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Jim Cox Report: October 2023

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

The subject for this month is the dreaded Writer's Block -- a non-medical condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author is either unable to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown.

Writer's block has various degrees of severity, from difficulty in coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce work for years. This condition is not solely measured by time passing without writing, it is measured by time passing without productivity in the task at hand. Writer's block has been an acknowledged problem throughout recorded history.

However, not until 1947 was the term writer's block coined by the Austrian psychiatrist Edmund Bergler. All types of writers, including full-time professionals, academics, workers of creative projects, and those trying to finish written assignments, can experience writer's block. The condition has many causes, some that are even unrelated to writing. The majority of writer's block researchers agree that most causes of writer's block have an affective/physiological, motivational, and cognitive component.

Studies have found effective coping strategies to deal with writer's block. These strategies to remove the anxiety about writing range from ideas such as free writing and brainstorming to talking to a professional. (Wikipedia).

We have all experienced Writer's Bock. Thankfully, this is another life experience that we do not have to 'reinvent the wheel' in order to overcome this greatest (and all too common) writer's affliction. Here are some on-line resources to help in dealing with Writer's Block:

Symptoms and Cures for Writer's Block

How to Overcome Writer’s Block With Step-by-Step Guide and Writing Exercises

Writer’s Block: Exploring the Cause and the Cure

How to Cure Writer’s Block: 23 Proven Ideas that Actually Work

What is Writer’s Block? A Guide to the Writer’s

15 of the most common causes of writer’s block – and how to cure them

10 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block

For me, daydreaming while listing to medieval and baroque music and typing random thoughts was effective when mind-blank writer's block would be making itself felt.

Now onto two new features of the Jim Cox Report:

Website of the Month: Tudor Experience

Quote of the Month: "Where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people as well." -- Christian Johann Heinrich Heine (December 13, 1797 - February 17, 1856)

Speaking of the banning of books. Here is an impressive children's picture book for kids ages 7-10 on the subject and one that you, as an author, a publisher, or a dedicated bibliophile, should consider donating to your local elementary school and/or community library:

The Great Banned-Books Bake Sale
Aya Khalil
Tilbury House Publishers
9780884489672, $18.95 HC, $9.99 Kindle, 32pp (Ages 7-10)

The Great Banned-Books Bake Sale enjoys vivid drawings by Anait Semirdzhyan as it continues the story of Kanzi, the immigrant girl featured in the prior The Arabic Quilt. She now feels welcome in her American school until a new book-banning program causes important works about minorities to vanish from the school library. Can the kids institute a rebellion that returns these books to their lives? Even more importantly, will Kanzi's newly-acquired and fragile sense of acceptance be restored by this effort? An important story of diversity and freedom offers many discussion points that adults will welcome.

Now here are reviews for more books of special interest and relevance to writers, publishers, and bibliophiles:

You Can't Say That!
Leonard S. Marcus
Candlewick Press
9780763690366, $18.99, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: A powerful photo essay on transgender teens is called anti-religious and anti-family. A meticulously researched primer on sex education stirs up accusations of pornography and child abuse. Picture books about two mommies (or two penguin daddies) set off a hue and cry. Two hugely popular children’s series run afoul of would-be censors, one for its scatological humor, the other because it’s deemed too scary. Kids’ books that touch on race, sex, LGBTQ matters, the occult, “coarse language”, and more have found themselves under the scrutiny of those who challenge First Amendment rights and seek to ban books in schools and libraries.

"You Can't Say That!: Writers for Young People Talk About Censorship, Free Expression, and the Stories They Have to Tell" is where thirteen top children’s and young adult authors speak out about what it’s like to have your work banned or challenged in America today. Prompted by Leonard S. Marcus’s insightful questions, they discuss why their books have faced censorship (both blatant and “soft”) and how those challenges have or haven’t affected their writing, and why some people feel they have th

Of special note us how "You Can't Say That!: Writers for Young People Talk About Censorship, Free Expression, and the Stories They Have to Tell" compiler and editor Leonard S. Marcus also puts First Amendment challenges into an historical context and takes a promising look at the vibrant support network that has risen up to protect and defend young people’s rights to read, write, and publish.

