Going on the Account: Sky of Blue, and Sea of Green…



I had the pleasure of attending a panel held by the editor of ROOFTOP SESSIONS at this weekend’s Fest for Beatles Fans, where she announced a call for submissions for the next issue.


Why bring it up here, other than blogger’s prerogative?  A few things need to be noted:


* ROOFTOP SESSIONS was an online literary magazine with professional standards years before anyone else out there was taking writing online seriously.  The first issue was published in 2000, years before many of the literary sites that are around today were conceived, and kept to a monthly schedule for years.


* The magazine has been a great unique focus, one that allows for a wide number of genres to be served every issue.  So long as your piece was (a) tied in some way to the Beatles and (b) met the editorial guidelines and standards, you can get a large variety of fiction with every issue, something that most publications haven’t been able to promise since THE SATURDAY EVENING POST went out of business.  (Let’s be honest, this whole ‘accepting one voice and being blinkered from anything new’ thing just isn’t as satisfying as we thought it’d be, right?)


* There is a great literary tradition that’s been built here.  Seriously, there’s an online archive of some decent writing across a universe of genres (sorry…)  that has material that’s still getting readers today.


*This publication’s history includes some writing I’d done (he couldn’t say with any firm modesty), stuff that in many ways helped lead to this novel.  While there may not be any obvious direct connection between these, to write well about a music group in its time required skills and standards that could be used in historical writing in another period; thus, the behind the scenes work involved in looking at four guys from England coming to America with their guitars became handy when looking at a woman on her way to the New World with her cittern…


Hence, my passing along the new call for submissions.  Yes, it’s great to see ROOFTOP SESSIONS coming back, though it could better get by with a little help from its friends (again, sorry…)  While I and other writers who’ve published there before are more than willing to provide more material, there’s always a need for new voices, new viewpoints.  Please, if you have an itch to write, check out the submissions guidelines and see if there’s a tale to tell in you that you’d like to share. 


A literary tradition is looking for you.  Yes, you too can carry that weight (damn, I gotta STOP these!) and be there when it all starts up again!

Going on the Account: The Seas Afore Us

There is a good overview piece in today’s MANILA BULLETIN about the Somali action, with some interesting stats and accounts that makes one ponder. 


One point the article makes is that while the current suppression activities are having an impact, they’re just that: suppression.  Eradication could not have been expected with their tactics, and it’s only a matter of time before they adapt.


Meanwhile, there seems to be a growing realization that the seas can’t be kept safe if no solution is brought to bear ashore.  Reading this call from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon for more engagement in the country is encouraging, even if calls from Secretary-Generals over the years have rarely been heeded.  And to be frank, going to the main site where this piece came from, a news source from Somalia, the headline roll looks grim.


Why focus on Somali pirates, you ask, other than the obvious if tenuous connections?  Because what happened in Somalia, where a central authority could not deal effectively with the demands placed on it and led to chaos, is not a result confined to the eastern shores of Africa.  Whereas the Golden Age of Piracy was defined by the individual asserting himself (or herself) against the state, the Modern Age of Piracy is defined by the individual filling a void that the state either cannot or refuses to fill.  And this is a more terrifying state of affairs; instead of working outside civilization at its edges, it’s accepting that civilization no longer applies.  And with the pressures facing our world, there’s no reason to believe that Somalia is an isolated case; at the same time the UN authorized troops to come ashore there, Yugoslavia disintegrated to the surprise of everyone.


So while the novel discusses the way pirates were, the news feeds discuss the way pirates are.  And if one looks at the buccaneers of 350 years ago and realizes what they were a harbinger of, then considers the portents provided by modern pirates, it becomes far scarier than anything I could write…

Going on the Account: What News of It?

The latest word from off Somalia, as relayed here:  Attacks are down, thanks to a combination of an increased Western naval presence, Kenya’s willingness to hear cases when pirates are handed to them, and the radical Islam faction getting the upper hand in the civil war ashore.

Well, even Henry Morgan couldn’t keep up with it all the time either; he decided to retire and serve the Crown rather than stay on the account forever…