shakespeare I decided why not get a taste of what the Hogarth series have to offer. I started my research online and stumbled across the new book from the series Shylock Is My Name.

Most of you, I guess will approach the book with trepidation, but leave your prejudice a side and give the book a chance to enter your heart, because it is funny, profound and very readable. I know, you are probably thinking how much you hated The Merchant of Venice, right? Well, fear not, my friends this book will not vex you in the same way… in fact, it will help you re-discover your love for it.  I admit it took me a couple of chapters to get comfortable with the narrator’s voice, but from then on it was pure love. I enjoyed the easiness with which Shylock speaks out his observations and opinions, but most of all I was mesmerized by the fact that finally I had found a book that is more about ideas, rather than actions. I miss that in modern fiction, so I cherish greatly every present I get. Shylock is My Name is a masterfully written and fascinating exploration of the inner and outer perception of Jewishness. One of my flat mates is a Jew; believe me I look at him differently after reading the book – in a good way.  It is, after all, a great achievement to even attempt at re-writing a classic. Jacobson has done marvellously in doing so.  A combination of the larger-than-life theatricality of life and profundity has managed to swirl under the almighty feather of the author, leaving the reader with an open mind to the next instalment in the series. What I loved most is the way the author followed the original only gently reminding of it, but keeping the depth and the shallowness at the exact same “places” and in the exact same quantity.

I would definitely recommend the book to all literature colleagues and friends of Shakespeare out there. If you are up for a philosophical read with a bit of humour that should be your choice from what is out there on the market. I promise, it will leave you stunned at the least. Thank you, www.bloggingforbooks.com , for giving me the opportunity to read this marvellous piece.

If you are very picky about what you read like me, you can find more information about the author at: http://www.curtisbrown.co.uk/client/howard-jacobson

P.S.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review