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The Owmapow Chronicles

by Channie Greenberg

Table of Contents
Table of Contents
chapters 1, 2, 3.1, 3.2

Chapter 2: Deep Sea Mothers

Hi Owmapow:

I’m sitting here eating calamari and wondering if it would be possible for you to write a “guest” post to be posted on Sunday? It won’t actually BE posted on Sunday; I’d have you write it Thursday, and I’ll post it ahead to appear on Sunday. I’m thinking of adding you to the lineup to post every other weekend. Would you be OK with that?

Our site just went live on Monday, and I’ve been extremely busy with it, and haven’t really had time to respond to email until tonight.

We have ten writers at present, which has filled up our current roster, but I enjoyed your writing so much I’d like to know if you would be interested in being an alternate for those times when people are on vacation or unable to post for one reason or another.

Right now, we’re posting every other week, five days a week. It’s important for some of the other writers to have their posts up for twenty-four hours, so this is what I’ve agreed to for now. Once the site is settled into a regular reading habit for most folks, we’re planning to revisit posting on weekends. In the meantime, check out the site and tell me what you think.

Manny Xenophile
Editor, Waving at Biology

Dear Manny:

I read the “About Us” section of your site. The Waving at Biology writers are poignant and funny! I’d love to be on your bench; I’d be honored to “warm seats” for such a team. Thanks for the opportunity. While I “bat temp,” I can also defrost fish, wash peppers, and empty the sink of dishes.

Is there any compensation beyond a byline? Also, if possible, please tell me how much lead time I’ll have and the length of entries you seek, when I’m needed as a substitute. I look forward to participating.


PS: How did you find your agent? I noticed you had a book published with one of the Big Five New York houses.


You pick the topic. The length can be anything from one hundred to five hundred words, depending on what you’re writing about. Just make it funny. We’ve had a series of heavy posts recently. Email your work to me. I’ll edit it and post it.


My agent sought me.

Dear Owmapow:

I am so confused. The blog, to which you were assigned, is called “Modern Squid.” The post you wrote was titled “Another Time, Another Teuthuida.” But I don’t understand why you want all of your work to be listed under “Afar and Beyond.” I can’t change the blog’s name. It’s an established blog. I think we’re just having a semantic difference.

The blog is the name of the entire entity. Each “article” is a post. Each post is subsumed by the blog, itself. If you look at the blog, it should make sense to you. There isn’t any place to add another title.

Anyway, I’ve got your post queued for Sunday morning. I’d like you to fill in on alternate weeks. The kind of writing we’re looking for has the same tone as do those pieces you sent links for at Smarmy Friends and at Crazed Critters.



I agree, it is semantics. I also agree that it’s important to validate the variety of life that exists in the sea. So, I’d like to call all of my contributions “Afar and Beyond,” even if they are incorporated under “Modern Squid.”

Am I correct in understanding that you want me to send you another piece in about two weeks?


Hi Manny!

Below, please find “No More Green Pollutants” for today, June 12th, and “Nurturing Your Pet Cephalopod,” for my next installment, June 26th, respectively.

I’m off to the American Institute of Biological Sciences annual meeting. I’ll send more blog entries to you when I return.

Warm Wishes,

PS: Is it possible to put more space (another blank line) between leads/intros. and actual entries? Current formatting bleeds the two together and makes reading a little confusing.

PPS: On what basis did the agent seek you out?


Hello. Yes, that is no prob. I will approve the one now and the other one next Thursday.

As far as the intros. bleeding into the body, I don’t see that on any of my browsers. Which browser do you use? Are you able, by chance, to capture a screen shot? I definitely don’t want that sort of problem!



I have returned! Sadly, my pet cuttlefish died while I was away. Pardon me while I contemplate just how many lobster molts my nautilus need for dinner, how I will help my “adopted” Cirrina find a mate, and why humanity has allowed its noise pollution to impair the population of giant squids.



Your last article was about raising turtles. Your submissions have to be about molluscans. While I liked the piece, it does not suit the blog’s content. Please write and submit something else.



Your July 12th posting was poignant and well written. You are a person from whom many cephalopod enthusiasts can learn. You are a succinct writer, too.

However, I need to end our relationship. First, it remains important to me to validate the variety of life that exists in the sea. Second, the pieces I submitted to you were neither published nor acknowledged, except for the first one. Third, almost half of a dozen of my emails to you have gone unanswered.

If I do not hear from you by tomorrow, please understand that I withdraw my offer of “Internalized Molluscan Shells,” “The Seven Wonders of World Nautili” and “Testudines for Children.”



“Bent Antennules” & “Magnificent Crawfish” are in the new issue of Ocean Scavengers!

Could I prevail on you for a small favor? You recently did that e-book thing. We’re preparing an e-book imprint, but have no packaging with which to work. Might you send me a tactfully bowdlerized copy of your paperwork? I’ll keep the particulars secret.

Barnaby Grubly


Thank-you for accepting my poetry. Yikes, my eBook contract for Crustaceans Never End was rolled in with an audio and print contract from my publisher. Would you like me to “introduce” you to her? My experience is that most small presses help each other. :)

Also, why are you keeping secrets? That aside, would you like to consider some of my gathered work for an eBook? I am envisioning a poetry collection entitled Hedgehogs and Lobsters.



We crustacean lovers are born conspirators. As one of our treasured poets, you and your work would be welcome at Ocean Scavengers Inc. We’ve already got a collection from Syria and a dual-language thing from a young Croatian!

That rolled contract sounds perfect. We’re not anticipating audio and print, but we ought not to dismiss the potential. I’m uncomfortable about asking a competitor for help. Whatever you’ve got would work just fine, if you’re comfortable sharing.


Oh Barnaby!

