Tag Archives: publishing

What stories represent and what they tell us about ourselves

This week I wanted to discuss something on the more serious side of writing and representing the real world through story. So without further ado, allow me to take to the stage of the blogging world.

Gorgmenghast.

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The name quietly stirs in your mind as you read the tale of its 77th Earl, Titus Groan. Complicated words, but colorful imagery. Small events and tragedies, we take for granted in our epic fantasy tales but under the careful magnifying glass of Mervyn Peake’s imagination, you feel its weight on your tired eyes.

The Gormenghast trilogy is quite different from your standard fantasy epic, even if you put in A Song of Ice and Fire in the mix. When you read it, you can see why publishers at the same had a hard time categorizing it. This was one of the reasons that prevented these novels from being published and recognized in writing circles.

If I described the Gormenghast trilogy, on face value it wouldn’t stir much interest let alone be considered a treasure in the literary world. Yet, while I read Gormenghast, I was wondering why the story stirred something inside of me. The writing and description was extraordinary but something about the story made me realize its true value.

I couldn’t put my finger on what is was though.

The story is about the life Titus Groan from birth to….well until the author died and never really completed the series. However, it shows how his life is ruled by rituals and traditions that have lost their meaning. Somehow, everyone in the castle goes along with this, as if its some sort of law.

Gormenghast was and is the law. Defying it, challenging it and any form of rebellion was unheard of that it even drove Titus’s father mad.

There is no escape, only submission.

mervyn peake illustration of dr. jekyl and mr hyde

After reading a bit about the author’s life,  I learnt that in his early years he lived in China. The way Gormenghast, the castle, and all its inhabitants live separately from the rest of society sort of reminded me of the Forbidden City.

Then it hit me.

No questions, go along with everyone, obey traditions that have lost any meaning and relevance in today and forget any individual happiness?

Maybe I’m over thinking this, but it felt like the story was representing a sort of Gothic form of collective societies. I’m not saying all collective societies are bad or every single characteristic they possess makes them bad. But anything in excess is usually bad, even individualism (I’m looking at you Ayn Rand).

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Back to my point, the Gormenghast novels seemed to resonate with some of my childhood (and even adulthood) experiences regarding collectivism. I grew up in a culture that emphasized on following traditions to the point that they had, figuratively, broken life down into an ordered grocery list. If you fall out of line or do something not accepted or done before, you risk being ostracized.

From a psychological point of view and personal experience, this conflict between choosing for yourself and following what the group does come at a price regardless of the choice you make. Now, if you reject certain traditions not only are you ostracized but you also, within your community, loose that sense of assurance you’re accepted. Maybe to some people that doesn’t sound so bad, but it can have devastating effects on a person’s emotional health.

And forget about ‘middle ground’ in these situations. It’s a dead concept.

Gormenghast offers readers a story about a family, specifically a boy, whose whole life has been planned before he takes his first breath. The senseless rituals he has to commit to have lost all meaning but no one dares question carrying them out or their relevance.

This reminded me of several arguments when I questioned certain traditions and mentalities about the collectivist society I was born into. Any direct question was pretty much met with the same answer (maybe an adverb or adjective if I was lucky):

Because that's what's best because- *insert rest of answer*

Because it’s what’s best because- *insert rest of answer*

This was especially true if I brought up about the role of women in today’s society. Out of my own stupidity and the sweet taste of rebellion (plus the added bonus of pissing off relatives), I wanted to insist certain values were….quite Victorian in nature.

Though doing this would’ve been more productive use of my time:

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Nevertheless, books like the Gormenghast novels capture difficult concepts to weave into a story, let alone be the central theme.  Also, certain values that are morally grey are harder to come across effectively. But its these stories that bring a wealth of culture and the ability to look at ourselves and the world around us more closely.

It is these stories that we keep in our hearts and minds much longer than your standard white knight saves the world from dark wizard.

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Accurate Story Titles: The case with Disney’s Princesses

Some of you may have watched the latest YouTube parody for the Disney Princesses:

Or  the latest Nostalgia Critic

We’ve all heard the usual criticisms of how these Disney Princesses are. Perhaps, it wouldn’t be so controversial if the titles of these iconic movies were more accurate!

