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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Indie bestsellers and what you should be reading

The indefatigable folks at GalleyCat @ have produced another two lists of Indie bestsellers, one from Amazon and the other from smashwords (Nook et al aren't worth pursuing any more, and smashwords is getting so stodgy that really only Amazon counts).

Here is the listing ...

Amazon Self-Published Bestsellers for the Week of August 20, 2014
1. LOL Romantic Comedy Anthology Collection: “Love! Laughter! Pillow Fights! Here’s the very first issue of LOL, a NEW romantic comedy series! Enjoy 13 brand-new stories from your favorite NYT Bestseller and USA Today Bestseller romantic comedy and romance authors.”
2. Filthy Beautiful Lies by Kendall Ryan: “Meet Colton Drake…I have no idea why she auctioned off her virginity for a cool mill. Regardless, I’m now the proud new owner of a perfectly intact hymen. A lot of good that will do me. I have certain tastes, certain sexual proclivities. My cock is a bit more discriminatory than most. And training a virgin takes finesse and patience – both of which I lack.”
3. Mindfulness Made Simple by Calistoga Press: “A modern practice with ancient roots, mindfulness is widely recognized for its calming, healing, and restorative effects. Mindfulness and meditation can help you relieve stress, regulate your emotions, achieve focus and clarity, strengthen your communication skills, and cultivate an appreciation for what is most important to you. Based on centuries of experience and new techniques in the field of psychology, Mindfulness Made Simple shows how to bring mindfulness and meditation into your daily life.”
4. Debt Inheritance by Pepper Winters: “Nila Weaver’s family is indebted. Being the first born daughter, her life is forfeit to the first born son of the Hawks to pay for sins of ancestors past. The dark ages might have come and gone, but debts never leave. She has no choice in the matter. She is no longer free.”
5. Vain- Part Two by Deborah Bladon: “Posing nude for the illustrious Noah Foster seemed like an exciting escape from Alexa’s life. No one was supposed to find out, but when the one man who owned her heart, discovers her secret, everything changes. Alexa is not only caught in a compromising position but in a situation in which her past and present collide.”
6. Sweet Addiction by J. Daniels: “Wedding hookups never amount to anything. Those who partake in this wicked little activity know the rules. Get in. Get laid. Get out. There’s no expectation of a relationship. It is what it is. Dylan Sparks knows the rules. She’s familiar with the protocol. And she engages in the best sex of her life with a complete stranger at her ex-boyfriend’s wedding.”
7. Alpha Billionaire by Helen Cooper: “Alpha Billionaire is a sexy, thrilling and jaw-dropping three part novella serial. It was only meant to be one night. Evie Johnson was doing her best friend a favor when she agreed to work a bachelor party as a dancer. She hadn’t expected to meet a man like Grant Slate. A man so handsome and cocky that she couldn’t help but be attracted to him when he asked for a dance.”
8. The Fixed Trilogy by Laurelin Paige: “All three books of the NY Times Bestselling Fixed Trilogy are included in this bundle.”
9. Twisted by Callie Hart: “Sloane. How many times can a person fall down and still get back up? How many times can things go wrong before you just give up? I’ve lost everything. My home, my job, my purpose in life—everything has been turned upside down. But while life hasn’t exactly turned out the way I would have liked it to, I wouldn’t change a thing. If things were different, I wouldn’t have Lacey. I wouldn’t have Michael.”
10. A Whole New Crowd by Tijan: “Taryn grew up in a different world. Her boyfriend was a criminal. His older brother was part of a gang. They weren’t great people, but they were her family. Then everything changes when she’s adopted by a family in the neighboring town. New family. New friends. A new world. She’s elated. This is her chance for a new beginning, but secrets start being revealed and Taryn learns her new life has ties to her old one, ties that she’s not happy about. Her new family might not have been the lucky break she thought she had. Now she’s not only fighting to live that new future, but she’s fighting to survive as well.”
Smashwords Self-Published Bestsellers for the Week of August 20, 2014

And here is what you should be reading -- a book I picked up by accident for my Kindle, courtesy of a free promotion.

