500 New Fairy Tales Found!

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Once upon a time, the historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth collected fairytales in Bavaria, which were locked away in an archive until 2012.

On Sept 18, the English/German book version: Original Bavarian Folktales: A Schonwerth Selection: Original bayerische Volksmarchen – Ausgewahlte Schonwerth-Geschichten (Dover Dual Language German) will be available but you can preorder it now.

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 048649991X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486499918

At 304 pages it’s difficult to imagine all 500 tales are there, so it may simply be the fairy tales that are brand new and ones that are wildly different versions of tales with which we are already familiar.

However, a definite New Read Must Have. Wondering what these tales are like? Here is one of the newly discovered stories – The Turnip Princess

A young prince lost his way in the forest and came to a cave. He passed the night there, and when he awoke there stood next to him an old woman with a bear and a dog.

The old witch seemed very beautiful and wished that the prince would stay with her and marry her. He could not endure her, yet could not leave that place.

One day, the bear was alone with him and spoke to the prince: “Pull the rusty nail from the wall, so that I shall be delivered, and place it beneath a turnip in the field, and in this way you shall have a beautiful wife.”

The prince seized the nail so strongly that the cave shook and the nail cracked loudly like a clap of thunder. Behind him a bear stood up from the ground like a man, bearded and with a crown on his head.

“Now I shall find a beautiful maiden,” cried the prince and went forth nimbly.

He came to a field of turnips and was about to place the nail beneath one of them when there appeared above him a monster, so that he dropped the nail, pricked his finger on a hedge and bled until he fell down senseless.

When he awoke he saw that he was elsewhere and that he had long slumbered, for his smooth chin was now frizzy with a blond beard. He arose and set off across field and forest and searched through every turnip field but nowhere found what he was looking for.

Day passed and night, too, and one evening, he sat down on a ridge beneath a bush, a flowering blackthorn with red blossoms on one branch. He broke off the branch, and because there was before him, amongst the other things on the ground, a large, white turnip, he stuck the blackthorn branch into the turnip and fell asleep.

When he awoke on the morrow, the turnip beside him looked like a large, open shell in which lay the nail, and the wall of the turnip resembled a nut-shell, whose kernel seemed to shape his picture. He saw there the little foot, the thin hand, the whole body, even the fine hair so delicately imprinted, just as the most beautiful girl would have.

The prince stood up and began his search, and came at last to the old cave in the forest, but no one was there. He took out the nail and struck it into the wall of the cave, and at once the old woman and the bear were also there.

“Tell me, for you know for certain,” snarled the prince fiercely at the old woman, “where have you put the beautiful girl from the parlour?”

The old woman giggled to hear this: “You have me, so why do you scorn me?”

The bear nodded, too, and looked for the nail in the wall.

“You are honest, to be sure,” said the prince, “but I shall not be the old woman’s fool again.”

“Just pull out the nail,” growled the bear.

The prince reached for it and pulled it half out, looked about him and saw the bear as already half man, and the odious old woman almost as a beautiful and kind girl. Thereupon he drew out the nail entirely and flew into her arms for she had been delivered from the spell laid upon her and the nail burnt up like fire. And the young bridal pair travelled with [her] father, the king, to his kingdom.

The End.

Yes, a bit weird, but wonderful. The prince is neither clever nor heroic. The old witch (princess) and the bear [the King, her father] are the brains. What the moral is, is up for grabs. Probably that young men rarely see what’s right in front of them!

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Wigging out as the alibis abound

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It’s always nice when a plot thickens and with Cuckoo’s Calling there seems no end. The latest report on how JK Rowling was outted boils down to this:

Paul Calegari is senior partner at K&L Gates. This team attracts the respect of the business community for its advice on a range of matters including boardroom disputes and strategic issues. Paul counts AOL and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation among his clients.

Paul has a wife Judith Callegari. Judith is friends with Mrs Gossage. Mrs Gossage is married to Mr Chris Gossage.

Chris Gossage is a lawyer at Russells Solicitors, the firm that represents JK Rowling. Russells stands out for its extremely strong music practice and garners high praise for its skill in negotiating lucrative deals. Chris has built a profile in the market as a “a good executor” on the transactional side.

Chris told his wife’s best friend, Judith, in a “private conversation” that JK Rowling was the author because Judith was someone he “trusted implicitly.”

What’s great about this story is how waffly it its. Chris is telling Judith, not his wife. Chris’s wife didn’t know. She didn’t happen to tell her BFF, who then spilt the beans. So Chris and Judith are . . . close?

