Tag Archives: Phoenix Ark Press



UPDATE: The crowd funded book on Indiegogo, you will get in the post, is now at a soaring 50%!

What an astonishing day driving through the Meon Valley today to Phoenix Aviation in Lee-on-Solent, to take a very first flying lesson with the commendably calm and efficient CFI (Chief Flying Instructor) Steve Cockshott. Out of a perfect misty morning the plumping wheat fields were almost russet as the harvest begins here and the blue skies near crystal glass clear, skirting through lovely morning Hampshire. A very different experience then to the Air Ambulance that I once found myself stuck behind when I once drove to write about Accelerated Freefall, skydiving from 12000 feet in Kent. With little wind, until we landed, near perfect flying weather then, given a touch of royalty at the Argus gate to the airfield too when we learnt that Princess Michael of Kent was nipping in to do some work for the coastguard! Past the old hanger still labelled Overlord, from the war effort, the offices of Phoenix Aviation are housed inside the small control tower and there, with a confident handshake and the remark that he recognised me from the Dragon In The Post Indiegogo film, Steve took us into the briefing room for a quick lesson in Lift, Bernoulli’s Theorem, Ailerons, Control yoke, flaps and something reassuringly called a Stabilator, instead of an elevator on the tail. Basically it makes the 4 Seater Warrior plane we were going up in more stable.

So, when the red wooden model had been put aside, nerves began to calm as we crossed the runway and learned that reassurance is always about knowledge and the intimacy of being hands on. Phoenix have seven planes in all, including 2 microlights, and I was rather amazed to discover that you can reach the level of a solo flight after only 12 hours! But the first real thrill was climbing onto the wing and then into the cockpit, to belt up and don the headsets that allow everyone to communicate with each other and the control tower too. The training inside had taught us the basic movement of the rudder pedals, the brakes just above, you must never use until the last moment and the flaps, while Steve was very clear in showing us how things really and rather simply function. A marked contrast to the bewildering display on the instruments panel, which pilots only glance at, except in cloud, because awareness and real sight is the key, while you must navigate towards the horizon with something through that glass in front of you called a ‘Picture’. So, accompanied by some colourful Hampshire butterflies in the stomach, to taxiing down the short turn to the base of the runway, with nothing but a firm grip on the control yoke and the movement of those pedals. The engine had fired up and I learnt the foolishness of wearing my pointed spanish boots, as too-long toes brushed the brakes but no disaster happened. Then to a sharp turn and stop to check everything, a Roger from the tower and pushing the throttle forward to head down the take off strip. The routine exchange of “I have Control’You have control’, since every plane has dual controls, had returned that mastery to Steve, since no novice can take off or land, and soon we were near the 65 Knotts needed to take off. Chocks away.

So a novice pilot quickly learns, although there is a great deal to learn, that the art of flying is most essentially about the science, the effect of the wind moving at the right speed across the top of the curved wings, so producing reduced pressure above and the necessary ‘Lift’ to carry the 900 Kilogram Dragon bird into the sky. That you have to both know and rely on, because it is a far less dangerous exercise than driving and a very different kind of thrill to say taking to a racing car. It is all somehow dreamier, more peaceful, far more majestic. Then the enemy of the mind is always fear and an over active imagination, not exactly helped by the remark of a flatmate that morning that the average life expectancy of a pilot in the First War was 20 minutes! Not sure it is true, but no dog fights today. We have all experienced it in commercial aircraft but it is a far more thrilling thing too being in your own little cockpit, in potential control, feeling those racing vibrations and suddenly you are in the air, rumbling up a stairway to heaven, with a propeller flashing and breaking light before your eyes. Up to a thousand feet and then that “Picture” before us was like the most brilliant, dreamy oil painting, by a Master of the world and all there is.

