A New Edition of the Beloved Laughing Princess Complete with Full-Color Pictures

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A new edition of Seymour Hamilton’s The Laughing Princess has come to Açedrex. It’s in a special wide softcover format because it is our first fully illustrated book! Shirley MacKenzie, who created the cover of the first edition, has created a full-page, full-color illustration for each of the twelve stories as well as a new cover and endpiece. There are also line drawings of the littlest dragon that demonstrate the way he grows in power and size with each story he tells.

This is a handsome volume readers would love to have on their bookshelves!

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Read more about it |Read an inspiring excerpt | Listen to and download the free audiobook

Find it today: CreateSpace | Amazon | request it at your library!

Ebooks (View in landscape for best results): Kindle | Kindle Canada | Kindle UK | Nook | Kobo

The non-illustrated edition is still available at very economical prices: Softcover | Softcover at BN | your favorite independent 

and in ebook: Kindle  | Kindle UKNook | Kobo |Google PlayBook Country

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New Imprint Coming Soon

Açedrex Publishing is proud to announce the biggest news since our founding:

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Rook’s Page is a joint venture with a trusted colleague. We’ll be publishing exciting books in English. Coming soon, a three-volume series aptly titled The Best Short Stories.

Açedrex Publishing is also taking on a new edition of the perennial favorite, The Laughing Princess by Seymour Hamilton. This time, full-color illustrations and line drawings by the immensely talented Shirley MacKenzie will be found throughout. See some of Shirley’s work here  and check back for updates!

Dragons and a Princess with New Artwork

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The Trossachs, Scotland by Shirley MacKenzie

I asked Seymour Hamilton, author of The Laughing Princess, how it came about that he met Shirley MacKenzie, who did the lovely new cover and many other drawings for that book. This is how he explains it:

I met Shirley MacKenzie at a reading soiree at a now defunct indie bookseller which had our books on consignment.  Shirley had written and illustrated a moving account of her search for her birth mother and father. The emotional impact of Shirley’s story was in her drawings, which are at the intersection between personal and universal.  She does not tell her reader what to think or feel: she presents evocative images of loss, longing and fulfillment that haunt me still.

"Ryll's Fortune"

“Ryll’s Fortune”

Shirley bought a copy of my book, The Laughing Princess, and was moved to draw a scene from one of the stories, “The Wizard and the Fire Dragon,” and later another, “Ryll’s Fortune.” I was amazed to see how close her vision came to the one in my mind when I was writing.  Her charming rendition of The Littlest Dragon, the character that ties the twelve stories together, is now the cover art for both The Laughing Princess and the Spanish edition, La Princesa valiente.

Cover art for Shirley's book, Orphan Sage

Cover art for Shirley’s book, Orphan Sage

Shirley’s search for her birth parents took her to England and Scotland, where she travelled with sketchbook in hand.  In London, her paintings feature views of and through the peculiarly English iron railings that most people see but do not notice.  In Scotland, she captured the muted colours of a Scottish autumn with a vividness that refreshes the memories of those who have been there.

Back in Canada, she continued to find ways of taking us through the picture frame into the world that she sees in such vivid detail.  Her paintings of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have the quality of a shared experience, when one person says, “Look at that!” and both enjoy the moment.

Illustration is Shirley’s latest enthusiasm.  She started with well-known children’s classics such as The Little Prince, Charlotte’s Web and Treasure Island.  Her drawing of a pivotal emotional moment when Jim Hawkins makes an important step towards manhood illuminates the text, making us aware that Robert Louis Stevenson was not just writing adventure: his story has emotional depth that we often lose in the many films, cartoons and re-interpretations of the famous tale.

The most poignant example of Shirley’s ability to read into the deeper dimensions of a story came when she drew a couple of incidents in stories by Spider Robinson.  I was impressed by the appropriateness of her treatment of these emotion-laden scenes, and sent copies of them to Spider, who I have known since we both lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory concept by Shirley MacKenzie

Here is a part of his response:

“I am seriously mind-boggled.  I just sat and looked at that sentence for ten minutes, trying to figure out what to follow it with.  I failed, but have decided to keep on typing, anyway.  But mind-boggled pretty much sums it up. The surely accidental resemblance of Erin to my granddaughter Marisa is uncanny.  (For which reason I have forwarded it to her mom in Connecticut.) And that happens to be the way I was wearing my hair and beard when I wrote that book.  And I lived in converted school buses on Stephen’s Farm long enough to recognize the interior of one when I see it.  Right down to the inevitable tape-patches on the seats. What a beautiful piece! If we ever succeed in getting the e-book rights to that book back from Bantam, that’s the cover I’ll recommend for it to my agent. Please tell Shirley I am highly pleased and deeply moved.  And thank her from me, big time.  It never fails to awe me when some words I stuck together end up inspiring a work of art.  Especially one that good.”

9781937291464The Laughing Princess is available with its beautiful new cover in soft cover: Soft cover | Amazon US | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound (shows the old cover, but never fear!)

And in ebook:  Kindle  | Kindle CanadaKindle UK | Nook | Kobo | Sony | Google PlayBook Country | and Apple iBooks

Y en español: Amazon | Amazon España | Barnes & Noble | Pídela en tu librería preferida

Kindle | Kindle Canada | Kindle España | Kindle México | Nook | Kobo

All images in this post are © Shirley MacKenzie and must not be used without permission. Please see Shirley’s other work at artspace59.com.

