Mrs Morrison's Hotel

The 100% personal official blog for Patricia Kennealy Morrison, author, Celtic priestess, retired rock critic, wife of Jim

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Location: New York, New York, United States

I was, wait, sorry, that's "David Copperfield". Anyway, I was born in Brooklyn, grew up on Long Island, went to school in upstate NY and came straight back to Manhattan to live. Never lived anywhere else. Never wanted to. Got a job as a rock journalist, in the course of which I met and married a rock star (yeah, yeah, conflict of interest, who cares). Became a priestess in a Celtic Pagan tradition, and (based on sheer longevity) one of the most senior Witches around. Began writing my Keltiad series. Wrote a memoir of my time with my beloved consort (Strange Days: My Life With and Without Jim Morrison). See Favorite Books below for a big announcement...The Rennie Stride Mysteries. "There is no trick or cunning, no art or recipe, by which you can have in your writing that which you do not possess in yourself." ---Walt Whitman (Also @ and

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Last-Place New York Yankees

Music to my ears. Loveliness to type. Let's hope it lasts.

(In case you haven't heard, I hate the Skankees. I hate them so much it registers on local seismographs. They are orcs, and their Dark Lord is Sauronbrenner.)

Oh, did I mention? The first-place, 33-17, New York Mets. YAAAAAAAAAY!!!!! Go Fellowship!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Pirates On Parade [SPOILERS]

Well...I didn't love it as much as I loved the first one, or even the second one. It was too big, too messy, too let's-cram-everything-we-can-into-it-to-knock-everyone's-socks-off.

Trouble is, that policy didn't leave any room for anyone to breathe. There are practically no quiet, reflective moments of CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT where we can watch Jack and Will and Elizabeth grow and change. They do both, actually, but you have to catch it on the wing and it's not given the respect it deserves.

The movie looks fantastic, though. Spectacular CGI, especially the last 40 minutes. Did I mention it runs 2 hours and 45 minutes, more with the credits? Which you must stay through, because the Easter egg after is really the payoff for Elizabeth and Will.

And I think Will's fate was perfect, the only one possible, really. Though I had predicted it for Jack at least a year ago, it works better this way...

Performances are of course all fine. The usual suspects---Johnny, Keira, Orlando---and joined by Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barbossa, who chomps on every piece of scenery he can grab and almost steals the show from Jack.
And the real surprises: Bill Nighy as Davy Jones and Tom Hollander as Lord Beckett. Suddenly human and deeply inhuman respectively. Fine, fine work from both men.

Some truly gorgeous moments, though:
The "soulsail" under icy starry skies, the white wispy forms in the water, the dead in the little boats with lanterns. I did get all misty seeing Governor Swann...and Elizabeth's grief. But it was simply beautiful.
Seeing the Pearl come over the dunes.
The flanking maneuver against the Endeavour carried out by the Pearl and the Dutchman.
Seeing the resurrected Dutchman, all new, and her de-crustaceanized crewmen, and her new captain...very deeply pleasing.
Assorted sunsets and sunrises, which always make me happy.
The "turnover" moment when they come back to the world: the running to and fro was kind of silly, but it was a really neat conceit and worked very well.
So there's lots of great stuff. Pity it's all swamped to the bilges by the overkill.

Jack's traditional dramatic entrance was a bit delayed, and it's a reprise when it finally comes along, but it's different enough to make it worth it.

The music was deafening, and at the same time could hardly be heard. No new motifs that I could pick out...I'll be buying the soundtrack for sure.

So on the whole, I enjoyed it, but I just wanted and expected more. More of a satisfying finish to the trilogy. More stuff that made me really laugh or sentimentally tear up. Just more of an...end. Instead, it kind of dribbled away its punch in mini-endings. Which is the complaint MDF Mary had against "Return of the King."

But several "endings" were needed for that one. Here, I don't think so much, even though everyone's thread did have to be resolved. And I know they had to leave it open-ended for the sequels (oh come on, you know Johnny's already effectively aboard for more a couple years down the road!), but I still wish it could have been rounded off more satisfyingly.

I'll go back. But not a lot.

Pro Patria...

Today being Memorial Day (known in my youth as Decoration Day, because of the decorating of veterans' graves with tiny flags), I just thought I would stop to rip a respectful salute in the direction of those veterans.

Beginning with my late father, who was a hero who spent a year in a Nazi prison camp toward the end of WWII. All my male relatives---grandfathers, uncles, great-grandfathers, great-uncles, quite a few cousins---were vets, and some of my best friends are, too, like firedrake_mor.