Then there’s Russells statement:

We, Russells Solicitors, apologise unreservedly for the disclosure caused by one of our partners, Chris Gossage, in revealing to his wife’s best friend, Judith Callegari, during a private conversation that the true identity of Robert Galbraith was in fact JK Rowling. Whilst accepting his own culpability, the disclosure was made in confidence to someone he trusted implicitly.

While Russells apologizes “unreservedly,” they then go on to make the excuse that Chris violated attorney-client privilege because he trusted Judith implicitly. That doesn’t make it less a breach of ethics. In fact, it just makes it worse. Too, all this waffle makes it sound like they’re just trying to avoid saying Chris was having an affair with Judith.

What we don’t hear is that Chris Gossage is being struck off the rolls (that’s English for disbarred). In fact, we don’t even hear the word “fired.”  Interesting.

JK Rowling has said

To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. I had assumed that I could expect total confidentiality from Russells, a reputable professional firm, and I feel very angry that my trust turned out to be misplaced.

But she has not indicated she’ll be removing her business from Russells or suing them for damages. Interesting. (Although, good luck proving she was “damaged” by this revelation.)

Judith Callegari has pulled down her Facebook page. Probably wise, though it’s hard to imagine anyone would want to attack her for outting JK Rowling. She apparently didn’t do it for money. But in a way, that make this just her outting Rowling that much more interesting.

As a lawyer’s wife, and “friend” of a lawyer, she must have known what she was doing was unethical. She must have known it would hurt her family, her friend, her . . . whatever Chris is to her, not to mention all the law firms involved. And yet when she tweeted this news, it was @JudeCallegari. In other words, she made it very easy to be “discovered” by the legal teams (particularly Chris) which she knew would be hunting for the “leak.”

Is Judith an attention seeker? A JK Rowling fan? Was she trying to hurt or ruin Chris? Trying to end her marriage (and possibly Chris’s)? Or maybe she was just doing as she was asked?

It’s difficult to believe it’s all “as stated.” Yes, people can do stupid things. But not  typically when the people are senior partners (or their wives) at law firms with a lot to lose. And not typically when it involves the best entertainment firm in the UK representing the highest grossing author of all time. So, did Russells arrange this leak? Lawyers really don’t mind getting their hand dirty for a good client. If the leak is tracked back to JK Rowling’s own law firm, that’s far better than a track back to the author, her agent, or her publisher.

Russells goes out of it’s way to state it was all accidental on their part.

On becoming aware of the circumstances, we immediately notified JK Rowling’s agent. We can confirm that this leak was not part of any marketing plan and that neither JK Rowling, her agent nor publishers were in any way involved.

It sounds like a love triangle gone terribly wrong that inadvertently exposed JK Rowling. But who can really say. The public is left with a mystery — even as the sales figures for Russells’ client’s book continue to climb. Readers will still have to decide for themselves whodunit, why, and whether The Cuckoo is worth the calling.

Published in: on July 19, 2013 at 11:33 AM  Comments (1)  
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Cuckoo’s the right word.

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We read a lot of UK news around here, so no surprise yesterday when The Sunday Times outted JK Rowling as new author “Robert Galbraith,” whose debut detective novel The Cuckoo’s Calling went on sale in April.

It seems likely the publishing house was counting on Rowling being outted by an astute reviewer on day 1. Given the author was represented by JK Rowling’s agent, and the book was published by JK Rowling’s publisher and worked on by JK Rowling’s editor, then this first time, unknown author was hyped through the roof — even though this author makes no personal appearances, it’s hard to imagine no reviewer would connect the dots. But they didn’t.

Failing a reviewer discovery, the publisher probably assumed some reader would pick up on the true author’s identity in the early weeks. After all, there was Robert Galbraith’s the over-the-top backstory (typical of Harry Potter). The lead detective’s had a truly Potter-worthy name: Cormoran Strike (a take off on the Cormorant Strike military exercises). All of Rowling’s usual tropes –Latin, drug use, loathing of the middle class — were there. And, best for last, the completely Harry Potter style cover

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But again, no reader caught on.

The problem with all this publisher-author strategizing was, of course, they forgot that people just want to read a good book. The reviewers and the public were willing to give a new author a chance. They were willing to extended the author and the publishing house trust. In return, both the author and the publisher had to accept the results — lackluster — at least for 90 days.

