Monthly Archives: August 2014

Awkward Botany and Daniel Murphy

By Dave Whitinger (http://davesgarden.com/pf/showimage/80166/)  via Wikimedia Commons

By Dave Whitinger (http://davesgarden.com/pf/showimage/80166/)
via Wikimedia Commons

 

Yesterday I received a note from Daniel Murphy, who has been a friend of mine for years. We first met as pen pals/zine traders. It was back when I started self-publishing my little zine Greenwoman (scroll waaaaay down to the bottom of the link to read about the zines) in around 2007. These zines were 100% handmade by me—photocopies hand-tied with jute.  Rough, but, if I do say so myself, rather charming. In his zines, Dan wrote about gardening, punk rock, skateboarding, and trying to save the world. He bought my first zine and wrote me, by LETTER (as that’s the way the zinesters roll), and we immediately became friends.

Oh, those were the simple days! Dan was on his way to grad school, working at a community garden, publishing his own zines, and connecting with the garden-lovin’-freaks of the zine world. I was raising kids, gardening obsessively, raising chickens in the backyard, and wondering what would be possible with self-publishing.

We’re still working hard on our dreams, and Dan’s now at the Idaho Botanical Garden. As much as he loves plants, he loves writing too, and tries to fit that obsession into an already chock-full life. He’s doing some writing through his blog, Awkward Botany (how I love that name) and he shared the story about our very odd passalong plant yesterday. That’s what he was writing me about—well, that, and he was very curious about the Fifty Shades of Green book! I’m going to send him and his love (her name is Flora!) a copy next week.

I hope you’ll check out his post. The carrion flower is such an amazing plant. It has one of the most beautiful and strange flowers I’ve ever seen. I bought my cuttings from eBay; it was one of those instances where I read about the plant, became absolutely obsessed with getting one, and, well, you can find most everything on eBay.

To share a little more about Dan. He’s every bit as obsessed as I am about the world of plants and how we connect with it. Here’s one of my favorite essays of his, from Greenwoman, issue #4.

—Sandra Knauf

 

The Seed, the Radicle, and the Revolution

by Daniel Murphy

Many people are familiar with the “one straw revolution” proposed by Japanese rice farmer Masanobu Fukuoka, but what about the simple, revolutionary powerhouse that is the seed? Seeds have often been referred to metaphorically when discussing revolutions, new movements, new beginnings, social change, spiritual awakenings. It only makes sense that the first thing to emerge from a seed during germination is the embryonic root known as the radicle (pronounced radical). It has been said that it only takes one individual to start a revolution. It only takes one seed to start a forest. The process may be slow, but the potential is there.

A tiny seed finds its way into a small crack in the sidewalk. The radical emerges. Before you know it, a plant strong enough to push apart two concrete slabs has grown. A radical radical pushes headlong through a pile of dirt and much that has collected in a rain gutter on a rooftop. Up sprouts a renegade plant, adamant about making a human-made structure its home. Devastation can come in the form of a seed; ruins can be made of structures that were ignorantly thought of as eternal. Radicals rise up as radicles force themselves downward, rooting in new lives, and readying themselves for battle. Yes, the seed is revolutionary.

Words are like seeds, and their influence can cause a social sea change as the message spreads. The Juniper zine is microscopic proof of that. As letters have trickled in to the Juniperbug mailbox, this editor has noticed a thriving (albeit grassroots) social movement as readers have recounted their stories of gardening, biking, and going back to the land. Rusty bikes have been retrieved from dusty storage areas, tuned up and taken for a ride. Derelict areas of backyard lawn have been turned over, and gardens have sprouted up. The slow life is spreading just as fast as the seeds can germinate, and off we sprint toward ecotopia.