The three of us were heading out across the Solent now, that edges the airfield, towards the Isle of White and the feeling and the day were glorious. The dwindling patchwork tapestry of fields, roads and houses below, the flashing white yachts cutting slashes of cotton white in the turquoise water, the super tankers hulking the flowing sea and then the majesty and complexity of clouds seen at eye level or below. The colours were magnificent. It felt like suddenly starring in It’s A Wonderful Life, as Steve said ‘you have control‘ and I was flying too, gently holding the nose and wings level, with a splendid bit of machinery thrumming around us. You really begin to touch the joy and power though when you start to turn a plane and bank, as Steve explained more about the controls, awareness and trimming, the deeper mysteries of pitch and roll, unchallenged by today’s weather, with the little wheel between our seats. When you are not in control you have you hands and feet lightly on, just to get the feel, especially when landing or taking off and begin to really learn what must eventually become instinctive. I was perhaps a bit stiff armed with nerves, because relaxation is key, but it began to come more and more, as I flew in towards The Needles, that remarkable display of eroded hard limestone cliffs at the nose of the white island and came back in a cloud riding circle. The Dragon was airborn and starting to learn! The sea was dancing flashing horse tails 2000 feet below us, those all important checks were made for any planes around, and much of the time you are simply cruising, able to chat quietly about a forty minute flight to Cherbourg, Steve’s business partner Frank or the 130 members the little club have. Neither are paid for what they do, the essential cost is fuel and landing fees and any extra goes to help the club. The rates are very competitive.

So we turned into towards the grass airstrip at Sandown, maintained by the £15 landing fee and the very English little cafe, in airfields here purely for the benefit of private aircraft. You come into land downwind, as you enter something called The Circuit, the imaginary rectangle that surrounds any airfield, as you contemplate the kind of holding pattern we have all experienced too. No delays in this case. Two other training craft were coming in, although it seemed more to me, and one not very well, but suddenly after forty minutes we were descending again towards lush green grass, like a large croquet lawn: 100 feet, 30, 5 and down, with very little bumping at all, although moles can be a problem. All far less dramatic than landing in the cockpit of an Airbus, as I did on one travel piece, but far more charming and liberating too. So to another little taxi and parking among the other drowsing craft. I think I had already decided, as had Jim, who came for a flight too and to kindly help make a little film, that after our twenty-minute break and cups of tea this flying thing was the thing. The only problem being the cost, which, to hit those 45 hours needed for a licence, can be around £9000, although it is quite a bit less to master a microlight. It was Jim who took the controls on the flight back, as I perched in the rear of the four seater, with a confidence perhaps increased by his own sailing skills and experience, because although the wind rules are different to waves, up there in the heavens much the same principles are involved. His face was glowing all the way.

Actually as we came back to land again on hard tarmac it wasn’t such enormous exhilaration that I felt, that had passed, but a sense of calm and of expanded knowledge too, that once you have mastered all the things you have to take on board, from actual flying hours to nine exams, it would be a wonderful thing to be able to fly and land your own plane, wondering more and more what it is like to be up there alone in the skies and in such glorious weather. Perhaps a little like flying with your Dragon! It was in all a very lovely experience, only added to as we raced home in the car but stopped at old Titchfield Abbey. I had no idea that extraordinary fortified monastery, dissolved by Henry VIII, became the Hampshire seat of none other than the Earls of Southampton and Henry Wriothesley, Shakespeare’s greatest patron. The bard could well have visited a stunningly beautiful ruin, then a magnificent functioning house, and so many things at Phoenix Ark Press seemed to coalesce. A project is flying then and has further to journey too.


If you enjoyed this article and are interested in trying to help crowd fund a book and a little publisher you can do so right now by clicking on HELPING A DRAGON FLY If you want to know more about Steve, Frank and the flying club then visit their website at http://www.phoenixaviation.net/ In the next few days we will edit the film and put it up here and in the Indiegogo gallery. The photos courtesy of Jim Plumridge show DCD in the cockpit mid air over the Solent, on the ground thanking Steve Cockshott warmly and with the wooden model in the classroom.

Come on, let’s all go flying!

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12_001Hooray, we’re at 30% already on Dragon In The Post and with far fewer backers, which is exactly why I am going to mention names like Barb, Trais, Melody, Sharon, Cath and all Phoenix Ark Press readers and those inspired by the Fellowship of The White bear too. Contributions are wonderful, but with a lower target this time this is so not just about money but a constituency, a readership, a shared publishing endeavour and making it happen for a Dragon story and much more.