It's called My Granny Writes Erotica, and it's by Rosen Trevithick, who has also produced a children's series, and a book about how NOT to self-publish.

I had every intention of reviewing it on this blog ages ago, but somehow it got lost in the clutter on my desk. But then I was reminded by the title of the Amazon #1 in the list, LOL Romantic Comedy Anthology Collection.  (Is that title a joke? Anthology and collection mean pretty much the same thing, when stories are assembled into a book. Maybe redundancy is funny?)

But to return to Granny and her erotica, which is definitely LOL.  Betty Berry is a 65-year-old suburban housewife who has never had a dirty thought in her life -- until her husband quits, leaving her with his debts (along with a grisly coffin-shaped debt collector), his ghastly old mother, and a house that is about to be sold over her head.  To make matters even worse, Betty's bossy daughter arrives, having abandoned her own marriage.  So what is Betty to do?

All her life, she has dreamed of being a bestselling novelist, but her (serious, literary) novel has never seen the light.  Can she write her way out of her dilemma?  Can she make enough out of publishing with KDP to get out of this financial mess?  Inspiration strikes when her eyes land on the copy of Fifty Shades of Grey that her daughter has carried along.  It made a helluva lot of money, didn't it?  So why not try a new genre?

Forthwith, Betty embarks on the authorship of erotica. She might be woefully ignorant of the grubby details, but the dominatrix who has been tendering to her errant husband's base desires is keen to provide the needed info.  Still more hilarity is added when she gets unexpected backing from a manufacturer of sex toys, which adds a few zeroes to all that lovely moola from Mr Amazon.

It is surprisingly clean, and outrageously funny.  As a reviewer on Amazon commented, it is laugh-out-loud-on-the-bus reading.  I got through it in one evening, because I just couldn't put it down.

Give it a go.  You will thank me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Boats at the ANMM

The Australian National Maritime Museum is looking very swish at the moment.  A favorite has always been the full-sized model of an American whaleboat, along with whalemen's scrimshaw, of which this swift is a fine example:

In case you are wondering, a swift holds a hank of woolen yarn so it can be wound into a ball.

There is also a very good exhibit devoted to HMS Sirius, which foundered off Norfolk Island in March 1790, including an anchor that was salvaged from the reef.

Perhaps what I liked best, this time, was a dramatic display of canoes on a wall.

Definitely worth a lengthy visit, if you happen to be in Sydney.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Advice for travellers

A very old listicle

with advice that is still often strangely relevant...

  • CAUTIONS against Frauds, &c.
    • 1. Don't take too much cash, when you travel.
    • 2. Fasten trunks, &c. behind carriages with chains.
    • 3. Have a witness of the contents of packages sent by waggons, &c.
    • 4. Deliver parcels to book-keepers only, and see them booked.
    • 5. Suffer no stranger to carry any thing for you, nor be seduced into a public-house.
    • 6. Make persons carrying things for you walk before you 
    • 7. Never stop in a croud.
    • 8. Enter the number, &c. of bank-bills, &c. in a book.
    • 9. Ditto, the description of your watch, &c.
    • 10. Never give your watch, &c. into the hands of a stranger.
    • 11. Avoid crouds, and looking at picture-shops.
    • 12. If you drop any thing of value in the street, don't say what it is.
    • 13. Never let your servants deliver things from your house to strangers, without orders
    • 14. Nor take in a parcel that is to be paid for.
    • 15. Take the number of a hackney-coach on entering it, and examine it, when quitting it.
    • 16. Guard against those who bring letters at night.
    • 17. Keep your front parlour windows shut at dusk.
    • 18. Be cautious, when the next house to you is empty, not to leave back-doors or garret-windows open.
    • 19. Take care of your watch and pockets in crouds
    • 20. Suffer no beggars at your door.
    • 21. Don't be imposed on by fictitious distresses.
    • 22. Beware of petty auctions in thoroughfares.
    • 23. Never buy things at a pawn-brokers.
    • 24. Lay out your money with reputable people
    • 25. Be not taken in by money-lenders, borrowers, or customers.
    • 26. Have nothing to do with bills of exchange drawn by strangers.
    • 27. Let no stranger leave a parcel in your shop.
    • 28. Never interfere with people quarelling in the streets.
    • 29. Any one may arrest a felon.
    • 30. Penalties on gambling.
    • 31. Shop-keepers should be on their guard against those who tumble over their goods and don't buy.
    • 32. Buyers should take care shop-keepers do not impose on them.
    • 33. Distrust shop-keepers who profess to sell cheap.
    • 34. Beware of porters at inns.
    • 35. Take care of your hat, &c. in promiscuous companies

