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Jim Cox Report: September 2019

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

From the clay tablets of Sumeria, to the papyrus scrolls of Egypt, to the cloth based vellum of medieval Europe, for most of recorded human history books were hand made -- one at a time. Then came Johannes Gutenberg (c. 1400 - February 3, 1468) and his invention of the printing press with moveable type and the age of the mass produced book was born. The next great advance in the publishing industry was well within all of our own lifetimes with the coming of the digital book with computer screen pixels replacing printed words on paper.

But still in this age of mass produced editions of books there is still a flourishing craft of making books by hand -- one at a time.

The process is first making the paper, second printing words on that hand-made paper, third is binding those pages together. The result are unique handmade books that still, in today's market, can command extraordinary prices and are arguably works of art within themselves.

For those with an interest in this specialized aspect of the publishing industry, or who might like to consider making a book by hand, here are some very informatively useful instructional resource links:

1. How To Make A Handmade Book | DIY Paper Crafts

2. Handmade Books and Journals

3. Handmade Books

4. FaveCraft Homemade Books

5. Making Handmade Books: 100+ Bindings, Structures & Forms

There are a wealth of DIY 'how to' books on every aspect of hand-making a book or journal. What got me started on the topic for this month's "Jim Cox Report" was a book on making marbled paper (a very traditional part of making books by hand) that came across my desk seeking a review. Here it is:

Making Marbled Paper
Heather R. J. Fletcher
Fox Chapel Publishing Company
1970 Broad Street N., East Petersburg, PA 17520
9781497100435, $19.99, PB, 160pp,

Synopsis: As a young child she viewed the world through art, fabrics, and imagination, Heather RJ Fletcher had no clue about her artistic ability until her first drawing class in college at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. Post-graduation she experimented with several career paths: award-winning documentary filmmaker, retail manager, interactive commercial business manager, mermaid model, and even a home shopping television producer. Then one day, she took an art licensing workshop at MCAD with Lindsay Nohl. It was during Lindsay's class where she learned to connect the dots of her artistic career. HRJ is now licensing her art work, making patterns, illustrating, and showing in galleries. She happily works from her studio in MCBA.

In "Making Marbled Paper: Paint Techniques & Patterns for Classic & Modern Marbleizing on Paper & Silk" she draws upon her years of experience and expertise to help aspiring papermakers to get started in the exciting art of marbling paper. The patterns range from ancient suminagashi to modern nail art. Marbling paper for book productions has been in use since the 11th century, and can be found in all sorts of mediums today.

Herein compiled are more than 30 different patterns to create and a step-by-step interactive workbook to encourage practice. As part of the publishing process, aspiring papermakers learn all the modern and traditional marbling techniques, from chevron and feathering to stone and scallop.

From foundational to advanced skills, "Making Marbled Paper" shows how to float paint on water, create intricate patterns and unique designs with unusual tools, lay paper on various materials to transfer beautiful artwork, and so many more marbling methods!

With guidance from Heather Fletcher (herself a professional artist who has traveled the world studying these distinctive methods and learning from the world's leading marbling masters), even the most novice of beginners will gain an understanding of the origins and evolution of this reemerging art form.

Whether you set up in your garage or at your kitchen table, anyone can get started using everyday household items to create colorful works of art. Beginning with the four foundational patterns (stone, chevron, getgel, and nonpareil) "Making Marbled Paper" features step-by-step, photo-illustrated directions will show everything necessary to know in order to successfully accomplish every design.

With room to paste a sample of work for each main pattern, "Making Marbled Paper" then progress into 30 more advanced patterns. Also included are six marbled paper project ideas, such as gift wrap, bookshelf liners, framed art, and more! There are a wealth of practical tips for troubleshooting as well as information on how to marble fabric. A list of resources for marbling tools and supplies, classes, and marbling artists is also included.

