The Odd World of Kessinger Publishing

In putting together my book proposal I’ve come across some strange offerings from Kessinger Publishing. They’re a reprint service that charges fantastic prices compared to ordinary used books.

A used copy of the 1953 Postcards from Delaplane, for example, will run you five to six dollars at (external link). If you mistakenly search Amazon, which does sell used books, you’ll come across this pricing structure:

Postcards From Delaplane (Kessinger Legacy Reprints)

$21.56 Prime


Talk on the net is that the reprints are shoddy and full of errors. I can’t confirm that but the best advice is to always make sure you are buying a real used book and not a reprint, unless no other choice is available.

I also thought they might be in copyright violation with Delaplane’s work, however, there is a gray area with books published between 1923 and 1963. Those works may be in the public domain unless their copyright has been renewed. See the Copyright Renewal Database at Stanford (external link).

Apparently, Kissinger Publishing has taken it upon themselves to reprint, possibly on demand, tens of thousands of titles they consider in the public domain. Here’s how they describe a reprint:

“This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world’s literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work.”

No e-mail or contact information is at their site. They merely list a P.O. Box number in Whitefish, Montana. Hmm. Many questions come to mind. For one, is a book truly in the public domain if its content belongs to another copyright holder? For example, if a book is a collection of newspaper columns from The New York Times, does that book going into the public domain release all of those columns from the Times’ control? I don’t know. But I wouldn’t assume it. Best advice is to be cautious. With your used book picks and with your use of someone else’s work.






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The Rest of The Year

How have you been? I’ve been sick a week with a yet unidentified non-infectious virus. No writing done but lots of thoughts on same. As I struggle to get back to the keyboard, this timeline presents itself:

August 25, 2016: Submit anthology book proposal to either Chronicle Books or Heyday Books

September 2, 2016: Submit essay to the Bellevue Literary Review

January 5, 2017: Submit proposal for a different book to the University of Nevada Press

2017 may be the year of the book proposal for me, whereas 2016 was the year of writing newspaper and magazine articles.

This is a new writing world for me, something with far off deadlines and hope that must be sustained. Proposals take months to write as do any responses to them. Publisher after publisher must be contacted, with little expected. Still, I must write, and my brother’s experiences (internal link) gives me encouragement. All I  control is my writing and the quality of my research.

I’ll end with Kafka:

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”


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“That” is a deadening word used too often.

Here are before and after examples from a single article on Twitter. I think my corrections work. What do you think?

Twitter is taking another step forward in ensuring that its service is a safe place . . . .

Twitter is taking another step forward in ensuring its service is a safe place . . . .

The company today announced that it’s giving everyone . . . .

The company today announced it’s giving everyone

He acknowledged that Twitter hadn’t done enough . . . .

He acknowledged Twitter hadn’t done enough

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Final Thoughts on The UC Berkeley Extension Creative Nonfiction Workshop

I’ve completed the workshop. A new session begins soon. The workshop (internal link) was enjoyable and I stretched myself as a writer. I’d recommend it to any writer, especially those writing personal essays or memoirs. It is to those two things the course particularly relates. My only complaint is that the course description is all too encompassing and that it promises more than it delivers.

“Learn to apply the techniques of storytelling to nonfiction prose pieces, including personal essays, features, commentaries, reviews, reports, journal entries and memoirs. Together, the instructor and other participants form your audience, offering support and critical feedback about your pieces. Weekly class discussions and writing assignments focus on story principles—such as plot, tension, scene and dialogue—that increase the readability of your work and form your material into publishable pieces.”

In reality, the course helped me little with the law office blogs I write or the 500 word newspaper articles I pen. It may help later with my magazine articles. In my writing I seek simplicity and clarity. Nuance and complexity, however, were the watchwords in many of the essays we studied. There was nothing on writing less or more simply.

I don’t want to seem negative. The course reinforced my thinking that I have already found my voice as a writer. I found out many ways I did not want to write. And the instructor feedback was extremely valuable. Class member comments were interesting, although we were all trying to be so polite that I think it muted warranted criticism.  You should definitely look into this workshop if you are a beginning writer and want to develop your personal essay skills.

Would this course lead to being published? I’d say you have a better chance but I really don’t know the memoir market. With encouragement from the instructor I am going to try to have a literary magazine publish one of my essays. But this is a new field for me and I am not terribly hopeful since I understand the market is so crowded. Best proceed with caution, applying yourself to the task of getting better. This workshop can help you with that.

Details: Creative Nonfiction Workshop, English X482, David Rompf, Instructor. Cost? Around $600 plus books. Six writing assignments, five of which are 750 to 1,000 words. Final essay is 2,500 to 3,000 words. Instructor responds thoughtfully to all his e-mails. Criticism after each writing assignment.



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On The Road Again

I’m off tomorrow to visit friends in the Sacramento area. As well as to do research for my book proposal.

I’m going to visit a new building belonging to the California State Library (external link) and I’m excited to see it. It houses an enormity of things, from braille books to photographs to genealogical records. For my research, it contains 34 boxes of papers and paraphernalia belonging to the reporter I am writing about.

While I am excited about this project, I am still deeply concerned about the time I am putting in. I’ve written about this before. (internal link) Reprinting works in an anthology or reader requires permission and payments. But the group holding copyrights won’t tell me what they’ll charge unless I have a book contract. Which means I must pursue a book deal even though the title may prove too costly to produce. I could be putting in all this effort for something that never stood a chance. Sigh. Still, I’ve been happy in my research so far and that alone is a good thing.

I’ll have pictures later of the library and perhaps some from the road. My main diversion on the drive down will be seeing the Bristlecone Pine forest in the White Mountains (external link) above Bishop, Ca. I’m looking forward to it.


