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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

2006 Post-Epiphany Bookish Resolutions from the Queen of Procrastination & assorted news

A picture for "Little Christmas"
or Epiphany:
Marie & Godfather Drosselmayer
& the Nutcracker,
an illustration by Adrienne Segur
for "The Nutcracker"
in The Snow Queen
and Other Stories.

Now that the Twelfth Night pageant and the Royal Feast have passed, I ought to get around to making resolutions. After that, I may send out my Christmas cards. Or wait until Valentine’s Day. Unless perhaps I put it off until next year. I’m not committing to a resolution on that one.

1. Keep writing stories. (May as well. I can’t fight it; I’m on a jag, so I may as well resolve to do the thing that I know I’ll do.)

2. Go back to the novel that was interrupted by Life & Death. Finish. (The first portion was written as a novella that is forthcoming in Argosy Quarterly 4, if Argosy Quarterly 4 ever comes out...)

3. Get the new poetry ms. in order. That shambles in the office is reaching absurd heights (as, knee-deep on the floor and ditto if standing on my library table.)

4. Figure out what to do with all these stories and novellas that are lying about in drifts. At least stack the dratted things. Keep publishing them, but what about gathering some of them into collections?

5. Find more contemporary poetry that I like. I’ve gotten lots of pleasure out of Charles Causley and Kathleen Raine, and I was idiotic enough not to know their poems three years ago.

6. Don’t sit on a tuffet and wait for poetry requests in that annoying, lazy way. Send out some of those poky little envelopes with the SASE inside.

7. Think about whether to do and what to do about nonfiction requests.

8. Don’t say “yes” to too many things, and don’t blog about things that should be stories or poems. That wears them out.

9. Don’t bother with the other 1,998 resolutions as promised in the header. Nobody will read that far.

* * *

News & Rampant Confusion

December was a fairly good month, with lots of requests. Requests for poems, requests for stories for magazines and anthologies, even an anthology request for a story based on the winning words from the national spelling bee. Alas, I realized that The Wolf Pit has gone out of print not only in the FSG hardcover but also in the Harcourt paperback. I had hoped that winning a national award would help it recover from the blow of arriving in this world mere days after 9-11, as well as in the choppy wake of FSG's The Corrections and my editor's departure. What does one do, these days, with an out-of-print novel? I frequently get requests for Catherwood, and that one has been out of print for years. Creative Commons license and free downloads? Re-publish with something like the Back-in-Print program? Sell subscriptions, the way Samuel Johnson did? The world of publishing has changed, and there are, oddly enough, options and choices.

Update, 11 January: The Wolf is not out of print! Mere rampant confusion and havoc of the mind in evidence! I take back some of the above...

Words from a Master Bookseller

From writer, reader, and bookseller Robert Grey: I always felt that the essence of being a great frontline bookseller was not selling people what everyone else was reading, but creating in-house bestsellers out of books few people had even heard of. That will also be my new mission at Fresh Eyes Now. Talented readers want to make their own discoveries, to feel "this book is my book." The non-blockbuster world appeals to them, as it has always appealed to me.

And some brand new news that just flew in

Though I was tickled to learn that the two FSG children's books were coming out from Firebird in paperback this year, I was also a little bemused that nobody had bought foreign rights. Now FSG has sold Chinese translation rights for Ingledove to Sharp Point Press. Google tells me that Sharp Point Press is not mainland China but Taiwan (Chinese complex characters).


  1. Hi Marly,

    I have a list of resolutions too.

    1. Work on Novel, perhaps even finish the thing.

    2. Do a sketch every day. (I've already broken that one, but hope to start again).

    3. Work on getting an art/writing business set up so that one day when I retire, and don't have to worry about the health benefits, I can have something creative to do.

    4. Lose weight and excersize. I am actually doing fairly well on that one. I have lost 5 lbs in one week, and I walked the 120lb. dino-dog three times for 1/2 hour. I am proud to have done this well so far. Only 65 pounds to go.

    The B.Q.

  2. That's a good mix! I have other goals for the year--mostly to do with my children--but they're a little less organized.

    I suppose you will shrink down to be the Epigram Queen instead of the Blog Queen if you succeed in #4.

  3. marly: I have that same exact book of fairy tales that you got the illustration from the nutcracker for the top of this post. If I'm right and it's the one i'm thinking of the illustrations on some pages are very surreal.

  4. Quick note, Marly (I am envious, althoughI have been fairly widely published in the obscure little mags, it is very rare for people to request my work--and, worse, sometimes those poor little sases come wandering back without their poems, causing gnashing of teeth. Rejection letters, fine. No poems--bad.)
    Ingledove. It is a mark of the power of the book (plus my ability to choose distractions from duty and tragedy) that I read it during a busy and difficult time. Yes, I liked it. I may like it even more than Raven Mocker, and you know what I felt about that. You have a wonderful skill in working with what seem to me archetypal themes--and such a beautiful descriptive sense. The Witchmaster's rooms; the beautiful glowing garden....and that unique weaving of Appalachian lore. These are such good books. Do you have other Adantis stories underway or scattered on your desk?
    The paperbacks will surely do well; there's a hunger in the world for stories and legends, for depths and beauty. I'd be curious to see how these works read in Chinese--how another culture meets Adantis.
    And the thought of a world within a world...!
    (My own neighbors would be in great sympathy with the Adanteans, believe me. I have a theory about hill folk vs. valley people--being a hill person myself; the hill folk are independent, difficult, and far more interesting than the placid valley souls.)

  5. Jeff,

    I wrote something about that book earlier (Christmas Eve post, I think) because I've been really interested in the very large number of writers who had that one or the companion book as children. I just ordered the other one and wish I could send it to myself as a child. It's curious how many writers have talked about those two books... There could be an anthology of writers who were enraptured by Segur. I spent hours poring over my copy, and it was one of the few books that I owned. They are wonderfully surreal, with a kind of glimmering magic.

    You're not coming by KGB next week, are you? (If you are, I'll tote at least one of your books along!) If you don't show up 'here,' I'll go visit the ditch and find out, but I must yield to kid-necessity: it's panic time, end of the marking period, and there's a kid breathing over my shoulder. Hot braces-breath, too.


    Hill people are automatically between things, and borderers always seem to be wild! (Did you ever read George MacDonald Fraser's Steel Bonnets, about the Anglo-Scottish border with its "wild men of the mosses" and reivers? I think it influenced those two books to some degree: the exuberance and impetuousness of certain male characters.)

    Don't be envious; it'll come if you keep going. Really I have only now started to get lots of requests, and I think it's simply because I've been on a fierce story jag and have bothered to keep submitting. I hadn't written or published stories in many, many years. And novellas. I love novella length.

    Do I have another? Well, not yet. I need to finish a novel first, but N is bugging me for an Adantis book dedicated to him. He's 8 and a bit young for them, so I have time.


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.