From THE London Adviser and Guide: CONTAINING Every INSTRUCTION and INFORMATION useful and necessary to Persons LIVING IN LONDON, AND COMING TO RESIDE THERE; In order to enable them to enjoy Security and Tranquillity, and conduct their Domestic Affairs with Prudence and Economy.TOGETHER WITH AN ABSTRACT Of all those LAWS which regard their Protection against the Frauds, Impositions, Insults and Acci|dents to which they are there liable.
Useful also to Foreigners.Note, This Work treats fully of every Thing on the above Subjects that can be thought of.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Mrs. Alexander's maiden voyage

Floating proudly at the Australian National Maritime Museum is the wonderfully restored James Craig, sister ship of the Louisa Craig, painted by Ron, and pictured above.

An iron-hulled bark, the James Craig was launched as the Clan Macleod in Sunderland, England, in 1874, and over the next 26 years she carried cargo around the world, doubling Cape Horn 23 times.  Then, in 1900, she was bought by an Auckland shipowner, renamed James Craig, and plied the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand.  As the competition from steamships began to bite, she was converted from a collier to a coal hulk, an ignominious fate that came to an end when she was abandoned at Recherche Bay in Tasmania.  In 1972, forty years after she was sunk by fishermen who blasted a hole in her hull, a team of dedicated volunteers commenced a salvage and restoration project. In 1981 she was towed to Sydney, where she was finally, over many years, converted to the splendid state she is in today.

It was her maiden voyage that really interested me, and was what I had in mind when I re-explored her last week.  Then, she was under the command of Captain James Alexander, who was accompanied by his wife.   

And these were Mrs. Alexander's accommodations:

The cabin table, where she ate in the company of the two ship's officers, and any supernumeraries who might be on board.  At the forward end of this after cabin is the surprisingly elaborate fireplace:

Naturally, the ornaments would be taken down and carefully stored before the ship left port.

The settee, unusually, was in the captain's stateroom, which (of course) was on the starboard quarter:

This did give Mrs. Alexander some privacy during the day.  One can only imagine what she did while sitting there -- not much light to read or sew, but undoubtedly she managed.  When her husband was writing up his journal or posting his books, he would keep her company, because the chart table was also in the captain's stateroom.

And this is where she slept -- with her husband, in a narrow double berth with a thin mattress, on top of a bank of lockers and drawers.  As you can see, she had a ladder to mount to get into bed.  

So what was her voyage like?

Eventful.  First they ran out of fresh water on the long passage down the Atlantic, and Captain Alexander had to make an unscheduled stop at Rio de Janeiro.  Then came the rough leg about Cape Horn.  The coal she was carrying was discharged in Callao, Peru, and then he steered for Portland, Oregon, to load wheat and flour for the United Kingdom. On 29 November, 1874, Mrs. Alexander gave birth to a son, who was named William Macleod Alexander, in the time-honored tradition of naming the baby after the ship.  One hopes he was a good, quiet baby, as the homeward journey through the Atlantic took 171 days. The vessel finally came to anchor in the Humber on 10 July 1875, but before berthing she parted her anchor cable and grounded on a sandbank. Fortunately she came off without assistance and was later towed into dock.