So I never had any real problem with the warrior culture, and even at my most protest-y anti-Vietnam intensest I never once blamed the grunts who were my contemporaries, guys I went to school with, guys I dated. I only and forever and bitterly blamed the evil politicians who had sent them there in the first place. And I still do. THOSE are the ones I'd spit on, not the guys who served their bloody policies.

I have a fond memory of attending Mass before a Memorial Day parade one year, I must have been twelve or so, wearing my Girl Scout uniform, since I was going to march with my troop as a flag-carrier after church. And the church was full of friends, also in Girl Scout and Boy Scout was a moving moment looking around after Mass and seeing some of them lighting candles for military family members before we all moved out to do our parading.

So honor to those who serve their country in uniform, and not forgetting those who also serve by calling that country to account for its sins and wrongs. It's all needed.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Benny Hedges His Bets

I see where Pope Benedict XVI is seriously considering relaxing the restrictions on the Tridentine Mass---the 16th-century all-Latin ceremony that was effectively done away with in the 60s by Pope John XXIII and the reforms of the Church council known as Vatican II.

His reasons seem to be a longtime personal devotion to this version of the Mass and a recognition of the fact that younger Catholics are becoming attached to it: they never knew it, having grown up under the appalling modernizations that pass for Mass these days, and they are finding something in it that speaks to them.

No wonder. It was a beautiful thing, full of solemnity, mysticism and ritual. The priest had his back to the congregants, so he truly came off as a priest and not an emcee, and the Latin, as it had for thousands of years, made it possible for Catholics to go to Mass anywhere and understand what was going on. You became as familiar with the sound of the Latin as you were with the English, and you never forgot it: almost fifty years after I bolted, there are still big chunks of Latin Mass that I can rattle off at the drop of a paten.

I truly did get something spiritual out of it, until the rest of the freight became too unbearable and nonsensical for me to deal with and I was outta there like a bat out of, well, a place any reasonable think-for-herself bat wouldn't want to be, and until the mystic ritual was jettisoned in favor of guitars and folk songs. Which are fine in their place. Just not at a Mass.

I'm very interested to see how this plays out. Benedict is up against a lot of opposition amongst bishops and the lower ranks of clergy, but in recent years, interest in "traditional" Roman Catholicism has been growing in leaps and bounds, and it's not just Mel Gibson.

There may be more entrenched opposition among Catholics who see the Tridentine as containing prayers offensive to non-Catholics, though with the exception of the use of "men" when talking about both men and women, which is of course sexist and plenty of other words could fill in, I'm not sure I remember any off the top of my head.

Anyway, as a Pagan with no dog in this fight, I'd quite like to see the Tridentine back. Despite its dogmatic difficulties, it had great beauty, dignity and grace, and there's far, far too little of that sort of thing in the world these days.

Una voce dicente indeed...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Rolling Over

MDF Sukipot has ID'd the Beethoven piece that I was being tormented by which Elvis Costello is grooving to in that Lexus commercial: 2nd movement of Beethoven 9.

THANKYOU!!!!! I knew it was a symphony (well, was 99% sure as opposed to overture, etc.), certainly knew it was Beethoven and not just because our Declan said so...just couldn't place it.

Oh, you know, I saw Elvis for the very first time when he busked for us CBS officers at the summer 1977 CBS Records in London. We were coming out of a huge new-product presentation at the Inn on the Park that MDF Janice Scott and I had put together, for all attendees, very big deal, and there in the vast modernistic lobby was this skinny guy with black-rimmed glasses, a guitar and a small amp, playing his heart out. The real music freaks, we all stopped to listen; the suits, not so much.

And that's how it all began, my dears, and that's how it all began. [/Kipling]

Thursday, May 24, 2007

My Top 5 of Life

Inspired by Charlie Pace ("Lost")...

5. My first official autograph, given at a science-fiction convention in Tarrytown, NY, I would guess 1984 or 1985, since it was for "Copper Crown", signed for a young man called Jamie.

4. My initiation as a Witch: how everything was seen through my skin, since I was blindfolded for most of it---the HUGENESS of the astral, how the elements changed for each Quarter to which I was presented...soooo cool.

3. Not decided yet

2. Meeting Jim for the first time, at the Plaza Hotel, January 1969: the sparks that leaped out all over when we touched hands.

1. Sitting with Jim in Central Park the day we got engaged, under a flowering tree, him smiling up at me with his head in my lap: I think that's the moment I'd choose to be in for all eternity. It was so beautiful, and we were so happy...I thought I was going to burst into a billion sparkling dancing tiny pieces.

"Lost" Is Found!