Come home then and help us soar! People are sharing wonderful art of the Facebook page “Stories In the Post” and in the Phoenix Ark group, while the Dragon is up on Wattpad and more to come later. It would be lovely if you’d become part of the adventure today by going to Indiegogo to contribute by BACKING THE DRAGON but also spreading the word to break through again for DCD and real books, in the post.

Well done and thank you.

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I guess this is really for people like Barb, Mathew and others, backers of Light of The White Bear and long-standing readers here, who haven’t backed the Dragon. So musings on whether I have offended you, by saying too much or having a go at folk who downloaded nearly 8000 free ebooks during a previous campaign, yet didn’t support this time. I really hope not, and you have to realize surviving as a writer can be as difficult as for anyone, but at least I hope I have put a great deal of heart and energy into things. In fact, money or not, large or small, your moral support can be just as important as anything and I have always said a book and publishing project might not even be worth pursuing, even if I hit a 6k target, because somehow a whole doorway has to be opened. One that is not about remorselessly self promoting on Social Media either, but some kind of new spirit, a grass-roots publishing excitement, a shared energy and inspiration, that would get the word and deed out to many people swiftly. To make those Friends of Phoenix Ark Press a reality at last too. So think of a Dragon as leading the charge on many things, like bears, a new wolf book, The Christmas Code and indeed your projects too. Can it be done though?

Dragon in the Post, like that strange blue egg wobbling in Gareth Mark’s suddenly delivered adventure, in the post, now hovers precariously on the brink – at 33% we are nearly at where Light of The White Bear didn’t make it, yet we stall have a fiery 20 days to go! To make the break through. To hatch a publisher. To crack it open!

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With such creative younger fans, one who has just painted us a real egg above, a British Michelin Starred chef now on board too and Backing the Project, who I met many years ago, we can stand with the great Bouchbold in the kitchens of Pendolis, a citadel in Blistag, and cook up many genius life recipes. I have slogged at Social Media, irritated at Facebook, growled too much, but reached many. But I hope this weekend we can all somehow make a little blue Firecutter fly, cut a doorway into wonderful worlds, and I will try to give it back to you, however I can! Come love a little dragon into life then, and a real publisher, and for all my flaws, I will try to start again:

Here’s the link and hope you support and see what it’s about https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1159695087/dragon-in-the-post

Thank you.


The photos are a special created egg sent yesterday by Stephanie Jackson and a still from the animation, labelled Pummrey Farm. Come and Like The Dragon In The Post page at Facebook too and “Join the story, become part of the adventure.”

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An essay on working with wild Coyotes in the Californian Central Valley
by Kelly Michelle Baker


You know, it’s sometimes a rough go being a young ecologist. After four-plus years of exams, loans, groans and you finally try to enter the workforce. Then it doesn’t even want you. Most entry-level jobs are only temporary and pay very little indeed, if anything at all. Furthermore, they don’t really want your education, your genius, your dreams; they want your skills set and above all experience. So suddenly that perfect point average that you fought for so laboriously in college is topped by another’s raw field experience. For every fifty applications you submit, you may hear back from just two employers. If you are exceptionally lucky, then you’ll get an interview. If the stars are aligned, you’ll be hired.

So why do we even bother? Simply put: someone has to. The planet is warming. Natural resources are vanishing. Whether or not you’re in the habit of hugging trees, ecology affects everyone and everything, and whatever your profession, you play a role, you have an impact somewhere. As a wise bear once said “Only you can prevent forest fires.” Although last-minute vegetation thinning, so no brush to spread the flames, didn’t save my house from 2012’s Waldo Canyon fire…and luckily Colorado Springs firefighters were more capable than ours. Somewhere out there is an important cause though and we’ve the power and passion to fight for it, so long as the Buzz brings it to the forefront of our often blinkered lives and clipped attention spans.

I sound a little vitriolic sometimes. I can be. The battle for a green earth is just that: a fight. For every winter night that my roommate and I trade indoor heating for a wooly sweater, our neighbor is basking in their own personal furnace. For every day we try to buy sustainable foods, someone is enjoying a Big Mac (in the sense such a thing is enjoyable, if you’ll forgive my culinary snobbery). With over-exploitation and over-population too, it’s an uphill climb and mine are just the little steps. What are the really big ones then? After facing two years of infrequent employment, I finally made the decision to go back to grad school. Although my intentions were necessarily self-serving, and still are to the extent I need a pay cheque, my advocacy has sharpened. That stands to reason; I’m among my own people now, each with their own passion, their own issue too. I adopt their interests and they adopt mine. That’s the glory of education — in finding your calling and running headfirst towards that better tomorrow.

