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Picture Book Review (and it is happily biased!): Francis Driscoll’s The Swan Boat Ride.

If you’ve ever been to Boston with kids (or needed to buy a kid something from Boston), chances are you’re already pretty familiar with Make Way for Ducklings, or the also-adorable Catie Copley.

But what comes after those? How do you follow those up?

Try Frances Driscoll’s The Swan Boat Ride.

On the surface, it’s a young girl recalling the day that her grandmother took her for a ride on the iconic Swan Boats in the Boston Public Gardens, a fabulous thing for a touristy memento. But at its heart, it’s a story about finding magic in the everyday, about every splash of colour being important, about connections to people and places, about memory.

And both the text and art is lovely. Absolutely charming.

I can give you my personal promise on this, as you may notice I was the book’s official editor (in my first proper act of professional bookery!); and I am incredibly, incredibly proud to have been involved, and incredibly proud of the book itself. :) Watching it unfold was a wonderful experience, and nearly as magical as the book itself.

So if you’ve ever been to Boston, and need to give someone else a little bit of magic — or need a little bit of magic for yourself? A little bit of nostalgia, or else to help make a new memory entirely?

The Swan Boat Ride. ♥
 
 
 
(And now, I do believe it is time for me to flounce away and celebrate my first professional editing job, and so exude even more sparkles than I do normally! Yes, that is possible.)

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Writerly Wednesday: Self-publishing and internal exclamation points ahoy!

Naturally, there have been rather a lot of authors I’ve come to adore and respect and be inspired by over the years. (Including but certainly not limited to Kevin J. Anderson, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, J.R.R. Tolkein…)

But there is one author in particular who makes every fibre of my being go, Yes. That is what I want to be when I grow up.

That one author is Holly Lisle.

She nails it, she gets it, and she reminds me of just what exactly it is that I am striving for.

There was really only one major place where I disagreed with her visions: She was traditionally published, whereas, after a lot of research and thought, I plan on going the self-pubbing route.

But then yesterday, I got the latest issue of her newsletter in my inbox, with a subject that spoke of a “new career”.

And sure enough, my favourite author in the entire world has now chosen to self-publish, too.

And, not at all surprisingly, she nails the reasons why I agree that self-publishing is the way to go.

I am so ridiculously happy and proud and excited right now. I cannot wait to see where she goes with this, and to see her older works go back into circulation, and maybe even see some of her older worlds revisited. (It very nearly ripped my Libra-tastic little self in half to choose one for the purposes of that poll, but in the end, I had to go with the Secret Texts. Not only was the Secret Texts trilogy my very first introduction to her work, but its prequel Vincalis the Agitator remains one of my absolute favourite books of all time.)

And what greater validation for my own career choice could there be than this?

Ultimately, in the end, my characters and muses order me around enough as it is. It’s laughable to think that my brain has the time to be ordered around by traditional publishing companies, too.

Ergo, self-publishing it is!

And it’s time that I got my own act together and got this pretty little circus on the road. ♥

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WHERE ARE THE INTARNETS?: On physical books versus e-readers.

Working within the book industry, perhaps the most frequent question I get is whether or not I think e-books and e-readers are going to replace physical books and bookstores.

I always answer no, at least not within my own lifetime.

And it’s the other questions I get concerning e-readers that are why, even beyond my own never-ending and irrepressible love of clinging to an actual book like it’s a long-lost friend.

For illustrative (read: entertainment) purposes, here are a few of my favourites thus far!

 

 

“So this thing comes preloaded with fifty thousand books for free?” (This as I was showing him the clearly-labeled “Shop” function.)

“Is this a telephone?” (Even more bizarrely, this question then somehow dissolved into the customer and I having an absolutely lovely conversation on Secretariat, of all things, so I confess I did consider it time well spent.)

“Hey, so where [within the physical store itself] do you guys have your e-books?” (“But I saw a sign about e-books!” was then the response to my patiently attempting to explain that e-books are not actually physical objects that we can stock in-store.)

“DOES THIS WORK IN NIGERIA?”

(As the aforementioned customer turns the device furiously over and over in his hands) “WHERE ARE THE INTARNETS?!

 

 

Say what you will about e-readers, and how they are the reading experience of the future.

My money is still on there being a solid market for physical books for a good long while yet. :)

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Words versus numbers. Books versus the bottom line.

I realised yesterday that Justin Bieber is now helping to inspire me to start up my career.

This statement is, arguably, made even more hilarious by the fact that my chosen career is books. (Yes. Books. I can’t rightly call it anything else, as I want to do everything pertaining to books — I want to write them, I want to read them, I want to review them, I want to design them, I want to hand-bind them, I want to edit them, I want to collect them, I want to sell them. The term “author” isn’t nearly a big enough umbrella for me.)

And so, I decided, relatively recently, that I want to go the indie publishing route. If you note my Laundry List of Booksluttery above, I’m sure you’ll understand why: Going indie is the only thing that would afford me the opportunity and control to do everything that I love. And while I’ve always wanted to be an author, I want it so badly that I want to take it one step farther. (Or perhaps more like twelve steps, but I suppose the point still stands.)

Still, though, I would be lying if I said that was all there was to my decision.

To pay the bills in the interim, I currently work in a large branch of a large chain bookstore in a large city. And the job has reaffirmed two things for me: My boundless love for books, and my complete lack of patience with the publishing industry proper.

I love words, not numbers. I am not in this because I only care about the bottom line.

And while I love what I do, I hate feeling as though I am enslaving myself to people who don’t.

Which brings us back to Justin Bieber.

I understand that bookstores are having to work harder and harder to make ends meet, that the business and demand just aren’t what they used to be. I know that a little too well.

But I can personally guarantee you that putting up big displays of things such as Bieber-swag (complete with gigantic plastic purple sunglasses for sale!) is not going to rekindle the general public’s interest in buying books. Maybe it will help to keep the stores afloat, but it won’t help to keep them bookstores.

Words versus numbers. Books versus the bottom line.

I’ll take my chances and go the indie route. At least that way I know I am responsible for my own success or failure — it’s the integrity of my work that’s in question, not the integrity of an industry at large.

And maybe that is, ultimately, what publishing needs. People who love what they do, and who are allowed to love what they do. Start with that, that sort of honest untainted enthusiasm and drive to succeed, and readership will follow. And careers will follow readerships, and money will follow careers.

The equation doesn’t work quite so well backwards.

So thanks, Justin Bieber, for that little reminder that I am personally on the right path. Your epically purple accessories don’t belong in chain bookstores, but then again, neither do I. :)