27 July 2011

Still on the cusp

I just received another rejection letter from Fairy
Tale Review. I was really hoping that this time would be it, but alas. Again I received the nicest, personalized response, which I am taking as encouragement. I try not to let these things get me down. If any writer gives in to that feeling, there really is no hope of getting anywhere (think the Swamps of Sadness in The Neverending Story--oh, poor Artax). Anyway, I know I'm getting somewhere, it just might take me a bit longer.

On a related note, Alissa Nutting, the guest editor of Fairy Tale Review's The Grey Issue, who writes such fantastic rejection letters, has a book of her own. She's a very talented writer of prose and I highly recommend her short story collection, Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls. I keep my copy on my fairy tale shelf.

22 July 2011

Of festival friends and small press love

During my stint as secretary of the Chestertown Book Festival (2009-2010), I got to help bring together some great writers, illustrators, reviewers, and general book enthusiasts. Last year, in particular, we had Washington Post Book World reviewer Michael Dirda as our opening act, and among the other festival events he perused, was a presentation by my friends Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson of Idiots'Books. After Robbi and Matthew finished their event, Michael introduced himself and there was a meeting of like book-minds.

(photo courtesy Andrea B. Neiman)

Recently, Michael Dirda wrote a Reading Room column praising the ideas and books coming out of small presses. And who was his first example of excellence in the small press world? The Idiots! I, myself, am a huge fan of the small press (as I'm sure you know). In May, I posted about, what I hope will be, the potentially mutually-beneficial relationship between small press publishing and the rise of the e-reader (or mutually-exclusive, at the least). Are Michael Dirda's tastes a sign of a movement bolstering the small press publishing world? I can only hope.

If you are interested in finding all these wonderful sorts of books, but are unsure where to start (one of the limits inherent in this area of publishing is that they aren't available wherever books are sold), a great market is Small Press Distribution: a nonprofit organization dedicated to getting small press books into the hands of readers. Of course, not every small press book is listed here (some presses have their own independently managed sites, like Idiots'Books); but it is a great place to get acquainted with the sorts of things this world has to offer.

18 July 2011

Meet the press

Despite my claims of poverty, I soon will be acquiring a printing press of my very own. A Chandler & Price, no less. Master printer, teacher, and friend, Mike Kaylor, found a tabletop C&P that needs some minor cleaning and repair that he is willing to sell to me at a modest price. Think of this model as the laptop equivalent to the desktop computer--although I would never attempt to set this cast-iron beast on my lap:

Here's her make and model:

She even comes with a (very) brief introduction to the history of the printing press. Although Mike's stories are much better:

So, truth: No, I didn't win the lottery. Yes, I am still poor. But the possibility of realistically owning my own press motivated me to be even thriftier and put a stringent savings plan into practice for the few months it will take me to earn this beauty. What happened was, word came down, the way it does, that Mike had a press he wanted to sell and so I said, "Wait! Wait! How much? I want it!" And Bob's your uncle.

So... by October, I should have the money to purchase her. Then I'll have to save a bit for the things I'll need to outfit her. She should have a bit less sawdust on her then, as well.

LibraryThing Early Reviewers: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs

An absorbing adventure that begins in the realistic and gradually builds into a convincing carnivalesque story of time travel and an island of misfit kids. The black and white photos included in the text of the novel perform their duty well, revealing the curious abilities of the characters while amplifying the atmosphere of mystery and strangeness. I was completely captivated by this dark fairytale of WWII orphans in the Welsh bogland, trapped in time just like their photo counterparts.

I gave it 5 stars.