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A ‘slobbering valentine to a member of the upper classes’, ‘an orgy of snobbery’, and ‘the apotheosis of brown-nosing’: Angela Carter’s excoriating dismissal of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando (1928), delivered in Tom Paulin’s notorious televisual polemic, J’accuse Virginia Woolf (1991), serves as a reminder that this work has as much potential as any of her novels to provoke heated disagreements. That it should be so might seem surprising, as it is one of the most easy-going of her novels, one in which she consciously simplified her prose style in the interests of drawing in the reader effortlessly; it is also the most comic of her novels, mocking the conventions of history and biography. That Carter in particular should be so violently opposed to the novel is particularly surprising, as its willingness to rewrite conventional fictional forms anticipates her novels, and its employment of fantastic elements anticipates the ‘magic realist’ mode that she was to employ. Like Orlando, Carter’s own The Passion of New Eve (1977) also centres on a change of sex, albeit more violently wrought. Mostly intriguingly of all, in 1979 Glyndebourne Opera House commissioned Carter to write a libretto for an opera, never completed, of Woolf’s novel. Carter’s dismissal of Woolf might appear to stem from unease about working in her shadow.
To leave it there would neglect the prominence of social class in Carter’s opinion. Though the fragments of her libretto were published under the title Orlando: or, The Enigma of the Sexes, another working title was Orlando: An English Country House Opera; the country house and the aristocracy are significant factors in Orlando. Woolf’s novel was inspired by her passionate relationship with Vita Sackville-West in 1925 and 1926. Vita had been brought up at Knole in Kent, her family’s ancestral seat since the early seventeenth century; she loved the house and its history, but as a woman, she did not stand to inherit it. Vita’s family history made a strong impression on Woolf: ‘All these ancestors & centuries, & silver & gold, have bred a perfect body’, she wrote in 1924, with a hint of critical awareness of Vita’s privilege; in the same diary entry she noted how Knole could house all the poor of Judd Street, then one of the slum areas of Bloomsbury. In 1927 she was more overawed, more deeply in love, and less critical: walking round Knole with Vita, ‘All the centuries seemed lit up, the past expressive, articulate; not dumb & forgotten; but a crowd of people stood behind, not dead at all; not remarkable; fair faced, long limbed; affable; & so we reach the days of Elizabeth quite easily.’ Politically Woolf was liberal, progressive, and above all anti-authoritarian; by the 1930s she was actively involved in her local Labour Party. Visiting Knole in 1927, however, she seems to have been enchanted by a conservative ideology in which the country house serves as symbol of continuity between generations, of the centrality of monarchy to the British constitution, and of a benign relation between the aristocracy and the people. It is ‘ideological’ in the sense of masking and normalizing exploitative economic relations.
The strength of Carter’s hostility in 1991 may well have something to do with the revival of the country house ideology in British mass culture in the 1980s. ITV’s adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, in the depths of the economic recession of the early 1980s, was a particularly pointed example. Critical works such as Patrick Wright’s On Living in an Old Country (1985) and Robert Hewison’s The Heritage Industry (1987) highlighted the ways in which ‘heritage’ serves political ends. However, Carter’s remarks don’t tell the whole truth, no matter how much they resonated in their moment. Important though the country house is to Orlando, it is less important than poetry and the hero/heroine’s dogged pursuit of the muse, and poetry in turn is less important than the question of personal identity. House-building and poetry-writing stand in direct contrast to each other. In Chapter II, it is the scorn of the poet Nick Greene that makes Orlando turn to the refurbishment of his house; though when the work is complete he holds banquets there, when the banquets are at their height he retreats to his private room to enjoy the pleasures of poetry. When Orlando travels to Turkey, his/her English values are put into perspective. To the Turkish gipsies, a family lineage four or five hundred years is of negligible duration, and the desire to own a house with hundreds of bedrooms is vulgar. Viewed from a certain angle, the established aristocrat becomes a vulgar upstart. Although the house still matters to Orlando when she returns to it triumphantly in the final chapter, and although the house still holds vivid memories of the people she has known, the cause of the triumph is the recognition of Orlando’s writing; and she recalls the sceptical perspective of the gipsies.
