Tag Archives: PDMI Publishing

The Very Best Way to Have the Worst Possible Publishing Experience – Part 2

Yesterday I started a rant about publishing novels.  I guess I only filled that word balloon halfway up with mad gasses and bull puckie.  So it isn’t fully inflated with noxious opinions of publishing, indie publishing, and getting a book into print.

val at barn cover3

Having written a competent young adult novel that was well-reviewed by anyone who actually read it, I was faced with the question, “How do you get your work noticed to the point that more than just the members of your family will read it?”  So, I took another of my decades-old manuscripts and transformed it into a contest novel.  It was Snow Babies, the first of my Valerie Clarke novels.  (That’s Val in the cover mock-up to the left above.)  I entered it in the 2012 Chanticleer Book Reviews’ Dante Rossetti YA Novel Contest.  I surprised myself by being one of eleven of the hundreds of contestants that made it to the final round of judging.  Of course, it is a contest open to anybody who could write a novel-length glop of words and pay the entry fee.  But the final round contained only those novels that could be actually considered viable for publication.  While I didn’t win a prize in that contest or get the recognition that might bring, I had my novel confirmed as something worth getting published.  So I vowed to find a publisher that would not charge me for the publication of my novel.


So this time I found myself working with a small press called PDMI Publishing LLC.  They absolutely loved my novel and gave me a contract.  I had high confidence that I would see the novel in print.  And, as a business, PDMI actively worked not only on printing authors’ books, but on promoting and marketing them, putting in appearances at various Comicons and Dragoncons and other nerdy Con-cons.  They even owned their own bookstore at one point.  They assigned me an editor, Jessie Cornwell from Seattle, and she was a delight to work with, bringing insight and wisdom into the development of my work.  But one small problem developed.  Just as my novel became fully edited and ready for the next step, the whole publishing company broke down and went out of business.  It was sad.  So many, including me, had invested a large portion of themselves into the whole novel business; writing, editing, printing, and marketing.  So many were left scrambling with their hopes and dreams spilling out of the bicycle basket of PDMI after the bicycle crashed into a wall.  I completely lost touch with my editor, so I couldn’t even offer her money that I didn’t have to pay her with anyway for her wonderful work.  Something else had to come along to keep my dreams of putting Snow Babies into the dreams of the reading public truly alive.


By now you have probably come to the unpleasant conclusion that there will be a Part 3 to this horrible rant.  But for me, it is a good thing.  It will contain the eventual solution I came up with, and will lead to a cold-comfort happy ending.

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Filed under angry rant, feeling sorry for myself, humor, NOVEL WRITING, publishing, Uncategorized

The Moaning Writer


I am not Charles Dickens.  I wish I were.  I want to be a writer of wry humor, social commentary, and have an effect on the soul of the world I live in.  The way he was.  Heck, Dickens invented Christmas the way we do it now (with considerable help from department stores like Macy’s) by writing A Christmas Carol.  But the chances for that are growing ever dimmer.

The small publisher with which I was associated, and who gave me a contract to publish Snow Babies, has died.  The business folded while my novel was still in the editorial phase.  PDMI Publishing was a worthy group of writers and entrepreneurs who in a different time might’ve gone far.  I know by reading some of their works that they had talent.  But between the ferocious grip of the mega publishers and the waves upon waves of self-published stuff on Amazon, real writers with talent are drowning in a sea of mediocrity and media indifference.  Writers who succeed are the ones with the most luck or the most direct connections to the gate keepers.  Profit is far more important than literary merit.  You don’t really have to have talent any more.  You don’t have to know what a split infinitive is or how to compose a compound sentence properly or how to spell.  Shoot, you barely have to know how to write.  Just write about sparkly teenage vampires falling in love with high school girls or sexual perverts who are into torture devices, and you can be a millionaire… if you can somehow luck out over the millions of wannabes writing the same exact crap.

There was a time when writing teachers and published authors were telling me that sooner or later good writing gets published.  It was supposed to be inevitable.  But that was a different time than now.  Different rules for the game.  I will have two published books with two different publishers.  I-Universe published Catch a Falling Star.  And Page Publishing will publish Magical Miss Morgan.  But I paid both of those publishers to turn my books into published paper books with ISBN numbers and access to customers of Barnes and Noble and other outlets.  But I don’t expect to earn the money back that I invested.  Not while I’m still alive at least.

