Archive for March, 2007

The Author, you — genius!

Posted in Uncategorized on March 31, 2007 by P. Dunn

Spam in the comments, always a hoot to read.  They’re often so complimentary.  Sometimes they even apologize.  Still, you’d have to compliment me if you’re going to suggest I’m impotent.

The one today that inspired me to write is “The Author, you — genius!”  The first time anyone says that, and it’s trying to sell me a certain drug designed for erectile disfunction.

So what message is the universe actually sending me?  Perhaps it’s significant that an anagram of “The author, you — genius” is “Ooh, a teeny guru hit us!”  Or “hiho!  A young seer tutu!”  Or . . . perhaps . . . not.

Ann Coulter Probably Doesn’t Like Me

Posted in Speculation, Weird on March 21, 2007 by P. Dunn

Huh.  The Blog that Goes Ping points to Orcinus in regards to Ann Coulter calling Edwards a “faggot.”

Looking at these quotes, I have to say — she pretty much would hate me passionately, from my personal life, to what I do for a living, to what I believe, to whom I tend to vote for.

If Ann Coulter disapproves of your life, you know you’re doing something right.  That’s the yardstick of the Great Work right there.

(in other news, when your blog points to a blog that points to a blog, it’s time to burn a candle in memory of Marshall McLuhan)

Haunted

Posted in Weird on March 14, 2007 by P. Dunn

I’ve lately been haunted by the presidential election of 1840.

You might, reasonably, think I could hardly pick a more boring election to be haunted by. But it began by running into the The Might Be Giants version of the campaign tune, Tippacanoe and Tyler Too, which I have to admit rather rocks. I bought it off iTunes, but then found myself facing mentions of Harrison, Tyler, and Van Buren everywhere I went. An article I was reading to pass time mentioned that O.K. possibly received its popularity from that election, to refer to Ol’ Kinderhook, i.e., Van Buren. I overhear someone comparing something short-lived to Harrison’s term in the presidency, and so on.

I have no idea why this sort of coincidence happens. It has happened before, and while I’ve tried to ascribe some sort of omen-like meaning to it, there is none. It’s just a weird loop. Of course, confirmation bias probably plays a part — I get used to seeing it, and so notice it when otherwise I wouldn’t. But it’s still weird that there would be *that* many mentions in popular culture and conversation of something so incredibly dull as the Presidential Election of 1840.

Done!

Posted in Language, Techniques, Writing on March 9, 2007 by P. Dunn

Done, finished, over with. Now, I just need to prepare the submission package and mail it out.

In case you’re wondering what submitting a book for publication looks like (hey, people have actually asked me, which is weird, cause not even *I* care), it looks like this.

1. Choose a publisher. This is easy if you’ve published before, because you need to offer your old publisher first dibs. If they don’t want it, you can send it, and all following books, anywhere you like. If you have an agent, you send it to him or her instead, and he or she decides where to send it. But occult nonfiction isn’t often agented, so I’m agentless.

2. Write a cover letter. Mine looks a bit like this: “I’m a writer, poet, and occultist living near Chicago.” My biggest question is always, do I mention I’m a professor as well? I am hesitant to do this, because it’s unethical to sell books based on one’s expertise in academia if those books have nothing to do with one’s expertise. For example, if I had a Ph.D. in, I don’t know, physical therapy, and tried to market myself as Dr. Patrick offering psychological advice to people, I’d be a liar and a fraud and probably rather wealthier than I am. Similarly, adding a Ph.D. to the end of your name and mentioning in the book that it stands for something stupid like “Practically Hilarious Druid” or something is also deeply dishonest. So the Ph.D. stays where it belongs: the classroom. Still, I do make cops call me “Doctor,” but that’s just because it’s fun.

3. Write a summary. This is a chapter by chapter rundown. I’m just cutting and pasting the last half of the introduction, for this.

4. Write a list of indexing terms. Here’s an archaic thing that some publishers still require. You go through the book quickly like a bunny, writing down all the terms that would appear in an index. This takes hours. You alphabetize the list, and send it with the book. When it arrives, it’s carefully separated from the submission package and used to wrap fish. No one ever mentions an index again, although the contract mentions that the author pays for it if anyone does.

5. Write a table of contents. Easy as pie.

6. Write a bit on the market. Point out that nothing like your book exists on the market (partially because most people probably know better than to try to write something like this), point out that you have skill and knowledge most people don’t (most of it involves stuff the book isn’t about, but that’s beside the point), mention that you are a great public speaker (I am, but even if you’re not, don’t worry about it — no one will ever ask you to speak), mention that you have various plans for promotion and would be glad to collaborate with your publicity guy. The publicity guy might even email you. But only once. Don’t worry about it: it’s part of the nature of the beast at every publishing house on Earth, as far as I can tell.

7. Mention that you maintain a blog and that it’s not quite as popular as those dancing babies were a few years ago, but is at least as popular as the guy who dresses up like Peter Pan. Actually, no, it’s not even that popular — and do you know how that makes me feel?

8. Wait about a year.

How Magic is Like Literature

Posted in Language, Literature and Performance, Magical Systems on March 6, 2007 by P. Dunn

W. H. Auden, I think it was, said “Poetry, after all, makes nothing happen.” Except, of course, that it does. Hemingway’s fiction shaped how a century saw masculinity and femininity, power and powerlessness, choice and weakness. People made decisions, changed their lives, and acted differently because of Hemingway, but in no way that could be quantified or predicted. Similarly, when I do a spell for — let’s say — money, I am causing change in the world, but in no way that I can predict. I only know that the outcome is likely to be that I’ll get money from an unexpected source. I don’t know how or why.

Obviously, in the case of literature, the chain of cause and effect is clear from retrospect, or at least, clear-ish.  The chain of cause and effect in magic is less clear.  Maybe I do a spell, and it makes spirits do something that causes me to get money.  Or maybe I do a spell, and it makes some sort of magical energy move and do something.  It’s always that chewy nougat center that our magical theories are trying to fill.

Revisions

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing on March 4, 2007 by P. Dunn

Working on revisions for book II, a little thingy on language in magic. I am struggling hard for a title. Everything I come up with sounds limp. I considered naming it Words to Spark Lightning, from a poem by Rumi, but it just sounds so — feh. Obviously, In the Beginning was the Word is a possibility, but no, too Christian (not that I have anything against Christians, mind you — but the book isn’t about that). Magical Words and Words of Power were both contenders, but there are already books named that, and though I haven’t read them, nothing is as frustrating as naming a book after another book, accidently, that you later discover you don’t much like (ahem ahem, as has happened to someone I know, ahem ahem). There’s also Evra ka’davar, but I sincerely doubt anyone will be impressed with my Hebrew and I’m sure my publisher would plotz if I tried it. So far I’ve been refering to it as The Big Scary Unnamed Book of Magical Wonder and variations on that theme. So, yeah, title suggestions are welcome, but any suggestion offered becomes my property to do with as I like, which might include tattooing it on my forehead.
My blog has picked up in terms of spam. I must have arrived. At least robots are reading me. I filter it all, but if it gets too much heavier, I may have to find some sort of automated way of doing it, or require registration for comments.

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