Category Archives: publishing

Author Robert N. Macomber to appear at Bookstore1 Sarasota

Author Robert N. MacomberAuthor Robert N. Macomber, author of the Honor series, will be appearing  at Bookstore1 Sarasota on May 23rd at 6pm. He will be discussing “Freemasons and their 30-year struggle to gain Cuban independence in 1898, and the author’s experiences with their fraternity inside modern Cuba today.”

For more details: http://www.bookstore1sarasota.com/Events.html

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Pineapple Press 2013 Catalog

Our new catalog, featuring all of our titles, is now available.

We can send you a print copy in the mail too–just give us a call at 800-746-3275.

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Book News: Kobo in Independent Bookstores

The blogosphere and reader tweeps everywhere are buzzing with the news that Kobo and the American Booksellers Association are joining forces. Their mission: to bring Kobo e-books and independent bookstores together. Of noted interest is training and in-store merchandising availability. For more information, check out the ABA’s press release.

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Why Middle Grade Fantasy Novels can be Educational

Olivia Brophie and the Pearl of Tagelus by Christopher Tozier

Olivia Brophie and the Pearl of Tagelus by Christopher Tozier

Fantasy novels get the rap for being escapist fluff.  We all know that. Warlocks, vampires, elves, and psychic savants hardly seem to be the stuff that PhDs are made of.  That’s why kids and adults love to read fantasy. They don’t like to think, right?

Scholarship on this subject has focused on how the fantasy genre impacts the development of childhood imagination and emotional maturity . Very little has been said about the power of fantasy as a springboard to academic education.

A big motivator to write my first middle reader fantasy was noticing how spectacular children are at learning and understanding complete nonsense. (insert joke here…) Fantasy novels are chock-full of ridiculous words defying pronunciation much less intuitive understanding. Yet within the context of the story, these words make sense to them. In fact, many readers of fantasy revel in the specialist vocabularies:  place names with no vowels, magical objects that can’t be pronounced, and entire fictional languages.

I find middle-grade readers to be the most vocabulary-tolerant of any reader. One reason for this may be that everything is a little harder for them to read. They are faced with new vocabulary on a regular basis so it really doesn’t put them off when they need to look up a word or take special care to sound something out.

Adults on the other-hand, often lose the patience necessary to investigate a word.  Adults want the machinery of the art to disappear behind the story. Instead, their preferred challenge lies with subtext and abstraction. Perhaps this is why we, as adult writers, often underestimate our middle grade readers.  We take too much care to avoid frustrating them with difficult words.  Just like the protagonists in fantasy books, getting challenged and emerging victorious at the end is part of the fun.

These four proper noun words are from hugely successful middle reader fantasies.  You probably can rattle off a bunch more.

  • Muggles
  • Quidditch
  • Anaklusmos
  • Smeagol

If readers can handle “Dumbledore” then why can’t they handle real words?  Why can’t they handle Latin (scientific) names?  Fantasy has a highly specialized and developed vocabulary. Science has a highly specialized and developed vocabulary. I believe the two can combine without turning into SciFi. Two examples that came immediately to my mind were the “holothurians” in the classic Water Babies and “tesseract” in A Wrinkle in Time. Not exactly words used in everyday conversation.  Yet learning those words helps expand the reader’s knowledge and understanding of our world.

In Olivia Brophie and the Pearl of Tagelus, the characters meet a creature called an anaspidean. Although the name sounds like an alien and the whale-sized creature is clearly fantastic, it is actually a real animal (albeit smaller in scale.) The anaspidean is a great way to introduce students to mollusks.  What do you suppose a reader is going to find if they look up the word anaspidean in a dictionary or online?

Fantasy novels also employ plot-driven teaching.  In Olivia Brophie and the Pearl of Tagelus, Olivia is introduced to the Florida scrub and the Floridan aquifer. She interacts with many of the animals that make Florida unique and special. These aren’t lessons that Olivia sits through in a classroom. They are simply the worlds that she participates in. To the casual reader, the aquifer is just the magical location of the secret city of Junonia. It isn’t mechanically any different than entering Narnia through a door in the back of a wardrobe or the characters in a magical book coming to life and causing havoc in our world. But the fact that aquifers are real things does make a difference.  Junonia generates interest in the geology beneath Florida, the Cenozoic Era, and issues of groundwater and springs.

Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series introduces students to Greek mythology, even if the idea of a stories being used to teach stories is a bit reflexive. Riordan’s books are not modernizations,  they use characters and situations from classical myths to drive entirely new stories. This is what makes them appealing. They aren’t trying to teach you anything, yet the fun, exciting fantasy introduces the readers to classical literature.

There is a limit to how much educational material can be presented in a novel and still keep it readable. The key of course is to engage the reader first. The book has to be a good read. Fantasy novels are not textbooks but they can be a great supplement to an educational curriculum.

Christopher Tozier was awarded a 2011 Individual Artist Fellowship from the State of Florida. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Olivia Brophie and the Pearl of Tagelus is his debut novel, the first in the Olivia Brophie Series.  It is available at your favorite bookstore or online. You can learn more at www.oliviabrophie.blogspot.com  and www.christophertozier.com. Join us for a Twitter chat on March 6th at 3:30p EST to chat about why fantasy can be educational during our #flfantasy chat, use #flfantasy to join in.

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Patrick D. Smith discusses A Land Remembered

Did you love reading A Land Remembered by Patrick D. Smith?