It was a presage of the many times the grand old merchant ship was rescued from oblivion.

Friday, August 15, 2014


Britain's Oxford University Press has announced a number of new entries to its mammoth dictionary.  Including "listicle," which is an internet article in the form of a numbered or bulleted list.

And here is the LISTICLE of the new terms and words, courtesy of The Telegraph:

• acquihire, n.: buying out a company primarily for the skills and expertise of its staff...
• adorbs, adj.: (informal) arousing great delight; cute or adorable
• air punch, n.: thrusting one’s clenched fist up into the air, typically as a gesture of triumph…
• amazeballs, adj.: (informal) very impressive, enjoyable, or attractive
• anti-vax, adj.: (US informal) opposed to vaccination
• Bank of Mum and Dad, phr.: (Brit. informal) a person’s parents regarded as source of financial assistance
• bare, adv.: (Brit. informal) very; really (used as an intensifier)
• bedroom tax, n.: (in the UK) informal name for a measure introduced in the Welfare Reform Act 2012…
• binge-watch, v.: (informal) watch multiple episodes of (a television programme) in rapid succession…
• bro hug, n.: (US informal) friendly embrace between two men
• clickbait, n.: (informal) (on the Internet) content…whose main purpose is to attract attention and draw visitors to a particular web page
• cord cutting, n.: (informal) practice of cancelling a pay television subscription or landline phone connection in favour of an alternative Internet-based or wireless service
• cotch, v.: (Brit. informal) spend time relaxing; stay or sleep somewhere on a temporary basis
• cray, adj. (also cray cray): (US informal) crazy
• Deep Web, n.: the part of the World Wide Web that is not discoverable by means of standard search engines.
• doncha, contraction: (informal) don’t you
• douchebaggery, n.: (N. Amer. informal) obnoxious or contemptible behaviour
 dox, v.: (informal) search for and publish private data about (an individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent
 e-cig, n.: (informal) another term for electronic cigarette
• false widow, n.: a spider resembling the black widow, some species of which are moderately poisonous to humans
• fandom, n.: the fans of a particular person, team, series, etc. regarded collectively as a community or subculture
• fast follower, n.: a company that quickly imitates the innovations of its competitors
• 5:2 diet, n.: a diet that involves eating normally for five days out of a seven-day period and greatly restricting the amount of food eaten on the other two days
• FML, abbrev.: (vulgar slang) f— my life! (used to express dismay at a frustrating personal situation)
• geocache, n.: an item…that has been hidden at a location whose coordinates have been posted on the Internet…
• hate-watch, v.: (informal) watch (a television programme) for the sake of the enjoyment derived from mocking or criticizing it
• hench, adj.: (Brit. informal) (of a man) strong, fit, and having well-developed muscles
• hippotherapy, n.: horse riding as a therapeutic or rehabilitative treatment…
• hot mess, n.: (US informal) a person or thing that is spectacularly unsuccessful or disordered
• hot mic, n.: (informal) a microphone that is turned on, in particular one that broadcasts a spoken remark that was intended to be private
• humblebrag, n. & v.: (informal) (make) an ostensibly modest or self-deprecating statement whose actual purpose is to draw attention to something of which one is proud
• hyperconnected, adj.: characterized by the widespread or habitual use of devices that have Internet connectivity
• ICYMI, abbrev.: (informal) in case you missed it
• in silico, adj. & adv.: (of scientific experiments) conducted or produced by means of computer modelling or simulation
• listicle, n.: an Internet article presented in the form of a numbered or bullet-pointed list
• live-tweet, v.: post comments about (an event) on Twitter while the event is taking place
• mansplain, v.: (informal) (of a man) explain something to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing
• mud run, n.: an event in which participants negotiate a course consisting of obstacles filled or covered with mud
• neckbeard, n.: (informal) growth of hair on a man’s neck, especially when regarded as indicative of poor grooming…
• octocopter, n.: an unmanned helicopter having eight rotors
• olinguito, n.: a small nocturnal tree-dwelling mammal living in cloud forests of Colombia and Ecuador…
• Paleo diet, n: a diet based on the type of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans…
• pharmacovigilance, n.: the practice of monitoring effects of medical drugs after they have been licensed for use
• responsive, adj.: denoting a website whose page design changes automatically according to the size of screen on which it is viewed
• second screen, n.: a mobile device used while watching television, especially to access supplementary content or applications
• sentiment analysis, n.: the process of computationally identifying and categorizing opinions expressed in a piece of text
• side boob, n.: (informal) the side part of a woman’s breast, as exposed by a revealing item of clothing
• side-eye, n.: (informal , chiefly US): a sidelong glance expressing disapproval or contempt
• smartwatch, n.: a mobile device with a touchscreen display, worn on the wrist
• SMH, abbrev.: (informal) shaking (or shake) my head (used to express disapproval, exasperation, etc.)…
• spit take, n.: (informal) (especially as a comic technique) an act of suddenly spitting out liquid one is drinking in response to something funny or surprising
• subtweet, n.: (informal) (on Twitter) a post that refers to a particular user without directly mentioning them, typically as a form of furtive mockery or criticism
• tech-savvy, n.: (informal) well informed about or proficient in the use of modern technology
• time-poor, adj.: spending much of one’s time working or occupied…
• throw shade, phr.: (US informal) publicly criticize or express contempt for someone
• vape, v.: inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device
• WDYT, abbrev.: (informal) what do you think?
• YOLO, abbrev.: (informal) you only live once (expressing the view that one should make the most of the present moment)…