Just finished watching and re-watching the season finale of "Lost". Sweet flying angels in the fiery heavens above! What. A. Trip. I don't know what it means or promises, but man, it was EXCELLENT. Almost made up for all the craptastic suckfests that were the bulk of this season.

You non-Losties won't understand when I say Mother and Child Reunion? Most satisfying. "Will you help me tie him up now?" as if they were making chocolate chip cookies. So sweet. And the casual Rousseau elbow to the Ben face. Better and better. Sayid and his legs of neck-snapping steel! Hurley, Man with a Van! That better not be SawyerMySawyer in the coffin. I'm thinking Locke. Or Ben. Poor Charlie! RIP, little hobbit! Sail into the West!

Had a nice lunch with MDF Andrew, who is doing the art for the jackets of the rock mysteries. He showed me preliminary concepts for "Ungrateful Dead" and I just flipped out, it is so tremendous. Still in early stages but it is PERFECTION. He so rocks...

I have my ticket for Pirates 3! 8pm Thursday...I guess they couldn't get enough screens and wanted to start the hopefully record-breaking opening day rolling early, to catch Spiderman. Whatevuh. It just means I don't have to go to a midnight show and get out at three in the morning BECAUSE IT'S TWO HOURS FORTY-FIVE MINUTES LONG! Can't wait.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The "Once and Future" Thing

Just something I thought maybe you guys might be interested in: Taliesin's Successors, The Camelot Project by Dr. Raymond H. Thompson, University of Rochester.

Interviews with modern Arthurian novelists, including, in all modesty, myself. But the giants are Rosemary Sutcliffe, Alan Garner, Andre Norton, Susan Cooper, Joy Chant, Mary Stewart and others of that ilk. Fascinating stuff for anyone who's into this.

I hope the address works...stupid IE wouldn't let me copy directly from the address box, and stupid Blogger doesn't seem to want to let me make a link...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Buying Back the Past

I may have confessed somewhere in these entries that I am, oh let's just come out and 'fess up, addicted to eBay. Yes. I am. Most of the transactions are trivial: silver charms for a couple of bucks to make up charm bracelets for friends for Yule gifts, like that. Not costly by any means.

And some are sales: MDF Michael Rosenthal and I occasionally put up stuff from the back of my closet. We unloaded a Mike Oldfield vinyl test pressing of "Ommadawn" (the sequel album to "Tubular Bells") for almost $800!!! to a European vinyl collector. Never mind that you can only play these tests a few times, this guy wanted it... Also a Jefferson Airplane flight bag (labels did very little in the way of merch back in the day, and this was cool, but really now, WHAT was I going to do with it?) and Grace Slick's gold shoes that she wore on the cover of the January '69 ish of Jazz & Pop...I believe we made $500 there...some other test pressings and rare releases.
We haven't sold anything for a while, but I'm doing a huge clearout and we should be putting things up again soon...and then I can buy more stuff!

Recently, though, I have been reacquiring childhood books I once owned that went missing decades since. Nothing rare or expensive, just stuff I remember fondly from fifty years ago, when I was a little sixth-grader hitting the library or buying 35-cent paperbacks through something called the Teen-Age Book Club at school. The books were long gone, and yet they stayed in my head all these years.

So, through the miracle and wonder that is online, I have been buying back these tiny pieces of my childhood. And it's been fascinating to read these again and wonder, and ponder, how important they seemed to me at ten and how different they seem now at sixty.

Back then, every word and mood seemed colossally freighted. I would read scenes of a first date in San Francisco's Chinatown, say, in a book called "Fifteen" by Beverly Cleary, and they would seem so impactful with their descriptions of something as trivial as eating shrimp roll for the first time. To me, who had never done anything of the sort, it was HUGE. And evocative.

Same with a charming book called "The Blueberry Muffin," about a teenage college hopeful helping her aunt to open up a teashop in rural Connecticut, or "The Mooncusser", a sort of mystery about a younger girl and her friends in a fishing village on the New England coast.

My big score, separately assembled, was a six-book hardcover collection I loved, called Teen-age Mystery Classics. I left them at my parents' home when I went off to college and thought myself too grand for them, and those original ones somehow got tossed out over the years, which annoyed me. So when I thought to track them down online, I went for it.
The books were all good, but one was terrific: "Thunderbolt House," by Howard Pease. It was set in 1905-6 San Francisco, when a Stockton family inherits their wealthy uncle's mansion on Nob Hill, along with jewels and a fantastic library of rare books, including Poe's fabled "Tamerlane". And of course there's a big mystery and scandal, and then the earthquake... There were fine descriptions of the house and its contents and the habits and mores of the time---and some regrettably racist stuff about the Chinese, unfortunately, since the book was written in the 40's, and so there's a lot of "Chinee velly good boy in 'Melica" crapola. But on the whole it's a great read.

