This has been a slow week for almost everyone in the U.S. except sports teams -- and their fans - and shoppers. Most businesses closed down for the week on Wednesday and their employees looked forward to a long weekend of food, drink, family, more food and sports. For some, shopping was included. First you had Black Friday. For those of you not familiar with Black Friday, think about the biggest mosh pit you can, add in deals on toys every child wants or electronics the man in your life desires or that particular pair of shoes you've been lusting after. It's usually the most active and profitable retail day in the US. All that's left is Cyber Monday, the day most employers know their employees will be using company time and computers to shop the internet for the best buys around.
So, what does this have to do with publishing? Well, it means there wasn't much going on in the publishing world this week. While Harlequin has followed through with its announcement to change the name of Harlequin Horizons, there hasn't been response from those organizations that had been quick to re-cast Harlequin as a vanity press. According to Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware, instead of HH, we have DellArte Press. There are a few sites referencing this, including SFWA, Dear Author (noting that the new site has the same feel as the HH site but that the Harlequin name is no longer present, something Harlequin had promised), and the Ripoff Report where a call was placed to DellArte and the representative they spoke with claimed that J. K. Rowling started off as a self-published author after having Harry Potter rejected by so many publishers. On Nov. 25th, Publisher's Weekly posted a short article noting the name change and ending with, "Harlequin did not respond to a request for comment this morning on the name change or if it was back in the good graces of the RWA. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers have called for Harlequin to completely cut ties to the self-pub program."
The beginning of the holiday season can also signal a slow down in publishing. Some agents close to submissions until after the first of the year. This is to give them time to catch up with their query stack and try to tie up the last of the details for client sales (e.g. Jenny Rappaport). Some magazines close their reading periods as well. So, if you have something ready to send out, be sure to check on-line to confirm whether the agent or publisher is still open for subs. A great place to check for sf/f is Ralan.com.
But the holiday season brings something totally different to writers. We're observers. We try, or at least I do, to take in the world around us. Think about it. When else do we see people willing to do just about anything to get that one toy their kid is begging for for Christmas. You know the one. The one the manufacturer made only three of. But little Junior just has to have it or he'll die. Don't deny it. We've all been there, either as frazzled parents becoming ever more panicked as store after store tells us they're sold out or as the demanding kid who knows Christmas won't come because that an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle! won't be under the tree (if you don't get the reference, check out the movie A Christmas Story).
So, what is the most crazy or touching or just "OMG what were they thinking?" moment you've had during holiday shopping and how would you work that into a story? It can be an incident, a person, even a family tradition.