So what am I doing now and how am I becoming a better ecologist? That’s the biggest question you’re faced with entering grad school. I took it very seriously indeed. By asking seasoned faculty members, hounding them sometimes, by turning to the big guns too like the Fish and Wildlife Service, at last I found my answer: I was going to collect coyote poop! I guess you might call it Doo or Die… Laugh. No really, laugh! Please. Poop, fecal matter, dog dung, whatever you call it, is after all inherently funny. The fact that I am up to my neck in it now is even funnier because, as a person with some personal digestive issues myself, as my family well know, perhaps it’s kismet I would at last get to examine the scat of another omnivorous animal. Yet why is collecting scat so important? In that I am perfectly serious and it’s not that obvious either. Here are my field-won justifications then:


1) Coyotes effect everything in the local food chain, probably more than you think, even if you don’t spend your day thinking about it! The best way to find out what they eat is to look at what they leave behind. Although coyotes have an evolutionary aptitude for a predator diet, they’ll eat anything from wild grapes to crickets. Here in the Californian Central Valley we have many crops and in the Fall coyotes start eating tomatoes. Quite a few of them, in fact. Almonds too. This may hinder or help agriculture but whether or not they are scoffing enough crops to cause any substantial damage is beyond the scope of my study, as yet. BUT we can know with certainty that coyotes prevent crop damage by indirect consumption, which brings me to item two:

2) Coyotes eat micro herbivores like voles, rabbits, mice, rats, etc. This is hugely significant. Although we have a few bobcats and birds of prey here that do their own work, coyotes put an enormous dent into what would otherwise be explosive rodent populations. This is good for ecosystems then, as proliferation of any one species may exacerbate disease, encourage invasive species dispersal and so on. But it also has anthropogenic effects. Meaning the balancing act is that Coyotes may eat crops but mice eat MUCH more. About 8% of crop damage per acre comes from birds and herbivores, most of which are themselves prime snacks for tummy rumbling coyotes. Without predators then this statistic would skyrocket. A similar finding was made with the return of wolves to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 by the Naturalist Jean Graighead George, underling the importance of predator activity to healthy biospheres. Out terrain is in fact sparcer, harder, less of the real wild. Given my findings so far, specifically the massive number of voles that coyotes eat in every season and at every refuge, I believe the blushing tomatoes are certainly worth the trade-off.

3) Coyotes have intrinsic value, especially if you love animals, like me. Indeed, to bring back the romance of such animals too is very important, so remember that wily coyotes have those other names too, like the prairie dog, the brush wolf and the American jackal. Some might say this is a little wishy-washy but most nature-buffs can appreciate the beauty of charismatic predators. Coyotes are natives and their presence runs very deep in both human and ecological cultures.

4) Knowing what coyotes eat will lend itself to future research. For instance, if we know coyote are eating mule deer (which can transmit disease to livestock) there could be a study on how bovine-tuberculosis fluctuates in the presence and absence of predators. We could also study seed dispersal and how coyotes spread both wild and agricultural seed. These are just two examples in a hundred possibilities, dozens of which I probably couldn’t dream up, without furthering my education even more.

What’s my real point though, other than to attempt to glamorize, even aggrandize, ecological poo-collecting? I suppose I have many: the first is fight your battles. Take baby steps and stick with them. At the heart of it all, stay learning. Everyone is striving for something (Kickstarter has taught us as much) and even if ridiculous on the surface, try to find the inner merit, even if it may not be immediately so evident. So, keep learning, keep growing, even if that means playing Devil’s Advocate sometimes (as a friend reminded me at my last presentation).