The parenting trials of the Three Fairies and their Cursed adopted Daughter

The parenting trials of the Three Fairies and their Cursed adopted Daughter

Seriously, those Fairies did everything. They gave her gifts, raised her, told her she can’t stay out too late in the forest with that handsome stranger (shhessh, teenagers) and then when they take her to meet her relatives…she gets all dramatic and then goes and gets cursed…

Like all dutiful parents who did not teach their kids independence, the Three Fairies had to go get the Prince to do all the heavy lifting or else their beloved adopted daughter would’ve gone on a rampage on how they interfere with her life.  It was also a great rouse to see her new boyfriend. Is he trustworthy? Is he from a good family, etc etc.

I love puns.

Moving on.

And how she mended her relationship with her possessive father by running off with a boy from a different species

A cautionary Tale to overprotective and controlling fathers: A lesson on how to deal with your daughter’s ‘first love’

Think about it. Ariel’s father got upset, forbid her as any overprotective/controlling father would, then she runs off to the sea-witch next thing you know missing trident, your whole species has been discovered, and your little mer-daughter brought home a human boy.

A valuable lesson can be learned in all of this.

NEXT!

A story about what happens when you don't write a will for your only daughter: A tale of family dysfunction, betrayal and hallucinogens

A story about what happens when you don’t write a will for your only daughter: A tale of betrayal and hallucinogens

Her father married a horrible woman, which brings to question his tastes in women…

Out of all the women in the kingdom, you pick this woman?

Out of all the women in the kingdom, you pick her?

Let’s be realistic, just a tad bit please. Obviously, Cinderella was from one of the noble families, mom dies, okay father re-marries. He could have his pick on anyone. But the narrator covered that (I checked). He wanted to get Cinderella a mother and probably some siblings too.

Seriously dude, you couldn’t find someone else. Someone less…evil looking and more motherly? Don’t forget you’ll be waking up to that face.

Every morning. For the rest of your- Hey wait a sec.

Plus, Cinderella didn’t look too bad at the beginning with the whole no mother issue. Maybe you watched the previous movie entry of this post first?

And if you hear the narrator again (on youtube), this is just a bigger argument about having a lawyer and a will.

Also, Cinderella must have been on something to deal with her troubles. To be cheerful all the time, singing to animals (then again many of the Disney Princesses do sing or talk to animals…).

Okay, getting side tracked!

Just look at the dress she made!

Don'tsayitdon'tsayitdon'tsayit...ah hell....Its a tad bit lolita-ish....

Don’tsayitdon’tsayitdon’t..ah hell….Its a tad bit lolita-ish don’t you think?

To be continued!

My Browser can only take so much Disney Princess stuff…

Okay, let’s see…1001 things to do on the internet…where is it…

Ah! #10, Diss Disney!

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!


The different types of writers

In any endeavor, we often view things in the ‘romantic’ sense.

Take playing the saxophone for example,

Put a saxophone in anyone's hands and its automatically sexy

Put a saxophone in anyone’s hands and its automatically sexy

Sexy, cool and totally badass.

With your sexy playing, you’ll seduce everyone in the audience.

Guess what?

Get used to cleaning up your spit after playing it.

Sexy isn’t it?

Somehow just saying you’re a writer gets a similar reaction. Everyone forgets there’s hard work and stuff to clean up (hopefully, not spit in this case).

There are three self-proclaimed writers, probably among your friends, that fit these ‘extreme’ archetypes.

1. The show-off:

This writer can be equated with the ‘it’ girl in any social group. She/he will always bring up any opportunity that they are a writer, especially whenever there’s a delicious word play. Any failings to spot obvious play on words or lacks certain articulations expected from a writer, the show-off will use her/his most famous line as a defensive shield:

‘I didn’t see that! And I’m a writer!’

Or something like that.

This writer hates constructive criticism. Even if you have your friend’s best interests at heart and genuinely believe they have a diamond in the rough, be careful.

This writer will rally the support of her/his family and friends to get their blog numbers up or any comments in any published material on the net.

For example, you may find his/her mother defending  or praising the writer’s views in the comment section.

2. The Free spirit:

Writing has been equated with being a free spirit, meaning stuff like planning and contacting publishers are so…technical and not-free-spirity. Some may view that writing a ‘plan’ hinders the creative process.

This type of writer often has an innocence in his/her demeanor. They believe that their work will be automatically picked up thanks to their creativity but when it comes down to getting an agent/editor/publisher to look at their work, things get complicated.

Free spirits maybe more open to criticism of their story, however, don’t try your luck out when advising them on how to improve their writing methods.

Just as every writer is different, so are their methods. The free spirit is lodged on an ideal that creativity alone will push through all the business-y stuff.

