Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thrifting Thursday: Blood Remedy

I've been locked into editing recently, which will be my personal theme for the rest of the month (that, along with sending out poetry and short stories of my own), but I hope to offer some advice and reflections on the process.
I hate referring to anything as "The Process." It sounds mystical and mundane at the same time.

Anyway, today I give you Blood Remedy and other vintage pharmaceuticals.

I actually gave the Blood Remedy to my spouse for Valentine's Day...because it was used for syphilitic conditions, and nothing says "I burn for you" quite like a syphilitic fever.
Don't worry, we're okay...just a little odd.

And the Heart medicine still has a pill in it (look at it, lower, left corner of the bottle)...
Sometimes I hate being curious...
Currently, that single pill is just good for generating story ideas and questions.
Why didn't they take the last one?
Did they die? Did they get better?
Did they misplace it?
Were they reaching for the bottle in their final moments?

That final glass bottle, marked with "The Dill Medicine Co. Norristown, PA," is otherwise unlabeled, but I see that company sold things like "The Balm of Life," opium tinctures, alcohol-based cough syrups and extracts used for cooking.
I have no idea what was in this particular bottle, but I can think about it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thrifting Thursday: Cute 1940's Valentine Cards

Well, this has been one of those weeks that has wrenched back and forth between depressing and inspiring. (And I'm glad I don't really have TV or I'd be even more freaked out--I've been listening or watching the news online)

I've seen people passing around pictures of baby hedgehogs or links to EmergencyKitten on Twitter, and I wanted to contribute to the arsenal of adorable. I was trying to pick out some object to feature that would be nice and distracting, but the closest thing I have to baby hedgehogs, kittens, sunshine and unicorns are these 1940's Valentine's Day cards.
I paid $5 for this set. They're mechanical. Not that they're machines, but they have parts that move. They're cute in a way, but they're almost creepy-cute. The three on the right are all in the realm of cute enough, but not creepy.
Also, notice the change in style--
The Jack in the Box card (bottom left) is undated, so ignore that one.
Just my Dish (top left) is 1940
Speed it Up (top center) is 1942
Did You Hear (top right) is 1944
The Sailors (bottom right) is 1945

So, we have pre-Pearl Harbor and 3 months after Pearl Harbor. Not too much going on with them, but notice the two from 1944 and 1945. More patriotic color schemes and themes.
I thought it was neat.

Have a closer look:
I found this poem amusing, and with the picture and poem combined, this is probably the cutest card of the bunch.The couple on the boat can be moved to rock back and forth, like the boat is rolling through the waves.

This was the creepiest one upon first inspection. I don't know why I think it's the creepiest, probably the face. Like a doll's face... I like the color scheme and the hair, and its arms move. It had a little bit of a sticker stuck to it, so I had to peel it away carefully. It still has some sticker on it, though.

The Jack in the Box card exploits its mechanical feature to make itself even stranger.

It's like clown-level creepy already and then...wink...

Hope you weren't too creeped out by that one.
 One more look at them--

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Visiting the grave of F. Scott Fitzgerald by happenstance...

About a week and a half ago I went to Maryland, with the intent of going to DC and wandering around the area a little. In the interest in saving money we booked a hotel with Hotwire in North Bethesda. Well, it was actually in Rockville, MD. Cheap, but pretty nice hotel, and not too far from the metro. Good enough.

We headed into DC on Saturday afternoon, and got back to the hotel that night. As we waited for pizza to be delivered to the room, I flipped through the hotel-provided book, Rockville: Portrait of a city. I was expecting to read about shopping or restaurants, or something along those lines, but this was a book featuring a fair amount of History--being a big nerd, I was pleasantly surprised.
The first random page I looked at had an article mentioning that F. Scott Fitzgerald (author of The Great Gatsby if you've forgotten, or if you never had to read it in high school--also, the most recent movie incarnation of The Great Gatsby will be in theaters on May 10th, so it can be watched as well) was buried in Rockville, MD, of all places.

I read the article in more detail, thinking that his final resting place had to be somewhere more interesting and less suburbia/strip mall extravaganza, but no, he was buried in Rockville.
Interesting. I figured it would be a big fancy cemetery, and I hadn't seen any cemeteries really, well, there was a tiny one across from the Metro station. Right by a busy intersection. After a little searching on the GPS, I realized that the cemetery by the station, and the eternal resting place of both Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald were one and the same.

So, on Sunday morning, we visited the cemetery by Old St. Mary's Church.

Here is the church itself, you should be able to click on any of these pictures so that you can see them better.