It’s understandable that a famous author wants to see if he/she really has star quality writing ability or if their first huge success was an unrepeatable one off. But actually trying to find out by writing a book under another name? That is a writer deeply insecure about her talent and / or ambivalent about her earlier success. That’s an author who needs therapy.

It’s also understandable that while publishers may believe in an author and his/her work (even when they veer off their previous genre), they do have to cave in to the weird demands of very famous authors now and then. This book, no doubt, represents such a case. But, publishers spend a lot of money producing a book. Like it or not, they need a book to make its production/advertising expenses back — and then some — to stay in business.

The Cuckoo’s Calling, was released April 30. Until yesterday, it had sold only 1400 copies (500 by some stats) and had mixed reviews. That’s just not good enough for a publishing house, especially as July 31st is coming up fast. After 3 months, the window starts closing fast on “new book” sales. A new book is fading out of public view. It’s got all the hype it’s going to get. Sales start going down hill fast unless there is genuine reader buzz.

Most publishers hope to make the bulk of their sales on a book by month 3. If there’s reader enthusiasm — a lot of word of mouth — by month 3 a book might start generating more sales than when it was initially released. These extended sales are great because it means an author can be built up. New books in the series are generally then ordered.

However, since sales weren’t very good and reviews mixed, Cuckoo wasn’t going any place fast, ie, a net loss for a publisher. This is not to say it was a bad book, but realistically as a book by a first time, unknown author, it wasn’t doing even ok as regards sales. People kind of liked it, but they weren’t spreading the word. Low book sales mean no request for further books in the series. Very likely, author and publisher would have parted ways.

But Cuckoo wasn’t by a true unknown, a first-time author, and the publisher had an out — doubtless one which Rowling had agreed to readily because she’d tried to flog it to other publishers and they all rejected it as not good enough. So she ended up back at her own publisher. The discussion probably went something like this: If Cuckoo’s sales don’t start to seriously uptick after the first 60 days, there will be an “anonymous” tip sent out hinting that JK Rowling is the book’s real author. And this is what happened.

One of The Sunday Times‘ columnists, India Knight, received an anonymous tip on Twitter saying the novel was actually by Rowling. The Tweeter’s account was then immediately deleted. This tip was followed up on, and confirmed, and . . . voila, sales rocketed the following day.

It’s almost certain the publisher, who wanted to make serious money from Cuckoo, is the “anonymous” source. Since the clueless reviewers/public didn’t figure out this book was actually the work of a “famous” writer, someone had to tell them — and get Rowling’s huge fan base out buying. And it needed to happen in the first 3 months, by July 31st. Why? Can you say “Annual Report,” “Fiscal Year,” or “Stock Dividends”?

There’s nothing illegal about any of this, but it’s all a bit silly and demeaning for an author of JK Rowling’s stature. And as for the publisher, well, a corporation does what corporations do to protect their bottom line and their brands. JK Rowling is a brand. A brand can’t put out a bad product (in this case a book). This is especially true as her first novel for adults Casual Vacancy wasn’t that well received. And by not well received, we mean didn’t go as big as Harry Potter. It was still a 3 out of 5 book that made huge sales.

JK Rowling herself seems to indicate complicity in the whole Cuckoo scheme. “I hoped to keep this secret a little longer,” she said. Clearly, she’d expected her true identity to be revealed, just not within 90 days. She perhaps hoped her book would get great buzz and sell magnificently on its own. At the same time, she seemed to accept that her publisher would exercise its option to out her and make serious money off this book (and any future series’ books), if it didn’t. This “revelation” protects Rowling’s brand and makes her a lot of money.

Should all this reflect badly on Rowling? Truthfully, publishing contracts probably make it extremely difficult for her to self-publish a book under another name and let the work stand on its own. If that was something she wanted to do. Was it? Maybe. One of the things Rowling said, in remarking on Cuckoo, was that she didn’t want to get a lot of hateful reviews again just because she was famous. In other words, she felt Casual Vacancy had been attacked unjustly because of her fame.

Ultimately, it’s readers who decide a book’s fate. If a book is not well received, that’s life. Authors must accept that. They can’t assign blame to the readers. Overall, the number of haters doesn’t outweigh the number of actual open-minded readers. A wildly successful, established author shouldn’t need to hide under various nom de plumes in a desperate desire to get what they believe is an authentic review.

If you are a famous author and you are publishing another book, in another genre, under another name, in order to get a good review because you believe people are out to get you and, apparently, any review that’s negative is from a hater and therefore inauthentic . . . well, that’s just a bit sad and rather paranoid sounding. But, that’s apparently what’s going on here from what the author herself has said.