Understanding coyote diet won’t rebuild the polar ice caps by 5 o’clock tomorrow, nor reverse the drought exacerbating wildfires in my own hometown. But it’s a dot of colour and significance in a much grander picture, where sustainability incorporates the wider needs of nature. That’s one hell of a painting. So I hope others will stand beside me with some able brushes and add to the picture too. Be informed in your personal interests and then go much, much further. The world’s very big and there’s much to fix. Get out your tools. Borrow from others and share. With that, I’m off to the seaside to spread the word, which I am trying at my own website too: kellymichellebaker.com

Meanwhile you can spread another word on great animal stories and back DCD’s dreams and animal stories too in crowd funding Dragon In The Post by going to Indiegogo and CONTRIBUTING TO A PROJECT

Kelly Michelle Baker

This article is under copyright to Kelly Michelle Baker: 2014. All rights reserved.

Kelly is a young ecologist in California, a passionate reader and one of the team who supported Phoenix Ark Press over Light of The White Bear and Dragon In The Post. The first picture is a Wikipedia public domain image of a Coyote in the snow, in Yellowstone. The second shows a government map of the San Joaquin Valley in California, where Kelly works. All the backers of Kickstarter projects have been invited to contribute their passion, knowledge, concerns and hopes to Phoenix Ark, working with David’s editorial help, as a little publisher throws the doors open wide.

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A great and brave start, but the truth of kickstarter and reaching targets, only when any money is drawn down, is much harder while if Dragon In The Post doesn’t build momentum right now, it could easily fail. We are at 26%, which ironically may put people off supporting itself. That would be completely wrong though, not least because the ambition is to go beyond the 6k, open a door on a whole publishing project and bring out Light of The White Bear, Looking For Edmund Shakespeare and many projects together.

Also the received wisdom is ‘no talk of the past‘, a professional video that stays up for the duration and so on. Yet the statistics show that only 73 have watched the video for Dragon In The Post so far, and those that do love it, although the average views only reach 30% of the entire film. As opposed to over 700 that viewed the very personal talks on the Light of The White Bear project, with an average of 50% watched! Is that because people really like the pain of the personal, a sad publishing and private story, and to the shame of those following this publishing blog?! THAT’S YOU! Is it better to weep, top yourself or set fire to the room, than to just engage in the passionate and professional? I hope not, and never surrender, while there is still plenty of time to turn everything around and work some magic. Momentum is vital though.

Be good Phoenix supporters then, come back as backers of Light of The White Bear and both spread the word and BACK THIS PROJECT by CLICKING HERE

Thank you.


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30 Hours to go and the company still rising!

If you go to Kickstarter and back the Light of The White Bear project still though, win or lose, you’ll be in the Company and ‘fellowship of The White Bear’ and David Clement-Davies, Clare Bell, who has kindly donated a copy of Ratha’s Creature for pledges over £45, one of JRR Tolkien’s illustrators himself, Roger Garland and a fine grew of artists, photographers, playwrights, ecologists, passionate fans and backers. A brave crew that could re-open an entire doorway on brilliant ideas here too, engagement and real art at Phoenix Ark Press. It would bring many things down the road. Come to the party!

Phoenix Ark Press always needed you though, and STILL DOES, and the support in these last melting hours will determine whether this is the end of the road or not. It has been a battle too for free speech. Perhaps fans can see it like this though, at 100 pledges of just £20 it would double instantly and you would be paying little more than you would in the shops anyhow. Although you would get a signed copy, copies of artwork, could have your name in the front of the book, alongside a favourite animal, would help raise awareness on Global Warming, and be part of so much more: Like Dragon in the Post, Amazon Rat, The Christmas Code and unique work on Edmund Shakespeare too, William’s brother, and London. That’s why, even if you don’t believe it will make 100%, and it still can, it’s important you come on board now, at effectively no cost either if the total isn’t reached, because then I will write to everyone right at the end about future projects.

Go on, put your finger where you heart is and Back This Project by CLICKING HERE AND JOINING THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE WHITE BEAR

Thank you.


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12_001Never the gloomy, negative or doom ridden(!), like that IPCC report in the Independent about melting ice caps and global mayhem, but today the Kickstarter project on Light of The White Bear has hit a serious brick wall! Did I say 15% in a film or here, that came from someone else, it’s 14%?

So, a little tediously for readers or fans who love talking about story, and not in his chat to camera (Blanche puppet and all), David drops all the fronts and posts details in the new project text of Phoenix Ark Press visitor statistics, talks about business practicalities and publishing models and how it has already been a thrill to engage about things like publishing back into America, where a novel was billed by an editor as the break through book. Carpe diem!