I remembered this book so well and so fondly that I told MDF Mary about it one day, and she let out a shriek, she KNEW that book, she had READ that book, but had forgotten its name and hadn't been able to track it down. This is a woman, I must add, who has gathered unto herself ALL the 90-odd books written by Albert Payson Terhune (the "Lad: A Dog" collie guy) except I believe one...
Anyway, she was delighted to discover it again, and so was I, and we both said how amazing we should both have read it and loved it...further evidence that we were separated at birth, albeit eighteen years apart...

And a charming series about a pony called Windy Foot and the Vermont farm family that owned him, LOVED those. And "The Golden Horseshoe" by Elizabeth Coatsworth, about a Virginia plantation owner's daughter by his Native American second wife, Shadow-of-Trees Anglicized into Mistress Honor Stafford, the niece of Powhatan, wonderful book that my then-best friend Michele Cottler turned me onto in I think 1957, and that gave me a glorious sense of summer vistas and forests and mountains I had never seen. And another teen mystery, "Mystery Walks the Campus", which kind of colored my ideas of college for quite a while.

There were the classics, of course: "The Jungle Book" and "Kim", the impact of which upon my writing style is reverberating still, like a huge shivering bell; "The Wind in the Willows", again with those magic moments (Mole and Ratty eating fried ham in Badger's underground home; their trek home through the winter night and Mole's return to his old burrow); "Lassie Come-Home" and the Black Stallion books. Many I still owned, but some I had to buy anew. Hey, maybe some of them even ARE my old could happen.

I still have a few more to track down, most notably one about a Welsh princess, the daughter of Caradoc, who with the rest of the royal family were captured by Claudius, I think, and taken to Rome, where they were converted to Roman-ness and Christianity and some of them even became saints. But it's very rare and expensive and I haven't seen it around much lately. Still, I am resolved!

None of these books is great literature, but all are extremely well-written, well-told stories. And as I say, the imprint on me was deep. The smallest detail made impressions on me that I still remember today. Now, of course, I read them from a different place and masses more experience. But it's sweet to look back at what young Patricia found so interesting that it stayed with her all these years, and what maybe were her first really formative writing impressions.

And I have eBay and to thank for it. Kneel before the power of the Internet!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Weather or Not

I love weather. I love having it, and I love reading about it, and hearing about it. And most of all I love writing about it.

The only weather I do not love is hot and humid and sticky. In such times I go to ground like a little woodland creature, burrowing into a dim, cool, air-conditioned environment and staying there for as long as I can. If I could, I'd stay indoors from June to late September, happily estivating and cranking the a/c up like the freeze freak that I am.

I am inspired to write about this because yesterday and today have been my second-favorite kind of day: chilly and windy and with a light rain, gray and white clouds racing low on spring winds, 50 degrees or so, no heat on in the house, me huddled up cozily in my nice warm fleecy sweatshirt blanket (heavenly!) and my toesies smushed into sheepskin slippers and two lamps making nice pools of light in the room. Eating macaroni and cheese, prosciutto and mozzarella wrap, tomato soup with oyster's all so good.

(My first-favorite weather can be found in "The Silver Branch", when Aeron is out riding, in a bad mood, and comes upon Tybie's retreat for the first time: autumn, round about the same temperature, strong northwest wind, bright blue sky, clouds flying by, glorious fall colors... But they're interchangeable, depending on mood. And oh, oooh, snow is good too...and spring rain...)

The king of weather writers was, of course, Tolkien. The weather descriptions in LOTR are the work of a master. And he was great on geographical description as well, as we all know. I think my favorite bit of weather in LOTR is when the hobbits and Gandalf are riding home from Rivendell and come to Bree:

"That night the weather changed, and a wind came from the West laden with rain, and it blew loud and chill, and the yellow leaves whirled like birds in the air. When they came to the Chetwood already the boughs were almost bare, and a great curtain of rain veiled Bree Hill from their sight. So it was that near the end of a wild and wet evening in the last days of October the five travellers rode up the climbing road and came to the South-gate of Bree. It was locked fast; and the rain blew in their faces, and in the darkening sky low clouds went hurrying by..."

Man! That gets me in the bones, every time. I am right there with them, shivering on my pony, the rain pattering on my hood and cloak, looking up at the racing clouds in the fading light... He is indeed the Master: great, great stuff.

