Asking for permission

Right now, I have emails in to Mick Jagger, Steely Dan, Ron Hynes and Murray McLauchlan, and I’ve already heard back from Gordon Lightfoot. 

Or, from Lightfoot’s people, anyway. And yeah, those emails are really to lawyers, publishers and rights managers on behalf of those heavy hitters. My pastiche style has finally come back to bite me. I am an inveterate magpie, always pulling little bits from here and there and weaving them into my sentences. Sometimes those bits are song lyrics. And when you sign a publishing contract in which you assert that the manuscript you deliver is your own copyright, you have to actually make sure that’s true. So you have to get permission to quote all the little scraps of lyrics you’ve woven into your novel. No big deal.

So far, Gord’s people are charging me fifty five American dollars to quote six words of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. I am hoping that by the time the others ring in, I will still have a few dollars of my advance left.

It’s worth it, though. There are two scenes in particular in which I wouldn’t want to have to do without those quoted lyrics. Two scenes, really, that would have to go were permission to quote those lyrics denied me. So I’m happy to pay.

I’d be happier if some of those entities said, oh, you want to pay homage to this song you love by quoting this tiny fragment of its lyrics? Go right ahead! 

But I doubt that’s going to happen. Still, I believe artists have a right to make a living off their work. And if it’s valuable enough to me that I want to include it in my novel, I guess I need to put my money where my mouth is.

In other news, I have had some photographs taken, by the always amazing Shannon Webb-Campbell. And there is a team of busy proofreaders poring over the page proofs of Fallsy Downsies as we speak. I’m gathering blurbs, and making plans with my publisher for fun launch-time hijinks, and just generally trying not to get too edgy with waiting till the day arrives that I can finally share this book with you.

October 1 seems an awfully long way away.

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I feel free. Or at a loss.

I received official word from my editor yesterday that the book is done. She’s sent it to Invisible, and they’ve let me know to expect page proofs soon. I feel…satisfied with what I’ve written. It’s such an odd feeling. I definitely feel that at this point, as the writer I am today, I’ve done the best I can do.

I think about my characters constantly, wondering how they’re doing. It’s so strange to spend so much time with these imaginary friends, and then to have them go quiet. And all the time that was taken up with writing — I have that time back now. But what am I do to with it all?

More importantly, how am I supposed to wait till October 1 before I can share it with you?

In the meantime, I am thinking about launch possibilities. Definitely Halifax, definitely Toronto, probably also Hamilton. Where else?

And in the more immediate future, I’m reading at the Company House in Halifax on Thursday, June 6 (why, that’s this Thursday!) along with Claire Wilkshire, whose book I can finally focus on reading now that Fallsy Downsies is written. Here is some information about this reading. You should strongly consider coming to it. I will be reading from Homing, and showing off the glorious new limited edition, which you can purchase here if you like, or at The Company House on Thursday night!

Do come. I look forward to seeing you!


Blue pencil special

I filed what I think is my final version of Fallsy Downsies yesterday. My editor, Bethany Gibson, is very good at her job indeed. The degree to which she has held me accountable, made an honest writer out of me, is startling. And awesome. Her careful, thorough, no-bullshit approach is exactly what I was looking for this time out. With Homing, we were all learning how to make books, me, my editor, my publisher. With Fallsy Downsies, it’s time to get serious.

And serious we have got. Bethany has queried me and my lazy writing habits to the nth degree, and it has been an amazing process. Monday she’ll send it to Invisible. Shortly thereafter, I’ll send out a couple copies to a few trusted readers I’m hoping will have a kind word or two to share on the cover of this book. And then we’re off to sales conferences and readings and a late summer proofread and cover design and all that good stuff.

Meantime, Invisible has brought out a beautiful fifth anniversary edition of Homing, with a limited edition, signed and numbered, letter press cover run, which you can buy online here, and a less limited though no less lovely edition, which you can buy in fine bookstores wherever they remain. I made a few nips and tucks, a few changes to the text in this new edition. So if you’re a Stephanie Domet compleatist, go get it. If you’ve never read Homing, this is totally the edition to read.

And the countdown to Fallsy Downsies release day is on! Officially: A hundred and twenty two days!