You can see the whole project by CLICKING HERE

Have a great day.


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There we are, it was a very small blog, but now the ‘Mitchelgate’ story is proving what dangers we are starting to face, or always did and will. Click Here In fact our point was not exactly with current thought, but more that a cry of ‘pleb’ is hardly a crime against humanity. But now the point is that, with such media power and fear of being caught in the spotlight, it emerges that a serving police officer may have fabricated evidence. It is ironically precisely why we need a free press, but one that dedicates itself to truth and proper investigative journalism. But how quickly those condemning voices are rushing in to change their minds!


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29th September 2012

The problem with talking about the past, or even leaving this blog up for six months, is it’s a place of neurosis, shame and even psychological harm for me. It’s just that somehow I will not let Abrams get away with what they did to a writer, person, work and the law. With what they did to truth, me and my stories. Rather than being some simple ‘Mr Stalker’ back in 2008, to the ‘Damsel in Distress’, with someone I saw as potentially my wife and after two years together, I was, at times, on my knees to my ex in New York, though on a phone from London. Asking not only for love, or even a friendship also reversed, but for my privacy to be respected or protected, as their own author, who a publisher said was “loved at Abrams”. Bound there with five novels, an enormous thing in any writing life and career. It is because of issues in my past, I’ve found hard to cope with sometimes, especially as ‘children’s author’, having some small public profile, but any split up involves the feeling of invasion. But I alone know the journey of my own books, the huge emotional process that involved, which is why I so feared what an ex did, and so asked her not to, at the heart of my American publisher. She knew about previous publishing fights too and a ten-year struggle to start taking off as a writer in the US, but it made no difference.

When I told an ex what I had been through already though, for nearly a year, trying to tour professionally too, as company support started to vanish, the person who just refused to read FELL, that book joked about by her and my own editor, as I wrote us into it so happily, asked “am I evil?” and I answered “of course not”. Dangerous and awful labels at that level, among supposedly adult or sophisticated people, and with presumed higher knowledge of the process of art and writing itself, indeed of metaphor. Especially out of a family there, perhaps, with darkness in the background we discovered while going out, I think part of the reason for such an obsessive sense of privacy or rights on her part, especially related to Children’s Books. But with literally no imagination for other’s rights or privacies at all. Dangerous labels she then used against me, and my own editor heard too, but just left there outrageously for five months.

Pathetic to plead too, but I literally could not just walk away, or curl up and die, and the psychological invasion became terrible, trying to work there, and produced massive writer’s block too. As intense as was the rage that came out, at times, because I could not protect myself, so lashed out in words, like the cornered animals I was writing about in my fantasy novel. My own editor saw it fully, and it was much the reason I tried to take power back in a much lighter novel. As I later lashed out in a way that shook a whole firm. My ex though, having so betrayed trust with her “Hew, Screw and Glue” book, slammed a door but had invaded me over another friend in London too, living up the road. With her personally extreme reversals, silence and passive aggression in the place she was, that she said she found ‘hard’ for months in early 2008, but did anyway, she simply went to another man, and changed a phone number, as she warned she might. But first leaving me completely in the dark, as did the people I knew so well and needed to work with, right next to her, she then left a distortive accusation in the background, disappeared, and let a destruction of an entire career unfold. “I wish you peace,” it was tagged, in an official company email, when I tried to contact through my publisher, talking of how she had found life happiness, as the people on the inside of course won. I have never heard from her since, but she never stood up to stop a thing professionally, as she could so easily have done. It was the full expression of the power and harm we had been arguing about before, now relayed into a limitless future. That’s love in New York City, for two years together, friendship, truth, or just the business of books.