I have found that weather also gets me writing, priming the pump. If it had been hot and sticky this weekend, I probably wouldn't have spent so much time here on the blog playing around; though of course I can write any time, my optimum writing season begins in the fall and runs through to mid-June. It just seems easier to access that creative place when there's a nip in the air, and crisp cold air keeps me going.

I am fond of different weather scenes in all my books, including "Strange Days", but I think my best weather, overall, comes in "Blackmantle." All through, the weather is another character in every scene, and the action is pinned around Samhain: the Samhain when Athyn and Morric meet at the pumpkin sail, the Samhain she spends alone in agony in Witchingdene beside the Alligin Water and then rides with Allyn into the Otherlands, the Samhain when she and Morric ride home together from Annwn.

Samhain has always been my favorite time of year, even as a child. Not for Halloween, though that was cool, and I always sensed there was more to it than I then knew, but for the feel of the year, the air, the look of the sky, above all the flaming colors of the trees. When I was a little girl, bonfires were still allowed, and I can still remember the smell of the leaf smoke, the haze near the woods or on the edges of open fields.
I always want more October, and I never get enough: I believe John Donne says somewhere that in heaven it is always October, and Maxfield Parrish's paintings have that endless October light going on in them.
Today, in May, I have weather associations that are powerful and loving, Jim weather: sitting with his head in my lap on a butter-soft afternoon under a flowering tree in the park. But usually it's October for me. Maybe that's why I'm liking the present weather so very much.

Return to Keltia...and Other Places

Bowing to public pressure...oh, well, eagerly inclining to the gentle nudging of a few, anyway:

As you know, The Keltiad was cut off at the knees by HarperCollins, who in axing it said some very horrible and untrue things about me as an author. Basically, they claimed I always missed deadlines (TOTALLY a lie), and made a nuisance of myself (well, okay, this I will cop to. But only in the service of the books and when trying to get answers out of HC was like pulling teeth), and made undue demands on their various fiefdoms (if that means I bugged them to give me map dimensions when they ignored phone calls, and had typography issues, and didn't like their editorial suggestions, then guilty as charged).
Basically they were pissed off that I knew what I wanted, and could do their jobs better than they could, and knew they WEREN'T doing their jobs.

They also claimed the books weren't selling, which I kind of find hard to believe. But both my editor defenders left the company (quit or forced out), and then my not-much-liked and incompetent replacement editor did likewise, though not before cutting me loose and sending this vile lying letter to my agent, which somehow, hmm, wonder how, her (the editor's) assistant "mistakenly" sent to me.

I was furious, needless to say. Still am. I believe she had a car accident not long thereafter. Not serious. Just shaken up and car messed up. I'm sure it was just coincidence. Rural roads can be icy in the winter. Gotta be careful.

And thus the Kelts and I became orphans with no one to look after us and protect our interests. So when we were turned out into the cold snowy night, to sell matches on the street corner, nobody cared but the readers. Who were SO loyal, sending irate letters and everything...

But I was devastated. I'm a writer. It's not only what I do, it's who I am. There's no separation. For me, writing is like breathing. I have made my living at it since 1967.
And the thing about writers and writing is, we need readers. It's no good writing in a vacuum. We write for you to read us. That's the deal. And when we are prevented from having readers, it's hell.
It's almost a physical thing, how you feel when you write and write and write in the hopes of somehow getting out there, in your chosen form of novel, and nobody wants to let you do that. Which is why, after "Deer's Cry" (I'm using quotes, itals are too much trouble to make) was decreed the last by HC, I curled up under my grandma's affagans and just...bled. For about a year.

Then I started writing a spiritual memoir of Jim and me and how archetypes affect all our lives, "The Crystal Ship." Chapters on the Sacred Marriage, Isis and Osiris, Dionysus and Ariadne, the Grail, the Nature of Sacrifice, the Saturn Return, etc. Good stuff. Nobody wanted that either, at least not without major alterations.
Then, as I mention below, I started tinkering with "The Beltane Queen", to make it a generic fantasy. Again, no interest.
That was when I started the rock mysteries, in I guess 2004 or so. My agent loved them madly, swore it would be a slam-dunk. Murder, the Sixties, sexdrugsrocknroll...what's not to like? Again, couldn't close a deal.
Then I started a Viking novel, about Alfred the Great's tremendous Pagan adversary, Guthrum the Dane. Again, no takers. I mean, it's VIKINGS! Who doesn't love Vikings? And this guy was fascinating, and little was known about him so I could make up all sorts of stuff with impunity, like a raven-tressed Welsh girlfriend...
But no. And the reason? No editors would buy a Viking novel because NO EDITORS WERE BUYING VIKING NOVELS. Right. Wouldn't you like to be the leading edge of the upcoming Viking craze that this book would start, I asked? Apparently not. So that's another one for self-publishing, maybe. "Son of the Northern Star." You'll like it, I promise.