The church is right next to a newer and larger church...also St. Mary's, but I don't think they call it New St. Mary's...that would be odd. Anyway, the cemetery is tiny which made finding the grave that much easier. It was also the only grave with a headstone and a ledger stone. People leave coins and candles, and that hat off to the side had a martini-print on the band. Apparently some visitors leave gin...we plan to do that next time.
Here are some other Fitzgeralds...
And we'll round out our visit to Old St. Mary's with pictures of some interesting grave markers. This cross was pretty impressive--and you can see how close the cemetery is to the road...
This stone had the cross broken off of the top, but it's nice to see that someone hasn't run off with it.
This one was beautiful and especially sad because it was marking the grave of an infant.
I think it's even more sad to see these other stones. The mother lost three children (the previously mentioned son aged almost 7 months, a daughter at 5 years old, and another son at 18 years old), while she lived to be almost 100.
And I leave you with the gates of heaven.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Guest Post from Sarah Hans: Sidekicks! Mixtapes, Remixes and Editorial Process

Today, I turn my blog over to Sarah Hans, so here we go--

Hello everybody! For my last guest blog post, I talked a lot about how I selected the stories for my editorial debut, an anthology called Sidekicks! In keeping with the theme, I thought maybe this time I’d discuss a little more about the editorial process.

Author and editor Nayad Monroe recently compared editing an anthology to creating a mixtape (or playlist for you youngins). In many ways, this is apt comparison. The editor chooses which authors will submit to her anthology and then the stories that best fit her vision for the book. Like a mixtape creator, she arranges the selected stories in an order she likes and that she thinks readers will enjoy.

An anthology is, however, a bit more interactive than a mixtape. The editor not only chooses the stories, but can request that changes be made to the stories. So it’s more like the editor gets to remix the playlist songs in addition to choosing and arranging them. Which is pretty neat!

Sometimes the edits to a story are relatively minor. I don’t think I found a single edit in Alex Bledsoe’s story, “Hunter and Bagger.” Other stories needed more work. In one or two cases, I had to ask for major rewrites or heavily edit the text. That makes it sound like I’m some kind of dictator though, when nothing could be further from the truth. I try to make it clear to my authors that if I’ve committed to buy their story, I already like it. I don’t dictate that they must make my exact changes “or else.” For me, editing is more like collaborative storytelling, more like teamwork than a top-down structure. Rather than being like a coach demanding her players run 20 laps, or she won’t put them in the game, I prefer to be more like the team captain, leading everyone in a team effort to create a great book. We’re all here to publish the best collection of stories we can!

Sometimes the editor can’t see all of what an author intended. I point out something I don’t like and make suggestions, but the author is always welcome to discuss it with me, and frequently once I see their perspective I change my mind. A great example of this was a hyphenated word in Donald J. Bingle’s story, “Second Banana Republic.” I marked the word because it was in a sentence with a lot of hyphenated words, which to me just looks a bit funny, and because the word doesn’t need to be hyphenated. Don explained that he hyphenated the word because it was very long and the hyphen would break it up on ereader text, which would prevent the paragraphs from looking crazy. I agreed that this was a great point, and we left it hyphenated.

Another great example is M.E. Garber’s story “Worthy.” The story originally came to me with a different title, one that was too much like the title of another story. So the author and I emailed back and forth and brainstormed titles until we came up with one we both liked. I could have said “You must change the title to ‘Fantasy Story X’ or I won’t publish it.” Then the author would have been faced with a choice--slap a truly terrible title on her work, or pull it from the anthology. Because we worked together, with mutual respect, we came up with a great title that made us both happy. Win-win!

If you’re a writer and your story is accepted by an editor, but they want you to do a lot of work on it, don’t despair! They love the concept of the story. They just want to publish the best possible story for the book! Work with them. And recognize that even if your editor comes across as bossy or overbearing, they probably don’t intend to be. Talk to them! Communication is key to any successful relationship.

That said, I’m a bit more writer-centric than some editors. Many editors reserve the right (in the contract) to make minor corrections to stories related to typos and grammar without notifying the writer. I do not make any changes to my writers’ stories without obtaining their approval. This means that I use the tracking feature in MS Word to record my changes, and ship the edited version back to the author. They approve or reject the changes, leave me notes, and we go back and forth until we have a clean copy we both like that I can insert into the anthology. Is this time-consuming? Yes. It can take several weeks. Is it laborious, especially for the people whose stories need a fair bit of work? It sure can be. Is it completely worth it? Also yes.