Thursday, August 14, 2014

East Coast Encounter

The First Australians remember the arrival of the Endeavour

 Ever since researching the background of Tupaia's iconic painting of three Aboriginals in two bark canoes in the bay that came to be called "Botany Bay,"  I have been fascinated by their reaction -- or conscious lack of reaction -- to the arrival of the great ship with wings that was going to change their way of life so drastically.

See what I mean?  Tupaia, in his inimitable fashion, has captured the emotion of the moment. Father, in his own canoe, concentrates completely on the fish he is about to spear.  The two little boys are both scared and intrigued -- look at their eyes.  But they, too, refuse to react to the appearance of this strange vessel.  Can you imagine how differently we would behave if a space ship materialized in a modern city street?  Yet to them the ship was equivalent to a UFO.

"Warra warra wai!" the Aborigines cried, as the landing party from the Endeavour set foot on the beach -- "Go away!" in the Gweagal language.  As I commented in my biography of Tupaia, this defiance was an act of great courage.  Order lived in the land, which was their spiritual home, while disorder came from the sea.  Anything from the sea was a menace to be sent away, and they were just a few against many.

Eventually, of course, the Endeavour did go away, leaving the First Australians to await the consequences of their discovery by the British, and try to make sense of the situation by incorporating it into their mythology.  In New Zealand, it was Tupaia who became legend.  In Australia, by contrast, if was Cook who became the symbol of dispossession, the man who brought disorder from the sea.

The Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney is encapsulating the moment by staging a remarkably evocative exhibit, called East Coast Encounter.  Surrounding the bark canoe pictured at the head of this post is an array of paintings, plus a remarkably eloquent poem.

It seems both ironic and fitting that the Endeavour replica lies at her moorings outside the museum.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pirate loot

"What shall we do with the pirate treasure
"What shall we do with pirate treasure
"Earl-lie in the mo-orning!"

From the Business Page of the Dominion Post, credit to clever cartoonist not given.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Find the whale

 Saturday was a gorgeous day in Sydney, as the skyline from the north of Sydney Cove testifies.

We were hugely fortunate that artist and producer Tracey Moffatt shared some of her favorite spots with us.  One was the old coal-loading dock, where the buildings have been transformed into a space for artists and environmental groups.  Close by is an Aboriginal rock carving ... of a whale.

Can you see it?  Look for the tail in the bottom lefthand corner.