Not that publishers thought all this wasn't GOOD, mind you. No, they all loved it. They just didn't want to give me any money and contracts. Couldn't find a niche for it to fit into. (Hey, jackasses, how about just, you know, Good and Well-written Books That People Would Enjoy?) So the frustration continued, though since at least I was once again writing something I loved I felt a bit better.

I was offered a few suggestions about what I SHOULD be writing: everyone and their auntie's cat seemed to want Elizabethan murder mysteries. Though my agent did his best and most for me, because why wouldn' he, I had to accept the fact that what I want to write is not what publishers want to buy.

Still, this is the general plight of the midlist genre author, and far more famous and bestselling folk than myself have also fallen victim. Which made me furious yet again when the current head of HarperCollins, some incredibly stupid woman, defending some dubious decisions, recently bleated in the press about how good books will always have a home there. Shut up, bitch.

Not that anyone ever thought publishers had, you know, brains. But apparently they would rather get rid of steady old warhorses who bring in not a ton of money but reliably continuous money, and prefer to spend all their dough on flashy celebrity ponies that never earn back their multimilliondollar advances.

Which is why, for my new mystery series, I have turned to But more of that in another post. Just now I want to talk about Keltia.

I never thought I'd ever go back, since after three publishers, two agents and eight books nobody wanted it. But now, again, there's, and for the first time I'm actually considering doing POD/Lulu on at least one more Keltiad book (The Beltane Queen, about Aeron's great-grandmother Aoife, from her misspent Prince Hal-ish youth to her vast and cunning Queen-Victorian old age).

I have it plotted, completely, and perhaps 20,000 words done on it. In fact, at the urging of my then agent, at one point I switched it over to a completely generic, non-Kelts, no-series stand-alone fantasy novel, called some title can't recall. But he didn't seem to think it worked, and I threw up my hands and went on to the mysteries.

So, as I say, I haven't been back to Keltia for a while. Things are very different now: Aeron and Gwydion have been empress and emperor for at least twenty years (their imperial seat is on the planet Galing, outside the Curtain Wall), and they have two children; Rohan is High King of Keltia, married to Rauni of Fomor since three years after the Kelticoranian War, and they also have offspring; everybody is great friends with Elathan and Camissa, and with the current Terran government, and with the Yamazai; and things look good.

Until they don't. And that's all I'm saying. I'm just saying.

So obviously there would be at least one post-Throne of Scone book, probably the one called "The Cloak of Gold", not a trilogy which maybe was too ambitious in the first place. But once I got back into it that could well change, especially if people expressed an interest in buying my online books.

Which I wouldn't think to be a problem. I went into Barnes & Noble the other day with a list of I think nine books, and of those nine only TWO did not have to be special-ordered. So even books from trad publishers aren't getting into the stores.
And through Lulu, readers can order from Amazon and I think also B&N, so whaur's yer differ noo, I ask?

Well, the BIG differ is that with Lulu, I can control everything. And I think you know how much I like the sound of that.
I can spec the type, supply the jacket art (a fine-artist/art-director friend of mine has graciously volunteered; in fact, I'm going to look at his concepts for Ungrateful Dead, the first mystery, on Tuesday), set the price...I would indeed be Queen, and it would indeed be good.

No arguments with idiot proofreaders who want to change my ellipses and slap in serial commas all over the place. No pig-headed editors. No assholery.
I can set the cover price, and the buyers can choose among hardcover with the trad paper jacket, trade paperback or casebound (which means hard covers with the jacket art kind of vinylized on, not paper), as the buyer wishes. All differently priced.
And Lulu will ship it, so I won't have to have thousands of pre-purchased books in my kitchen. It's sort of like I'm the publisher, and they're just the printery. In fact, it's exactly like: I think Lizard Queen Publishing could use a logo...

And the startup cost is: TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS! For setup, and for Lulu to get me the ISBN number, and to put me into the Amazon database. There might be a couple of other charges, but this is the basic nut. Not like x-libris or i-universe, which both required thousands up front and only offered a 20% royalty.

AND: 80% of the cover price for me, 20% for Lulu (for printing, binding, mailing, etc.) I think that's fair.
What's rip-offedly UNfair is the regular publisher deal.

