Youngblood Blog

Writing weblog, local, topical, personal, spiritual

siderealview:

Brief reminder of what prophecy means to people… 2012 is one in a long line of dynastic years. 2056 years ago today, Romans thought the world had ended.

Originally posted on Youngblood Blog:

Julius Caesar, iconized and immortalized after his death, Ides of March 44BC

Julius Caesar, self-styled vanquisher of Britannia, those restless natives in the extremities of his empire, would be surprised to learn that, 2054 years after his death on 15 March 44BC, we still remember him, if only for the prophecy that warned of his demise. It is extraordinary that most of the English-speaking world – if they think about it at all – associates the middle of March with that ancient Roman calendar which named the beginning of a lunar month the Kalends, the day of New Moon the Nones and middle (or full moon) the Ides. And, as the Julian calendar had only been established and corrected to include months of 30 and 31 days two years before he died, it seems his prophesied murder had potency because it happened on a Roman full moon.

What is it about phases of the Moon and our need to believe in…

View original 2,629 more words

March 15, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Publishing Headache: Do or Be Done By

Monthy IWSG Corner

Mrs BeDoneByAsYouDid, illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith for (1916) The Water Babies, Charles Kingsley

However talented and charismatic your writing is, entering the publishing world at ground level can be daunting. We all need a little extra help to keep our heads down and our fingers on the keyboard. In that respect, this little monthly injection from the Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG) is a boon. Those who have been following know that our revered leader, Alex J Cavanaugh, celebrated the launch of his second book last week, see blog below.

That’s taking the I-95 to stardom. Many of us toil and trouble over our works for years before reaching that superhighway. Some of us get stuck on Route-66 indefinitely and then launch ourselves into self-pub, if only to see what it actually looks like on the bookshelf!

Within what is almost the last industry to become ‘wired’, Big Five Publishers are notorious for not replying to query letters for months; require representation by an agent before looking at a submission; fail to return MSS unless accompanied by a SAE; don’t like email submissions and generally offer little advice. The learning curve is huge — and mostly self-taught.

It is little wonder, then, that self-publishing has taken off — there are an inordinate number of frustrated authors-turned-publishers out there. And with the advent of Smashwords, CreateSpace and Lulu, everyone can do it.

Plunging into deep waters: Tom hides from trout in Jessie Smith's 1916 illustration of Kingsley's 'Water Babies: a Fairy Story for Land Babies'

But we authors, published, self-published or wannabe-published, are a determined group. And we still — in our darkest days — imagine our name in (virtual) lights, our nom de plume in headlines.

So, some of us –while not letting up on the query circuit– adapt ourselves for entry into yet another world of imaginary stardom: the book contest. Believe me, it is yet another plunge into unknown waters.

I submitted to ABNA again this year, but did not make it through the first hoop — although I am thrilled to say one of my writerly cohorts did!!

Undaunted, I regrouped and headed back to my old stomping grounds (Scotland) and submitted for the newish (eight-year-old) Dundee International Book Prize, a British enterprise co-hosted by the University of Dundee and the City of Discovery. Like ABNA, Dundee takes a month or so to let you know you’ve made it (or not) through the first round. Both accepted online submissions. However, unlike ABNA’s publishing partner, Penguin Books, Cargo — the publisher behind Dundee– announces the winner AND launches the winning book in October. This at least gives the entrant hope.

Judges lined up to scan the winning entries include author Phillip Pullman, agent Jenny Brown and media intellectual Stephen Fry. With the prize also comes an advance of GBP £10,000. It is a major incentive for any new author.

The difference between these two contests, however, is striking.

Tom finds not all young ladies are as dirty as he: Smith illustration of 1916 edition of The Water Babies

All comparisons of geographical size, literary muscle and talent aside, I saw these two arms of the industry reaching out to us authors in remarkably different ways. Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) — author of the Victorian cautionary tale, The Water Babies: A Fairy Tale for Land Babies – would have had fun. In his 1863 tale of a lowly sweep (boy apprentice) lowered down chimneys to clean as he went, Kingsley emphasized squalor versus gentrified living, criticized child-labor, was outraged by American slavery. His hero Tom is amazed to see his own reflection in a little lady’s bedroom, immediately plunging himself afterwards into a stream to wash; and spending the rest of the story in the arms of fairies. He is ‘redeemed’ by two Victorian mother-figures: Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby, and Mrs Bedonebyasyoudid: the former surrounded all water babies in a kindly bubble; the latter brushed all aside with impunity.

Kingsley’s authority figures show remarkable similarities to our two book contests.

Dundee, a rising star in the British book prize league, offered press office interaction, explanation of how to submit, entered into helpful discussion when one platform seemed incompatible with their entry guidelines, and acknowledged receipt: c.f. Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby.

ABNA, on the other hand, admittedly swamped by 5000 entrants, did not acknowledge receipt of entries, but its webpage was efficient; announcing MS upload as having ‘succeeded’ or try again. The February 23rd first round successes were provided in a pdf list which could be downloaded to see if one’s name was included. No correspondence was entered into. In a cautionary sense, ABNA gave no advice, took no prisoners, offered no ‘Pay-it-Forward’ ethos; c.f. Kingsley’s Mrs Bedonebyasyoudid.

I do not expect consolation or even understanding from the wide world of publishing — matters for publishers have gone from bad to worse in a matter of a few years. They struggle with advances (many give none), book returns, publicity budgets and book signings. It has become a cut-throat business where many have gone down. But in taking the Bedonebyasyoudid approach, slicing off all option for the kindness of others to play a part, they may have been a little hasty –shortsighted, even. [In my opinion there will always be a place in people’s hearts for the feel of a book in one’s hands].

Dundee is Paying-it-Forward. I admire them for that. When I was unable to complete their online entry form — let’s just say it was formatted in a program which my **MacBook** couldn’t read– the Prize office suggested I send in my own text document, completing my required details. How enlightened!

Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby at Kingsley’s Christian redemptive best!

There is no mega-solution or allegory in this cautionary tale; it is totally unrealistic to believe that the publishing industry, especially in the US where readership is the world’s highest, will change overnight and become a kindly motherly soul.

But I’d like to compliment Dundee on its humanness.

It matters not who wins and who loses; but how we treat each other in the process. And ‘paying-it-forward’ is going to become more important to our interaction as we writing-humans journey through this crazy fairy story called life. On that lingering note, I thank our host, Alex, whose pay-it-forward approach has rubbed off quite a bit lately!
©2012 Marian Youngblood

March 7, 2012 Posted by | authors, culture, elemental, fiction, novel, writing | , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

   

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 449 other followers