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Publishing: What does it mean?

I have always been a writer, since before I could even read or write. It’s simply who I am and how I was born to be in this world. But that being said, I was not born into the type of social-economic privilege that nurtures and supports writers. I was born into the type of disadvantage that restrains and diminishes creative expression…the type of disadvantage that attempts to smother the talents and abilities of anyone born under that yoke. So even though I was born a writer, it has always been a fight to find a time and a place where I could free the stories bottled up inside of me.

Years ago, when I suddenly did have a time and a place to write, I decided I would try to ‘get published’ and I did everything “right”. I researched. I bought and studied the Canadian Writers’ Guide. I spoke with someone who had experience in the publishing business. I prepared.

Also, at that time, I believed all that I had been taught about the publishing industry. It was honourable, fair and professional. Those who worked there were enlightened people always on the search for something interesting and new…new talent…new stories…old stories never been told before. They were the ones bringing the ‘magic of books’ to our society…to our world.

So, I wrote a youth novel.

I sent that novel out to the appropriate publishing companies, making sure beforehand that they were indeed accepting unsolicited manuscripts. I made certain to have the correct postage and to include self-addressed postage-paid return envelopes if they wanted to send it back. But despite all the work I put into it, the response was not what I expected.

Sometimes they sent it back saying they were not accepting unsolicited manuscripts, despite their website stating the contrary. Sometimes they only sent a rejection letter without returning the manuscript. One company had my manuscript for over a year without any reply. When I contacted them about it, they finally sent it back. It looked as though it had been read many times but was accompanied with a rejection form letter.

Alright, so it wasn’t a particularly professional or respectful industry. That I had to accept. And I thought it would end there, but it didn’t.

One morning I was reading the newspaper and turned to the page with the book reviews. There was a review for a new youth novel by an author contracted to a Canadian publishing company. When I read it, I felt sick. This novel had the exact plot of my novel, but they had swapped out my characters of colour for some white people with easily solved saccharine problems. I was so upset, that I never even took the time to ensure that they hadn’t actually plagiarized my work. I just didn’t want to think about it anymore.

After that I gave up on the idea of publishing even though I still felt the need to write and to share that writing somehow.

A few years go by and self-publishing became a thing, so that’s what I did. I self-published despite the stigma attached to it. In the end, it makes me happy, and now my works are safely copyrighted and publicly visible. In a harsh and dishonest world, you need to find those little secret corners of comfort and contentment. You need to find those special places where you can be what you were born to be.

I Don’t Want To Be In A Coen Brothers Film: Mercenaries on the Cuban Beach

So, there is nothing I enjoy more than a boring vacation. No annoying adventure. No drama. No running from here to there or having to deal with crowds or noise. Just a calm relaxing boring uneventful vacation.

I also enjoy Cuba. For some reason I feel drawn there and it’s one of the safest tropical countries for tourists. Also, knowing a group of lovely ladies who like to travel there twice a year, gives me a perfect opportunity to just chill out boringly on the beach with an interesting book.

Earlier this year I travelled to the area of Santa Lucia, on the north coast of Cuba. My vacation was gloriously uneventful until the second last day.

In between my resort and the one beside it there was a plaza for tourists with several little shops. I had been to those shops a couple of times during my stay and wasn’t intending to go back but one of the ladies in the group wanted to return to purchase a handmade toy for her grandson, so I volunteered to go with her.

Jenny is in her seventies and although she appears frail, she has quite a lot of energy. She’s a regular world traveller and has seen far more places on this planet than I have. But Jenny is also a woman who has always lived in an ordinary white privilege bubble and so views the world through a glass rosily.

As we were a approaching the plaza, a shiny bright red classic car pulls up and parks on the grass facing the beach. Jenny was excited about the car.

Four men get out of the car and stand together on the driver’s side which was the direction from which we were coming. Immediately I get a bad feeling about them. They are not dressed like tourists and there is something cold and empty about their presence. I wanted to veer to the right to avoid them. Unfortunately for me, Jenny wanted to get a closer look at the car and started walking towards them, happily chirping about what a beautiful car it was.

One guy, who seemed to be in charge, was wearing a t-shirt with some sort of official looking crest corner. I couldn’t see it very clearly, but it looked like an American design. I noticed he had his phone out and seemed to be discreetly filming me and Jenny.