Seymour Hamilton on The Laughing Princess as Audio and Teaching Tool

As a teacher myself, and in conversation with other teachers, I have often complained that either my students do not do the assigned reading ahead of class, or if they do, it is by flash-reading as they might scan the splash page of a web site.  In the first case, they are not able to enter into a discussion of content, in the second, they have little awareness of the style, tone and language in which the piece was written.  Their study and comprehension of the imaginative literature presented in English classes is reduced to memorizing a stew-pot of messages.

Parents rarely take the time, and seldom have the skill, to read effectively out loud, with the result that most young people read silently.  Teachers face the same constraints of time and ability. Consequently, many students read only for content, never realizing the beauty of words that have been taken from the page and offered as a performance. It is not that they do not know the magic of words: they encounter it daily in the music they listen to, but all too often they cannot unlock that music from the printed page.

The Laughing Princess was written to be read out loud.

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Accordingly, I recorded it so that it can be listened to and downloaded, free, from Podiobooks.com.

A teacher can therefore play the recording in class, or hand out a “thumb drive” containing the downloaded audio files, so that students can listen on their MP3 players or smartphones — an audio experience that takes place in the theatre between their ears.  Alternately, a teacher can provide the students with the URL for Podiobooks, where they can download the stories themselves. If they wish, they can then read background material and through which they can interact with me, the author on the story website at TheLaughingPrincess.com.

The title might make you think this is a book that should have a pink dust jacket; however, the Princess in the first story is very much a tomboy, who learns to “be, and dare, and risk” as a result of meeting with a sea-dragon. The other eleven stories all involve dragons. They are sometimes gentle and understanding, like the Angular Dragon, who counsels a poet; sometimes soulless and tyrannical, like the Mountain Dragon with whom a blind man matches wits; some dispense drastic justice, like the fire dragon who deals with a wife-beating innkeeper.

The dragons grant wishes that can be exceedingly dangerous to the human beings within the stories.  The protagonists include a retired wizard, a poet who has lost his gift of words, a pretty girl who believes she is entitled to more of everything, a warrior who hires out as a formidable bodyguard, a musician who must choose between his love and his music, and the princess who as queen must face a heartless sea rover.

The stories are held together by a narrator, The Littlest Dragon, who tells his tales to two children who “have reached that special age at which they had discovered that their parents did not always understand them.”  Like the characters in the stories, they must choose their wishes carefully.

The stories follow in the great tradition that was started by the Brothers Grimm.  They deal in ambiguous wishes, lucky numbers, changes of fortune, crucial decisions that change lives.

The language is “family friendly,” and is accessible by readers from 12 or 14 up.  The social and moral implications of the stories can be tackled at different levels, depending on the age and sophistication of the readers.

The Laughing Princess is available in paperback and electronic versions everywhere, and as downloadable audio files from Podiobooks, read by the author.  The web site TheLaughingPrincess.com offers background material, author’s bio, etc, as well as links to the audio files.  Discussion and study suggestions for teachers are available from me, through the web site.

Editor’s note: If all goes well, The Laughing Princess will be available in Spanish in early 2013! Perfect for teaching Spanish through interesting stories!

The Laughing Princess, New for Fairy Tale Lovers This Summer

Açedrex is proud to announce the publication of a new book unlike any we’ve done before. In fact, I’m not sure there are any books similar to it on the market at all.

For any of you who read the wonderful Astreya Trilogy and wondered whether Seymour Hamilton has anything else up his sleeve, your question is answered! The Laughing Princess is a collection of stories or fables, all concerning dragons and the powers they still wield in our jaded world. One dragon in particular tells all the stories to a pair of siblings on holiday in a seacoast town that is much more special than they realize:

Petra and Daniel have little use for the quaint fishing Village their parents have forced them to visit on holiday. They don’t know that this Village has a legacy of Dragons. Much more fun than exploring museums or picturesque ruins, a small stone on a lonely beach offers them the chance to perform magic, match wits with elementals, steal hearts, go to war, write poetry, escape from a pirate, and sail The Laughing Princess. Their dull, rainy world will never be the same.

The stories themselves range from meditative to epic, with melancholy musings on love and one’s purpose in life as well as violent battles and the searing char of a dragon’s breath. If you’d like to read something new that nonetheless feels like a half-remembered fireside chat, this is the book for you.

The cover features the dragon sculpture that inspired the first story Hamilton wrote, about a tremendous mountain which is really a dragon and the mere mortal who disturbs his slumber.

New for Açedrex, this book will also be available as an audio download. You can read more about and by Seymour Hamilton by going to SeymourHamilton.com. There, you’ll find links to downloads of free podcasts of The Laughing Princess read by the author.

The ebook editions are available for only 99 cents now, but get it quickly! The price will increase this Friday night!

Kindle | Kindle UK | Nook | Kobo

Kindle in Europe: DE | FR | ES | IT

The paperback is available at Amazon and anywhere else fine books are sold. Request it from your library or local bookstore!

Una edición en español se hará disponible este otoño.