For most midlist authors, this consists of a minimal advance (I never got more than 45 grand for any Kelts book) which you have to earn out before you become eligible to receive the minimal royalty rate of 8% (which is also used to calculate your advance earn-out).
If you sell a ton of books, the rate moves up to 10% and then, if you're really lucky and had a really good agent, 12% .Which means the publisher keeps 92, 90 or 88 percent of the money you earned them.
So if it takes you two years to get a book from your computer to the bookstores (one year to write it, one year for the publisher to "slot it in", produce it, etc.), that means you're making $20,000 a year before taxes. No wonder most authors have to have day jobs.

And I am an established author, with, if I say so myself, a certain degree of general public name recognition, thanks to Jim and Jazz & Pop and That Damn Movie and Paganism, that other midlist authors don't have.

So we see how it sucks. And therefore it's Lulu for me. All organized online, hopefully by MDF Mary's brilliant and gorgeous and talented niece Miss Bianca.
Mary, in fact, is Lulu-ing a book of her own, a YA called "Figures of Echo," about a young New York girl called Echo, who lives with her dad over his fearfully hip and intellectual Columbia University-area tavern. Our mutual agent couldn't prevail upon any of numerous houses to buy this one either...despite the fact that it has been greenlighted for a Lifetime cable movie!!! YAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY!!!!! It's being cast now. And y'all have to watch when it runs. And buy the book online.
So anyway, she's doing the Lulu thing for Echo, with Bianca as her general, and I plan on closely emulating everything they do.

With some help, I hope to set up a website for the new books with a PayPal clickthrough, and sell them that way in addition to selling them through Lulu, as my own publisher either way, and I'm hoping that with all of you as a reader base, this will actually work.

There are tales of POD books with quite reasonably attainable sales figures, like 5 or 10,000 sold, being picked up by regular publishers, and if that happened for me, I'd have to consider carefully. And they would have to pay through the nose for the privilege. Hey, if they didn't want me when they could have gotten the books cheap, why should I give them a break now that the books are selling and I'm doing better without a regular publisher? That would have to be some sweet deal...but I get ahead of myself.

First I have to get them out there, and you will almost certainly be seeing the first of the Rennie Stride mysteries later this year. I'm thinking's a 2-month turnaround, and I'm waiting on art and setup, so maybe it'll be later than that. But we'll see.

And after the first three of those (already written..) are out there, and I've got something coming in, I'll be in a place where I can get back to Keltia. So it won't be any time REALLY soon. But it will be.

I think publishing now is where music was ten or so years ago, where artists who couldn't land a record deal or were dropped by their labels for the same reasons I was dropped by my publishers went indie and online and cleaned up. Without having to let the evil labels in for a share. Ani DiFranco, I salute you!

So that's pretty much where it is just now. Three rock mystery books complete and ready to go, five more in serious stages of completion...yeah. I could use a vacation in Keltia, I think. And we all certainly deserve one.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Into The West

Author Lloyd Alexander dead at 83

PHILADELPHIA - Lloyd Alexander, a prolific writer of children's books including the five-book series "The Chronicles of Prydain," died Thursday, May 17. He was 83.

Alexander died at his home in the Philadelphia suburb of Drexel Hill, said Jennifer Abbots, spokeswoman for his publishing company, Henry Holt Books For Young Readers. He had cancer, she said.

The final book in his Prydain series, "The High King," won the Newbery Medal from the American Library Association in 1969, being recognized as the best children's book of the year. Another book in the series, "The Black Cauldron," was named a runner-up for the medal in 1966, a status now known as a Newbery Honor Book.

His final novel, "The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio," is scheduled to be published by Holt in August. The publisher described it as an adventure in the tradition of Middle Eastern folk tales.

Alexander joined the Army at the start of World War II and got much of his training in Wales. His experiences in the area inspired many of his books.

He met Janine Denni, whom he married in 1946, while attending the University of Paris. She died two weeks before he did, Holt said in a statement.

He went to join his lady in the Summerland...who could be sad about that? And they were married the year I was born...goodness!

I never read his Prydein stuff until after I started writing my Keltiad stuff, and was interested to see how he made use of one of the same mines I worked myself: the Mabinogion, primarily, though he added a few bits and bobs from other sources.

I enjoyed it very much indeed, though I was rather possessively annoyed over his use of Gwydion (No! Prince of Don MINE!), which of course is totally silly, especially when Evangeline Walton, whom I did read before commencing Kelts, didn't annoy me with her Gwydion versioning in the slightest. Ah well.

Anyway, you did great, Lloyd. Diolch yn fawr! May your journey thrive!

Going Postal

On my mirror site,, I have decided to start allowing posts from vetted and approved and friended persons. Not here yet because there's not a Friends page per se where I can check on people, or at least I haven't found one so far.