August 8, 2016 update. In the locked and climate controlled Rare Materials Reading Room of the California State Library.


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My 200th Post- Celebrating With Poetry


To celebrate my 200th post I am foregoing writing duties and bringing in someone else to entertain you. This is Kipling’s “The Explorer.” Long and brilliant and a gift from God.

The Explorer — 1898

There’s no sense in going further — it’s the edge of cultivation,”
So they said, and I believed it — broke my land and sowed my crop —
Built my barns and strung my fences in the little border station
Tucked away below the foothills where the trails run out and stop:

Till a voice, as bad as Conscience, rang interminable changes
On one everlasting Whisper day and night repeated — so:
“Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges —
“Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and wating for you. Go!”

So I went, worn out of patience; never told my nearest neighbours —
Stole away with pack and ponies — left ’em drinking in the town;
And the faith that moveth mountains didn’t seem to help my labours
As I faced the sheer main-ranges, whipping up and leading down.

March by march I puzzled through ’em, turning flanks and dodging shoulders,
Hurried on in hope of water, headed back for lack of grass;
Till I camped above the tree-line — drifted snow and naked boulders —
Felt free air astir to windward — knew I’d stumbled on the Pass.

‘Thought to name it for the finder: but that night the Norther found me —
Froze and killed the plains-bred ponies; so I called the camp Despair
(It’s the Railway Gap to-day, though). Then my Whisper waked to hound me: —
“Something lost behind the Ranges. Over yonder! Go you there!”

Then I knew, the while I doubted — knew His Hand was certain o’er me.
Still — it might be self-delusion — scores of better men had died —
I could reach the township living, but He knows what terror tore me…
But I didn’t… but I didn’t. I went down the other side.

Till the snow ran out in flowers, and the flowers turned to aloes,
And the aloes sprung to thickets and a brimming stream ran by;
But the thickets dwined to thorn-scrub, and the water drained to shallows,
And I dropped again on desert — blasted earth, and blasting sky….

I remember lighting fires; I remember sitting by ’em;
I remember seeing faces, hearing voices, through the smoke;
I remember they were fancy — for I threw a stone to try ’em.
“Something lost behind the Ranges” was the only word they spoke.

I remember going crazy. I remember that I knew it
When I heard myself hallooing to the funny folk I saw.
‘Very full of dreams that desert, but my two legs took me through it…
And I used to watch ’em moving with the toes all black and raw.

But at last the country altered — White Man’s country past disputing —
Rolling grass and open timber, with a hint of hills behind —
There I found me food and water, and I lay a week recruiting.
Got my strength and lost my nightmares. Then I entered on my find.

Thence I ran my first rough survey — chose my trees and blazed and ringed ’em —
Week by week I pried and sampled — week by week my findings grew.
Saul he went to look for donkeys, and by God he found a kingdom!
But by God, who sent His Whisper, I had struck the worth of two!

Up along the hostile mountains, where the hair-poised snowslide shivers —
Down and through the big fat marshes that the virgin ore-bed stains,
Till I heard the mile-wide mutterings of unimagined rivers,
And beyond the nameless timber saw illimitable plains!

‘Plotted sites of future cities, traced the easy grades between ’em;
Watched unharnessed rapids wasting fifty thousand head an hour;
Counted leagues of water-frontage through the axe-ripe woods that screen ’em —
Saw the plant to feed a people — up and waiting for the power!

Well, I know who’ll take the credit — all the clever chaps that followed —
Came, a dozen men together — never knew my desert-fears;
Tracked me by the camps I’d quitted, used the water-holes I hollowed.
They’ll go back and do the talking. They’ll be called the Pioneers!

They will find my sites of townships — not the cities that I set there.
They will rediscover rivers — not my rivers heard at night.
By my own old marks and bearings they will show me how to get there,
By the lonely cairns I builded they will guide my feet aright.

Have I named one single river? Have I claimed one single acre?
Have I kept one single nugget — (barring samples)? No, not I!
Because my price was paid me ten times over by my Maker.
But you wouldn’t understand it. You go up and occupy.

Ores you’ll find there; wood and cattle; water-transit sure and steady
(That should keep the railway rates down), coal and iron at your doors.
God took care to hide that country till He judged His people ready,
Then He chose me for His Whisper, and I’ve found it, and it’s yours!

Yes, your “Never-never country” — yes, your “edge of cultivation”
And “no sense in going further” — till I crossed the range to see.
God forgive me! No, I didn’t. It’s God’s present to our nation.
Anybody might have found it, but — His Whisper came to Me!


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Developing A Table of Contents

I’m having trouble working up a T.O.C. for my book proposal. (internal link) The reporter I’m writing about penned pieces on countless topics over fifty years. Everything from  marriage to sending free books to Nikita Khrushchev. How should one organize such a variety of subjects?

Arranging the writing within chapters in a chronological fashion seems an obvious choice. But I still need chapters to put that writing into. I could go with the definition of a noun. That includes:







The reporter didn’t write think pieces so “Thoughts” is out. He did write on everything else, so the other choices are possible though sterile sounding. How about:

People: Characters From Around The World

Places: Near To Faraway Lands

Things: Coffee Makers and Broken Down Plumbing

Animals: Wild and Domestic

Activities: His Routine. And the Not So Routine

I really dislike “Activities” yet I don’t have a good substitute. “Perhaps Day to Day Life.”

What about this? Two divisions with subchapters:

I. At Home

La Casa

Raising Teenagers




The Writing Life


Camping . . .  and so on . . .

II. Away


The United States


Latin America



Down Under . . .  and so on . . .

Hmm. This last approach suggests too many chapters. I wouldn’t have enough material to fill them equally. Any thoughts? I am three weeks away from submitting a proposal so I have time to consider any suggestions. E-mail me at





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