Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A POEM | About Keeping Together Mom and Baby

Presentation of pandas by
 the China Books exhibit.
June 1, 2018–At BookExpo in New York's Javits Center.

I've been spending three days with the people who write...
And the people who print books, quite a sight.
There are some who have books in their store just to buy,
And others who lend them, it's easy as pie.
To market, to market, to buy a fat hen, 
BookExpo's the place for the work of the pen.
Panda tag. Not
Paddington Bear.
So that's where I've been, seeing what is for sale,
Whether books or the services that help on this trail.
Just today I went by to the ChinaBooks Booth,
Not seeing it, I thought, would've been très uncouth.
I'm glad that I went... It's my lucky day,
As the calendar shows, in the Chinese way.
I was picked to receive a cute furry panda
Tagged, like Paddington Bear,
but in Chinese... Is it a visa?
A little baby I named Peter... ánd a...
Mom enfolding him – something so rare,
People all envied my lovely pair.
The bears had a tag I was unable to  read.
I'm hoping you'll translate with all due speed.
Paddington Bear had a tag too, such a dear,
Peter and Mom had one stuck in her ear.
Peter's name I knew from the panda of yore [1953].
Tell me his Mom's name – what are friends for?
My new China friends took plenty of pix.
And cameras rolled, with dozens of clicks.
Television and still cams
hum and click.
How cute is that? 
If to the right people these pix wend,
Maybe to New York a real panda they'll send.
So many people gave the pandas their eyes,
Tracee at Schiffer Kids loved my new prize.
A fully grown panda weighs as much as I,
And neither of us slinks around on the sly.
But I confess to a problem that grew as I went,
Soon all my baggage made me walk with back bent.
With Tracee Groff at Schiffer Kids.
I carried these two pandas, lovely they are,
But with backpack and PEN bag, the distances grew far.
My backpack was full of big books to review.
The logistics were hard. What to do?  Who knew?
The only way forward at first it appeared, 
Was to divide up the pair, something I feared.
That way I could fit panda in what I had,
But breaking up a family would be awfully sad.
  Then I remembered,  there are booths in the Hall,
Crisis! My backpack was already full.
What to do??
Where problems they laugh at – they solve them all.
Why not stop by and beg them, and give them a test?
It's worth asking these experts, so I guessed.
No sooner did I decide to look out for some aid,
Than I passed by Publiship, which ships for the trade.
First, they gave me a bag with their name on the side,
A huge help, as both pandas fit snugly inside.
Panda pair bagged, zip-tied and
pandy-backed on my backpack.
Then they gave me as well a ziptie to tack
The bag with the pandas to the pack on my back!!!
Peter and his Mom settle in to
their New York City home. Welcome!
Thank you, Publiship, the experts who know How to ship books and stuff with a long way to go.
They're based in New Jersey, and have served 30 years,
And they are the ones who got us all home with no fears!

Check out this helpful company who gave this story a happy ending– They've shipped 200 million books in the last year, to 109 ports, in 48 countries. Thanks to Carrick Wilkie for his logistical aid. This paean to them was unsolicited.

Related posts: Day 2 of BookExpo

This blog is supported by, which publishes a book about another bear, Little Old Bear, by award-winning (Newbery honor roll) author-illustrator Hilda van Stockum. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

SELF-PUBLISHING | Amazon, BookBaby, IngramSpark

Sample Comparison of Services, from
Daily Cos. Ingram is more geared to
bookstores (accepts returns).
I am having to compare self-publishing options and this may be of use to other authors going through the same process. It is not easy to sort out what is the best way to go. Each step costs money. Good service has to be paid for. But there are ways to get better value for money. Here's a 2015 post that compares costs for a $14.99 book. 


Amazon is the way to sell ebooks, and it now owns CreateSpace, which is a good way to sell print on demand (POD) books but their discounting practices annoy bookstores and going with them makes it hard to get into bookstores. Ingram Spark is better.

BookBaby: Good for ebooks

I had a good experience dealing with BookBaby and getting estimates of costs for putting out a book. The information came quickly and seemed reasonable, and were delivered professionally.

A review of BookBaby from the ebook publishing perspective in 2014 reported that the new management under President Steven Spatz is making positive changes but the reviewer recommends Smashwords and Draft2Digital over BookBaby as primary distributor, mainly because of the charges that BookBaby imposed for changes to the text that is filed.

The Independent Publishing Magazine in 2014 said that BookBaby is competitive on ebooks but not on printing books. I came to that impression myself by comparing quotes. One reason BookBaby can get away with noncompetitive printing charges is that it masks the charges by giving “royalty” estimates.

As of 2017 there were a lot of complaints about BookBaby. However, the overall recommendation by the Independent Authors Association is favorable.

TrustPilot has some more recent reviews and BookBaby is responding to the negative ones. Someone seems to be taking charge. The overall rating is 8.8 out of 10. That’s pretty good.

Summary: BookBaby seems to excel at book design and preparation, and distributing ebooks. On the printing side, the 2014 negative review on noncompetitive pricing seems to be still applicable.

