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Jim Cox Report: September 2016

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

The Midwest Book Review started out in September of 1976. That makes this month the 40th Anniversary of the Midwest Book Review. What began as a little half hour weekly radio show founded by the late John Ohliger about books is today an enterprise that produces nine monthly book review publications, hosts a major instructional resource web site for authors, publishers, and librarians (as well as the general reading public), enjoys the patronage of two annual grants, provides reviews for two major national databases, is positively referenced in more than 30 'how to' books on writing and publishing, and a great deal more.

The rather colorful story of how it all began (including the launching of my career as a professional book reviewer and book review editor under Professor Ohliger's mentorship) is to be found at:

Credit for the enduring success of the Midwest Book Review must be given to it's legion of men and women who worked as volunteers over the years. Phil Kaveny is one of the first of these -- and is a continuing volunteer reviewer to this day. Phil has written up his own memories of the earliest years of the Midwest Book Review. You can find that at:

At the current age of 73 I find that I have spent more than half of my life as the editor-in-chief of the Midwest Book Review. I fervently hope to spend the rest of my life as an MBR volunteer in striving to carry out the three founding goals of the Midwest Book Review with respect to the promotion of literacy, library usage, and small press publishing.

The fundamental mission of the Midwest Book Review has been and will continue to be one of providing a forum for anyone wanting to critique what they read and share their opinions with others; helping writers to write better; enabling publishers to publish more profitably; assisting librarians in making useful acquisitions to their collections; and to bring to the attention of the general reading public recommendable books that they might otherwise never know about.

There are several ways to measure success as of the Midwest Book Review as a book review organization and resource. One of them was my being given a Life Time Achievement In Publishing Award back in 2012 by the late Dan Poynter as his E-Book Publishers Association. Still another is the never ending support of volunteers from (literally) around the world. But one of the more unique measures is the fact that thanks to author and publisher gestures of support in the form of donations to our Midwest Book Review postage stamp fund, I haven't had to buy a postage stamp for the last thirty years!

As to my own way of measuring success -- after all these years, I still get up every morning eager to get on with my chores and duties as the editor-in-chief of the Midwest Book Review!

Now on to the rest of the "Jim Cox Report" for September 2016!

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

How to Write Your Best Story Ever! (writing/publishing)
Christopher Edge
250 Wireless Boulevard, Hauppauge, NY 11788
9781438009094, $12.99, PB, 127pp,

Children love to dream up stories -- but getting them down on paper may be a challenge. Thatís where "How to Write Your Best Story Ever!: Top Tips and Trade Secrets from the Experts" by Christopher Edge can help. This is an instructional guide that is simply bursting with creative ways to help young writers ages 7 to 11 in crafted all types of stories. Helpful features include: Hints and tips to create amazing characters and settings; Story Sparks to help young writers come up with exciting plots; Word Webs that offer choices that add flair to stories; Ways to wrap it all up with a brilliant ending; Inspiration along the way from fantastic fiction and advice from bestselling authors; Chapters devoted to writing stories such as Adventure, Romance, Science Fiction, Mash-ups, and more. "How to Write Your Best Story Ever!" is a thoroughly 'user friendly' guide to writing and with a little bit of imagination, enable students in grades 2 to 6 to write their best stories ever! "How to Write Your Best Story Ever!" is enthusiastically recommended for elementary school and community library collections.

The Jane Austen Writers' Club
Rebecca Smith
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781632865885, $27.00, HC, 352pp,

While creative writing manuals tend to use examples from twentieth- and twenty-first-century writers, "The Jane Austen Writers' Club: Inspiration and Advice from the World's Best-loved Novelist" by Rebecca Smith (who teaches creative writing at the University of Southampton; was the Writer in Residence at Jane Austen's House Museum from 2009 to 2010; and who still works closely with the Museum, running writing workshops and judging their competition for young writers) is the first 'how to' for aspiring writers to look at the methods and devices used by the world's most beloved novelist. Austen was a creator of immortal characters and a pioneer in her use of language and point of view; her advice continues to be relevant two centuries after her death. Rebecca Smith deftly examines the major aspects of writing fiction (plotting, characterization, openings and endings, dialogue, settings, and writing methods) sharing the advice Austen gave in letters to her aspiring novelist nieces and nephew, and providing many and varied exercises for writers to try, using examples from Austen's work. "The Jane Austen Writers' Club" also provides a number of exercises and functions perfectly as a timely primer on writing that features utterly timeless advice. As informed and informative as it is thoroughly 'user friendly', "The Jane Austen Writers' Club" is an invaluable instructional study that is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, college, and academic library 'how to' collections on writing truly memorable fiction. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Jane Austen Writers' Club" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

The Writer's Garden
Jackie Bennett, author
Richard Hanson, photographer
Frances Lincoln Publishers
74-77 White Lion Street, Islington, London, N1 9PF
9780711238404, $25.99, PB, 176pp,

Jackie Bennett is a former editor of "The Garden Design Journal","English Garden Magazine", and "Gardening with the National Trust". With "The Writer's Garden: How Gardens Inspired Our Best-Loved Authors" Jackie draws upon her years of experience and expertise to provide an informed and informative commentary on how their gardens influenced and even inspired such writers as Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, Beatrix Potter, Charles Dickens, Virginia Wolf, George Bernard Shaw, Henry James, Thomas Hardy, William Wordsworth, Walter Scott, Rudyard Kipling, and more! Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout with the superb photography of Richard Hanson, each entry includes an 'info box' called Written in Residence listing the works credited with being written at the garden graced residence of that particular author. Unique, inherently fascinating, consistently compelling, "The Writer's Garden" will prove to be of special interest to aspiring and practicing authors, as well as garden and gardening enthusiasts everywhere. While unreservedly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Writer's Garden" is also available in a Kindle format ($11.91).

Here is "The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation" 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 postage stamps this past month:

Clive Johnson
Leslie Brooks -- "Alannah"
Lon Cole -- "Celebrate Survival"
Ann Everett -- "Say You'll Never Love Me"
Debra Buchanan -- "A Very Special Christmas Tree"
Jerome Tiller -- "Mark Twain's The Facts Concerning the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut"
Dowling Press
Positive Imaging
Red Feather Publishing
Media for Life Corporation
Howard Schrager -- Lemon Tree Press
Linda F. Radke -- Five Star Publications
Beverly Newton -- International Jewerly Publications
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!
Jane Wesman -- Jane Wesman Public Relations
Barbara Wall -- The Barrett Company Communications

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.

All of the previous issues of the "Jim Cox Report" are archived on the Midwest Book Review website at If you'd like to receive the "Jim Cox Report" directly (and for free), just send me an email asking to be signed up for it.

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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