 No luck?  Maybe you will see it now, from this slightly different angle ...

 And here is the text board, which is on the side of the nearest building. If you click on the image, it should enlarge.

Fascinating.  Thanks, Tracey!

Monday, August 11, 2014

10 Best Mysteries

Having mysteries on the brain at the moment, I was intrigued by the list of "Ten Best Mysteries" compiled by Edgar winner Thomas H. Cook, and published by Publisher's Weekly late last year.

Here they are -- and what do you think?

1. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins - This is still a wonderfully mysterious novel. It is large and sweeping, with skillfully drawn characters, lovely passages and absolutely haunting scenes, a fully formed 19th century novel with all the trimmings. The story is complicated, but it was originally written in serial form, so the story moves forward in carefully measured steps. Much of what became standard in crime fiction was first done here, so it is not only an engaging read, but a fundamentally instructive one.

2. A Crime in the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne - I have recommended this book many times to all kinds of readers. For me, it is a novel that uses suspense in the best possible way, not by having a character confront one contrived obstacle after another in a mindless stream of action, but by creating an atmosphere of deep moral peril in which the culminating tragedy seems as inevitable as it is, well…tragic. It is also one of those books in which the title become completely apt, and very moving, after one has completed the book. In this case, the “crime in the neighborhood” turns out to be far more profound and long lasting than any single act of violence could be

3. A Dark-Adapted Eye by Ruth Rendell - I confess that this is one of the most beautiful titles in mystery fiction. The good news is that the book lives up to the title. It is intricate, with genuinely surprising revelations, and the depth of the characterizations makes a major contribution to the novel’s suspense. This is psychological suspense for adults, with real people confronting real, and very dark problems.

4. A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler - “It is not who fired the shot but who paid for the bullet.” It is a line that has since become famous, but it is only one of the many literary beauties of the book. Dimitrios, in life and death, is a figure of surpassing fascination, his life a tale of struggle and fierce intrigue that I have never forgotten. The secondary characters are wonderfully drawn. From the moment Charles Latimer meets Colonel Haki and hears of the mysterious Dimitrios, the reader is returned to the lost Balkan world that flourished between the two world wars, a boiling cauldron of expediency and deceit that Ambler renders in exquisite detail.

5. True Confessions by John Gregory Dunne - The novel begins with a crime based on the Black Dahlia murder, and from there steadily deepens into a work of great emotional power, complete with an unforgettable portrait of Los Angeles in the '40s. It is a story of two brothers, one a cop, the other a priest, and by following their relationship along the trail of a gruesome crime, it ultimately becomes one of the most movingly redemptive novels I have ever read. 

6The Eye of the Beholder by Marc Behm - I read this novel years and years ago, and have never been able to get it out of my mind. It is a story of obsession, with a private detective called only The Eye who follows a nameless female serial killer for more than a decade. The Eye is the classically damaged PI, not just solitary, but deeply lonely, and the woman he pursues is a heartless--yet in some sense comprehensible--hater of men. The macabre dance of death that becomes their lives is one of the strangest and most intriguing relationships in mystery fiction.

7. A Simple Plan by Scott Smith - In this wholly realistic novel, two brothers and a friend come upon a crashed plane in whose shattered ruins they find an enormous sum of money. Before that moment, none of these men has ever needed to concoct a simple plan to keep and conceal a fortune that quite obviously does not belong them. In the midst of doing just that, they become criminals, as well as victims of crime. The story builds steadily as the wages of sin become more and more costly. Here is a classic cautionary tale about the penalty dishonesty may exact upon ordinary, and largely innocent, human beings.

8. Sneaky People by Thomas Berger - This is arguably one of the funniest crime novels ever written. It is set in the 1930s, and its main character is Buddy Sandifer, a used car dealer who wants one very simple thing: his wife dead. The reason is no less simple. He yearns to live the rest of his days with Laverne, a woman who on occasion dimly realizes that sleeping with men for money adds up to prostitution. Buddy’s efforts to plot his wife’s murder creates one of the most hilarious tales of misadventure you will ever read.