Spring is for sowing seeds and encouraging growth. Love is in the air, and heaven knows that the revolution needs much more of that. Cynicism can be brushed away for a while. Spring cleaning allows us to pull some of our skeletons out of their hiding spots and send them packing. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed while we’re at it. Certainly a seed recognizes the pressure that lies on its tiny self to thrive, flourish and produce. But there is potential in all of us; potential that will not be compromised: neither blacked-out by black hearts nor whited-out by whitewash. The subversive seed and its radical roots will be our mascot. Let’s make our gardens grow. Let’s not rot in the soil, but instead sprout and rise up. Your neighborhood is your seedbed. That’s where the movement starts.

 

I have mad green love for Daniel Murphy.

Mad green love for Mr. Murphy.

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Fifty Shades of Green, the Paperback: IT’S HERE!

You may be seeing our "card" on a bulletin board near you!

You may be seeing our “calling card” on a bulletin board near you!

 

Another case of “What a week!”

We received five proofs of the paperback book on Monday. I delivered one to the editor and one to a friend who said she’d give it a final proofread. My daughter Zora said she’d pitch in, too. Of course I got one. My goal was to have it done within 24 hours. The book is only around 150 pages, and we’d been over it several times already, including a second look by each and every contributor.

Well. Of course it took three times longer. There were many errors we didn’t catch the first time—including words used the wrong way.

Future note to writers, including myself : Check every single word you do not use in everyday conversation.

There was also the matter of ridding stories of brand names (a big no-no; one can be sued over such things), and sentences that were grammatically incorrect and needed restructuring or made into two sentences, and commas that needed to be added, deleted, or moved. And the list went on and on.

An interesting note on the use of trade names: In the film Slumdog Millionaire, Mercedes-Benz and Coca-Cola objected to their products being used in the Mumbai slum scenes. The logos had to be disguised.

I must be an optimist, because I imagined there would be maybe a half-dozen changes in the book, not over a hundred. Then I had to compile all of the changes. And change not only the print version, but the Kindle version, and the individual digital stories that I, in my enthusiasm, had rushed to publication on Amazon last week.

Such is the nature of publishing. If you have ever been there, you will know exactly what I mean. Mistakes crop up more prolifically than weeds. Out of sight, then whoa, everywhere! Perfectionism is an ABSOLUTE REQUIREMENT. You want to look like you truly care about your work. At least I do.

This is why self-publishers need not only one professional editor, but ideally two (with different areas of expertise), and a professional proofreader, and a few smart readers that are sure to catch things those individuals don’t catch. I had this, and very good people with years of experience helping, but we still struggled.

Ahhh. So glad that is over. There will be a few more errors found, and it’s fine. There will always be something, even in the biggest, most extravagantly-funded publishing houses, but for now . . . the book is ready.

It’s READY!

It’s on Kindle today, available to order!!!  Here’s the LINK!

Now to my next task—promotion. Astonishingly enough, these last months have been the “easy” part. There’s a quote from Jack Canfield, author of those mega-bestseller Chicken Soup for the Soul books. He likens the work of publishing a book to an iceberg. The top 10%, the part that’s visible, is the book itself, including ALL the work it took to bring it into being. The 90% below the surface is the part that will determine whether or not the book will be successful. That part is the marketing.

After four years I know this well. I’ve lived it.

And so, on with the 90%!

I do hope that you all will check out the book on Amazon. I was so very happy to see that the Kindle edition’s preview. Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature lets you read the entire first story in this collection, which is “Phallus Impudicus” by Rebekah. I’m sure the “Look Inside” feature will also be available on the paperback book’s link within the next couple of days. What I love most about “Phallus Impudicus” is that it’s funny. It’s one of my favorite stories in the collection and it’s a good introduction to the magic, naughtiness, sexiness, and gardening love of Fifty Shades of Green.

So tell your friends to check out that free story and consider buying the book. It is surely a one-of-a-kind, ground-breaking (pun intended!), be-the-first-of-your-friends-to-know-about-it collection!

