Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The "I just finished my manuscript, what next?" Megathread project from /r/writing on reddit (Part 1)

Crosspost from www.reddit.com/r/writing

This has been a common topic lately. I have also just completed the first draft of a manuscript I intend to seek a publisher for. In the coming weeks, I'm going to have to make up my mind if I intend to take a standard publishing industry approach, or take a go online and in the self publishing realm.

I was thinking it might be helpful (to the community and myself) to expand this into a focused conversation on 'what to do next'. I do not claim to be an expert, but I have been practicing my craft for over 15 years, and have been carefully researching how I could eventually make the move from hobbyist to professional.

I'm in the process of creating a very large to do list, for both research and actual work that needs to be done. Since there are seemingly more than a few of us in the community who are at this point right now, perhaps we could try working on one together?

Tell us about what's on your to do list! I will keep a record of what we come up with on my blog.

I've broken mine down into categories to start:

Publishing industry research & work

1. Write draft query letter
2. Write draft back book cover
3. Write draft “what qualifies me to write this book”
4. Write draft “why will this book sell & what does this book compete with”
5. Find the names of 10 large agencies seeking submissions in my genre
6. Research each of the agencies
7. Find the contact information for 3 major publishers and 3 minor publishers
8. Research each of the publishers
9. Create list of all possible networking contacts in publishing field

Promotional work

1. Create Social media accounts, generate good & appropriate content for each platform: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Tumblr
2. Create a blog on a topic of which you can speak well
3. Build social networking contacts

Self publishing research

1. Research kickstarter
2. Research indiegogo
3. Research costs of self publishing
4. Research self publishing on amazon
5. Research & price possible graphic designers
6. Research & price possible editors

Actual Manuscript work

1. Print off paper copy for initial editing
2. Mark where foreshadowing is required or can be placed
3. Mark where more description is required
4. Re-create character diagrams based on what the characters do and say in what you have written

Time Breakdown

1 hour each day on editing
1 hour each day on promoting social networking accounts or building contacts
1 hour each day creating content for social networking accounts
1 hour each day writing blog pieces

Monday, 22 July 2013

At The Intersection of The Rehtaeh Parsons Case and Freedom of Expression


The Rehtaeh Parsons story took another turn last week with the release of a report by new Canadian Federal Justice Minister, Peter MacKay. The report calls for a new law and vague investigative powers to cover a 'gap' in the criminal code regarding the 'sharing of intimate images'. [CBC Article]

While this may sound good on the surface, what lurks beneath is a connection to the conflicting feelings of The Conservative Party in regards to privacy and freedom of expression. In case it needs repeating there are existing laws to cover this case: Child Pornography and sexual assault. Those laws may be inadequate and outdated, but they exist. So why create a new and tangentially related one?

The laws in Canada covering the recording of conversations and images are remarkably open when compared with American law. In the United States, I can't record a phone call without notifying the other party. In Canada it's a bit more complex, but a simple test determines if you can clandestinely record a conversation in video or audio.

Section 184(2)(a) of the Criminal Code of Canada covers the exceptions, and the first one is that if you are one of the intended recipients of a private communication, you may record it.

You can record any interaction you have -public or private- and publish it, without notifying the person you are recording. Permission is not required. The kicker is that you have to be an active participant in the event. So I can walk into a mechanics shop and record the conversation I have with the mechanic. However, if I leave the camera behind without permission to record them while they work -that constitutes spying- which we also have laws to cover. A more detailed explanation can be found here.

As an activist, this law has shielded me on numerous occasions. It affords Canadians an important tool when it comes to personal activism, journalism, and posting content to the web.

Following an article in the Chronicle Herald, Anonymous helped propel this story to international status. The nebulous collective of activists now notorious as 'Hacktivists' are the experts at getting attention. But in this case one of the few universal beliefs of Anonymous -Freedom of Expression- is about to collide head on with the pet cause of a large subset within itself: Rape Culture.

Anon in Uncomfortable Position

I reached out to a very active Anonymous activist intimately familiar with the Parsons case, and asked him a direct question: “Do you have any concerns that the proposed 'Intimate Images' law could impact freedom of expression in Canada?”

ANSWER: “I'm concerned it would be really broad. We have to think about the big picture though. I don't want to wade in on how various elements of Anon could clash over this, but censorship does have its place. We don't want to limit freedom of expression, but sexual pictures of thirteen year-olds should have no place on the internet.” - Anonymous

The Rob Ford Connection

But this law wouldn't only be for child pornography, it would cover consenting adults as well. This development leads to a dangerous question many of us have feared to ask ourselves: what if Rob Ford had been smoking a crack pipe while nude? 

Clear cut situations like a 15 year old Rehtaeh Parsons vomiting out of a window while being sexually assaulted should be relatively easy to cover. The problem is, it's also easy for a reactionary law to be used for unintended purposes. Unless it is incredibly well written and specific, such a law could have in theory protected the dear leader of Toronto in his video scandal. 

It also provides an easy sound-byte sized attack against anyone who opposes it. This proposed law is a conservative political strategist's dream. All they need do is tinker with a few words, and Prime Minister Harper will have a political weapon to fight his opponents with... if anyone dares to criticize it.

**TW; means trigger warning, to advise sexual assault survivors of potentially upsetting content.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

A service with the Great Priest, Xavier Rudd

Before the show, I asked someone "who is Xavier Rudd?"

“He's insane. And Australian. So it's the good kind of insane.” Was the answer. 

Rudd is among those rare musicians whose music you cannot describe with a genre label, because he's invented his own. All parts of reggae, electronica, folk, rock, and Aboriginal spiritual, to name a few.

Xavier Rudd played at the Olympic Hall on Cunard St. in Halifax this passed Thursday to a packed house of all types. Mohawks, sundresses, business casual, and beards that haven't seen a razor in years. The tension in the crowd was palpable as a ten minute track of bass level beats grew with intensity over an empty stage. When he finally emerged, he was greeted with the kind of furor reserved for musicians accustomed to playing much larger venues.

The musical setup on stage was a dizzying array of didgeridoos, drums of all kinds, bells, a harmonica, and stringed instruments. While he had great support from another drummer on stage with him, it's clear that Xavier Rudd is a one man band.

Xavier Rudd (left) with his hard to name drummer
I was introduced to his music by a friend and had been thoroughly impressed. Great music to work or relax to. But it is a rare thing for a performer to be better live than in studio. He gave samplings from all of his work and albums, moving from rock infused songs like 'Footprint', to melancholic yet hopeful solos like 'EnergySong'

Clearly in the zone, he gave genuine surprise when the slowest song of the night was greeted with a near frantic and totally deafening cheer from the crowd. To almost everyone in the room, Xavier Rudd is a man who understands.

The Olympic Hall is a high school gym sized place with a second floor balcony that stretches around the outskirts of the room. It has a great 1950s vibe to it. By the time he was half way into his set, the center of the crowd gave off a familiar intoxicating aroma, and Xavier Rudd said “Halifax, I like the way you smell.” 

Between songs he would either stop and casually engage the crowd as an equal, or later as a minister giving a sermon, asking for thanks to Mother Earth. After a brain jarring five minute demand by the crowd for an encore, Xavier Rudd returned to deliver a ten minute solo performance of 'Spirit Bird', his new album's title track. Ending the night with his hands stretched in the air like the priest that he is, he lead a lengthy prayer asking for harmony and a better world. The room sat stone silent as he delivered a talk perfectly devoid of any specific dogma other than a love of life, music, and people.

Xavier Rudd is currently touring in Nova Scotia and the North Eastern United States on his vegetable oil powered tour bus.