Critique: Profusely illustrated, expertly organized, accessibly presented, "Making Marbled Paper: Paint Techniques & Patterns for Classic & Modern Marbleizing on Paper & Silk" is an extraordinary, comprehensive and thoroughly 'user friendly' instruction guide and manual that is unreserved recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library collections.

Now here are reviews of other new books with particular relevance and interest for authors and publishers:

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

The Productive Graduate Student Writer
Jan Allen
Stylus Publishing, Inc.
22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166-2012
9781620368916, $21.00 PB, $10.89 Kindle, 180pp,

The Productive Graduate Student Writer: How to Manage Your Time, Process, and Energy to Write Your Research Proposal, Thesis, and Dissertation and Get Published comes from an associate dean for academic and student affairs, and provides students with all-in-one guide to managing grad school's demands. From working on and finishing a project both without and under deadlines to defining essential tasks, conducting research, and translating it to a dissertation, this addresses the basics student writers need to know to get projects completed in a more efficient manner. Unlike more general college how-to guides or creative writer's guides, The Productive Graduate Student Writer's focus on the routines, demands, and processes of grad school makes for a specialized presentation that provides exact details on the process of research and writing for grad students.

Writing Fiction
James Essinger
The Conrad Press
9781911546542, $13.00 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 185pp,

Synopsis: In "Writing Fiction: A User-Friendly Guide", author James Essenger draws on the his more than thirty years of experience as a professional writer, as well as on the work and ideas of writers including (in alphabetically order): Anthony Burgess; Joseph Conrad; George Eliot; Ken Follett; Frederick Forsyth; Dan Harmon; Ernest Hemingway; David Lodge; Norman Mailer; John Milton; Ben Parker; J.K. Rowling; William Shakespeare; Martin Cruz Smith; J.R.R. Tolkien.

The twenty-four chapters comprising "Writing Fiction: A User-Friendly Guide" by James Essinger cover every important matter an aspiring author need to know about including: devising a compelling story, creating and developing characters, plotting, 'plants', backstory, suspense, dialogue, 'show' and 'tell', and how to make a novel more real than reality.

Also featuring special guest advice from legendary screenwriter Bob Gale, who wrote the three immortal 'Back to the Future' movies (1985, 1989 and 1990), and novelist and screenwriter William Osborne, whose many screen credits include the co-writing of the blockbuster 'Twins' (1988), "Writing Fiction" is highly entertaining book provides all the advice and practical guidance needed to make the dream of becoming a published fiction writer come true.

Critique: "Writing Fiction: A User-Friendly Guide" draws on James Essinger's more than thirty years of experience as a professional writer, and on the work and ideas of writers including:
Anthony Burgess; Joseph Conrad; George Eliot; Ken Follett; Frederick Forsyth; Dan Harmon; Ernest Hemingway; David Lodge; Norman Mailer; John Milton; Ben Parker; J.K. Rowling; William Shakespeare; Martin Cruz Smith; and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Itself exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Writing Fiction" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Writing/Publishing instructional reference collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of any and all aspiring authors that "Writing Fiction" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99,

Editorial Note: James Essinger has been a professional writer since 1988. his non-fiction books include Jacquard's Web (2004), Ada's Algorithm (2013), which is to be filmed by Monumental Pictures, and Charles and Ada: The Computer's Most Passionate Partnership (2019). His novels include The Mating Game (2016) and The Ada Lovelace Project (2019).

Finally, "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:

Greg Bahora
Patrick V. Gordon
George Robert Minkoff
Patrick Finegan -- "Cooperative Lives"
Jeannie Burt -- "The Seasons of Doubt"
Lois V. Nightingale -- "Paddle to Paddle"
Joyce A. Lefler -- "From Miracle To Murder"
STEM Shorts
Carolyn Wilhelm -- Wise Owl Factory
Eileen McIntire -- Summit Crossroads Press
Leslie Garson -- Garson & Wright PR
Joanne McCall -- McCall Media Group
Beth Blenz-Clucas -- Sugar Mountain PR
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!
Barbara C. Wall -- The Barrett Company, LLC

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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