My own ten-year editor though, now Vice President, after openly threatening me months before on the subject herself, and turning off the tap of support, showed no duty of care either, breaching my privacy to an outside editor and publisher, I heard on the grapevine from my own New York agent, who later jumped ship. That alone is called basic editorial malfeasance and pretty outrageous considering her written instruction to me that I should effectively “keep my mouth shut.” Um, writers are not editors, even if it all poured out in emails and into the wrong places in such distress. Then, once my apology had taken too much blame, and she felt she had the green light to discuss it with me openly on paper, she came in with a sledge-hammer, attacking me personally, and openly breaching conditions in written contract too. In a complete expression of editorial power and abuse, that destroyed editorial sensitivity and trust in commissioned work in progress. You cannot imagine the pain of that, a personal nightmare now raised to the level of semi-official company line, or at least a small department inside a company, Amulet, when I was allowed no say and no defence either, until I refused to work. Only then was I told “a firm takes this sort of thing very seriously’. Sure, but who is the firm? Let alone how awful it was being discussed and judged ‘personally’ at work, by two women once at the centre of my life, but having that alliance between an ex and my editor, intimate with my ex’s new man too, as I saw when I flew to New York. It was like having acid poured into an openly wounded psyche, a wound that had got bigger for two months of dialogue before a number was changed, as an ex knew, but instead cynically used a label to gloss everything. I say cyncically because I am sure it was discussed internally as strategy.

Especially after I had almost begged for some kind of help or understanding about growing internet addiction too, with a medical issue involved too, after having openly talked healing with a partner and in my books, as I felt my emotional life over. But rather than show understanding, or the ‘compassion‘ she started patronisingly mouthing, the woman who had also called all porn ‘evil’ not only rejected everything we had been, but called me literally evil too, though quickly tried to reverse it. She knew it’s implications. “Life is unfair” was and is her only bottom line though, and “Hew, Screw and Glue” you too, buddy. The outcome of the story proves that. It is why her pride in being like a self-described “self cleaning oven” became so awful and unilateral in those circumstances too.

Out of what had been severe psychic disturbance already then, near breakdown, it was me against my own publisher, with betrayed love and friendships in the background, in both New York and London, still trying to work and function. Going mad alone in a flat, in fear and agony, well used words, it lasted for a year and more and brought repeated thoughts of suicide. Abrams tried to push me out, backed down, reversed it, then half backed down again, but I walked away, then Abrams pursued me right up to 2011, to muzzle a blog and hide the truth. Their outrageous assertion was the protection of my ex’s career, or privacies they so destroyed, even Human Rights, when I had repeatedly asked for this all to just stop, for everyone’s sake. They openly denied my Human and contracted rights and showed very little Due Process at all.

My own commissioning editor destroyed the wonderful working conditions we had had before too though, and cut off all channels with people there I had loved working with, even against protected say in a cover written into contract, after promising help with a book. The threats, acts of contempt, duress and bullying went on for months, before I threw down a pen, and forced an ‘enquiry’. I could not go on, did not become a writer for that, and they would have forced a book into print they did not think good enough, and which would itself have harmed my writing reputation. They mutilated principles of Moral Copyright too, let alone written contract, that held another novel there four years. I proved their enquiry a white-wash, with its fifteen minutes by phone and editors lying about a major breach of trust issue written all over my communications. My bright and very ambitious editor was fully aware of the political implications, long before I lost the plot, or begged, or why else threaten with “we will protect our girl” in early 2008, then describe me as a ‘good person’ when I apologised and asked for help? Why good? Because I decided not to take it elsewhere, even though the threat was already huge. Yet seeing me ‘in so much pain’, did nothing objective to help or maintain proper editorial duty either, nor bring needed peace back. My publisher warned me on the phone “You know what could happen” and called me a “nice guy”, but what kind of nice guys are they, and was it really necessary? I raise the charge of IIED, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress. In New York a woman who had hot coffee spilt on her was awarded a million dollars!

It became sustained psychological torture for an author, using my good name and career, five novels with them, and entire future livelihood, after the pain of what had happened ‘personally’, out of an ex’s almost complete negligence and double standards, even possible malice, to threaten and force silence. Not for everyone’s benefit at all, but theirs alone, so that a secret would not get beyond a department, especially to a CEO. Why could an ex not allow just a professional peace though, in a small department? In law that is called Improper Motivation, and it was very nasty indeed. It became so mendacious that lies were told everywhere, promises broken, and there was no editorial trust or honest comment. I only learned what my own editor really thought of a manuscript in process from my own vanishing agent. Which even a bullying CEO could not deny, when he accepted my attack on the grounds of collusion, and breach and repudiation of contracts, and work started again in mid 2009 with a new editor, for a time. What they did when a family issue came into the frame is just unbelievable, but then it’s a pretty unbelievable story.

