Can I be honest about your writing? (Part 1 – Oh, the Vanity of it all!)

My child’s a genius. Your child’s precocious. Their child’s an obnoxious brat. – We use language to distance ourselves from uncomfortable truths

Note: this will be a multi-post arc on the theme of storycrafting versus publishing. Hope you enjoy.

Long, long ago (we’re talking late 1980s early 1990s) when we called vanity publishers “vanity publishers”, I knew a fellow who just had to get his book in print. I think the title was “The Decapitation Project”. We were in a workshop together and it didn’t matter what he submitted, everything got back to The Decapitation Project and how it was based on fact and the government had a secret lab where they were keeping heads alive.

You mean like Donovan’s Brain?

“That was a book. The Decapitation Project is real.”

A friend told me they saw him at a con with a table selling copies of his book (again, decades ago).

His self-published book.

Except back then we called it “vanity published” and it was something one only admitted to if asked.

When you had a gun pointed at your head.

If then.
Continue reading “Can I be honest about your writing? (Part 1 – Oh, the Vanity of it all!)”

Ritchie&Phyl (A Celebration of Life) Chapter 3 – Porkchops

Wise Kitty

Hecate, lying stretched out on the couch, reached one paw into the last bit of sunlight coming through the picture window.

Phyl ran her fingers through the cat’s fur. “What you looking at?”

Hecate blinked lazily.

“Comfortable, are we?”

Hecate purred like a tiny electric motor.

“Of course you are. I’ll bet you’ve never wanted a man.”

Hecate sighed and continued purring, gently quaking the cushion.

“Of course you haven’t. You’re a cat. What could you want with a man? For that matter, why don’t you sit in my lap and make us both happy?”

Hecate rolled onto her back, her legs still stretched out, purring, her eyes on Phyl.

“You’re a slut, you know that?”

Phyl’s mobile said, “Hey, Sister, Pick Up! Hey, Sister, Pick Up!”


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Santa’s Shamanic Origins

[[Note: this originally appeared on the Discover the Practice website]]

Some people know that the modern Santa concept (heavy male, white hair, red suit, et cetera) was created by the Coca-Cola company as part of a marketing campaign; Coca-Cola wanted to get children as a market but were forbidden by law from directly marketing to them. Their solution was to create a character that benefited children (gave gifts) and the children in return would reward this giftgiver with a bottle of Coke. So we weren’t marketing to children, but if those kiddies wanted to get gifts…

Coca-Cola's Santa

 
The nearest “historic” Santa was the 19th century Bokkerijders, a group of Belgian laborers who performed Robin Hood like acts. The church denounced their activities as Satanic although the poor appreciated waking to gifts of food and money on their doorsteps. Prior to that, a St. Nicholas myth comes from the Slavic countries. There, St. Nicholas had a “Dark Helper” who was dressed in black, had horns and pointed ears, all based on Santa’s shamanic origins.
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Sheldon, The Jewish Christmas Tree

Holiday Greetings from Sheldon, the Jewish Christmas Tree

We found out today our Christmas Tree is Jewish.

There was nothing overt. Nothing obvious. We found out the hard way.

First, Susan and I don’t celebrate Christmas so much as celebrate Solstice. It’s not that we’re Pagan or Wiccan, we simply prefer to celebrate Nature’s events. Much less confusion regarding days and dates, no variations on a theme, no Orthodox versus Reformed, no Baptist versus Catholic, no Sunni versus Shia, et cetera.

I mean, if you’re pagan you’re pagan you’re pagan. Pretty much a Wood Spirit is a Wood Spirit, a Guide is a Guide, a Totem is a Totem and so on.

Part of our Solstice celebration involves getting a tree, lighting it, putting gifts around it.

Sound like Christmas?

Guess again. Christians stole those ideas.

We got a tree at the Rotary. They sell trees every year in the shopping center parking lot.

We put it up, we were decorating it, Susan sipped some wine, I tippled a bit of Scotch. We started singing some Pagan Wodes (you can find them and hear them if you know where to look). Pagan Wodes tend to be simple. Religions, when they started, borrowed from them. They were easy to sing, everybody already knew them, tack on a Jesu or whatever and you were good to go. The modern wodes make use of modern musicianship. Quite interesting, they.

So there we were, singing. One or two choruses in, we hear a soft humming.

Every once in a while the humming would be interrupted by a word or two in Yiddish.

 
Continue reading “Sheldon, The Jewish Christmas Tree”

Ritchie&Phyl (A Celebration of Life) Chapter 2 – Flowers

Persistence is a virtue. Unless it’s stalking.

[[just so you’ll know, I’m not satisfied with this yet and am open to suggestions for improvement. Thanks.]]

Phyl returned to Station House 4 after two weeks on a Bahama beach with nothing but the occasional “Another pink drink, José” to disturb her. One night, okay, she invited that Adonis-tall, blue-eyed, curly haired, broad-chested José to her bungalow but other than that, nothing but peace, tranquility, the gentle lapping of waves and as many Nora Roberts books as she could fit on her Kindle.

It was glorious.

She had not missed The Bunker, which was what everyone on the job called Station House 4. She had not missed the high, reinforced warehouse walls, windowless until the third story, the security, the claustrophobic interior that sorely needed remodeling or at least some paint and new floors, she had not missed her squad car with no interior door handles in back and the close-meshed, heavy-gauge steel caging separating her from whatever perps she’d apprehended or the multitude of now necessary electronics that surveilled her as much if not more than anyone she was questioning.

She stood outside the Officers’ Entrance and hesitated. Her silver ID bracelet weighed her left arm down like a bucket of cement. The entrance’s surveillance camera clicked her presence. Whoever was on desk would recognize her but if she didn’t open the door within fifteen seconds all the auxillairy doors would open and the Host of Heaven would come out, weapons raised and going for bear.

Standard procedure. An officer might be compromised and not willing to admit the bad guys such sacred entrance.

A heavy sigh. Two weeks was not enough. Except she missed Hecate, her gray haired Abysinna-something kitty. Phyl heard a faint mewing from a dumpster one day on patrol, checked and found a freezing ball of fur, eyes not yet open, curled on a soiled pizza box.


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