Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Family History

My ancestry has everything in the world to do with my personal and creative interests and I've been researching my family's origins in the U.K. and Europe. I know I have ancestors from the area of Aberdeen and Fife, Scotland, my Leslie family on my maternal grandmother's side. My Brooks family is Anglo-Norman, originally from Broc in the Loire region of France, and an ancestor named Ralph Broc went to Essex County outside of London after William the Conqueror took England. The Broc family had supported him in his bid and were given some lands as a reward. Over time the name Anglicised to Brooks. I know I have Irish, German and Dutch ancestry but I don't know anything about exactly what town or region those people came from. My Swedish ancestors were named Sickles, and came from somewhere in southern Sweden, but that is all I know about that branch of the family. I want to visit the places I know I have family connections to. I found some really lovely pictures online of Broc, Essex and Aberdeenshire and put them up in my workspace, along with a copy of the bookcover design my friend Osvaldo Valle is working on for The Flower of Knighthood. I can already tell they are inspiring me. I can't travel anywhere abroad this year because I have a lot of family stuff to wrap up, but I hope to go back to France or the U.K. in 2012.

Flowering of Film

My roommate Brent is starting an effects shop/media production company, and he has talked to me in the past about doing something someday with The Flower of Knighthood. We carpooled this morning, and he was asking me if I have any ideas of how it would be adapted for film. That's a hard question for me, because I am not a screenwriter or filmmaker and if it ever was made into a show, the only things I'd insist on would be that the filmmaker retain some of the book's poetic element and stay true to its spiritual message, including the message of equality between the sexes as a reflection of the relationship between the male and female aspects of the divine nature, and the message of the cultural interaction of the old pagan religion in Europe with Christianity and the validity of each. There's no point in making the book into a film if you don't keep those, they are the absolute heart of it. Other than that, I think it would be up to the filmmaker, because it's my book, but it would be his or her film. I think a book takes on a life of its own once it's adapted into another form and I would not want to interfere with the filmmaker's creative process. I absorbed ancient European goddess mythology and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in order to write the book, and a director/screenwriter would need to absorb and process me in their own way. Brent has some interesting creative ideas, mostly visual ways to carry the audience into the story. I'd love it if someone would make a film of my book, and I respect Brent's creative ingenuity. I'm printing him a copy of the manuscript right now so he can read the whole thing at his leisure. We'll keep talking and see what happens.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Indie Pub Addendum

OK, I went ahead and opened an account at CreateSpace, too, figured why not. I'll play around with all of them to see which format I like best. I did that with WordPress and Blogger to decide which I preferred, and Blogger won hands down, as you can see. I also dug around a bit and got the name of the submissions editor at the U.K. publishing house that I want to approach. I'll start writing a letter to her in the next few days. I got rejected from a publisher recently, but I expected it. I met them at a conference and took a chance approaching them. They are a very small house, and they don't usually publish anything like my books, but there is a small area of overlap in subject matter, so one of the owners agreed to look at my first book. I submitted it over a year ago, and just heard back last week that they don't have a place for it, but after this long I was surprised to hear from them at all. I just looked at my manuscript file to see how much work I need to do to both submit it to the U.K. house and also to get it ready to upload if I do decide to e-pub, and I discovered I have two versions, one 151 pages long, the other 152 pages. I printed both to compare them. Both are versions of a master file, and I can't remember the difference. I need a clean copy to do some manual edits anyway, so that's one more thing crossed off the to do list.

Indie Publishing

I just set up an account for myself on Blurb, a new on-demand print publishing company. I heard good things about them, so I chose them to experiment with to see what my books will look like. I also signed up with Smashwords to publish on-demand e-books, also as an experiment, and with Lulu, one of the most established on-demand print houses. I still plan to contact a publisher in the U.K. that I think might like my work, but in the meantime I want to learn more about the process of indie publishing. I will probably sign up with Createspace, too, just to get the Amazon exposure, but Blurb actually had a promotion offer right now for 20% off all future orders I place with them, so it seemed like the time to try it, and I've meant to sign up with Lulu for months and have just been dragging my feet. I also wanted to grab the account name 'Fleurdamour' as many places as possible while it's still available, since that is my preferred name online. Blurb: Smashwords: Lulu: CreateSpace:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Back in the Saddle

I fell off this Horse so thoroughly the past few months that I had to request a password reset from Blogger - my account had gone into inactive mode because it's been so long since I logged in (October of last year). I honestly haven't had much to say. I've had some misfortune in family and health, and I had to take some time to get past being overwhelmed by it. My sister died in late December, on the same date when my father passed away long ago, and I've been very sad about it. I also have had to pursue obtaining a legal guardianship of my mother, because she's in a nursing home and incapacitated. My sister took care of a lot of things for her, and now it's my turn to do so. I'm just beginning to come out of that wreckage a bit and getting back to writing and editing, which is always my emotional salvation. My sister wrote, too, but never published anything, and it was a huge reality check for me to find some of her notebooks when I was packing up her apartment. They were buried uncompleted in a box. I have been stalled out to some degree the past couple of years for reasons of the economy and some personal things, but I need and want to achieve forward momentum again. I feel very sorry for her that she never managed to get her voice heard in the greater world. I also feel some guilt for not being able to help her more with that objective, but I'm trying to do the same with my own writing, so I know how hard it is to do it for yourself, let alone to try and help someone else. It's a cliche, but life is short and fragile, and I know that I've wasted time that I could have spent more productively in creative pursuits. Like most people, I was guilty in extreme youth of thinking I had all the time in the world, but none of us do. I'd say the biggest part of my holdup the past two years was what I've detailed in earlier posts - I bought a laptop that turned out to be a horrific lemon and spent a year trying to get it to work. You can witness the devastating effect that had on me from the trajectory of my posts here; they drop off to a trickle during that period and have never recovered. It's important to me to get past that. I love my sister, and I miss her, and I want to include her in my writing somehow. I think it might make her happy if I can make her a character in one of my King Arthur books. It won't make up for those poor unfinished projects, testament to the fleeting nature of life, but at least it will be something. Life happens, and death happens, and art is the best way for me to deal with both of them.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Teacher Research