So if you would care to eventually get on the list, mosey on over to lj and friend me, and the odds are good that after a trust period of undetermined though not unreasonable length, and if you're not a Doorzoid or a Pamhead or a complete and utter eejit, you may well make the cut.

But. If you sail under false colors, pretending to be a friend/Kelts fan/Jim-and-Patricia supporter when you're really a snaky piece of mendacious scum, know that your lying ass will be found out and treated to a rolling broadside and sunk all in the salt sea. Not to mention the boatload of bad karma that will be coming your way.

Gentles of honor and probity are herewith invited over. And we'll just see how it goes.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

This, That, Whatevuh...

I haven't had much energy for blogging right about now, as I'm still wrestling with the Demon Computer. Or really the Demon Printer, which insists on uninstalling itself every time I try to, you know, PRINT anything.
Causing me to have spent upwards of six hours on three separate occasions with Hewlett-Packard, the bastards, because Windows Vista can't install the printer from the CD and there is as yet no patch. AGAIN: THE BASTARDS!!! Both H-P and Microsoft...

So I had endless frustrating times with outsourced (Indian) online help. They couldn't have been nicer or more helpful, but I just couldn't figure out their was like talking to Peter Sellers. The last time I actually got a Canadian. Thank you, my northern friend!
Printer seems okay for now, but who knows? I'm sure it's just biding its time...

But I didn't want to not salute my own engagement anniversary (May 5) and receipt of engagement ring. (Art Deco platinum-set solitaire emerald the size of my thumbnail, in case you were wondering. And Jim at his most romantic. Which was pretty darn romantic, him being that handsome dashing Southern gentleman and all.) A lovely memory. I bought lilacs in its honor...makes me happy.

Also, which makes me happy in a whole other way, I see where the "Reverend" Jerry Falwell has gone to join the choir invisible. Now, as you have doubtless observed, I'm far too polite to gloat at the downfall of an enemy...oh, wait, who am I kidding, NOT!
I feel certain that that vile sack of crapweaselry is even now standing before his Maker demanding an explanation. Though more likely his Maker is demanding one of him. Oh well, factory recall for you, Falwell, you pig!

Thunderstorms are coming our way this afternoon, so should probably get offline. But I did want to let you all know I'm still here and still a happy blogger. Cheers!

Monday, May 07, 2007

I'm Ba-a-a-a-ack...

Considerably the worse for wear, after wrestling with a new laptop, a new printer, a new wireless modem and some recalcitrant dentition. But things seem to be once more like ducks in a row...

Haven't got the energy to rant at the moment (it's true! Probably a sign of Apocalypse), but I will get up to speed presently. In the meantime, Happy Beltane to all, Happy Birthday to my mom (May 4) and MDF Michael Rosenthal (May 5), and good luck to me getting my iTunes back and re-finding all my bookmarks.

Did I say I hate Microsoft with the passion of a thousand burning suns? Because I do. I hate Vista, and I hate Word 2007.

WHYWHYWHY do they mess around with nice simple stuff that worked just FINE before? Because they are Satan's strumpets, that's why, and lo their hand is against all folk and their vile and orc-like deeds are everywhere.

Vista is huge, unnecessary, despicable, hard to use and a compensatory monument to insufficient testicularity in Redmond, WA. There is no other point to it.
New Word looks ghastly and I can't customize my toolbars the way I could before. As a writer I like being able to easily click buttons and have my way with my words on the page.
And I haven't even begun to think about lugging all my files from the old laptop and Windows 98 and Word-whatever-it-was over to this new location.

And I haaaate the new laptop (Toshiba Satellite) because they saw fit to remove the "eraser mouse", which I loved, and substituted a freakin' touchpad. Now I have to turn my hand sideways to mouse and scratch repeatedly across it to make the pointer move and there's no support for my wrist. Toshiba, fry in hell right along with Microsoft.

I hereby put it out there on the ether that I should be hired as a beta tester by every computer outfit on the planet.

I am no geek, sirs and ladies. I am no idiot, either. I am a very smart person who knows nothing about computing except the paltry bit I know (email/eBay/Word), and as such I can whip up mistakes and errors and wrong clickings of such Krakatoan spectacularity and creativity as would tie Bill Gates and Steve Jobs into tiny knots of whimpering pain and make them cry for their mommies.

Yeah. I could get into that.

And I would come cheap, really, by comparison to all their overpaid under-common-sensed pointy-headed dorks (or orcs).

So if any Redmond/Silicon Valley recruiter is reading this, call my agent.

Hey, lookit! I managed a bit of a rant after all. Go me!