Operation Oysterhood: 15 June

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

— @HaggardHawks

“The shortest day of the year fast approaches! Prepare to be Disrupted.”

Short Story Day Africa

Being part of Short Story Day Africa as reader, judge, board member, proofreader and editor for many years now has been a profound experience and I am excited that the new anthology is going to be published later this year. Co-editing the book with Rachel and Jason was amazing (I co-edited one other SSDA anthology, Water with Nick Mulgrew). I loved working with the seven authors assigned to me this time. Three of them made the shortlist. And the entire anthology, stunningly designed by Rachel and Megan Ross, is going to be amazing to share with readers. “Prepare to be Disrupted”, indeed.

Disruption is here in other forms, sadly not literary. More and more of my friends are self-isolating, a few showing first symptoms and a few already quite ill. It is not hard to guess what the President is going to announce tonight. And whatever the restrictions are going to be, they are probably not going to be enough. I really wish that level five would be an option again. And I try not to think what a more efficient – global and local – vaccine rollout could have done to prevent the ongoing and increasing suffering. I don’t want to be angry all the time. Or despair.

Fortunately, I am still symptom-free, and my beautiful Salieri is getting better and better with the help of her medication and lots of TLC.

Yesterday, I wanted to test our independence for the weeks ahead and ordered some food online. It all arrived promptly this morning as promised and the delivery man was great about keeping his distance etc. I also enjoyed my Tour de Garden today. This time I wasn’t counting leaves, but just listening to the radio and thinking.

Karavan Press news: the proof copy of The Skipper’s Daughter by Nancy Richards arrived today. Nancy received it on my behalf and will pop it into my postbox tomorrow. I saw a photograph of the proof sample – it looks soooooo beautiful!

And Karavan Press finally has a Submissions page. Because of knowing where to find the kind of manuscripts I would love to publish and of being swamped with manuscripts despite not having a Submission page, I have resisted formalising any guidelines, but now there is at least an introduction to the process. The final straw was when someone – very legit, I have to say – offered to send me their manuscript “if only for [my] entertainment”. It was a really nice submission letter, but:

Most readers consider reading fifty books a year a challenge. I usually manage about double that number, and I have to read in order to know what is – roughly – happening around me. In order to publish five/six books a year, I have to read each of the manuscripts that goes into production at least five/six times very carefully (assessment, editing, editing, editing, proofreading, proofreading) – it’s like reading thirty books a year extremely slowly. I receive requests from authors to send me their manuscripts every few days, so the piles are not getting smaller, although I am saying no to many upfront when I know there is very little hope for the submission ever getting published. Others have been waiting for months to receive feedback from me and I am immensely grateful for their patience. Unlike other publishers, I cannot imagine publishing a manuscript that I haven’t read myself first. I manage to get back to everyone eventually, but I also need to make a living, and live, and sleep, and occasionally read “for my entertainment”, and that means often reading something completely different than one might imagine. I am trying, I really am. There is just not enough of me and my time to make everyone happy.

I know what makes me happy: reading that first page and knowing, this, this is it. Reader’s bliss.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”


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