Jenny happily approaches them to ask about the car. The assumed American and guy number two have no interest in talking to Jenny and head off to the beach leaving behind guy number three and guy number four. Jenny starts up a cheery conversation with guy number three. He’s a big smiley talker.

Immediately he starts telling us that he’s been away from Cuba for many years and they finally let him back in to see his mother. He tells it like it’s the story of the century, but the references to his mother always seem removed from emotion. Jenny likes his story.

He goes on to say he’s from Miami. Miami is where, since the 1960’s, the Americans keep an anti-Cuba militia/community to do their unsightly work. At this point, I really do not what to be around these people, but I can’t leave a woman in her seventies alone, so I just hope that Jenny wraps up her conversation quickly. Unfortunately, they keep talking.

He introduces guy number four, the quiet serious one who perhaps doesn’t speak English, as being from Brazil. That’s the country that not long ago had a right-wing coup where they installed a genuine anti-Cuba fascist as President. It’s also a country where people get assassinated frequently.

So now here I am, stuck with a chatty friendly psychopath and a silent stoic psychopath, hence the Coen Brothers reference in the title.

Miami guy liked talking about himself. He started going on about how he is American now. He’s not Cuban but American. He seemed to think we would be impressed by this over-zealous patriotism. That’s when Jenny said, “The Americans are my cousins, but we don’t always agree.” And that’s when the smile drained from his face and there it was…the killer face.

Luckily it only lasted for a moment and then he went back to his chatty smiley persona. Jenny never noticed.

Jenny then asked if she could take a photo of the car. For some reason this made the chatty smiley psychopath happy as he fully intended to be in her photo. You’d think a mercenary would be hesitant to being photographed but not this guy. Jenny handed me her phone and there I was tasked with the job of getting a lovely photo of her standing in front of a classic car while sandwiched between two smiling psychopathic killers.

After the photo was taken, they offered to take one with me. I politely declined.

Well, it was now time to go our separate ways, thank God, and they wanted to shake hands. I didn’t want to touch them. It was uncomfortable enough just feeling their presence. I didn’t want to touch the flesh of dying souls, but I had no choice in that situation. So, I reluctantly shook their doughy hands, my whole self recoiling at the touch of something that felt so bloated, dead and dirty.

Now, every once in a while, I think back to this experience and about the photo I took of Jenny and the killers. I wonder if she posted it. Jenny looking happy. The chatty one with a laughing smile. The stoic one with an awkward forced grin. Did all her friends and relatives click ‘like’? Perhaps some of them even wrote nice little comments underneath it. “So glad to see you having a great time.” “Wish I was there too.” “They seem like nice people.”

Ah! What a screwed-up world we live in.


John McCain is Dead

John McCain is dead

And the TV goes

“Lament people!

Lament for the power he embodied!”

And the obedient people go

“Bah wah wah

Bah wah wah wah”

Even though John McCain

Would not have cared if any

One of them were dead

And had in fact

Lined his pockets

Upon their misery

As he did to many

Around the world

And the devil

Slaps his belly in satisfaction

For not only does he

Get to crunch down

On John McCain’s rotted soul

But he gets to do it

To music he loves

“Bah wah wah



The Bible

I am enamoured with the Bible.

Please do not think badly of me being enamoured with a book that is so full of sex and violence. I just can’t stop myself from liking it. And you, hypocrite, probably watch The Game of Thrones which is just as bad.

But I do like this book. I like to quote it on Twitter and in my novels. It is just too enticing to stay away from. “Beware, the Lord is about to take firm hold of you and hurl you away, you mighty man,” said the Prophet Isaiah. I mean, how cool is that!

I still have my first Bible. It has a zipper! I was so excited to get it and it was so much fun to clasp the little cross attached to the slider and zip and unzip the book. Zip—unzip—zip—unzip. As a kid it gives you something interesting to do in church, and it also added to the fun of turning those noisy onion skin pages.

My Bible was second hand, (just call me Second-hand Rose LOL), and whoever owned it before me may have been perfectly crazy having underlined a whole lot of stuff in the New Testament using mostly a red pencil crayon. He or she, (but likely he), didn’t seem too interested in the Old Testament. Maybe it was too scary with all its monsters and cannibalism and what-not. Anyway, following with the tradition, I underlined a bunch of stuff too.

The previous owner underlined: “Let a woman learn in silence with all subjection.” Timothy 2:11  So I underlined, “Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 11:42 Ha! Ha! Jesus wins! Paul sucks! (Did you notice that Paul seemed to have some serious sexual issues?)

But I should tell you about the pictures. Yes, my Bible has pictures! They are not exactly Leonardo Da Vinci if you know what I mean, but as a child they were better than no pictures. There’s Noah with a dove and rainbow, and Moses, real angry and ready to whip that piece of rock right at those idol worshipers’ heads. And there is also Jesus looking not like you would expect him to look, but instead looking like a blonde catalogue model. Even in one of the best Bible scenes when Jesus is chasing those greedy no-good sons-of-dogs out of the Temple, in the picture, he’s looking like a ridiculous goofball. That’s just not right. I would draw a mustache on those pictures, but he already has one.

Years ago, there was a man I went to listen to a few times who was a bit of a Bible expert. He wrote a book all about the Bible. His name was Northrup (I know how funny is that!) Frye, and the book was called “The Great Code.” It’s an interesting book, and the ending is quite good. Spoiler Alert! Here is the ending:

“Man is constantly building anxiety-structures, like geodesic domes, around his social and religious institutions. If Milton’s view of the Bible as a manifesto of human freedom has anything to be said for it, one would expect it to be written in a language that would smash these structures beyond repair, and let some genuine air and light in. But of course anxiety is very skillful at distorting languages…The normal human reaction to a great cultural achievement like the Bible is to do with it what the Philistines did to Samson: reduce it to impotence, then lock it in a mill to grind our aggressions and prejudices. But perhaps its hair, like Samson’s, could grow again even there.”

…and you got to admit, Samson’s hair was very very sexy!

Margaret Thatcher is dead, and it seems like a good day to start a blog

Up until today, I hesitated to go to this place. Blogosphere. It was so much simpler to tweet. A limit of 140 characters gives one surprising artistic license. On the other hand, being able to use as many words as possible to convey a message…now, that is a complicated matter and makes you much more vulnerable. It’s like any restriction, I suppose. Rules can sometimes be things we hide behind. So here I am…naked as it were… left with the frightening freedom of a blank page waiting to be covered in words.

“In the beginning was the Word…”

Three books have written me, (which is more accurate than to say that I have written three books.) They form a trilogy. After the first, I had no idea there would be a second or a third. As I said, those books wrote me, not the other way around.

There is a fourth one yet unpublished…the edges are still being smoothed. It is a novel of one…maybe.

The subject of the trilogy is the Holy Grail. The mega-marketing success of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code made the topic fashionable, but that’s not why this is the subject.

I have read The Da Vinci Code and wasn’t very impressed. Personally, I found it boring. Also there were a number of things that just didn’t add up. The portrayal of the descendants of Jesus whittled down to one lone woman was rather silly…especially considering the importance of the sex rituals within the group. After 2000 years of sex rituals, it seems logical that there would be millions of descendents. And more than likely, infighting and human arrogance would have divided them into several different bickering sects. As were those whom Jesus descended from, they would be just people, and not necessarily anything like Jesus.

Anyway, I’ll not get into all that is wrong with Dan Brown’s book. It’s not really of much interest to me.

What is of interest to me is the Bible, but not in the way you would think. It has to be the weirdest book on earth really…the strangest collection of short stories and poetry, many dating from a time before Muslims, Christians or Jews. Literalists see it as “the Word of God” making God one of the sexiest most violent authors ever. I am not a literalist, and find that silly, but I see the Bible as important to understanding the indescribably complex spiritual condition of human beings. And yes, I use the word God as a reality. I cannot say I believe in God, just as it would be ridiculous for me to say that I believe I have hands that are typing, or I believe I see a computer screen in front me. There is God. That is all. Believe doesn’t even come into it.

Now, I sit here wondering…my first blog, and should I have gotten onto the subject of God. Such a controversial topic. Oh what the hell! Margaret Thatcher is dead and I’m going to say whatever I damn well please!