9. The Quiet American by Graham Greene - Published in 1955, The Quiet American provides an intensely observed portrait of Vietnam on the eve of French defeat. Fowler, the world-weary British journalist whose observations enrich this fiercely observed novel, provides just the right counterpoint to Alden Pyle, the idealist “quiet American” whose mysterious death provides the narrative heart of the story. Part novel of intrigue, part mystery, part love story, The Quiet American remains as powerful today as when it was first written.

10. Cutter and Bone by Newton Thornburg - Hailed by the New York Times as the best novel of its kind in 10 years, Cutter and Bone is the story story of one man’s obsession with another man’s crime, in this case, a murder. What makes Thornburg’s story unique is that the “murderer,” a big money man by the name of J.J. Wolfe, may not have committed the crime at all. For that reason, it is Cutter’s mad pursuit of Wolfe, rather that the justice of that pursuit, that gives the book its passionate momentum.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Literary agent turns publisher

How interesting, and what a neat idea.  It's not absolutely new news, but it is new to me -- that New York literary agent Marly Rusoff should found her own press.

I've always thought it must be so frustrating for an agent to find a book she loves, only to pile up the rejection slips from publishers who don't share her enthusiasm.  Is that why Mary Rusoff brought the evocatively named Maiden Lane Press into existence?  I went onto the net and found the same questions being asked in Caroline Leavittville's blog.

So here, taken from her answers, is a selection of Marly's thoughts:

I spent twenty years on the publisher’s side of the desk and have no illusions about how difficult it is to publish well. When it comes to our clients, our first choice has always been and will continue to be working with publishing houses as we have so productively done in the past. We are now and will remain primarily literary agents. However, we know that in the evolving and dynamic literary marketplace, non-traditional publishing opportunities will arise to advance our authors’ careers, and, in partnership with our writers, we want to be able to move quickly to take advantage of these opportunities.

Like many agents, we may decide to selectively reissue out-of-print books by our clients. And I have been itching to produce a few beautifully designed small editions that will appeal to my current author’s fans or to collectors.

I have longtime relationships with booksellers around the country that I value and that have been extraordinarily meaningful to my authors and to me both professionally and personally over the years. The books I represent are what I believe are wonderful books that I would have enjoyed selling to customers if I were still a bookseller. We plan to publish the same kind of work through Maiden Lane Press. I hope booksellers will be proud to have them in store.

Gorgeous logo, don't you agree?  But why Maiden Lane?

There is a stop on the London tube called Maiden Lane and it always intrigued me. Quite honestly, I never got off at that stop, but the name stayed with me. I loved the sound of it.  Perhaps because I’ve always been fascinated by the mews and back alleys of London I well remember how happy I was to find streets named Maiden Lane in many of the oldest cities in America. One exists in Charleston, SC; there is one here in New York, and another in San Francisco.  But the one Maiden Lane I knew best was the little alleyway that ran near the large mansions on Summit Avenue in historic district of St Paul, MN, the place where I was born. I always imagined that these modest homes housed the working women and domestic help needed to staff these grand homes. Recently when I searched for the history of New York’s Maiden Lane I learned that it was the first busy market in Manhattan dating back to the early 1600’s. A river now buried under Manhattan ran along that lane; it was where local woman came to wash their laundry.  A now- buried river? What is it that good writers do but plumb the depths? Besides, publishing is hard work, and it is my nature to work hard so I can’t help but identify with those who do. And once I learned that Maiden Lane was the first street in Manhattan to have gas lamps, I had the idea for our lovely logo. Books: a way to light the darkness.

Books: a way to light the darkness.  Wonderful!  

Since this interview was published, Maiden Lane has published at least four books, including two by Cassandra King -- Moonrise and the Same Sweet Girls' Guide to Life -- Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parkes League by Jonathan Odell, and  Envious Moon by Thomas C. Greene.