The pain has returned, and confusion too, because though it could have been stopped at key moments, on their front, it’s source goes back six years too, to a woman who asked and promised for care over relationships and trusts, I gave her at every turn. Who asked me not “to make her the last to know”, yet did that absolutely to me, at a puerile and completely selfish level of consciousness too. But somehow I will find a way out, and end a disgraceful human and artistic story forever. Either that, or end this blog itself, now ‘The Muzzled Blog’, but you see the former writer’s problem! Love and work are surely the two things that really matter in anyone’s life, and both were stripped from me, in the same place, totally ruthlessly in the end, or because New York companies are places of awful fear and back stabbing. My ex’s projected life fears were enormous though. They tore aware my power in the world, well published writing, rights even in contract, and my ability to earn, while the end of that line is now losing my flat too.

It was disgraceful or shaming on my part sometimes, sure, especially with my sense of a family name, as I lost control of words, touched breakdown and nearly went mad, though have never harmed anyone in my life. As I writhed, trying to get out of a place I could not and trying to explain it to an editor too, let alone understand it myself. But utterly disgraceful, indeed possibly criminal, on the part of people I knew intimately for years, and New York publisher Abrams. Where I was tortured trying to work in safety and my career thrown in a trash-can, my publisher removed, and the two women who did the real damage in the first place, very much in cahoots, got straight to the top. It is not because of my editor’s special editorial skills, certainly not the dreadful edit she delivered to me, but more importantly under the wrong conditions, also begged for back and denied because of her ‘power over her list’, nor love for books, people or publishing at all. It is because my editor brought in huge bestsellers like The Diary of A Wimpy Kid and Hello Kitty to Abrams. She used my book The Sight to get her job, supposedly Fire Bringer too, but for her “loyalty is a tricky thing.” I think that’s why a CEO removed a man he did not get on with, who was far nicer and more imaginative and who all his authors liked. It has implications too about how men are always painted the villains nowadays.

In every other sphere of life there are employment protections, legal standards, means of redress, we have come to expect as very basic, but not in the one place where the fundamentals of freedom of speech and human vision themselves actually begin, Publishing. Because it is only commercial success that gives a writer any real power or protection, if good relationships, which is what it is really about, become so damaged. I am watching as any say in the printed copies of my lauded published books is stripped away too. In reverse, people inside publishers are protected by each other, share schemes and pension plans, and the interrelations of big money makes them much like the Cartels we complain about in banking. Editors move between publishing houses and so does negative gossip and ‘ ‘decision making‘. I could not stay at Abrams because I would not be just ‘owned’ and abused like that, my legal rights stripped away, the very principle of true editorial interchange and dialogue destroyed. There needs to be an Ombudsman to stop those individual nightmares, or release pressures for both writers and editors too, but the degree of open abuse that took place at Abrams, over so long, is phenomenal, and I fear has done lasting emotional harm.

“We are willing to bring happier memories into the future” my own editor informed me, at one point, after I apologised in a way meant to protect everyone and be heard, to an author under two contracts, with two published novels there. But only if I shut up about an ex who had broken such trusts, personal and professional, so harmed very happy memories here, but then left an impossible and distortive accusation right at the heart of a firm, that I was not even allowed to defend. It’s consequences distorted everyone’s judgements and actions. Thanks for the legal and editorial principle, and the happy memories too. I will look to real friends, and pray for small miracles elsewhere.


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Along with The Edmund Shakespeare Blog, Phoenix Ark Press are now delighted to introduce ‘The Blogging Blog’. It will involve tips about publishing, encouragements and warnings to writers about blogging itself, discussions of any real cultural value, or whether Sir Tim Berners Lee’s Internet, so highlighted at The London Olympics by Danny Boyle, actually connects or disconnects. Hopefully it can be a valuable forum about writing, blogging, journalism and voices on the Net, but that depends crucially on you the reader too, so bloggers experiences and insights are much encouraged. We will give away some of the experiences and thrills and spills of Phoenix Ark’s publishing venture too.

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