3. The Analyst:

He/she spots the common mistakes and other issues with other pieces of work. This archetype writer believes he/she has avoided these mistakes in creating their debut work or magnum opus. If you point out this person’s mistakes, he/she might have an explanation on why they did this or that in the story.

The analyst also believes in following a religious pathway in publication. Anyone who diverges from this path will not be successful.

All in all, every writer is different just as every sax player is (quick info: each sax player’s mouth is slightly different so they have to practice to find the ‘right’ position for their lips on the mouth piece, how ‘plump’ their lips are, how to use their cheek muscles, etc). And like each sax player, each writer needs to figure out what works for him/her.

This annoyingly takes time, patience, practice and self-reflection.

And take risks in the roads to publication.

Despite all of this, it’s still ‘romantic’ in some sense.


Perfectionism: The common cold of the writing world

One the worst diseases in the writing world is the common cold   author perfectionism.

Knock knock, new chapter, knock knock, new chapter, knock knock rewrite

Knock knock, new chapter, knock knock, new chapter, knock knock rewrite new chapter

There’s a book I’m dying to write, but every time I get around to actually writing it… I end up re-writing the whole damn thing.

I, too, suffer from the crippling disease of author perfectionism. When you overcome it, a new strand of author perfectionism infects you. This is another reason I haven’t chained myself to my laptop to write Ladders Into the Grave properly.

Any antibiotics out there? As your quack author doctor, I prescribe one book for you. Read it daily and tell me how you feel after 90 days and I’ll prescribe you something else.

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This is your fee for the prescription. Please fill it out on the way to book/kindle store.

Pretty please? Or else I’ll have to resort to the internet’s number one strategy!

Its low, its immoral but an effective tactic

Its low, its immoral but an effective tactic


Climbing the Publishing Ladder: Why reading books from other cultures is a hidden treasure

Think about it.

Maybe it might be my skewed perception, but most (fiction) books I see on the shelf are from English speaking authors. We do have books from Haruki Murakami and Paulo Coelho to tingle our exotic reading tastes, but I was always concerned with the lack of availability of countries’ treasures.

Classics are translated, of course, cause…they’re classics. But, still there are some translated classics out there not as popular or as widely read.

I never moved into a new sardine can (dorm) without this book on my shelf

I never moved into a new sardine can (dorm) without this book on my shelf

Reading books from other countries helps understand other people’s culture and what they value in stories

It might also help avoid certain stereotypes.

My apologies to American readers.

My apologies to American readers.

Glagoslav Publications is a publishing house dedicated to translating Eastern Europe’s hidden treasures to not only western Europe but the rest of the English speaking world. Modern Ukrainian literature seems to be one of their priorities  since it is at its “peak of renaissance, and the post-1991 period has seen an incredible diversity of literary genres and themes.”

They’re also going to be publishing books by authors from the “culturally diverse former USSR.”

The books mentioned in the article are examples hidden treasures providing a rich and cultural look into certain cultures, time periods and perspectives.

This is one step into creating more availability for these hidden treasures and their authors!

In business school, the other students and I were always being told about GLOBALIZATION and DIVERSITY. We rarely got some decent examples.

I’d say, this is one.  A very important one.


Climbing the Publishing Ladder: Don’t inflate ebook prices

Quick news flash guys,

The US courts have settled over a fairness hearing about inflating e-book prices. After a 15 minute hearing, the Judge approved of a large settlement against Apple and five major publishing houses.

The full story:

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/55870-judge-approves-state-e-book-settlement.html

Have a good weekend!


The Road to Publication – Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing, Pros and Cons

The next topic I plan to cover for Climbing the Publishing ladder is self-publishing. This is a great post that summarizes the different publishing routes along with their pros and cons!

Ecanuspublishing

Publishing, no matter which path you choose, can be rewarding and equally difficult. Deciding which way to go has become increasingly more complicated with the pros of the traditional publisher being scaled down to match the pros of self-publishing in today’s evolving market.
Weigh your options. For some writers, there is only one way. For others, the pros and cons of both paths complicate the decision. There are risks and rewards choosing either, but knowing the process might help you decide what is right for you and your manuscript.

Traditional Publisher:

Pros:

  • Your novel has a better chance of being available in bookstores
  • Editing and cover art is handled by the publisher
  • You are guided through the process from manuscript to publication by an editor
  • Some blogs only review traditionally published books on their site

Cons:

  • You exchange control for the pros and prestige of being with a publisher
  • Contracts…

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