This is why therapy is a good idea. JK Rowling is a good author. But she can’t own her own talent or fame. Authors have to own their writing, own the fact there are haters out there, and own the fact that they will never be liked by everybody. That’s the only way to have a sane life. If you can only stand to hear good things about your writing because you don’t fully believe in in your work — stop writing.

Rowling told the Times, “I hoped to keep this secret a little longer because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience. It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback from publishers and readers under a different name.”

That really comes off as complete twaddle. The Cuckoo was totally hyped by the publishing house in a way no first-time unknown author’s book would be. And there were certainly expectations — by the publishing house, if not the author — that the book would sell and sell well. As for feedback? Apparently the mixed reviews of Cuckoo were expected — only this time she believed them. But those reviews still weren’t good enough to move the book, so her publisher outted her.

Translation: The book didn’t sell on the strength of the writing. It was an ok read but nothing so fantastic readers want to tell everyone it’s a can’t-put-down must-read. It was never going to be a best seller. However, sometimes audiences grow, especially over a few books in a series. Publishers often nurture new writers and allow time for this extended strategy to play out.

It’s sad that Rowling has no faith in the reading public. But her books do tend to reflect a pessimistic, even negative, outlook on people and life. What’s sadder still is that Rowling’s publisher didn’t have enough faith in her new book to let it run its course and allow it (and any future books of this series) to develop a following naturally.

One can only assume the publishers didn’t believe in Galbraith’s writing, or lost faith too soon when sales fell off, or, more realistically, that this is just everything going to (backup) plan: Let famous author do this, and 60 days in (if it’s not selling) reveal and make a killing. Win-win. Except for the readers who were duped.

Readers of Cuckoo were cuckolded. And it’s doubtful that title joke, played on the readers by Rowling (and her duplicitous publisher), was unintended. That Rowling still wonders why people write hateful reviews, especially after something like this, now there’s a mystery!

*For the record, Stephen King’s alter ego had no problem moving books — for years. We like JK Rowling and her books (the Potter series) a lot, but at some point an author has to accept books don’t sell well because of the writing, not the readers.*

Not your typical summer read

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For those of you that didn’t read it in hardback when it came out last year, Cat Daddy by Jackson Galaxy (of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell fame) is now available in paperback (as well as audiobook & ebook).

The subtitle: What the world’s most incorrigible cat taught me about life, love and coming clean, barely begins to scratch the surface.

This is an unflinching and honest look at a human life, ruined by addictions and redeemed by the love of a cat, that not for the faint of heart.

But for those with the courage to take it up, you will be rewarded. While there are tips about cat care scattered throughout, this is more in the vein of an full-throttle autobiography (both Jackson’s and his cat Benny’s).

Rarely have we come across an author so willing to rip away the mask and yet so able to eloquently tell his truth (about shelters, addiction, loss, change, growth and so much more) in a can’t-put-it down fashion.

Definitely 5 stars. Definitely someone we hope will be publishing future works, of fiction, nonfiction or even verse!

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A Self-Published Author’s Media Rise

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A big worry of authors, and one which keeps them from self-publishing, is the idea that only big publishing companies can get a book standard (non-social) media exposure. That is ridiculously untrue.

As proof, check out MJ Cope’s recent blog posts at Small Minds Enterprises. She wrote a press release, herself, for her recently self-published book Funny Australian Letterboxes. As result, she has been interviewed by newspapers (plural) and TV station GWN (see interview here).

There is nothing holding an author back today except antiquated ideas about publishing and marketing. If you are willing to take small steps, to give it a go, you can make yourself a success. Really!

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The Flux Capacitor Effect, How Old Books Become New Best Sellers

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Some interesting reads are on Publishers’ Weekly site if you’re into book stats for 2012 — what sold and why in print.

For instance, last year print sales were dominated by Romance. Romance jumped +35%, while Biography/Autobiography epic failed -26%, as did Sci Fi -21%, Business  -18%, Mystery  -11%, Cooking -3%, History -7%, Audio -7%, Children -2%.

Upshot, romance sells, particularly in hard times, and hard “romance,” like 50 Shades books, really sells.

The Romance category was also one of the most monopolized —- the top 10 romance bestsellers had only 4 different authors (E.L. James, Sylvia Day, Nora Roberts, and Nicholas Sparks) from only 3 different publishers (Vintage, Berkley, and Grand Central). Only one other adult category, Religion, saw any increase at all in 2012 —- and that only increased 1% for the year.

