August 31st, 2006

Thanks, and "Sacred" History Again

Thanks so much for the condolences everyone has sent regarding Nathan. We miss him more than we would have thought possible, and have decided to go down to Grand Isle for a few days next week to celebrate Chris' birthday (he kind of got gypped out of last year's) and pull ourselves together as best we can.

A couple of readers have had the misconception that it was our oldest cat, 17-year-old Colm, who died. Colm is indeed diabetic, but so far we've been able to successfully treat him for it and I expect he'll live to be 36 or so, behaving more and more badly all the time. Nathan never behaved badly and had no diabetic symptoms whatsoever, which is why his death was such a shock. Besides, he was only ten, middle-aged for a cat (particularly a Siamese-type cat, which tend to be long-lived).

Someday, when we've had a chance to mourn Nathan and are in a house of our own again, I'd like to get another kitten from his bloodline. While researching this today, I learned that his mother, Aleeba Deadly Nightshade of Sukhotai Cattery, is something of a celebrity in the Oriental Shorthair world. She holds the Title of Distinguished Merit, awarded by Cat Fanciers of America to cats who produce multiple grand champion and grand premier offspring -- at least five in the case of females, or "queens." Given that Nathan was a pet-quality cat, I can only imagine how beautiful her "champion" offspring were. If you scroll down a little, you can see her picture here.

(Please note that I am generally in favor of adopting pets from shelters or other venues of need whenever possible. Most of our cats are adoptees or rescues direct from the street. However, I've lived with Siamese/Oriental Shorthairs most of my life, I love the breed, and I expect I'll always have a few, either rescued or purchased from responsible breeders -- NOT mill-type catteries.)

In addition to the other bad news of late, I recently received word that even the Authors Guild, arguably the most powerful freelance writers' advocacy group in North America, cannot induce Sacred History to pay me the $4000 they owe for the article they contracted back in December. Not only that, but publisher James Griffith has repeatedly lied to Authors Guild counsel, characterizing the article the magazine assigned me as "a friend of Ms. Brite [making] some sort of agreement with her." That "friend" was his own senior editor, Lisa Derrick, who repeatedly testified to the Authors Guild that there was in fact a contract, one I postponed urgent revisions on Soul Kitchen in order to honor. Griffith now refuses to respond to any further communication from the Authors Guild, and short of hiring a lawyer (which would probably end up costing me more than Sacred History owes me), there's nothing more I can do to recoup the time and effort I spent on researching and writing a piece I was once proud of and excited about publishing, but now feel like a dupe for ever having bothered with.

I'm not generally one to send out flying monkeys, but if you care to tell Mr. Griffith ( ) what you think of a "religious" magazine that cheats freelance writers trying to rebuild their lives after losing their homes, cities, and four months' worth of livelihood, or of a publisher who lies to respected literary organizations in order to save his failing magazine a few bucks, this would be a fine time to do it. And Mr. Griffith, if you should read this yourself: In a business rife with scammers, crooks, miscreants, and ripoff artists, you are the single most unprofessional "professional" I've ever had the misfortune of working with. You have disrespected me, your own senior editor, and the Authors Guild. I will continue warning writers and other freelancers against any project you are associated with in any forum available to me ... but I doubt I'll have to do so very often, because as harsh as the publishing business can be, it does have a way of weeding out liars and thieves like you.

Despite all the grief this article has caused me, I still think it's a good piece. It's too subject-specific to submit to another market -- if I could have turned around and sold it elsewhere the way I would a short story, I wouldn't be bitching so much -- but I may include it in my next collection even though it's not fiction. If so, you may be sure I will include an author's note explaining for whom it was written and why it was never published there.