You all think I’m just plain Robin McKinley, middle-aged, mild-mannered* blogster, hurtler of hellhounds, ringer of bells, plonker of piano and tormentor of songs**, wrestler of roses*** and slave of chocolate, black tea and champagne. Oh yes and I write stories for money.
But I’m not these mere and simple† things. I’m a Grand Matriarch of Fantasy.†† I know this because Putnams’ marketing plan says so. Snork.
I’m still being used as a football by the ME, sod its little cotton socks†††, so I don’t remember the chronology perfectly. But I think it was the end of last week when Mignon, my editor’s assistant, sent Merrilee and me jpgs of the jacket of the ARC ‡ just so we could see how nice it looked with the art all of you blog readers have already seen. And it does look very nice. Except there was a marketing plan plastered all over the back of it.
Wait, wait! Marketing plan? I thought we were still waiting to discuss the marketing plan! I don’t want to do my own skydiving, deploying winged banners at 12,000 feet! I don’t like heights! And I never promised to translate it into blank verse for the 2010 international bardic convention in Swindon!‡‡
If certain parties, like, perhaps—ahem!—the author, had got her frelling rear in gear and turned her frelling manuscript in on time, ample and relaxed discussion about a marketing plan might conceivably have occurred.‡‡‡ As it is, the marketing department is doing very well not to have said, huh?, when they were told that the ARC of PEGASUS was on its way down the conveyor belt.
But what’s on the back of the ARC is only a teaser. The real howler came later when they sent us the full shiny brushed-up marketing plan which leads off with the positioning of McKinley as Grand Matriarch of Fantasy. Hooooooo. After Grand Matriarch and Deputy Ringing Master§, what can be left in this world to attain?§§
* * *
* this translates as ‘wimp who shouts a lot’
** Including the odd^ new one, now and then. I think I’ve got the second and final part of the lullaby to take in to Oisin tomorrow.
^ Yes. Odd.
† There is nothing mere and simple about ringing Cambridge
†† The queue for hem-of-garment kissing forms to the left.
††† Out staggering around after hellhounds today, I met Jenny on Connie. I didn’t quite burst into tears but it was a near thing. I asked after everyone—Roland’s been sold on and replaced by two young Irish mares—and inquired, pathetically, if I might drop round just for a cup of tea and some gossip some day and Jenny said absolutely that I must. I keep saying two things about horses: first, that of all the kicks to the head the ME has delivered, the one that apparently means giving up riding is the one that hurts the worst; and, second, that it’s not riding I miss so much as horses. Well, it’s not Jenny that’s keeping me away from her yard, it’s me. So maybe there is a semi-answer to this conundrum if I can develop a bit more flexibility of outlook.
‡ These are still bound galleys for all of me, but somewhere along the line when I wasn’t paying attention they started being called Advance Review Copies. They’re still bound galleys. When your manuscript is first typeset by a proper printer, the resulting pages are the page proofs or galleys. They look—or anyway they should look—like the pages of the finished book will look, but they’ll get proofed several times before the final pages start rolling off the press. Bound galleys or ARCs are when those early pages are bound and sent out to various people in the trade in the hopes of getting a buzz going before pub date. It’s nice when the bound galley pages have had at least one cursory proofing, but we’re running so late on PEGASUS thanks to the fecklessness of the author that these pages are going to be the rawest of the raw, so I hope there’s nothing too drastic wrong with them. I could tell you stories. . . .
‡‡ It may be Peoria this year. They’re a tough audience, those Illinoians, and they’ll heckle the iambs right out of you if your lines don’t scan.
‡‡‡ Of course it might not have too. People in publishing have no more available time than the international average, which is to say thirty-six hours are to be squeezed out of twenty four, and downtime^ is a philosophical construct, like quarks were originally invented to plug a hole in the visionary physics of itty bitty particles.
^ I found this article more interesting than I thought I was going to http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/mar/03/a-week-without-books?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
although I found her easy equivalence of ‘genre’ with ‘junk’ just a trifle frelling irritating: ‘ . . . if what you’re reading is mostly . . . well . . . pulp, then sometimes you end up feeling as if books are eating you up instead of the other way round. Sure, there’s a smattering of literature and high art-type stuff in there, but mostly it is whatever I have fished off the shelf at my nearest Oxfam that morning – detective stories, romances, horror, sci fi . . . any kind of fiction that I can gulp down in large enough, quick enough bites. . . .’
Excuse me? THE MOONSTONE? THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS? PRIDE AND PREJUDICE? JANE EYRE? CONFESSIONS OF A JUSTIFIED SINNER? FRANKENSTEIN? DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE? RAPPACCINI’S DAUGHTER? GULLIVER’S TRAVELS? FAUST? THE TEMPEST? BRAVE NEW WORLD? 1984? . . . Almost anything by Dickens—many of whose are detective stories as well—and I think MOBY DICK is sf/f, but my prejudices may be showing.
But the question of when necessary downtime starts taking over what ought to be up time is interesting, and I think any compulsive reader will acknowledge that there’s a . . . well, a compulsive aspect. On the other hand I found this article http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/mar/04/evolutionary-psychologists-romantic-fiction?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter totally irritating. Romance isn’t my chosen form of bathtub reading but everybody needs downtime. This scans to me like a thinly veiled attempt to equate women with their hormones again. This is the 21st century, isn’t it? We didn’t go backwards through the 20th and pop out in the 19th?
§ Handbells tonight. I am seriously brain challenged at the moment so we stuck to bob minor, but it could have been a lot worse. At the end as we were synchronising our diaries, which requires a lot of, no, I mean the 18th, no, that’s the 25th, what do you mean you’re gone on the 8th? Colin said, are either of you coming on Mandy’s outing for the May Bank Holiday? We both allowed that we had not heard of Mandy’s outing. Well, said Colin, we’re going to Herefordshire and Wales, and it was going to be Saturday-Sunday-Monday, but everybody is having outings and it’s too hard to get towers, so she’s moved it back to Thursday-Friday-Saturday. Oh, said Niall thoughtfully, that sounds interesting. I think I’d like to come. Not me, I said resignedly. I don’t go overnight anywhere.^ . . . And then what Colin had said finished sinking in. THURSDAY, FRIDAY, AND SATURDAY? I squeaked. Niall, you’re not allowed to be gone on a Friday evening between 7:30 and 9 o’clock!
Yes I am, replied Niall. I have a Deputy Ringing Master.
^ Yes. We’re having a little trouble with the ‘national author tour’ part of the marketing plan.
§§ Fabulous global best seller in eighty-seven languages including several unknown till they emerged from the shadows and negotiated for translation rights?
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