Focusing on the relationship between Vita and Virginia, Vita’s son Nigel Nicolson described Orlando as ‘the longest and most charming love-letter in literature’, a phrase that was Carter’s starting point. If Carter’s estimate is distorted by the demands of her time, Nicolson’s isn’t quite right either: Orlando is more than a purely personal document. It raises questions about personal identity and national identity, about history and its transmission, and about the value of writing, and it does so in a way that persistently mocks established values.
Headline image: Knole House, owned by the National Trust (2009). In the early 17th century the Sackville family re-modelled the old archbishops’ palace into a stately home. Photo by John Wilder. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Titles--heartache city! The title must do everything a synopsis or query does: grab the reader, provide a summary, and hint at the action yet to come. A lot of time goes into working up a good title, and it's not just the author's work, either. The editor, the editor's coworkers, and sales and marketing all have their say; everyone's input must be considered.
Titles cooked up and rejected for A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY:
Two Flavors of Lucky
The Year of My Magnificent Luckiness
Three Million Dollar Girl
The Duplicitous Luckiness of Hailee Richardson
Impossibly Possibly Lucky
Hailee Richardson, Girl Millionaire
My editor and I brainstormed pages of titles and promptly rejected most of them. The problem lies in the word "lucky:" phrases involving "getting lucky" are imbued with the wrong kind of nuance! Also, we wanted to avoid words like jackpot or other buzzwords that are too close too gambling. (This was hard, because even the buying of a lottery ticket is gambling.)
My sister suggested "A Whole Lotto Lucky," and the powers that be loved her suggestion! With a bit of morphing, my sister's words became A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY.
Now you can try your luck without all the heartache my editor and I went through! For a free, signed hardcover of A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY, just enter the Goodreads contest!
First stop, Barrel of Books and Games in downtown Mount Dora. Today (June 2) from 4pm to 6pm, come check out this amazing store. They have a huge selection of new and used books. Plus, their collectibles are amazing. They have everything from Angry Birds to Big Bang Theory Bobbleheads to Star Wars. AT 144 W 5th Ave in Downtown Mt. Dora about 45 minutes from Orlando.
On June 9th, I will be at HighFive Frozen Yogurt in the Loch Leven Landing shopping center. This one is for a good cause. Both the author and HighFive will be donating a portion of the proceeds to our local elementary school PTO. I will be there from 1pm to 4pm. I want to see somebody come challenge the HighFive Titan! The store is at 18977 US Hwy 441, in between Five Guys Burgers and Publix.
This is only the first wave. I am working on events with some author friends and at least one of the public libraries. If you can't make it in person, I recently updated my website where you can order autographed copies at a new, special price - www.MillerWords.com
For all you Kindle readers, I have the privilege of being one of the first to use Kindlegraph Live! Kindlegraph.com is a site where authors can personalize autographs for their digital readers. With KG Live, when you see me at an event, you can buy one of my eBooks on your eReader or smart phone. Then I can send you an autograph. All you need is an email address, and it doesn't even have to be a Kindle address.
In five days, the authors are going to be loose! That's right, local authors from around Central Florida are going to be signing books and meeting fans in downtown Mount Dora.
Authors in the Park will take place Sunday, Dec 16th from 2PM to 6PM at the Mount Dora Community Bldg Green Room (520 N. Baker, Mt. Dora, FL).
Why is it called Authors in the Park if they are in a building? Well, this is our first event and we did not want to take a chance on the weather. We are literally across the street from well-known Donnelly Park and we will have a Welcome Booth set up outside, along with live music performed by the Round Lake Christian Church Youth Band.
Inside, we will have 9 authors representing a huge variety of genres for all ages. There is absolutely something for everyone.
We will also be an official Baby DJ drop off location, as heard on XL 106.7 FM. Who knows, maybe one of your favorite on-air personalities will put in an appearance!
