Shredding the Past

There’s something … cathartic, about shredding books.

Words, words, and more words

Not the kind of books fascist/religious extremists get all hot and bothered over, but the kind that’s been gathering dust under my desk since I realized there was no way I was ever going to inflict them on anyone else.

For those of you who don’t know the saga of Mortal Instinct, here it is in 23 words … signed a contract, publisher sucked, finished product sucked, publisher sold company, new publisher sucked, contract ran out, didn’t renew, all rights are mine.

I did however buy a bunch of hard copies in the misguided belief that my original publisher would stick to our mutually agreed timetable and I’d be able to go forward with my plan to launch at Vancouver Pride. Lesbians save the universe,+ Pride festival = perfect partners!  … Oopsie.

This winter, secure in the knowledge my ‘author preferred edition’ (and self-published) of Mortal Instinct would bear only a passing resemblance to the original, I hauled out our trusty shredder and reduced the remaining copies to this …

They took up so much less space in book form

Also in December I came across this little gem of a post at Writer Beware (the only blog devoted specifically to writer focused evildoers now that Preditors and Editors appears to have had the biscuit)

I may not have dodged a bullet with my first publisher but I certainly did with the second.

Dodgin’ yer bulletz

P.S. I did keep one copy for historical purposes.

Whatever Happened To Mortal Instinct

Well, I’ve finally finished the first draft rewrite, and to everyone who read the original, and said nice things about it, I thank you. You were very kind.

Truth is, what the publisher released was no better than a first draft, a worst NaNoWriMo first draft than could ever be imagined. Well, OK, not the worst, but you get my drift. I tried, politely, to get things changed, but all too soon the publisher stopped answering my emails.

Funny thing is, I could never read it through once it was published. I’d come to the first bunch of typos, or the paragraphs that made no sense, and I’d cringe and put it down. I thought this was just me being ‘precious’.

I half-heartedly promoted it, as you are supposed to do, but I always felt like I had to apologise first. I thought this was me being a shy Libran.

But I was neither of those things. I was certainly naive, but we all are at the beginning. In the intervening six-ish years I learned my craft, the business and the art of it, and waited out my contract.

And here we are, at the second beginning of my writing career. This time I’m doing it for myself!

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Remember this?

 

Rewrites, and Chapters, and Wild, Wild, Characters. They’ll Drive you Crazy, They’ll Drive You Insane

First up, here’s a motivational montage from Mr. Chuck Wendig. There may or may not … hah! Who am I kidding? … there will be multiple swear words, multiple times 🙂

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And now, what I’ve been up to this last little while? … Arting Harder  Futhermuckers. 🙂 (to paraphrase Mr. Wendig)

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In 1982, Raymond Feist  released ‘The Magician’. His publisher told him it was too long, and to remove 50,000 words.

“… And cut I did. Mostly line by line…” – from the foreword of The Magician, revised edition.

Ten years later he put ‘em all back in.

“… to reconstruct and change, to add and cut as I see fit, to bring forth what is known in the publishing world as the “Author’s Preferred Edition’ …” (my guess is he’d garnered enough clout that his publisher couldn’t object)

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I didn’t have to wait that long.

The original publisher of Mortal Instinct was useless, worse than useless, in ways that, if you searched the name you’d get a good idea of what I’m talking about. I’m not going to reference any of the crap here … mostly because it’s water under the bridge and we’ve all moved on.

I was waiting out my contract (rather than paying to get out of the contract early) which was slated to end next month, when, in October (2015) another company bought them out, and all the contracts along with it. I talked about my process to renew or not renew with the new publisher HERE.

Well, the negotiations went swimmingly and I signed on the dotted line, again. Only one book, for a specific time period.

And, here I am working on my Author Preferred Edition. Bigger, brighter, better written, certainly better edited … Oiiii! The stories I could tell!  … Bugger, I said I wouldn’t.

** claps hands firmly over mouth and mumbles, “Mustnotspeak, mustnotspeak, mustnotsp …**

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It’s one thing to spot opportunities when they are placed in our path and take them up. It’s another to have a second whack at getting them right.

I’m hoping to be done by the end of the month. All digits crossed. Then it goes to the publisher. We’ll see what they do with it!

So, I’ll be back … when I’m done. (which is what the Terminator should have said!)

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The title of this post was inspired by that esteemed musical ensemble, The Muppets.

Professionalism

Widdershins On Red VelvetWe work bloody hard, we Writers. We don’t have a union to guarantee us a livable wage. Almost all of us have ‘day jobs’ to put the roof over our heads and food on the table.

We’re one of the best organised professions, yes, professions, ever. Everything we ever need to know about all aspects of our craft is somewhere in the interwebz, or in the resources section of our local libraries. We, in general, help each other up rather than tear each other down.

