Share it like Cicero: How Roman authors used social networking

How did the Romans “publish” books? I hadn’t known this and I found it fascinating. I might be able to use this for a fantasy book in a low-tech setting.

tomstandage.com

RomansOne of the stories I tell in “Writing on the Wall” is about the way the Roman book-trade worked. There were no printing presses, so copying of books, which took the form of multiple papyrus rolls, was done entirely by hand, by scribes, most of whom were slaves. There were no formal publishers either, so Roman authors had to rely on word-of-mouth recommendations and social distribution of their works via their networks of friends and acquaintances.

It was crucial to choose the right person to dedicate the book to. The ideal candidate would be famous, influential and somewhat vain, so that he would be sure to mention the book to his friends, thus ensuring that people heard about it. He would also have an impressive library with plenty of traffic from visiting scholars and philosophers. The new book, prominently displayed in the library as a set of rolls in an…

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Writing, Waiting, and Wondering

Waiting

Writers spend a lot of time waiting.  Waiting for a submission period to open, since stories sent before the editor is ready will be tossed out unread.  Waiting for rejection slips (or acceptance letters)  Waiting to get your contributor’s copy.  Waiting to be paid.  Waiting to hear if you’ve been nominated for an award, or (fingers crossed) if you’ve won.

I’ve recently had three stories held for a second reading.  One got a rejection slip, and I need to try to find a market it fits.  One, “Vixen’s Song,” has been accepted for Fantasy for the Throne.  And the third I am still waiting on and wondering if they will buy it or not.  The reading period has ended, and the editor has said final decisions will be made soon and contracts will be sent out next month.

There is nothing I can do to influence the editor’s decision, so the best thing to do whilst waiting and wondering is to go write something else.

Publishing Update

My children’s story “Tell Me My Story” has been published in Caterpillar, an Irish children’s magazine.  My children’s story “The Narwhal” and my poem “Sir Tristan the Brave” have been accepted by the children’s magazine Wee Tales.  I submitted them September 29, 2016 and they were accepted May 6, 2018, which is a definite example of writers needing to wait patiently.  My WWII fantasy “Gremlins” has been published in Cat Tails: War Zone, a charity anthology.  And as I said above, “Vixen’s Song” has been accepted for Fantasy for the Throne.

My fantasy “As Prophesied of Old” in Alternative Truths was nominated for the Darrell Awards, but did not win.  It wasn’t even a finalist.  But it was nominated.

I currently have five stories out.  I normally have more out, but as busy as subbing has been, I’ve been falling behind on resubmitting stories elsewhere as soon as they’re rejected.  That’s the important thing: once rejected, resubmit.  Then go back to writing on your next project.

A rejection slip is not a rejection of you as a writer or as a person.  It’s a rejection of some paper you typed on (paraphrasing Martin Gardner here, or maybe George Scithers).  A rejection slip just means that this particular story is not a good match for this particular market at this time.  As explained in this essay by the late MZB, there are many reasons a story might receive a rejection slip.  The editor may have just bought a similar story.  It may be too long, or too short.  You didn’t follow the submission guidelines, so the editor thinks if you can’t follow basic directions, you’ll be difficult to work with. (Read the submission guidelines and follow them!)  The editor may have a toothache and reject everything because he’s in a bad mood.  Your story may be garbage.  Your story may have a kernel of quality to it, buried in ill-done words, and the editor doesn’t have time to help you polish it when somebody else’s story is ready to print as is.  You may have sent it to the wrong market: don’t send a children’s fantasy to a hard SF magazine, nor a Regency romance to a hard-boiled detective anthology.  Tape the rejection slip in your diary, or file it in your folder, resubmit it elsewhere until it sells (or you realize, yes, this story would benefit from a little editing and rewriting), and go write  some more.

Baby Day at Memphis Zoo

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.  Today was Baby Day at the Memphis Zoo.  To celebrate Mother’s Day weekend, they scheduled several Keeper Chats where visitors could see and learn about baby animals.

Orangutan family

Orangutan family, baby Rowan, mother Jahe, father Tombak.

Winnie and Binti

Winnie, baby hippo, left, and Binti, mother hippo, right.

francois langur

Francois’ langur family, infant Reagan in the middle.

romp of otters

A romp of young otters.  Did you know a group of otters is called a romp?


We had lunch at Cathouse Café.  We were slightly disappointed that they changed the pizza recipe.  Edible, but not as good as it used to be.  The zoo restaurant is in what used to be the building for the big cats years ago, and has three food counters:  Sabino’s Memphis Grille, and Pranzo’s.  You used to buy pizza by the slice at Sabino’s.  We did the arithmetic; it was cheaper to buy a whole pizza to feed a family of four.  Now, Pranzo’s does individual pizzas and they aren’t as good as Sabino’s pizza used to be.


The Memphis Zoo is also hosting a Ripley’s Believe It or Not exhibit.  We saw part of it recently, and wanted to go back and see the rest, as well as the accompanying show.  Most of it is odd statuary, like a cheetah made of chicken wire, but there are also optical illusions, shrunken heads, and a Frisbee made of human cremains.

king kong

King Kong statue, made of recycled tires, 10 feet tall, weighing nearly a ton.  Made in Thailand.

Bushman, car bumpers

A statue of Bushman the gorilla, from Lincoln Park Zoo, made of recycled car bumpers.

megolodon jaw

Megalodon jaw.

Metal dragon

Dragon made of recycled metal, including household items.

St. George and dragon

St. George and the dragon.

There was a show where they passed out cardboard fans that said “believe it” on one side and “not” on the other side.  The host of the show showed artifacts and told about them – panda poop, vampire hunting kit, giant spiders, Clever Hans – and asked us to show by our fans whether or not we believed her tale.  Given the heat of the day, the fans were very welcome.  Unfortunately, we had to give them back so they could use them for the next show.


Photo Credits:  Ian Macdonald took the hippo picture.  I took all other pictures.

 

Kickstarters

One, two, three, kick!

Boosting the signal:  Three people I know are doing kickstarters and GoFundMe.

Mighty Aphrodite

mighty aphrodite

One of my favorite editors, Gene Turnbow of Krypton Radio, is creating a webcomic called Mighty Aphrodite!  Check out this link.  Help the goddess Aphrodite save the world, one heart at a time!

Endless Realms RPG

endless realms

Endless Realms is a new roleplaying experience with two corebooks and myriad realities with one constant: balance is fragile.

Welcome to the Endless Realms – a crossroads of infinite civilizations, animals, peoples, and abominations that gather in the world of Lumis. Those that live there readily manipulate the cosmic energies that the gods themselves used to forge the world, creating tools and resources that mighty spirits seek to claim for themselves. Riddled with tears in the fabric of time and space, Lumis has become a vibrant and turbulent melting pot.

Lumis is the crossroads where an endless number of realms overlap. The species that have made it their home – by fate, chance, or nefarious purpose – each have their own lore, history, and culture, providing rich soil from which to weave intricate and interesting narratives. Their complex views of morality present a scheme far greater than the simple axis of good and evil.

Click here for more information.  It looks like it should be fun.

Time Boys

Susan, Johnny McPhail, Edward

Time Boys is an indie-film, written and directed by Randall Terry, and starring four of his sons as the time-travelling sons of a mad scientist (played by Randall Terry).  The budget being low, writer/director/actor/executive producer Randall Terry is requesting patrons of the arts patronize his film, which is currently in post-production.

For more information, click here.  (Disclaimer:  I was an extra in this film and have a vested interested in seeing it completed and distributed.)