The really interesting stuff however is over in the Best Selling Books of 2012 Top of The Charts.

Half of the top 20 bestselling books of 2012 in print were either Fifty Shades titles or Hunger Games titles, and only one book not written by E.L. James or Suzanne Collins—Jeff Kinney’s latest Wimpy Kid title—cracked the one-million-copies-sold mark for the year.

However, Amazon’s Top 20 Print Titles reveals a larger trend evident in the bestseller lists — that just because a book is a bestseller in 2012 doesn’t mean it was published in 2012.

Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, was in Amazon’s top 20 for print, despite being first published in 2010.

In fact, eight of BookScan’s top 20 books in 2012 were published before 2012, including Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling, which was published in 2004, and E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey (which came out first as a Kindle and Print on Demand title in May of 2011). Another non-2012 release, Stephen King’s 11/22/63, finished as Kindle’s #19 bestseller of the year, thanks in part to its discounted $3.99 price tag. But for Kindle, there was no bigger success story than Helen Bryan’s War Brides, which was first published in 2007 and rereleased by AmazonEncore (Amazon’s paperback division) in June 2012, needing just over six months to become the #14 Kindle bestseller of 2012.

So just because your book didn’t fly off the shelves the year you published it, doesn’t mean it won’t ever make the bestseller list!

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For Action and Adventure Board “The Enterprise”!

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The Australian High Commission, located in the heart of New Delhi, is anything but what it appears.

An ambitious assistant discovers his reputable place of employment is tainted with corruption. What’s more, his boss the Deputy High Commissioner could be involved. Does he pursue the truth, jeopardising his chances of promotion and risk exposing his own secrets, or does he play the game and get ahead?

In a world where appearances are deceiving and people are not who they say they are, one thing can be relied upon to ruin everything: the Truth.

Well, folks it’s happened again! Another great writer has decided to throw the proverbial hat in to the ring of self-publishing! And we say, Huzzah! to that. MJ Cope has long been a favorite around FAB.

You can preview the first 3 chapters of The Enterprise on Amazon. It is available on Kindle for $2.99. (Not yet available on Nook or in print.) And if humor is your thing, try Cope’s Funny Australian Letterboxes. Basically, you can’t get any more odd box, than OZ boxes. (Yes, that is a full-size trash bin under some corragated tin between two telephone-type posts.)

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One of the reasons we are so passionate about authors going out on their own these days is that so many great writers go unheard because the publishing “gate keepers” don’t really understand what the public wants to read.  This has long been the case and over the holidays this was brought home to us once again when we chanced upon a telling author John Kennedy Toole’s story.

Toole was the Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Confederacy of Dunces. He began writing at an early age, in his teens. But his famous book was penned in his 20s. Upon finishing his opus, he sent it off to Simon and Schuster where it reached noted editor Robert Gottlieb. Gottlieb considered Toole talented but felt his comic novel was essentially pointless.

Despite several revisions, Gottlieb remained unsatisfied, and after the book was rejected by another literary figure, Hodding Carter Jr., he shelved the novel. Suffering from depression and feelings of self-persecution, Toole left home on a journey around the country. He stopped in Biloxi, Mississippi and ended his life by running a garden hose in from the exhaust of his car to the cabin.

Over a decade later, his mother brought the manuscript of Dunces to the attention of novelist Walker Percy, who ushered the book into print. In 1981, Toole was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. This is what happens time and again; publishing houses don’t recognize real talent. Had Toole been able to publish his own work on Kindle, he might not have killed himself and the world might have many more great works.

Now, we’re not saying MJ Cope’s The Enterprise (or Funny Australian Letterboxes) is going to take a Pulitzer, but we’re pretty sure the public’s going to love it! Do yourself a favor and bust out that new Amazon tablet, grab that Amazon giftcard, and get reading!

MJ Cope formerly had long-running blog on WP (MJCache.wordpress.com) which we linked to, so many of you know about MJ. Sadly, it was recently deleted and for some reason there was no final post sent out to its subscribers redirecting them to her new blog. We call that “a lost marketing opportunity.” Remember, if you build a following on your blog, you want to keep that following because those folks will be your first buyers, they already like you, and they’ll likely give your book a good review. If you no long wish to use your original blog anymore, NEVER DELETE IT. Instead, make all its posts private except the most recent one. Your one public post should be redirecting your followers (and new folks who stumble onto it) to the new blog you want your readers following.