We also offer a DVD for sale that talks about Patrick Smith’s books and writing. It features interviews with Mr. Smith. For a sneak peek, check out this YouTube video:

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Pineapple Press Ghost Books

Are you looking for Florida ghosts? Georgia ghosts? North Carolina ghosts? South Carolina ghosts?

Look no further! We sell a ton of regional ghost books that are sure to scare you.
Check out this link to learn more.

Here is a listing of our ghost titles:
Ancient City Hauntings
Ghosts of St. Augustine
Oldest Ghosts
Florida Ghost Stories
Haunting Sunshine
Florida’s Ghostly Legends and Haunted Folklore Vols 1, 2, 3
Ghost Orchid Ghost
Haunt Hunter’s Guide to Florida
Best Ghost Tales of North Carolina
Best Ghost Tales of South Carolina
Ghosts and Legends of the Carolina Coasts
Ghosts of the Carolina Coasts
Ghosts of the Carolinas for Kids
Ghosts of the Georgia Coast
Haunted Lighthouses and How to Find Them

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August 9th is Book Lovers Day

A quick post in honor of Book Lovers Day.

Book lovers make publishing happen. So I’m sending a thank you to book lovers the world over. Thank you for your support. The book industry needs you like we never have before.

I’m giving a special thank you to @BookaliciousPam, who told me the great news about this special day in her tweet:”Happy Book Lovers Day! I will be reading and going to my indie to check out new stock. How will you celebrate?”

Please share with her and us via Twitter or in our blog comments. Hope you read some books today in honor of this special day.

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Conceptual editing for fiction, by June Cussen


Conceptual editing for fiction

There’s much to think about here. You can certainly make the artistic case that for fiction the editor must give a much freer hand to the writer. We are, after all, speaking about Literature here when we speak of novels. (Say: LIT-ra-chuh.) The writer is creator here, the God role. Who dares edit? We’ll keep that issue in editing fiction in mind as we go, letting it temper big decisions, being humbly aware that the editor did not have to face that blank page.

As always, I start with the reader. And these hard days you have to think of the reader as buyer. Who will buy this book? We covered that in earlier acquisition ruminations, but that too must be kept in mind by the editor as juggler. Three balls in the air: writer (Father), reader (Son), editor (humble ghost). So, as the editor considers the overall story of this piece of fiction, she must consider what reader it is aimed at (age, sex) as well as what genre it might be placed in. If it’s a literary novel, the writer may be more likely to prevail, if a genre novel like a Western or a romance or a mystery, the reader usually reigns. Of course there will always be the unclassifiable, and here the editor must step carefully, first considering that most authors feel that their work is beyond categorization. But I tell them, yeah, but librarians will do it anyway. Be prepared.

Keeping the reader in mind will help the editor make sure of consistency. This becomes more of an issue in copyediting where we have to remember to keep a character’s eyes blue all the way through the book if they start out that way. But even in conceptual editing, consistency rears its hobgoblin head. The tone cannot jump from deep to whimsical, serious to silly—unless of course that is part of the author’s design and it works within the context of the whole.

Story: that’s what a novel tells. Aristotle had it right with insisting on a beginning, a middle, and an end, with rising action, a climax, and falling action. The editor needs to make sure that the tension is created, holds, and is released. Beginnings are always hard. The writer has to establish the characters, the time, the place, the feel, and get us hooked into what’s going on without boring us before we get to the real action. Some writing guidelines tell the author to do that by first having a walloping action scene before anything else. Well, maybe. Sometimes that works. But I’ve read way too many manuscripts that start out with something either preposterous or truly awful in the attempt to hook us in. I’m usually just put off and don’t even want to read the rest.

The conceptual editor will have to make sure the whole story gets told, that bits don’t dangle at the end (unless this is a series and you want to hook readers for more). This is particularly true for mysteries. We have to find out whodunit, and it has to be consistent with all the details all the way through.

Character: They are people and must feel, think, and behave like real ones. Real ones aren’t always consistent, but in a story they need to be consistent enough to make the action work. The editor will note if a character suddenly does something out of character just to make the plot work. There’s always that tension between character and action. The editor will see that one does not exist merely to serve the other.

Editing fiction is a pleasure—the icing on the editorial cake—not that editing botanical keys is not tons of fun (wherein you spend days checking Latin names and learn the meaning of words like dentate and scandent). And working with fiction authors is usually a pleasure too, unless they take the God role too seriously.

Here’s my animal photo today. It’s turtle hatching season around here on the Gulf coast of Florida. This little loggerhead is heading toward the water. If you live near the beach, be sure your outside lights are off at night or little guys like this one will head the wrong way thinking your light is moonlight on the water.

Leatherback turtle

June Cussen

— June Cussen, Pineapple Press

@pineapplejune

www.pineapplepress.com

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Our June 2011 newsletter

Click here to download our June 2011 newsletter. Learn more about our upcoming titles and what’s happening this summer.

Pineapple Press June11 newsletter

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Do penguins have knees?

A popular question we asked on Twitter recently was, “Do penguins have knees?” Learn this and more in Those Perky Penguins by Sarah Cussen. It’s due out this fall.

Those Perky Penguins is part of Pineapple Press’s Those Amazing Animals series.

Photo of Penguin © Vulnificans/Dreamstime.com

Illustration © Steve Weaver

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