… so, when someone makes a comment like this, I get steamed.

Every sunday evening The Writers Chatroom has a regularly scheduled Guest Speaker. Two Sundays ago it was a bloke by the name of John Yamrus who writes poetry. Not that he calls himself a poet. He’d rather be a plumber than a poet.  He finds being called a poet ‘degrading and limiting’.#

# Source – Lisa Hazleton’s Reviews and InterviewsInterview with Writer and poet John Yamrus

 This is the verbatim text of his response to a question I asked that evening in the Chatroom:

4:19 PM [Widdershins] … what is it about the genre/format(poetry) that speaks to you as a means of telling your ‘songs and dances’?

4:20 PM [john yamrus] i think the thing that keeps me going at this (i’ve been publishing for 42 years now) is that i’m still capable of surprising myself. when i can’t do that anymore, when it’s no longer any fun, i’ll take up house painting. done

 4:21 PM [redacted] LOL

 4:21 PM [redacted] house painting sounds fun

4:21 PM [john yamrus] and it’s more honest work, too. done

It was an off-the-cuff remark, intended (I hope) to be funny, and in keeping with the persona he portrays in his interviews. It didn’t do a thing for me, but I thought at the time, ‘What the hey, everyone’s entitled to their opinions’.

They I thought about it some more.

When the Writers Chatroom opens it’s doors twice weekly, an eclectic mix of writers gather. All sorts of genres are represented, and the writers themselves are at all levels of experience. (there’s also usually a great selection of yummy eatables on a table at the back of the room)

I wondered if someone, standing quietly to one side of the room, or sitting in the very first row scribbling notes furiously, heard that comment and thought to themselves, if someone who’s been in the business that long, and with so many pieces published (do a search of his name and you’ll see what I mean) thinks that his chosen profession is less honest than house painting, then maybe I’m in the wrong business.

I’m not saying we should coddle or lie to ourselves and each other, about how bloody hard this work is. That would be a grave disservice, and no, there aren’t fancy degrees from prestigious universities and colleges that will guarantee us a living wage, but writing is an HONEST, valued, essential, PROFESSION.

Without writers (of poetry, of fiction, of self-help, technical manuals, non-fiction, prose, plays, screenplays, travel guides – I could go on but you get the point) our society wouldn’t function in the manner to which we’ve become accustomed.

For those of you who have doubts, or feel vaguely guilty that you don’t have a day ‘real’  job, or steal minutes away from other demands on you time because you MUST write, do not let anyone (including those pernicious inner voices) convince you that you are somehow ‘less than’ because you’ve chosen to join the HONOURABLE PROFESSION of WRITER.

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“It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it”  – Anais Nin – 1903-1977

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“Some critics will write ‘Maya Angelou is a natural writer ‘– which is right after being a natural heart surgeon” Maya Angelou

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Old Year/New Year Lists, and What I’m Doing Instead

Widder in the Winterland Tree

Widder in the Winterland Tree

List lists here, list lists there, here-a-list, there-a-list, everywhere a list list. Some of them have been wonderful, (you know who you are) and some – not so much. (I suspect they also know who they are)

I did toy with the idea of listing the 10 worst ‘goodbye 2012/hello 2013’ lists I could find, but the thought reading enough of them to make the list meaningful sent me cowering into a corner.

So …

In true widdershins, deosil, counter-clockwise, outside the box, beyond the pale, fashion, this is what I’m going to do … borrow this meme from Michelle Hodkin called ‘First Sentences Written in 2013’   ( which I found via Kat Howard and her ‘Strange Ink’ blog)

My first sentences this year, came from a phrase inspired by the Widdercat. She is old, ancient, and set in her ways. We’ve known each other for nigh on nine years and only in the last few months has she decided I might be an acceptable hugs substitute for Mrs Widders. (the two of them have been together since Adam was a rib!)

I feel I have finally achieved ‘runner-up cat staff-hood’!

-oOo-

From ‘The Runner-up Cat Staff’ … possibly a short story, possibly otherwise.

‘Sarah and I exchanged the kind of look that kindred spirits share when in the presence of abysmal mediocrity.

There’s no way, conveyed Sarah’s raised eyebrow.

No matter how much they shave off, I responded with a curl of my top lip, she will not fit.’

 -oOo-

… your turn …

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“When I started in the business, there was a thing called adult fantasy, but nobody quite knew what it was, and most publishers didn’t have a fantasy list. They had science fiction lists, which they stuck a little bit of fantasy into”Terri Windling, Author, Editor, Artist, Essayist

 

P.S. A possibly unanswerable question: Why is it that the moment the toilet blocks up, you suddenly, inexplicably, (and with no connection to how you were feeling only a few moments ago) really, really, REALLY have to go?

