Sunday, April 26, 2009

We Interrupt This Blog For A Very Important News Item

I have managed to avoid Excuse Notes for a few days running (and there's one day in particular that I want to write an entry about) but I have to get this out first.

I am delighted to discover that the domain has a new owner. was previously owned by the International Library of Poetry, a literary scam outfit that had been kicking around for decades. Originally, they solicited poems for their "poetry contest" in newspaper ads (I remember seeing them when I was a kid) and with the advent of the Internet, it became easier than ever for them to solicit submissions.

The trick of it was this--every single poem was a 'finalist' in the contest and they would offer to sell you an overpriced hardbound book of 'finalists' that included your poem. So, excited poets (or their proud parents) would pay a chunk of change for an 'anthology' of, well, twenty-line attempts at poetry and look, there's yours on page 187, crammed on a page with five or six other contest entries.

Many a writer tried and tried to write a poem that was just awful enough to get rejected. I even made my own attempt with an obscenity-laden spew of invective that I'd written in my more bitter days on the poetry scene, when I was trying to prove that any pile of crap could be presented as a poem. I submitted it via the site, provided my Mail Boxes Etc. address as a mailing address, and got hit with loads of junk mail about how marvelous my poem was and offering me awards that I could purchase, er, pay the rather considerable "shipping costs" for and inviting me to a poetry convention. (Read here for an account of how the convention held in August 2000 went.)

Surprisingly enough, I did later succeed in writing a poem that was rejected. (They didn't formally reject it, as such, but I received no acceptance notice whatsoever for it.)


This is a test.
Had it been an actual poem
it would have said something.
This is only a test.

I thought it was a nice little bit of popcultural meta, but apparently the notion was lost on them. But it allowed me to succeed where so many other poets had failed. (I know of one other individual who managed the same feat by cutting and pasting twenty lines from a Nigerian scam letter.)

At any rate, it is a distinction that no other poet can claim. While the domain still exists, it is no longer run by the International Library of Poetry, but, instead by

So, yes, it's still owned by a vanity press, but at least it's a vanity press that is run by folks who are open about their business model. They make no false claims to exclusivity--they'll print anything as long as it's legal and somebody pays for it. (As I've mentioned here before, my mom used them to print her clinical instruction book.)

They're even running a poetry contest, but from what I can tell the entries will be judged by popular vote. Whether this results in better poems winning, well, that's yet to be determined, but it's certainly encouraging that they're crowdsourcing the judging instead of leaving it to some shadowy cabal of 'poetry experts.'

So, raise a glass to the demise of the International Library of Poetry. Now, if we can just get rid of PublishAmerica . . .

Monday, April 20, 2009

Excuse Note #3

Please excuse Sheila from working on her novel today as she visited the library and ended up checking out four books, which she takes as a clear sign that her brain is in inhale mode rather than exhale mode at the moment.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Excuse Note #2

Please excuse Sheila from working on her novel today as she spent most of the afternoon unconscious and most of the evening attending a dear friend's birthday party.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Excuse Note #1

Please excuse Sheila from working on her novel today as she dealing with a distracting level of stomach pain and needs to be as well-rested as possible in order to play with her niece this evening, as promised.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Excuse Notes

I've decided to try something with this here blawg to motivate me to keep working on the manuscript. For every day that I don't do at least something on it, I will require myself to post an Excuse Note explaining why.

For example, today I might post something like:

Please excuse Sheila from working on her manuscript today as she spent the morning in a networking meeting, the afternoon in a nap and will be spending this evening visiting her family and then visiting a friend.

. . . except that today I don't need to do that, because I just made some cuts to the manuscript in anticipation of inserting a revised scene that deletes an extraneous character. So there.