Sunday, February 28, 2016

Breaking My Bookish Heart

Last week, I went over to Samhain Publishing to look at their horror submission guidelines, but the page had a message posted that the company is closed to submissions (of all genres, not just horror) while they catch up on slush pile subs. They've done that before, so I didn't think much about it. I figured I'd go ahead with my project and keep an eye on twitter for when they reopen submissions.

Fast forward a few days later, I log in to twitter, and the first tweet I see is that Samhain is in the process of closing its doors. Of course I'm moving forward with my project anyway, but the news is still shocking and depressing regarding the company. I have a lot of friends published there, and Samhain has what I would consider one of the best horror imprints on the market today.

I have no idea how this has affected the romance editors up to this point, but it's clear where things are headed after the letter announcing the company's closure was posted to the site. At any rate, I did some further digging, and I guess the signs have been there since late last year that they might be facing closure. Editor Don D'Auria was let go in 2015, and he was the one who built their horror line. I followed his authors from Dorchester, and read them at Samhain as well. I'm crossing my fingers and waiting to see where he turns up next. The same with the authors who will be shut out by the closure. I'm curious where they will go once the dust has settled. I know a few people who have said that the Samhain closure is their cue to focus on self-publishing, but at the same time, I've heard others say their sales at Amazon are down because of the KU program. Now, Amazon has filed patents and has started the wheels turning toward the possible creation of a used ebook market on their site. This adds even more uncertainty to an already unstable ebook market.

After the Samhain announcement, I began looking into the larger digital publishing companies that are still standing. Keep in mind, I'm still looking for a stable publishing "home" myself. There are three companies that appear to stand apart from the rest: Entangled, which is still relatively new; Lyrical, which is under Kensington's umbrella; and Carina Press, which is an imprint of Harlequin. I'm curious to see if any of these companies cast their nets to catch the top tier talent left displaced by Samhain's closure. I'd also be interested to see what the ratio of romance writers vs non-romance writers in terms of those author acquisitions turns out to be.

Taking the current market into consideration, I can't blame any author who decides to go full throttle indie, but for me personally, I'm a fan of hybrid publishing. I like to have a traditional/digital publisher for some projects, and then self-publish the works that I know would sell better as indie titles on Smashwords. Because most of my sales come from foreign markets and their distributors rather than from Amazon, this works best for me. The problem with the ongoing market shrinkage is that there are now fewer reputable independent trads and epublishers for writers like me to send work to, so we end up being pushed, for better or worse, into self-publishing because there's no where left for us to go.

Follow Your Inner Moonlight

Follow your inner moonlight; don't
hide the madness. (a mixed quote
usually attributed to Ginsberg)
I'm woefully behind in reporting the latest crazy Cora Adventures. If you follow me on twitter you've probably heard most of them by now, but here's a fast recap of February 2016.

  • Two trips to see the hospital vampires. I'm surprised I have any blood left. A couple of my numbers still don't look good, so I'm back to the doctor next week to find out what's going on.
  • Two stories sent out, two rejections received. One rejection was a keeper, very encouraging with good advice. The other, not so much. It was one of those rejection letters stinging enough to make me question what I'm doing with my life.
  • Shout attack by a little old lady in a red sports car at the gas station. She didn't know how to pull her car up to the pumps on the same side as her gas tank, and in her opinion, this was my fault. A little scary, a little amusing. 
  • I chipped my left front tooth. I don't even understand how. 
I'm ready to ditch this month, I tell ya. Onward to March.

Moving along to the topic at hand - tarot. I haven't posted much lately so I thought I'd share one of my favorite tarot cards of all time. It's the Moon card from The Halloween Tarot by Kipling West. I can't think of another Moon card that gives such a smart and unique take on the traditional tarot meanings and symbolism.

Some of the themes the Moon card represents are cyclic change, a short phase or waiting period, being creatively or emotionally blocked, trickery and doubt, things that look different when you shine a light on it, painful transformation, emotional baggage, hidden or buried emotions rising to the surface, feeling that you're being held at an emotional distance from others, barking at the moon - aka, freaking out over perceived threats that may or may not truly exist (the story of my life), and feeling emotionally isolated or unstable. It can also signify the need to either reign oneself in (and conform to accepted standards), or to come out of one's shell - both scenarios designed to break your isolation and return you to "civilization". It depends on the reading and the card, and there are many card variations out there.

As I mentioned above, my favorite Moon Card is the one from The Halloween Tarot, which shows a werewolf undergoing a painful transformation. Because of his own feral state, he is left to wander the wilderness alone, unable to get past the briars and fence that bar him from seeking comfort and refuge in the house on the hill. His blocked/painful situation isn't necessarily a unique experience, although it may feel that way to him - that no one understands what he is going through. The skull on the fence shows that others have come this way before and perished because they couldn't either reign themselves in, they couldn't figure out where to go next, or they simply didn't call out for help (howl) or otherwise heed directions. The werewolf's feral state is contrasted masterfully by the image of a loyal Boston terrier, which is sometimes called the American "gentleman" of dogs, to further paint an impression of savagery versus civilized behavior. Very clever of the artist, I have to say.

I get this card pretty frequently when I'm creatively blocked, or facing a lot of little frustrations. It's just a phase. Bear with it, and it will pass. That's the typical takeaway. I also get this card when I'm having  hard time deciding what I want to do with a writing project that has stalled. Now, this is just a personal take on this particular Moon card, but I can't look at the werewolf without thinking of the quote, "Follow your inner moonlight; don't hide the madness."

In other words, stop trying to transform yourself and the story into something it's not mean to be. I'm frequently guilty of this, trying to force my stories to fit a mold and my characters to act a certain way. The card indicates that it's necessary to go deep and follow your own personal flow. Be authentic and trust your instincts.

In both the traditional Rider-Waite and The Halloween Tarot decks, both cards show a lobster marking a pathway or trail leading off into the hills. However, what sets the Halloween deck apart, is that the designated trail, a.k.a. "the traditional or appropriate" path, isn't effectively leading the werewolf (ourselves) out of the wilderness. It doesn't matter if the werewolf ended up that way by wandering off track accidentally and getting lost, or if it happened while he was in the process of trying to cling to an outdated trail in order to get to his destination the "right" way, or if he deliberately rebelled against the path set before him and took off on an unmarked route that turned out to be a deadend.

Whatever scenario fits the querent's situation, the Moon card could be a subtle message that when you're blocked from going one direction - don't give up!  It's perfectly okay to try different paths until you find the one that works for you. ♥