October 2001 Archives

10/23/01

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The proofs of the book arrived Saturday, just as Joanna had said they would. And good to her word, she extended our deadline so we still have about a month to turn them around.


There's not all that much editing -- mostly questions to us about phrases that don't quite make sense or ideas that don't logically follow. A few of them will require trips to the library to review sources, but mostly I think we'll be able to work them out from existing notes.


We've been asked not to make changes that alter the page-count if possible, which seems like a sensible request. Georg mentioned that when he worked for Raven that was a problem, authors trying to add entire new paragraphs when they should only be copy-editing. I do have a couple of "notes on sources" to add, but since these are proofs of the finished pages, I can get a sense of how much room I've got & not write a huge note if there's only space for a couple of lines.


Also, it's really exciting to see the pages all laid out like they're going to be in the finished book. I remember when the contract was signed, asking my friend Judith when (if) it would start to feel real. She said there was no single milestone -- yesterday "unreal," today "real" -- but rather a series of small steps, each one making her book seem a little more concrete. Until finally she realized that it was real, an actual book, and it had been for some time, and she couldn't put her finger on when exactly the transformation had occured.


That's about how it went for me. A year ago it felt so strange and unreal. I felt like it was all due to good luck and I couldn't pretend to be a real author. I actually told a job interviewer that it was no big deal, just my little art project that I somehow convinced a publisher to accept!


Well, I still think that good luck had a whole lot to do with it, but at least it's easier now to accept the idea of being published. Just as Judith said, every little step -- turning in the manuscript, the box cover, the card art -- has made the deck seem a little more real. Now it seems almost normal to get a box full of pages from our publisher & see what our book is going to look like. And the weird thing is that it's not weird.

10/23/01

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Forgot to mention that we watched an A&E movie about Victoria and Albert on Sunday night. It was great fun, fairly true to their story (as I understand it at least). There were a couple of incidents that may have been fictitious: for instance, young Victoria and her mother, the Duchess of Kent, visiting King William IV, and the King dressing down the Duchess at dinner in front of everyone. I don't remember reading about a specific incident like that, but it's possible that it did happen & I just didn't read about it. Even if it was fictional, it did a good job of illustrating the tensions between the Duchess of Kent and the King & how they fought over Victoria.


The casting is excellent. The actors playing Victoria and Albert really do look like them, and the supporting roles -- King Leopold, Baron Stockmar, Lenzhen, etc -- mesh really well with my imagination. Victoria is a bit giggly, but she probably was really like that in the first couple of years of her reign. After all she was a teenager, flung from a repressive household into a position as the most powerful woman in Europe. I'd probably be giddy too.


Georg commented that Albert's accent drifted around & never really sounded German. Which is true, but when you think about it, it doesn't really matter if the actors use German accents since many of the conversations in the movie would have been spoken in German. I think I remember that Victoria spoke German more often than English while growing up, since her mother, governess, most of her relatives, and family confidantes like Baron Stockmar were all German. And I believe she and Albert always spoke German to each other. I can't remember about King Leopold.


In any case, they're going to be showing part 2 of the movie tonight. It picks up with Victoria and Albert just recently married, no children yet. I'm really looking forward to it.

done by a professional?

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Finally I've gotten back to work on the car. It seems like there's always something getting in the way, but I hate it when people ask "what's new on the car?" and I have to tell them, "nothing since the last time you saw it." I worked on the roof, putting up the carpet and a few decorations, including a new, smaller fish for fishing Barbie to catch.

8/19/01

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The good news first: we got the copy for the back of the box and back cover of the book. We like it! They only had room for one quote, but they used a good one by Brian Williams. They described us as "collage artists, writers, and Tarot enthusiasts." That's accurate I think. I looked at a few book covers & they identify the authors as "tarot scholars." But we can't honestly call ourselves that. I don't understand the tarot any better than the people who we hope will buy the deck, and probably a lot less than many. I usually call myself a "student of the tarot," but maybe that wouldn't provide enough credibility on the book cover.


We only suggested one minor change: on the box cover they refer to "England's golden age," which we suggested they change to "Britain's golden age." Britain includes England, Scotland and Wales, and I wouldn't want to offend anyone by lumping them all together as "English." But anyway, other than that the copy looked great. What a thrill! I wonder if I'll see an actual box before next March?


Now the bad news: Hollie got the sample scans, and she's extremely concerned about how they will (or won't) print in the book. I had sent them a sample monkey-head before, and I thought they said it was OK. But maybe these aren't as good as the monkey head? I wonder if I did something wrong when I was scanning the second time.


In any case, Hollie asked me not to do any more on those chapter opening collages until she has a chance to talk to their book printer about it. We may end up not using any engravings in the book. That would be such a shame! Hey, I wonder what this means for the cards themselves? Don't tarot books usually have a picture of each card? How are they going to print the cards in the book?


Now that I think about it, the Nigel Jackson deck might not have had pictures of the cards in the book. I can't remember about Shining Tribe. I'll have to check when I get home.


Finally, to end on a more positive note, the proofs are in the mail and should arrive on Saturday. Yay! Most likely we'll take them with us to our vacation in Austin. We can work on them while our friend is working (she's taking a couple of days off, but we'll be on our own for a couple of days too).