Here is the amazing part: Local Mount Dora businesses, supporting the arts, have donated close to $1000 in gift certificates and merchandise to be used in our gift basket raffle. That means we will have 10 baskets with almost $100 worth of gifts in each. Winning is simple, but you have to attend to win. For every $5 you spend with one of the Authors in the Park, you get one raffle entry. Even if you don't win a basket, you still win with a great book!
Check out the authors scheduled for Sunday:
Jean E. Lane
Amy I. Long
C. Kevin Thompson
Can you believe that talent? Who would have thought so many gifted authors live right next door?
Here's some of the fine print. The event is presented by JLB Creatives and MillerWords.com. It is sponsored by the Mount Dora Library Association (www.MountDoraLibrary.org). We would like to thank the City of Mount Dora Parks & Rec Department for their excellent cooperation. We would also like to thank all of the local businesses that have generously donated to our gift basket raffle:
Amy Sellers Art Gallery, Barrel of Books and Games, Copacabana Cuban Cafe, Cupcake Delights, Debbie's Dog Treats, The Frog and Monkey, Gold in Art Jewelers, High Five Frozen Yogurt, Home & Garden Treasures, KaDee Kay Gourmet Kitchen Products, Ken's Place, Long & Scott's Farm, The Lost Parrot, Maggie's Attic, Merrill's Market, Mt. Dora Veterinary Clinic, Mt. Plymouth IGA, Oakwood Smokehouse, The Olde Clock Shoppe, One Flight Up, Permanent Solution Hair Salon, Race Car Diner, Stoneybrooke Publix, Whispering Winds, The Windsor Rose Tea Room
Did I ever tell you I have a You Tube channel? Please check it out! Danette Haworth You Tube Channel Great stuff for authors, including an interview with Barnes and Noble CRM, Geoffrey Shoffstall.
Bargain deals: Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning is available in HARDCOVER FOR LESS THAN $5.00 ON AMAZON! Perfect for your middle-grade reader this Christmas! Also, I've been keeping a craft book open as I work on my new manuscript--lit agent Mary Kole's Writing Irresistable KidLit, available in paperback and ebook. Perfect for the writer on your Christmas list! Look for my review soon!
JERRY SEINFELD and ORNY ADAMS! On separate dates in January, I get to see Jerry Seinfeld at the Bob Carr, Orlando, and Orny Adams at the Improv! I cannot wait! I've never seen Seinfeld live before, but I have seen Orny and he was excellent. Not only that, but he did a meet-and-greet afterwards and was so patient with me and my sister, spending probably fifteen minutes or so with us because my iPhone camera was flaking out (which, honestly, worked out, because we got to spend more time with Orny!). The only thing that could make the new year better? Brian Regan tickets in February? Dare I to spend more money on comedy
And finally, Casey and I were hanging around in the backyard today, and I swear I smelled the sweet, powdery scent of orange blossoms. My neighbor's trees are ornamented with perfectly round, shiny oranges, but no blossoms. A close inspection of the greenbelt behind my yard (read: marsh populated by gators, river otter, rattle snakes, scorpions and more) revealed some kind of weedy tree, resplendent with tiny white buds, emitting the sweet perfume.
One of the most talked about events at the Romantic Times Convention was Deidre's GODS OF MIDNIGHT party. The event's smashing success was owed in part to a good-natured game of Spartan musical chairs. What is that, pray tell? Click hereto see the video of hunky romance cover models dressed in itty bitty costumes ;). Always a good combo!
It has become a holiday tradition on the OUPblog to ask our favorite people about their favourite books. This year we asked authors to participate (OUP authors and non-OUP authors). For the next two weeks we will be posting their responses which reflect a wide variety of tastes and interests, in fiction, non-fiction and children’s books. Check back daily for new books to add to your 2010 reading lists. If that isn’t enough to keep you busy next year check out all the great books we have discovered during past holiday seasons: 2006, 2007, 2008 (US), and 2008 (UK).
