Friday Fable: The Editor and the Annoying Writer

You may know the old fable, The Wolf and the Lamb:

A thirsty lamb approached a creek where a wolf was drinking upstream. “Hello,” the lamb said happily.

The wolf took one look at the lamb and licked his lips. “How dare you muddy the water where I am drinking?” he shouted.

“But I am downstream from you,” the little lamb replied with a laugh.

“You are disturbing my peace with your bleating and bells,” the wolf snarled.

“But I lost my bell last week,” the little lamb pointed out.

“You are the nasty lamb who called me names in the winter!” the wolf shouted.

“But I wasn’t even born in the winter,” the lamb replied.

“Well, if it wasn’t you, it was your brother!” said the wolf.

“But I have no brothers,” argued the lamb.

“Well, somebody has been saying bad things about me!” the wolf shouted. And with that, he tore the lamb to pieces. So the little lamb had no chance to finish the argument.

And the moral is: A tyrant will find an excuse to justify his actions. (Or “When a wolf starts arguing with you, run like hell.”)

You’re probably thinking, “Why didn’t anyone tell me this useful fable in my childhood instead of boring me to death with that moronic race between the turtle and the rabbit?” I know. Honestly.

You may also be thinking about how the adorable little lamb starts to get annoying through the course of the story, to the point where it’s really not such an unhappy ending, is it? Which brings me to my Friday Fable….If Aesop were a modern slave to the written word, he might have called his story, The Editor and the Annoying Writer:

An aspiring writer submitted a story to an established publishing house. “My story has a spunky central character, a strong narrative arc, an emotionally satisfying conclusion, and a great marketing hook,” she told the editor. “I hope you like it.”

The editor read the first page of the story, skimmed a couple more pages, and thought, “Meh, it just doesn’t grab me.” She sent back an email, saying, “Sorry but we’re not looking for folktales.”

The writer changed a few words in her story and resubmitted it to the same editor with the note, “Since you published two original folktales last year, and it says on your website that you’re looking for folktales, I thought you might take another look at this revised version of my story.”

The editor (who was particularly kind and suffered a terrible addiction to email) skimmed the first page of the revised story and saw no significant changes. She rejected it again with the note, “Sorry, but we tend to shy away from talking animals.”

The writer fired off a quick reply, saying, “But half of your best-sellers have talking animals as their central characters. And your company history stresses its success with animal stories. Are you sure you won’t have another look? I could make the hippo a rhinoceros.”

Stop arguing, little lamb

The editor (who was really new at this and had no experience with psychotic writers) wrote back, “Please understand that my decision is final. We only publish animal folktales by established writers.”

The writer (who fortunately was not psychotic or psychopathic but just plain dumb) wrote back, “But you publish first-time authors every year and half of them write animal folktales!”

“Please do not submit to this house again,” the editor wrote. And she blocked the writer’s email from her safe list.

And the moral is: Take a hint, for god’s sake. They just don’t want it.

And that’s it for me this week.

What’s New Wednesday: Looming Contest Deadlines

Just a quick reminder that there’s only one week left to submit to the Canada Writes Creative Non-Fiction Prize. All Canadians are eligible to submit a work of 1200-1500 words, along with a $25 entry fee, for a shot at the $6,000 first prize.

Under-18s have just a week left to submit to the Book Week 2012 Writing Contest for Kids & Teens. Students in grades 4-12 are eligible to submit stories or poems up to 1500 words in length for a shot at the $250 prize. (Smaller prize but hey, there’s no entry fee.)

On another note, thanks to Precious and her Fragments of Life blog followers for including me in Dystopian Domination 2 – it’s great to virtually meet new readers. If you haven’t seen it, check out my interview and enter to win a copy of All Good Children. (Super small prize but no entry free OR writing effort required – awesome!)

 

What’s New Wednesday: Dystopian Domination 2

Obviously I didn’t make any 2012 resolutions to blog more often. And apparently blogging is a lot like exercise in that the longer I’m away from it, the more effort it seems to require. I needed a real kick in the pants to get here today.