My Art 2 of Davalon

My I-Universe publishing experience was worth it.  I spent a lot of money to get Catch a Falling Star published, but I got to work with real editors and advisers who had experience working for Knopf and Random House.  They gave me a real evaluation of my work and taught me how the business of promoting the book was supposed to work.  And the help that they gave me ended there.  No advertising budget beyond what I could afford myself.  I learned a lot for my money.  But I had to come to terms with the fact that marketing was going to take more time and effort than I was physically capable of doing.  I have six incurable diseases and am a cancer survivor after all.

Page Publishing was a mistake.  They were cheaper than I-Universe, but I am not getting anywhere near the value for my money.  Instead of real editors reading and suggesting and modifying my work, I get nit-picky grammar Nazis who don’t even know as much about grammar as I do.  They are only copy editing.  And the last rewrite was me spending time changing all the incorrect changes they made back to the original text.  They did not even tell me the name of the editor making the changes.  I talked to the I-Universe editors over the phone and discussed changes in detail.  Page gives me email copies to read over and fume about silently.  They are no better than the vanity presses of old who were really no more than a re-typing and printing service.

So, from here on, I will only do the self-publishing options available through Amazon.  I have no more money or energy to spend on the black hole of literary dreams.

I can’t help but be a writer, though.  That part is genetic.  I will continue to write and tell stories that I need to tell.  I can’t help it.  Not to do so will cause me to shrivel and die almost instantly.  And I am only exaggerating just a little bit.  Well, maybe a lot.  But it is still true.

Whatever promises the future holds, I am not depending on them for my feelings of success, closure, and self-worth.  The world as I have come to know it will always be a ridiculous stew-pot of ideas and ego and cow poop, and I am not so much giving up as stepping out of the stew.  I wish to tell stories for the story’s sake.  I have no delusions of becoming as wealthy as Stephen King or J.K. Rowling.  I will never be Charles Dickens.  And I am okay with that.


Filed under commentary, feeling sorry for myself, humor, insight, publishing, self pity, the road ahead, work in progress, writing

A Low-Fat Essay With One Third Fewer Calories

Val B22

Yesterday I posted a political satire in which I accused Rand Paul and Chris Christie of being the reincarnation of Laurel and Hardy.  I may have also suggested that Republican Presidential candidates are mostly possessed by the spirits of old comedy teams who share the bully and the idiot style of comedy made famous by Stan and Ollie.  That post had about 380 calories from empty carbohydrates and the saturated fat was off the charts.  If I am to provide a healthy diet of low-quality purple paisley prose to those who ready my pretentiously faux-literary blog, then I need to alternate in some high-fiber, low calorie fare.  After all, this is a place where people come to sample my ideas and my so-called humor.  Any and all fat that they get from here goes straight to their head.  It can clog the arteries of the thinking organ.  So, let me offer something light and fibrous today.

Yesterday I finished the first-pass edit of my novel Snow Babies.  I also got it sent to my editor at PDMI, Jessie Cornwell.  Her edits caused serious pain and minor bleeding, but that is merely an indicator that she is very professional and does the job well.  And on occasion, she makes me laugh.  She identified and corrected my creepy fascination with the word “penis” and cut it out of my novel.  I am sure you can imagine how painful something like that can be.  But I deserved it.  A writer has to be aware that there are quirks in his thinking that interfere with communicating ideas to the reader.  And the nutritional value of the ideas and thinking in a book are not only what makes it worth reading, but worth writing in the first place.


It is a little odd to be working on a novel about a blizzard in Iowa in deep December when it is August in Texas and we are undergoing 100-degree plus weather during the yearly heat wave and drought.  It is hard to imagine deadly cold and Christmas-wish thinking when you have to sit naked by the air conditioner and you still sweat out gallons.  (Notice I did not use the word “penis” even once in this paragraph, Jessie.)  (Oops!  Okay, don’t count the parenthetic expression, please.)

But I love these characters.20150813_113902

Valerie Clarke, the main character, is an eleven-year-old girl trying to make her way in a cold world after the death of her father.  She finds and latches onto a mysterious old hobo who goes by the name Catbird.  The man wears a coat which is a crazy quilt of colorful patches.  He carries around a dog-eared copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and quotes from it as if it is his Bible.  She gives him a place to stay, with her and her grieving mother in the nick of time before the blizzard hits her little Iowa town.  Valerie is based in part on my own daughter.

A bus gets stranded in the rural farming community and the bus contains four boys who are not only passengers, but runaway orphans escaping from the Illinois foster care system.  The youngest boy is crippled.

So, I am for the moment only posting something light that you really don’t have to work too hard to consume.  The main idea is simply that I have finished another step in the process of publishing my long-delayed novel.  And hopefully this post isn’t needlessly fattening, like many of my posts are.


Filed under humor, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney