Monthly Archives: July 2004

The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Authors

I finished my new ritual dress last night, and, naturally, I’m unhappy with it. The lack of sleeve/bodice stretch is a bit inhibiting, and the errors hidden inside it are driving me mad. If I stand, I look good, but if I have to move around or lift my arms, I’m sunk. And the fabric I chose is nice and light, yes, but it’s so light that it doesn’t hang correctly. So, as the original fabric only cost me fifty cents a meter (I love sales!), and the construction only took about ten hours, I decided I’d head up to the fabric district on St Hubert street today, and get some black linen to do it over again with all the pitfalls firmly in mind and plans in place to pass them without disaster. And maybe I would stop by L’Esplumoir‘s new location (conveniently located in the fabric district!) and poke around. (You can dye natural-colour linen black, you know. Yes indeed. Actually, you can dye any pale colour to black. And dark colors too, but there will be a slight tint of the original colour to the final black, which is kind of neat. And if you factor in the cost of fabric, notions, and time spent on the project, well, personal energy invested in the ritual vestment aside, the cost is often equivalent.) Besides, there’s a package I have to go pick up at the little postal outlet in Monkland village that I could get on the way home.

I went on-line to check the new address of the shop before I left, and I thought I’d check my e-mail too. And thus, the best-laid plans…

The first half of my manuscript was sent back to me this morning for edits and rewrites, with a return deadline of noon on Friday.

It’s not the end of the world; so far there’s a lot of good encouraging stuff in feedback, and the edits are easy and far fewer than the other manuscripts I’ve edited. I have just over forty-eight hours to do two hundred pages. I should be fine — more than fine, actually. If I get enough done, I might go out to the fabric district tomorrow morning. And it’s a good thing I checked, otherwise I’d be in a bad position for editing it on time.

So I’ve put the first Moulin Rouge CD on, made myself a strongish cup of Cherry Vanilla tea, and to work I go. I think Mission: Impossible 2 is next. And likely The Hours will make an appearance later on.

I’m Covered

I was asked me yesterday if I had any say in the cover for my upcoming book. Authors usually have no say whatsoever, unless they’ve achieved a level of negotiating power where it’s written into their contract. In my case, I do, but only because I’m the series editor as well. (It’s good to be the queen.)

So when I got home last night and found a file of two cover concepts waiting for me, I was excited. The first one was the embodiment of everything that turns my blood cold about the New Age marketing thing. Solid black, with silver writing. “It’s glam!” the design department said. “My book isn’t,” was my reply. I let them know why black and glam don’t do well in selling to serious esoteric readership, which is the target audience of this series. Fortunately, the second concept was lovely: an old brown leather sort of texture, and a white font which I suggested be tweaked to ivory or off-white. The whole thing suggests an old, well-used book.

And, hard on the heels of my editing rant yesterday… the design department had incorrectly transcribed the subtitle of the book, changing the meaning completely.

Covers make or break a book. Somewhere around here there’s a hard copy of an article I wrote for a local book newsletter examining the importance of book covers, and the effects of current trends on sales. When (if) I ever find it, I’ll transcribe it and put it up in the Read section. I know exactly how fortunate I am to be able to nix that first cover, and to give the thumbs-up to the second, with modifications.

Advanced Witchcraft, Devolving Production Values

After a coven discussion yesterday afternoon on the power of words and how form affects the content, I came across this spelling/editing error in Advanced Witchcraft: Go Deeper, Reach Further, Fly Higher, a book that I’m reading for review:

“He sites the example of […].”

(This, coveners, is what made me throw the book across the room yesterday evening and sit down to write that lengthy e-mail about form and content. Blame the author, Edain McCoy (who ought to have caught these in revision), and her editor, Rebecca Zins, for my mood.)

Siting an example would be surveying the surrounding land and establishing a latitude and longitude for it. If you quote something, you cite it. It’s not the same thing.

Gods! Errors such as these in published material are unforgivable! Gritting my teeth, I moved beyond it. I bristled, but I knew what the author meant. (Just to add fuel to the flame, she was referring to Jean Markale. My indignance on his behalf knows no bounds.)

Apart from this textual slip, the labels on the chart of elemental symbols were scrambled, so that the symbol for Air is identified as Water, the symbol for Fire is identified as Air, the symbol for Earth is identified as Fire, and the symbol for Water is identified as Earth. Errors like this make me mistrust a text identified as “Advanced Witchcraft.” I know they’re layout problems, but still; a production team can make or break a book, and the production team allowing spelling errors and chart errors is doing nothing to support the content of the text. My ultimate review will reflect this.

Apart from this, the book’s not bad. It’s about walking the walk, and talking the talk. It admits that what we did in our first two or three years is nothing like what we do now; in fact, lots of the info we wrote down back then no longer is part of our practice. It compares making magic with spirituality, the way of life that magic becomes as you progress in practice and study. Lots of philosophical musing; not many exercises, which of course is one of the things advanced practitioners are looking for. I’m only halfway through. I’ve yet to find new information that I don’t already know, or have come up with on my own. (That’s one of my standard measures: Does this book tell me something new? Or does it re-state something I already know in a better fashion?)

Today I get to go into the bookstore for a meeting. The newly-arrived four-volume set of Grimm’s Teutonic Mythology, unavailable for years, a price of over $200, and a must for anyone who studies a Nordic path, is there, and I don’t know if I possess the self-control to ignore it until my next cheque comes in. Perhaps I’ll distract myself with the 8×10 colour posters that my publishing company sent out to promote the new series I’m editing. They have a picture of me and the first two books being released this fall on them. I’m glad I was warned, otherwise when I stopped in on Friday night for a workshop I might have seen them, panicked, then turned and run away. Mentioning this to the editor of the local Pagan journal, she kindly told me that the same info was in the books & publishing section of the issue that had just hit the newsstands. I have good friends. They know that I love what I do, but they also know that the whole using me to promote the series thing is still freaky to me.

I think I’ll go downtown early and poke about the dressmaker’s supply shop.

Note to Self

Sewing Rule #1:

Cats cannot distinguish between the bits of crumpled paper which you throw for them, and the fragile, crumply pieces of tissue paper pinned to the fabric.

Sewing Rule #2:

Even when you think the floor is clean, when you have cut out your pattern pieces, there will be all kinds of detrius stuck to the fabric when you lift it up.