Ingram Spark

Spark is great for POD books, but they avoid getting involved in the details of editing and design, although they provide guides and a list of certified providers.


For someone knowledgable about publishing but nervous about making a mistake (the more you know, the more nervous you should be), the solution is either to use Ingram Spark for their guides and certified providers or to rely on BookBaby. Once the book is ready, BookBaby is an expensive route to go for POD, but is fine for ebooks. Goose Tracks has a strategy for releasing a book in steps.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

LAURA INGALLS WILDER | Her Home in Mansfield, Missouri

Yesterday, going through books after the challenging immersion last week in #BookExpo2018,  I was dipping into "Dear Laura," a collection of letters to Laura Ingalls Wilder from her young fans.

That prompted me to send a letter to the woman in charge of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum in Mansfield, Missouri, Jean Coday.

I watched an interview with her on YouTube, about the Wilder Home and Museum, and was pleased that the Wilder books and home and the memory of the author are being kept alive so energetically. You can watch the interview here:

My mother, Hilda van Stockum Marlin (Newbery Honoree in 1935), was – like Wilder – a Viking Press author and we used to get each "Little House" book from May Massee, the editor, as it came out. 

My sister Olga Marlin was a special fan and she kept up a correspondence with Wilder. I asked Jean Coday whether any of that correspondence survives in the Mansfield home and museum. 

"Dear Laura" was published in 1996 by HarperCollins. 

If fan letters from Olga are not in Mansfield, they could be in the Herbert Hoover Library in West Branch, Iowa. Perhaps there is also another location for storage of these letters.

My sister Olga this year has just had published her second book, released by Scepter, which is located in New York, New York and Princeton, New Jersey. The book is called "Our Lives in His Hands: An Ordinary Couple's Path to Holiness," with a Foreword by Mary Ann Glendon.

Boissevain Books published a second edition of her first book, "To Africa with a Dream," which was initially published by Scepter.

Thursday, May 24, 2018


The Comma Queen, at the Players Club,
November 21, 2017.
November 22, 2017 – How did the comma happen?

And then, how did the Oxford Comma happen?

And how does the Oxford Comma differ from the Harvard Comma?

I listened to a report at lunch today at the Players Club, New York City, by Mary Norris, the "Comma Queen". 

She wrote a book called Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen.

(To be continued. Watch this space.)

KERSTI | Rights Trail

Rights are Asserted in the following book by Hilda van Stockum through 2056 or 2076, depending on prevailing copyright law.

1. Kersti and St. Nicholas: COPYRIGHT in name of VIKING PRESS 1940. Originally published by Viking Press. Registration was made October 18, 1940. The book is described as having been published in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on October 11, 1940. Recorded in the Register of Copyrights at the Library of Congress by the Commissioner of Patents, November 4, 1940.

Historical note: Hilda van Stockum was born in Rotterdam, Holland and saw her country invaded on May 10,  1940 and her home city bombed to the ground by the Nazis a few days later.

The shock of this for her and her mother Olga Boissevain van Stockum must have been agonizing.

Her book describes a little Dutch girls who persuades St. Nicholas to give presents to the naughty children as well as the good ones.

An edition of Kersti and St. Nicholas was published by Boissevain Books LLC.

For other books and articles and artwork to which rights are asserted, see

2. VIKING REVERSION OF RIGHTS to Author, 1967 (Seven Books including Kersti)



VAN STOCKUM | Hilda van Stockum, Assertion of Rights

Rights are Asserted and Hereby Documented in the following literary works of Hilda van Stockum a/k/a Hilda Marlin aka Mrs. E. R. Marlin. The executor is John Tepper Marlin, Ph.D., Managing Partner of Boissevain Books LLC, to which rights have been assigned.

Hilda van Stockum died in 2006. Rights are asserted for her literary works until 2056 or 2076, depending on the governing copyright law.

The following list is in formation.

Kersti and St. Nicholas. Originally published by Viking Press. Registration was made October 18, 1940. The book is described as having been published in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on October 11, 1940. Recorded in the Register of Copyrights at the Library of Congress by t he Commissioner of Patents, November 4, 1940.  Historical note: Hilda van Stockum was born in Rotterdam, Holland and saw her home city bombed by the Nazis earlier that year. Her book describes a little Dutch girls who persuades St. Nicholas to give presents to the naughty children as well as the good ones.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

WW2 | Remembering V-E Day

Charlie Miner, Jr. at the Vero Beach, Fla. Veterans
Memorial. Photo by JT Marlin.
Amsterdam, Holland, May 3, 2018 –The East Hampton Star just published my "Guest Words" on the death of Charlie Miner and the ending of the war in Europe, 73 years ago this coming week. 

I plan to attend the May 4 Remembrance Day in Overveen, for the ending of the Nazi Occupation of Holland. 

This Occupation took the lives of many of my Dutch-born mother's relatives, who fought against Hitler in the military or in the Resistance. Her brother Willem was piloting a Halifax III for the RAF when he was shot down over Laval, France during the week of D-Day in June 1944.

Army Major and pediatrician Dr Robert Wack wrote a book focusing on Willem. It is called Time Bomber and it is published by Boissevain Books.