 

Cornucopia I

Widder With a Glint in her Eye

Widder With a Glint in her Eye

This Sunday 9th December, 7pm ET (4pm my time!) I am the guest author at The Writers Chatroom.

Please drop by, say, “Hi”, and join in the fun.

This link will take you right to The Writers Chatroom log in page. Enter a username, and click on ‘sign in’. You don’t need a password. Every Sunday there’s a guest author and every Wednesday is a writerly themed open chat.

And … I’ve been a little distracted from my writing of late so, rather than stress about producing half-assed work I’ve put my writing projects into stassis until after Winter Solstice, 21st December. This includes ‘Identical’, my blog serial. It’ll start up again on 1st February, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed!

The Solstice is when the New Year begins for me, and with it comes a blast of energy that I plan to tap into.

-ooOoo-

 

I don’t know a lot about Rubens as an artist, (apart from what I just read in his Wikipedia entry)  except that he tended to paint women with flesh on their bones. For that alone he gets my admiration!

 

The Goddess Abundantia with a Cornucopia by Rubens

The Goddess Abundantia with a Cornucopia by Rubens

Cornucopia, also known as the Horn of Plenty, symbolises abundance, in all things.

I visualise it as another realm of existence, where all things exist simultaneously. All we, here on this Mortal/Physical Realm need to do is discover the skills to manifest here with us. Dead easy, right?

Laugh

Anyway, ‘cos this post is about a whole lotta stuff, whose only connection to each other is that they caught my attention, I decided to go with ‘Cornucopia’ as a title, rather than, ‘Whole Lotta Stuff’!

-oOo-

First up: My publisher Eternal Press, is having a sale. 25% off any eBook, until 31st December. Use this code at the checkout: 129BHMVNZH1F … Formats available: epub (Nook compatible, pdf, mobi (Kindle compatible), lit (Microsoft Reader), and pdb (Palm)

-oOo-

Next: If you’d like to make any sense of what happened in the publishing world over the last little while Anne R. Allen has a wonderful post from an indie/self publishers Point of View with the fabulous title: Indie Publishing in 2013: Why We Can’t party Like It’s 2009 … Well worth a read.

-oOo-

Thirdly: Women And Words  is having a ’12 Day Hootenanny’ starting on 12th December. All you have to do is leave a comment and you go into a draw for books by the Authors listed at the bottom of the post.

-oOo-

Nextly: For WordPress Blogistas, WPbeginner has posted about very cool plugin where you can draw doodles or add drawings when you comment on WordPress blogs,strangely enough titled, ‘How to Allow Users to Add Drawing or Doodles in WordPress Comments’!

-oOo-

Lastest: An alternate ending for The Wizard of Oz.  Take it away Dorothy …

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“After all, to the well organised mind, death is the next great adventure” Albus Dumbledore, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone   by J.K. Rowling

 

Yesterday’s Book

Frog# Jennifer posted this … about reading the ARCs## of her soon to be published stories and asking herself,

‘What is odd, is every once in a while I stopped and said “Is that what he said?” or “Did I write that?” or “Wait.  That makes absolutely no sense.”

  … to which I commented that I also had that feeling when I read the ARC of Mortal Instinct’. (hereafter known as M.I.)

We aren’t the same writers we were a year ago, or sometimes, even a few months ago. We evolve, learn new skills, hone the one’s we’ve so painfully learned, change styles and/or genres. Our belief systems shift, life herself whacks us upside the head, we fall in/out of love, people die, time passes.

We are not the same.

The writer that I’d been while I wrote and edited (and edited, and edited) M.I. wasn’t who I was by the time I read the ARC. (and not who I am now)

I chose not to read M.I. (after it was published) until an unspecified passage of time had passed. Otherwise, all I’d see would be the imperfections my twisted and over-exposed editorial eye refused to ignore.

This weekend I was ready to read it as a story about a handful of slightly-more-than-ordinary women who embark on a series of extraordinary adventures to save the mortal realms from extinction.

Every now and then the Evil Editor rears her revisionist head, but that’s what big sticks are for!

I’m enjoying my story. It’s not the book I would’ve written today, but I’m very proud of the book I wrote yesterday.

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“The clock talked loud. I threw it away, it scared me what it talked” Tillie Olsen, 1912-2007 – feminist, writer, activist.

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 # Frog – Friends on Blogs

## ARC – Author Reader/Reviewer Copy – The final version of your book before it’s published. (this is the version that is sent back to the author to torture them, and out to reviewers the world over!)