Critique: Now available for personal reading lists in a new paperback edition (9781536232974, $14.99), in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781713587989, $28.99, CD), "You Can't Say That!: Writers for Young People Talk About Censorship, Free Expression, and the Stories They Have to Tell" is an extraordinary defense against the ills of book banning and the tyranny of the minority with respect to the freedom of speech issues involved in the self-appointment of biased, bigoted, and prejudiced censors. Thoroughly appropriate for children ages 9-11 (as well as their parents, teachers and librarians!), "You Can't Say That!: Writers for Young People Talk About Censorship, Free Expression, and the Stories They Have to Tell" is especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school and community library Book Censorship & Banning collections and curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Leonard S. Marcus ( is one of the world’s preeminent authorities on children’s books and the people who create them. He is the author of more than 25 award-winning biographies, histories, interview collections, and inside looks at the making of children’s literature’s enduring classics. His reviews and commentary have been featured in the New York Times Book Review, Washington Post, The Horn Book, and on numerous radio and television programs including Good Morning America, All Things Considered, PBS NewsHour, BBC Radio 4, CBC As It Happens, Beijing Television, and Radio New Zealand, among others.

Your Mindful Journal and Memoir
Jenny Davidow
Independently Published
9798218213466, $19.99, PB, 261pp

Synopsis: Ride the invisible currents of your imagination, heart, and creativity as you are guided step by step through dozens of journal experiments, memoir weaves, and mindful meditations with the insights and information comprising "Your Mindful Journal and Memoir: Open the Floodgates to Your Creativity" by Jenny Davidow and her breakthrough approach to creative journaling and memoir based on her fifty years of dedicated journaling and inner exploration.

With skill and sensitivity, Jenny Davidow helps you to tame your inner critic and transform it into warm and generous self-acceptance. Which is directly germane to any aspiring writer who has struggled to: Keep a journal and/or write a personal memoir; Get past their inner critic to express an authentic point of view and emotions; Be more fully present in each moment of their life; Give caring and compassion to themselves and others.

"Your Mindful Journal and Memoir: Open the Floodgates to Your Creativity" will take you far beyond conventional journaling and memoir as it: Resonate with your senses, the doorway to mindful attention; Transform your inner critic into gentle self-acceptance; Enjoy mindful meditations to meet your creativity, inner child, heroes, and more; Give kindness and healing to your emotions and memories; Learn the art and power of metaphor to paint a self-portrait with words; Create an evocative mindful memoir, one page at a time.

Critique: Although principally a self-help/self-improvement book (and a good one for that readership), "Your Mindful Journal and Memoir: Open the Floodgates to Your Creativity" is an unexpected treasure trove of insights and information dealing with aspiring authors who want to set about writing their own memoir, whether it be for the benefit of their posterity, or as a form of catharsis for themselves, or simply to leave a literary mark to note and document the life they have lived. "Your Mindful Journal and Memoir: Open the Floodgates to Your Creativity" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement and Writing/Publishing instructional reference collections and personal reading lists.

Editorial Note: Jenny Davidow ( is a lifelong and enthusiastic journaler, communication coach, clinical hypnotherapist, and workshop leader. She holds a Master’s in Psychology and a Doctorate in Clinical Hypnotherapy. Jenny’s first book, "Embracing Your subconscious: Bringing All Parts of You into Creative Partnership" was translated and published in Spain and Central America. Her writing appears in three anthologies: The Spirit of Writing: Classic and Contemporary Essays Celebrating the Writing Life; Dreamscaping: New and Creative Ways to Work with Your Dreams; and Love Games. Jenny is also the creator and presenter of the Mp3 series, Mindful Meditations.

"The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation" is a monthly roster of well-wishers and supporters. These are the generous folk who decided to say 'thank you' and 'support the cause' that is the Midwest Book Review by donating to our postage stamp fund this past month:

David Filpula
Leslie Brooks -- "The Magic Willow"
Julie Murkette -- "Get Your Book Seen and Sold
Linda Leblanc -- "A Fair Knight Slain: Murder at the Renaissance Fair"
David Vass -- "Liar, Alleged: A Tell-All: Celebrities, Sex, and All the Rest"
Steven Kowalski -- "Creative Together: Sparking Innovation in the New World of Work"
Querelle Press LLC
Artisan North America
Salamanders Music LLC
Kenneth Kales -- Kales Press
Joseph Peter Wilson -- Page Two Press
Christine Hunt -- Right Lane Publishing
Stephen Oney -- Cape Cod Mystery Theatre
Elizabeth Frazier -- Waldmania! PR

In lieu of (or in addition to!) postage stamp donations, we also accept PayPal gifts of support to our postage stamp fund for what we try to accomplish in behalf of the small press community. Simply log onto your PayPal account and direct your kindness (in any amount and at your discretion) to the Midwest Book Review at:

SupportMBR [at]

(The @ is replaced by "[at]" in the above email address, in an attempt to avoid email-harvesting spambots.)

If you have postage stamps to donate, or if you have a book you'd like considered for review, then send those postage stamps (always appreciated, never required), or a published copy of that book (no galleys, uncorrected proofs, or Advance Reading Copies), accompanied by a cover letter and some form of publicity release to my attention at the address below.
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So until next time -- goodbye, good luck, and good reading!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI, 53575

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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