Out of curiosity for a possible career path in the future, I've been researching what it would take to become a college professor. I'd be most interested in either an English or Medieval Studies path, although I've also thought about getting an MFA and teaching creative writing. I'm remembering why I didn't pursue an advanced degree and teaching in the first place - I was burnt out after getting my undergrad degree, and wanted to work on creative endeavors at the time rather than any further academic ones. I also wanted to make money, and couldn't face grad school immediately for that reason.The last thing I wanted in my early twenties was more debt. I'm not sorry I pursued what I did, but I do rather wish I'd been able to go back to school before now. After reading what I would still need to achieve in order to teach at a university, I'm not sure if I have it in me. I'd need to get a Master's and a PhD, and master at least one other language. I've studied three, French, Italian and Latin, but I would need to pick one and intensify my application to it. I'd need at least 5 more years of school and would graduate with a lot of debt. It might be worth it - I love learning, and I can think of worse ways to spend my time than submersing myself in studying the Middle Ages, but I also know how demanding my creative writing is. That's the main reason I never did seriously consider grad school before now - it took all of my spare energy to finish my two books, and I'm still editing them. I've got four more started that I deeply want to finish, and I was afraid that attending school would pull me away from them, which it probably would for a few years unless I could work it so that one of them counts as class product. I've also had a lot of other problems to solve, like helping my family after my mother's stroke, and dealing with 9/11 and Katrina. If I'd wanted to teach, I think I probably should have gone back to school at least ten years ago. I'm going to keep researching it and pondering it, but I'm also just going to go ahead and keep studying on my own, too. I've given myself a curriculum of material that will keep me busy for a while and that's suited to providing structure and inspiration for my books as well as a possible foundation for formal study. I figure if I never go back to school formally, at least I will have studied what I loved, and if I do pursue another degree, I'll be in a lot better shape to approach it. I definitely plan to at least take some courses in digital media, like enhanced e-book production and more electronic music studies. I think I really am fundamentally more of an artist than an academic, which is what I've always come back to in the past, but I want to make sure I explore every avenue in life that holds even the slightest interest for me.

Friday, October 15, 2010

From Bad Seed to Summer Isle

I haven't updated in a long time because I kept having terrible problems with my Apple laptop, and lost a lot of motivation while I was dealing with that. It kept having one kernel panic after another, complete with crashing, freezing and screaming, and nothing would fix it. Finally this month, after having reinstalled the OS twice and replaced the RAM, the hard drive and a video card that was a main component of the motherboard, the Apple Genius bar threw in the towel and gave me a brand new machine, in the current model. I was a little surprised they voluntarily did that, but I'm very grateful. Enough is enough. I was about to ask them to, anyway, it's been such a nightmare. My Apple was a lemon. I didn't lose any work except for a few photos because I have never trusted that machine and never used it for much. Hopefully, now I can move on. I've lost so much time to it that I've actually been mired in despair lately, but I soldiered on meanwhile in other areas and hopefully I can make up for some of the lost time. I named the first Apple laptop, the one with so many issues, Adam, thinking that naming it after Adam Kadmon, the primordial man closest to the divine image, would be lucky, but maybe the archetypal energy of the Fall was too much for it. I've chosen to give this one a positive, goddess-oriented name also associated with apples: Avalon.

I'm also no longer writing for the Mid-City Press. I did seven or eight articles for them, including some reporting to bring public attention to the funding problems at the Los Angeles community arts centers. I'm proud of my work there, but I decided that ultimately we weren't a good fit for each other and I resigned. I'm very glad to have had the experience, and leaving actually helped free me up to move on with my other projects. I've given up on pursuing arts journalism in the future as anything but a possible sideline, and I'm okay with that. It never was lucrative at the best of times and it's just nearly impossible to find decently paying jobs in it at this point, and I've got bigger fish to fry. When I first moved out to L.A. in 2006, I was still contemplating studying journalism formally via UCLA extension to supplement the education and experience I already have, but it's just not worth it anymore. I'd do much better to allocate my education dollars to learning e-book publishing, LogicPro, and saving some towards possible future endeavors in medieval studies. I'm still working on book edits for The Flower of Knighthood and Parsifal and those are actually going pretty well. I've taken a short break lately to read some books, Foucault's Pendulum and the Illuminatus! Trilogy. If I can get organized enough, I'd like to write an essay at some point comparing and contrasting those two books. They have amazing similarities of themes and structure - both incorporate outrageous conspiracy theories and use the kabbalistic Tree of Life for their structure, and both have a computer that plays a central role symbolizing consciousness. I requested a hold at the public library on another book by Umberto Eco, Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages, and I'm looking forward to it.