10/15/01

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Received a very kind email with an explanation of "another stone for your progress." What luck that a literary historian read this page! Otherwise I might never have found out what it meant.


Anyway, apparently the Romans said "to mark a day with a white stone" to mean remembering an important date on the calendar. Later "to mark a day with a stone" meant to take note of an important achievement & the phrase was used this way by Lewis Carroll. So the Portuguese gentleman who wrote was offering me a stepping stone towards continued achievement. Wow, and I thought his message was nice before!


Also I found a good photo on Prince Charles' official website: Prince Charles as a baby, his mother (then Princess Elizabeth), grandfather King George VI, and great-grandmother Queen Mary. Queen Mary shows up in my deck, as the little girl on the Princess of Cups. The little girl looks so different from the severe old lady!


This morning I woke up with a panicked belief that I had misidentified Prince Harry as "Prince Harold" in the family tree. Rummaged around in my study for a copy of the tree, to find that I had of course used his correct name, Prince Henry. I think maybe I need to take a step back.

10/10/01

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Received a lovely email message today, from a Portuguese gentleman. I suspect he may have used translation software to convert the message to English, but his meaning was clear enough. I occasionally hear from Brits who doubt I'm an American for some reason. But it's rare for me to hear from someone in a non-English speaking country. I wonder if there's a Tarot community in Portugal?


Anyway, his message really made my day. He closed by offering me "another stone for your progress." It's a beautiful turn of phrase, but I have no idea what it means. Was his message jumbled by the translation software, or is this a Portuguese idiom?


If anyone is familiar with this expression, please write to me and tell me what it means. I'm burning with curiosity.

8/9/01

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Every month I get these reports about my website, that tell me how many people visited, how did they find me, etc. Sometimes I visit the websites that have linked to me, to find out the context of the link. This sometimes helps me discover when someone has appropriated one of my images. But on a more pleasant note, it's mainly nice to see what folks are saying about my site.


So I just got the September report, and through the referrer log I found this review, written sometime last year:


"Victoria Regina has designed a tarot deck which uses artwork that one could find in a museum. The black and white Victorian designs are rich. The wands have almost an Alice-in-Wonderland effect, and yet not in the fantasy sense. It is a wonderful and relaxing experience to browse through Victoria's cards."


Hey, that's Miss Regina to you!

10/8/01

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I finished silhouetting the engraving of young Victoria in a military uniform. The portrait was taken in September of 1837, her first year on the throne, at an inspection of the troops. (her first such inspection? the caption didn't say.)


It's hard to reconcile the fat, dour old Victoria, who wore mourning for forty years, with this vibrant young girl. She looks almost sassy! Becoming Queen of England at eighteen must have been a heady feeling.


Like all these engraving, the level of detail is extraordinary. I'll include a close-up so you can get a sense of it. It still amazes me that such finely detailed art was cranked out, week after week, just for a newspaper. And that the newspapers are just sitting there on the library shelf. They should be in a museum. I wonder if there is a museum of news illustration?

10/8/01

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Joanna and I had an idea for the illustrations to open each chapter. I'm going to do a simple collage for each one, featuring Queen Victoria and something related to that chapter. For instance she'll be surrounded by the suit symbols for the chapter on minors; standing with two figures from the trumps for the chapter on majors; etc.


I can't do these collages the usual way -- with scissors and photocopies -- because they need really clean images for the book. So, yesterday I packed up the scanner and Georg's laptop, and back to the Duke library I went.


I didn't get there until 11:30, and I was a little concerned that the library would be crowded. I needn't have worried. I saw only two people on the entire floor until about 4:30. Apparently one thing hasn't changed about Duke in the past ten years: students do not study on weekends.


After about seven hours, I had made almost 50 scans from 21 volumes, which took up almost 400 Mb on the laptop. Hauling around all those oversized book and inhaling hundred year old dust left me tired, stuffed up, sore, and happy. I got a lot of great scans, even finding a couple of images I hadn't seen before. (I passed the time browsing while the scanner was running.)


I also went back to the illustration of the Javanese dancers, who show up on the 3 of Cups. This time I read the article, not just the caption. It had some great information about them for the "Notes on Sources." Best of all, there was a tiny sketch of the dancers walking to the theater in the rain. It isn't any use for the deck, but it was wonderful just to see it. It made me feel like I knew a little something about those beautiful girls. They must have found the rain in Paris to be a miserable experience, coming from a tropical climate.


Another great score was a portrait of a little girl looking at a stack of photographs. Because of the shape of the photos, she almost looks like she's holding a deck of Tarot cards! The engraving is extremely fine, so it may not be printable the book. But I'd sure love to use her in one of the chapter opening collages.


In any case, it was a successful day spent blissfully alone, with my scanner and those wonderful books for company. It's such a feeling to hold a hundred year old newspaper in my hands, and read about history -- Kaiser Wilhelm II's coronation, for example, or "The Importance of Being Earnest"s opening night -- from people for whom it wasn't history, but the news of the day. I can't even describe it.


Then Georg picked me up and told me that we'd been bombing Afganistan all day.

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