It’s worth it because I never have to worry about publishing someone’s story with words they didn’t write or approve. This has happened to me on the other end, as a writer. It’s a pretty terrible feeling. There has to be a bond of trust and respect (however temporary and professional) between an editor and a writer in order to create the best possible work. If I were to change someone’s story and they were upset by it, they might never tell me they’re upset. They would simply never work with me again. And my work--my anthologies--might suffer as a result.

There are, of course, editors out there who would say “It’s just a story. I make whatever changes I deem appropriate, without the author’s approval, because I’m the editor. It’s my name that’s going on the cover.” That’s one way of doing business. But it’s also a great way to have some really stellar writers unwilling to work with you, because they can’t trust you with their words. If you’re comfortable rearranging sentences or deleting punctuation without their approval, what about bigger changes? Accidental changes? If we hadn’t checked and double-checked Sidekicks!, Neal Litherland’s story “Mask of the Red Planet” would have a repeated sentence because, in moving it from one paragraph to another, I accidentally copied and pasted instead of cut and pasted. Mistakes happen! No editor is immune to them, especially when she’s spent the last three days editing twenty stories and her eyes are starting to cross.

At the bare minimum, it’s industry standard for authors to review “proofs” of the book or magazine before it goes to the printer. This is the last-chance attempt to catch any errors before the book goes to press and those errors are inked eternally. If you’re an author selling a story, there should be a mention of proofs in the contract. If there isn’t, or you don’t get a contract, let the editor know about your misgivings. An unprofessional editor will become angry and aggressive when you mention your concerns, or may give you the brush-off. A reputable editor will want everything in writing for her protection and yours! And an excellent editor will care about the quality of the anthology, the integrity of the stories, and her relationship with her authors. It will show in her interactions with you and in the final product. 

I hope that after reading this you’ll give Sidekicks! a try--it’s on sale at right now for less than $10!. If you’d like to hear Sidekicks! authors read their work live, we have events coming up in Madison, Wisconsin at A Room of One’s Own (6:30 - 8:00 pm on Wednesday, April 24) and in Columbus, Ohio at the Whetstone Public Library (time TBA on Saturday, June 8). If you’d like to discuss the contents of this guest blog post, you can find me on my blog, twitter, or facebook! Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thrifting Thursday: Decanters

Just a couple of thrift store decanters. The one with the green stopper holds homemade absinthe (it's one step above being rotgut), and the other contains whiskey with dried cherries in it. I think I paid about $5 for both of them. A lot of times when I find decanters at thrift stores the stoppers don't seal, but these two were okay.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thrifting Thursday: Silverish Things

These are some silver plated (or formerly silver plated) items purchased from a local antique store and flea market. I paid $5 for the salt and pepper shakers, and the tea pot was $16.

The teapot is International Silver Company, and I wish I knew what year it was from. It could use more cleaning.

The salt and pepper shakers are Peerless Silver Company, La France Reg 501. They were made in the USA, but I have no idea what year exactly. I've found that the company was in business from 1936 to 1959. These were filthy when I bought them, but have cleaned up pretty well. The silver plate appears to be flaking away in most places, but I like how dark they look.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Links at a free and reduced rate! 4/3/13

I actually have stuff going on this week, so I'm trying to stay on task while being kind of distracted by going to the National Cherry Blossom Festival in DC this weekend.

Free Kindle issues of Shock Totem this week only. Issue #3 is free today, then #4 on Thursday, and #5 on Friday. I forgot to post this earlier in the week, but oh well.

Sarah Hans' editorial debut Sidekicks! is on sale at Amazon. I don't know how long that sale price will stay around, so buy now! Also, she'll be guest blogging here later this week/beginning of next week...I suddenly forgot how the days of the week work because I'm not bound by such things.

I'm going to Context 26 Which takes place in Worthington, OH, and runs from September 27th to 29th

I'll also be attending the GayRomLit Retreat in Atlanta, GA, October 17th to 20th.

TransOhio has their symposium April 26-28, but I won't be going to that because I can't go to Ohio that weekend. I will be in Ohio the weekend before that.

Ok, I have writing to do...onward!

Monday, April 1, 2013

House Tour with Baby Dorian

I tried to take pictures of the new place but Baby Dorian--who is more of a toddler than a baby-- kept following me around. Imagine that, he likes to have his picture taken.

That's the foyer. I was standing by the front door. He first came over to see what I was doing, and then decided to say "cheese!" Also notice the trail of toys, well, actually one block and a cup in front of the fireplace.

And a book on the kitchen floor. He likes to chew on books. Not even board books are safe.

And this is part of the living room looking towards the foyer. I think Dorian was eating spaghetti that day because his face shows all the signs of tomato-based carnage. 
I have other photos, but will post those later. Trying to finish a writing project today. Story of my life...