I got that kick, thankfully, from a couple of awesome bloggers who love dystopian novels and asked me to be part of their month-long Dystopian Domination extravaganza. I have emerged from hibernation to proudly take part.

If you missed 2011’s Dystopian Domination of the blogosphere, you have a fresh opportunity to get in on it in 2012. It is a month of interviews, reviews, and giveaways on two great book blogs. Check out the Dystopian Domination 2 schedule.

As you’ll notice from the schedule, the domination is already in full swing. I hibernated through the first week – sorry. But there are still several weeks of fun left. So take part.

I will add my two cents to the bid for domination on January 21st, with a giveaway of my teen novel, All Good Children and an author interview on the Fragments of Life book blog. Check it out on Saturday. And check out all the other dystopian and apocalyptic posts before and after that day. The domination runs from January 9th through February 11th. Plenty of time for the world to go terribly wrong.

And if you’re wondering about the book covers on this page, no, none of these stellar novels will be part of the 2012 domination of the blogosphere. Bummer. They are a few of my favourite dystopian novels from distant and recent pasts: 1984 by George Orwell, The Chrysalids by John Windham, The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, and Feed by T.M. Anderson. If you haven’t read them, try them – whether you think you like dystopian fiction or not. They’re just good books.

Friday Fable: One Good Turn Deserves Another

You may have heard of the old fable, “The Ant and the Dove”:

An ant stopped at a fountain one morning to quench his thirst, but he slipped into the water and began to drown. A passing dove, seeing the ant’s plight, snapped a leaf off a nearby tree and dropped it into the fountain. The ant climbed onto the leaf and floated to safety.

That afternoon, the dove was pecking at some dirt when a hunter snuck up on her with his net at the ready. The ant, seeing the dove’s danger, rushed over and bit the hunter’s heel. The startled man dropped the net, and the dove, warned of her danger, flew to safety.

And the moral is: One good turn deserves another.

You’re probably thinking, first, “Holy Smokes, the ants in Greece must be awfully big!” and second, “Wasn’t it a lion and a mouse?” To which I say, first, I spent a couple of months in Greece and never noticed a single ant, but here in Canada it’s the wee red ones that hurt like hell, so don’t judge an ant by its exoskeleton. And second, Aesop wrote over 300 fables and he liked to repeat himself – but don’t we all?

That is a good old tale. But if Aesop were a modern slave to the written word, he might have called his fable “The Blog Tourist and the Commenter”:

A writer took her new releases on a small blog tour, writing guest posts and interviews for a series of blogs that for the most part she didn’t follow herself because she was a technological dinosaur who still read newspapers (at least in the winter when the fire needed starting). She didn’t really know what she was doing and she worried if anyone would read her posts, let alone comment on them. A fellow writer and blogger followed the tour, read the interviews, and took the time to comment on several of them. When the writer saw this, she felt really good and the whole blog tour didn’t feel like a waste of time.

At the end of the blog tour, the winners of the book giveaways were notified but the frequent commenter who’d so kindly followed the blog tour didn’t win a damned thing. The writer, noticing this, asked her publishers to make the commenter an extra winner just for being awesome. The publishers said yes and the commenter won some books. When the commenter was notified of this, she felt really good and the whole effort of visiting all those blogs didn’t feel like a waste of time.

And the moral is: Even though writers could spend more time writing books instead of blogging and following blogs, it feels good to get out there occasionally and mingle with strangers in a mutually supportive way.

I don’t read many blogs, and I rarely comment on those I read, but this may change.

Today I read this article in the paper: You (not so) dirty rat. Anyone who scoffed at Aesop’s empathetic dove and ant should take a look and see how rats do good turns for each other all the time. (My son used to have rats until my dog ate them. I’ll save that story for another Friday Fable, one without any good turns at all.)

That’s it for this Friday.

(Thanks, Danielle. I hope you like the books.)

Last Stop on the Tour

Today I wrote a guest post for the book blog, “I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read.” It’s my response to someone who wanted to “dumb down” an adult novel to sell to the teen market. Check it out.

Thanks to all the great book bloggers who hosted me on this tour. It has been a lot of fun to virtually meet them, and a real pleasure to connect with their readers.

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