—Sandra Knauf

P. S. I HAD to end this post with a visual for another of our other favorite stories. Though, honestly, this anthology is like having 12 beloved children (stories); it is impossible to pick a favorite. The art is the cover for the story is “Love Lies Bleeding” by Janine Ashbless. “Love Lies Bleeding” is a completely compelling, beautifully written, and sexy supernatural tale. A true gothic romance. And I love the title. (For those who don’t know, love lies bleeding is a colloquial name for the plant amaranth.)

My daughter Zora created the Kindle cover from free images I found on Wikimedia Commons.

 

Beautiful cover for "Love Lies Bleeding" created by Zora Knauf.

Stunning cover for “Love Lies Bleeding” created by Zora Knauf.

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Fifty Shades of Green

Poppy FInal June 17 copy

 

 

Some of you know about the adults-only publishing adventure I’ve been on this spring and summer, Fifty Shades of Green.  It’s a book project that started out as a feminist answer to the famous/notorious novel Fifty Shades of Grey, but then turned into a one-of-a-kind collection of erotic and literary gardening stories. (With a feminist bent, of course.)

I wanted to announce today that while we’re still a week or so from having the paperback book available, Zora and I have managed to get five individual stories available on Kindle as of today. I am also offering a FREE sample story, “Phallus Impudicus,” for those who sign up for the Fifty Shades of Green newsletter. (Look to the top right of this blog to sign up or go to the Garden Shorts website.)

For those of you with full in-boxes, I’m offering, temporarily, this link to read the story on the Garden Shorts webpage. It’s a hidden page so it doesn’t show up on the site. You’ll only be able to access it through this special link, here.

But, I’d encourage you to sign up for the newsletter. There won’t be a lot of “mail” and through the newsletter you’ll learn more about the project, its authors, have access to discounts and special offers, etc.

We may have the entire book available on Kindle as a digital download as early as today. For those of you who don’t have a Kindle device, you don’t need one; you can download a reader-app from Amazon and read it right off of your computer. It’s easy-peasy!

If you choose to indulge in any of these stories, please let me know what you’ve sampled and what you think! (And it would be great if you told your friends about it, too.)

The second part of this post is about our story covers. While I hope to connect with gardeners and aspiring gardeners through this project we realize there’s a huge erotica market out there and those readers might be  interested in this book.

With that in mind, Zora thought we should create some “sexy lady” covers. My idea was having covers that feature some kind of provocative-looking fruit, veggie, or flower, like the poppy bud on the book’s cover. We talked it over and I sided with the fresh vision of youth; we’d try the sexy ladies. And I realized that this produce/floral idea might only catch on with gardeners.

So, among other things, we spent all week making covers and formatting individual stories and the book.

You’ll can see three of the covers—and stories—on Amazon if you type in “Fifty Shades of Green.”

For the additional two stories: “The Education of a French Gardener” is here. “First, Take Off the Hoodie” is here.

I have no idea why these two don’t come up through the author or editor’s name. Yet another glitch to fix!  There are many in self-publishing. It is anything but easy-peasy.

Now for my cover story. This week I made the cover for “The Judgment of Eric.” It’s a story about a gardener who gets the attention of two Greek Gods, Apollo and Dionysus. They appear in his garden and compel him to participate in a contest—a contest in which Eric will decide which god is the better lover! It’s sexy, wildly imaginative, and homoerotic. (We have three homoerotic stories in the twelve story collection.)

I tried to think of a good image and finally came up with this one. It’s from an ancient Greek amphora (jar).

 

I thought it was art, Amazon thinks it's pornographic.

I thought it was art. Amazon thinks it’s pornographic.

 

Last night I was notified this cover was rejected as pornographic. I disagree, but I adapted it. (And then we all had a good laugh.) Now I don’t know if this one will be rejected, too, but to me it’s  more suggestive. Such is the nature of censorship.

 

 

I don't know, is this "better"?

I don’t know, is this “better”?

 

I hope you’ll take a peek!

—Sandra Knauf

 

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