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17 February 2010

THE WRITTEN WORD: Full Circle Drawn with The Bloomsbury Review


THE BACK STORY:
When I first moved to Denver in 1985, I quickly discovered The Bloomsbury Review because I hung out a lot at a branch of the Denver Public Library, where I found free copies of this books magazine. I was young, financially challenged--as we say in today's politically correct parlance--and eager to become a writer. I had graduated with an English degree and honors from the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop. I had little experience, but a lot of interest in books; and when I saw that Blooms headquartered in Denver, I made a phone call.

The phone call turned into a long and thoughtful conversation with Tom Auer and ended with a warm invitation to come down to The Bloomsbury Review's office to pick out some books to review. Walking on air, I did just that, braving my way downtown to find Tom in an office cluttered with rows and stacks and shelves and piles of books. I picked out some books on nature, as I remember. I seem to remember a woman coming part way down a staircase, and Tom introducing her as his sister Marilyn.

I did not get paid for my reviews. I did not care. I was thrilled for the opportunity and the byline and the inclusion of my words in the magazine. I don't remember how many pieces I wrote for Blooms before I went on to other writing gigs, then full time jobs in the so-called real world. I eventually lost track of Blooms for many years.

All that changed recently when while working on an assignment for Tom Walker, the books editor of The Denver Post. Tom had given me contact information for a Boulder author to interview, but then called me off the source since somebody else had already done a recent story on him. When that source fell through, I wasn't sure where to turn. I decided to call The Bloomsbury Review to see if they had an leads.

Marilyn Auer answered, and we had a long chat about authors who might make good sources. I mentioned that I had written for Blooms way back. She mentioned that Tom had died. I had not known, or if I had heard, I had stuffed away the sad news.
"But you're holding down the fort?" I asked Marilyn.
And she answered, "I'm working on our 30th anniversary issue."
PING! My freelance journalist light went on, knowing Blooms' big anniversary would make a great story for the books section of The Denver Post.

THE GOOD NEWS:
I'm delighted to report that in the wake of my story about Blooms in the Post, the 30-year-old magazine on books got 55 new subscribers to the magazine--some for several-year subscriptions--and also gained 70-some new fans on Facebook, all in just the first few days after my piece appeared in the Post.

Chalk one up for books, magazines, newspapers, and freelance journalists--all evidently still relevant in the digital age.

Here's a link to my Post piece on The Bloomsbury Review, with some great quotes about books from Marilyn Auer and Blooms' marketing director David Perkins.

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