There are some books that cast a spell over you. They stay with you long after you have turned the last page, making your life feel richer and more magical. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson is one of those books. I have known about it for some time – it was first published almost thirty years ago – but only got around to reading it this year, perhaps because Faber have just published a new paperback edition. For once, you can judge a book by its cover. The image of a single-track railway viaduct disappearing into the mist in a heavily wooded landscape does perfect justice to the poetic, haunting quality of Robinson’s prose. The novel is the tale of two sisters growing up in the care – if ‘care’ is the right word – of their disturbed aunt Sylvie, the sister of their dead mother, in the tiny, isolated town of Fingerbone in the far north-west of the United States. The narrator is the younger of the two sisters, Ruth, and she inhabits that eerie and yet utterly convincing space between the everyday and the extraordinary, demonstrating a child’s ability to adapt to anything, no matter how strange. And this novel is definitely strange: Sylvie makes her nieces eat their supper in the dark, and she sleeps on top of the covers with her shoes under her pillow. Though Housekeeping is, at one level, an investigation of madness, and the mystery of madness, and although its themes are loneliness, abandonment, and that infinitely human attempt, especially where children are involved, to make sense of the world in which they have found themselves, the writing is so beautiful, so subtle, and so wise that the book manages to be both heartbreaking and life-affirming.
We’ve just returned from the IRA conference in sunny Orlando! We’re still getting our feet back under us and assure you that we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled programming soon. In the meantime, though, here are a couple of highlights from our booth at the conference:
I live in Mt. Dora, FL. I work close to home. I shop close to home. On Facebook, I have "friends" all over the world. Turns out, one of those friends is an author that also lives in Florida. Leona Bodie is the Vice President of the Florida Writers Association and she shared a touching story with me recently. It is about two other authors from Florida and I wanted to share it with you.....
Hospice of the Comforter and Florida Writers Association Join Forces to Help One Dying Man’s Final Wish Come True
A TERMINALLY ILL PATIENT’S DREAM IS REALIZED THANKS TO THE DEDICATED EFFORTS OF A VOLUNTEER WITH HOSPICE OF THE COMFORTER, DOUG DILLON.
ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla… Meet Hospice of the Comforter patient Tony Mancuso. He offers you the best smile he can, given his physical situation while at theGarnet Heart group home in Altamonte Springs, Fla. And meet Doug Dillon, a volunteer withHospice of the Comforter of Central Florida, whose patient is Tony.
During one of Doug’s visit, he learned that Tony was a writer and before he got sick, published 1,200 copies of his first novel titled, The Lie Catcher, where he uses first names of fa
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With mega-book chains closing their doors (Borders) and online booksellers battling for eBook domination, authors are faced with the daunting task of connecting with their readers. How do we get our print books out there? How do we connect with our digital readers?
Here's the thing: I love to write.
Along with that, I truly enjoy meeting fans and aspiring authors. So, I will take every opportunity to get out there and meet some great people. One of my favorite activities is visiting classrooms. I have found that teachers these days do an incredible job of motivating kids to read. When an author walks into the classroom, that is a springboard for their hungry little minds!
Teachers: Please send me emails, I would love to come to your class, at any grade level. If I can't drive to you, then I can use Skype or Google video chat.
Another fun suggestion is that my books can be used for fund raisers. I've done it before. It's unique and leaves a lasting impression.
Take a look at what I've got coming up:
April 18 - Lake County Library System: Local Authors Day - The Lake County Library System is proud to announce the second program celebrating local authors and their books. The Spring Local Authors’ Day will be held in the Lady Lake Public Library on Wednesday, April 18th from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. In addition to meeting some of the best authors from around Florida, participants can enter for a prize drawing sponsored by the Friends of the Lady Lake Public Library. http://tinyurl.com/btkfhvf
Over the next thirty days or so, I will begin introducing some of the new characters from The Secret Queen. Many of them were inspired by Egyptian mythology and dinosaurs. I look forward to sharing this next adventure with you.
I want to be followed, except for that one guy that is literally following me. Stop it. Seriously, stop.
Joking aside, I am going to attempt my first "Live Tweeting" event this Saturday. When I go to my book signing at Heroes Landing (http://heroeslanding.com/) from 1PM to 3PM in Clermont, FL, I will take as many pics and make as many tweets as I can. I hope you will join me in the fun with your comments.
It is going to be a huge day. Besides selling vouchers for advance copies of The Secret Queen, it is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY! There will be other guest artists and authors, a Geeky Pinup booth, face-painting, surprise sales and more.
As requested, I’m going to start a contract workshop. Now and then I’ll do a post explaining some (probably not all) contract terms that you might want to be aware of. And what they mean. Since this is our first day of class I want to break you in easy and begin with the advance. While most of you should know what an advance is, I’m often surprised by how few know what it really means.
An advance is NOT what you are getting paid for your work. It’s not like working a job and getting paid $100,000 a year. In other words, it’s not at all intended to reflect your “value.” An advance is just that, it’s an advance against future earnings. Think of it this way: if you went to work and your boss knew you were having hard times and offered to give you a $10,000 advance on your salary, he’s not saying you’re worth only $10,000 to him. No, he’s saying that he has faith that you’ll complete the work you need to complete for him, successfully, and he’ll gladly dock your future pay to help you out. That’s an advance.
With most publishers an advance usually reflects your book’s earning potential the first year it’s on sale, less costs to the publisher. What does that mean? Traditionally when publishers run those elusive numbers they try to figure in how many copies a book will sell it’s first year in print, then they try to figure out how much it’s going to cost them to make that book—design the cover, pay for paper, printing, and shipping costs—and then they will figure out how much you might make on the book based on your royalty percentage. And that’s your advance. It’s your share of the book’s profit its first year in print. Of course the publisher (and you) hopes you far exceed that number and that first royalty statement blows the advance out of the water.
Advances are usually paid out in segments. Ideally it’s half the payment on signing of the contract and half the payment upon delivery and acceptance of the manuscript. The key word there is "acceptance." Just because you delivered the book on May 2 doesn’t mean your payment is put through on May 3. No, your payment will be put through when your editor has finally had time to read the book, write a revision letter, received your revisions and approved your revisions (in other words, found time to read your book again). Sometimes (ideally) you can get a time frame written in on when acceptance needs to happen by. Oftentimes, you cannot.
Nowadays, though, the ideal is changing. It seems that more and more publishers are dividing payments into thirds, or more. Partial payment on signing, partial on delivery and acceptance, sometimes partial on the delivery and acceptance of proposals for any other books, and the dreaded partial payment upon publication. I hate that. Authors hate it. Agents hate it and publishers love it. It’s becoming standard now at most houses, so complain all you want, you’re not getting out of it, no matter how small your advance is.
My advice on how to handle a really small advance? Negotiate the hell out of it. And if that doesn’t work, prove them wrong. Sell so many copies of that first book that they will have to pay you a ton on the next.
Below Evan Schnittman shares his personal opinions on royalties and advances. This isn’t Oxford University Press’s official stance - but represents just one of the many opinions floating around our office on this very tricky subject. We hope that by sharing his views an open dialog can be initiated.
In his blog post Royalties Macmillan CEO Richard Charkin, posits that trade publishers and authors/agents would be well served if the standard for paying authors switched from a percentage of retail price to a percentage of gross earnings. He writes, “How about agreeing new equitable royalty rates based on real money not a notional recommended retail price?
Charkin also points out that, “The percentage is linked to a price which applies in only a minority of cases. It doesn’t apply to all sales overseas; it doesn’t apply to nearly all sales made in supermarkets, Internet bookshops and many bookshop chains.” In other words, paying on the percentage of a price that isn’t applicable to the majority of income isn’t logical or easy – which may lead to wildly confusing royalty statements.
As expected, within hours a series of rebuttals hit the comments field by individuals and groups rejecting Charkin’s notion as folly; stating the view that the retail price is the only thing that is transparent on publishers’ royalty statements, which are notoriously mysterious and murky at best.
While the debate will continue, it misses a far more important problem. (more…)
We have the mouse, we have the whale, and now we have clean air! According to a recent Yahoo! article, Orlando took fourth place in the list of US cities with the cleanest air. Oh yeah! O-town rules! Listen, I've got no swampland, but for a small fee, I will send you a vial of our fresh air. You cannot get this stuff anywhere else. (Well, maybe three other places. If you live in those three other places, I am not talking about you.) Hurry now, supplies may be limited.