Please take this email in the caring way it is intended.

First, you are magnificent in: acquiring funding, attracting writers, and aiding writers on their journeys. May you succeed for decades! I, for one, adore Ocean Scavengers and the empowerment it represents.

Second, get yourself a lawyer. There are very nasty people in the publishing field.

The nasties tend to stay low until they sniff out the possibility of making money off of some innocent (all of us, to one degree or another, are innocent). Once you announce to the world that you are producing eBooks, you will be considered fair game to such horrible individuals.

Contracts are meant to protect both the publisher and the writer, even and especially with convergent media products. An eBook contract will have clauses about prior publication of content, length of contract, fair use of materials, etc. etc. There is far too much that must be covered for me to detail in a letter. Also, specifics necessarily vary from publisher to publisher. A document that seems fair to both parties often is fair.

A few hours of a lawyer’s time now will save you much heartache and expense later. Ask him or her to help you fashion a “boilerplate” contract. Make sure you hire someone experienced with eBook publishing contracts. The domain of print has different rights and different laws pertaining to those rights than does the electronic domain.

Third, join your peers. There are many, many indie publisher orgs., including, but not limited to; Small Publishers Association of North America, American Amateur Press Association, Small Press Exchange, Consortium Book Sales and Distribution, and Council of Literary Magazines and Presses.

Members of these and of similar groups can help you, usually gratis, steer yourself to profit and to continued good reputation. They can advise you of the legal and financial pitfalls they have encountered or have avoided. It’s worthwhile connecting with folks who have already succeeded in accomplishing your goals.

Fourth, the writers you have in the pipe, for eBooks, sound wonderful. However, hold on long enough, before offering them Atlantis, to cover yourself, i.e. to secure your own underwater kingdom! You have worked so hard to attract subordinate editors who know a thing or two about text and to build your stable of writers. Also, as you know, branding is everything. Keep your name above the surface and you will likely grow and grow.

I would love to send a proposal to you, but I will wait until you have figured out a few essentials. I want, very much, for your new venture to be wonderful for you! Invest a little now and reap much later.

Please forgive my concern for your well-being. I DO care that you succeed wildly. :) Let me know what happens.



Who are you? Are you the healer from Boston with the Yale education? The regular contributor to The Ocean View? The writer with multiple book publications, including a mention in The New York Times? Someone else? Googling you yielded several people with the same first and last name.

Depending on who you are, there might be opportunities to study with me beyond my “invitation only” class. Furthermore, it’s a good idea, and one with which you are familiar, whether you are a doctor, reporter, or novelist, to investigate, where possible, anyone with whom you are building bridges.

I look forward to hearing more from you.

Owen Brownstone, Ph.D. (Owmapow)


Thanks for resending. You are welcome in my regular writing courses during the period in which you will be in California. Ping me a bit closer to your flight; I will send you links to readings and homework assignments. Writing about the seas is a very serious business.

You’re a tough cookie, so I’m supposing that you won’t be daunted by the insights of students who have been with me for multiple courses or by the lack of bluffing and trivia forthcoming from those other writers. Meanwhile, I hope the intervening span is a pleasant one for you. I look forward to hearing from you in a few months.



The last email went through before I finished it.

Thanks for this email. I did find your last email provocative and somewhat hostile, not because I’m “vulnerable” but because my philosophy towards writing is different from yours. For starters, I take great pride in being a doctor (not a “doctor” in quotes!).

I wish the answer to your question about what I hope to gain from writing could be neatly divided into “insight” OR “renown” OR “riches.” I have different goals with different projects. Gaining and sharing insights is always a goal. Renown is always welcome; I’m not a writer who pretends not to care if anyone reads my work. And money is welcome too. I have a back-burner project, a bent genre story that could be profitable when I finish it.

Making my boundaries clear, I don’t feel a particular need, at this point, to explain to you my reasons for wanting to publish, what about my work makes me proud, or my reasons for spending my summer in Santa Barbara. I reflect on these issues, and would be happy to share my thoughts with you as I get to know you and your work better.

That being said, I’m confident about my writing. I value people who will tell me when they perceive my ideas as trite or predict they will lead nowhere. Your insights about the pitfalls of basing a narrative on an actual case are most welcome.

I’d like to take your workshops. Still figuring out final dates for the trip. I believe I’ll be in Los Angeles for part of the summer, too. I would like to be part of the second half of Descriptive Writing and the first half of Dialogue Writing (a skill I must hone). The price is not a problem.



I’m pretty sure I expressed my boundaries much more strongly than they needed to be stated. I apologize.

Lately, I’ve had many folks contacting me. They want something for nothing or want me to transform their raw goods “magically” into finished products. I am sincerely sorry if you became the recipient of my screed simply because you were next in line. I still value good character traits above all else and still hold myself accountable when my actions are less than admirable.

Whereas I can’t include you in the advanced class (the students, whom I selected for that class, are at a different level of experience/achievement in writing than you), I could make two offers to you.

1. I can allow you prorated entrance to my weekly workshops. Usually I only allow people to enter for a full course so as not to disrupt participants. I’ve made this exception before, but do so only rarely. Each class meeting costs twenty-five dollars.

2. I could work with you privately on a set of skills or on a project. Given my full schedule, I’m less inclined to tender this option. I usually charge very modestly and rarely take on private students. Believe it or not, my regular work is in marine biology.

Again, I am sincerely sorry for how I responded to you. I should have realized, immediately, especially for an accomplished individual like yourself, seeking instruction is an act of vulnerability.


PS: Take a look at my “Another Time, Another Teuthuida” in Deep Sea Mothers, “Nurturing Your Pet Cephalopod,” in Waving at Biology, and at my “Bent Antennules” in Ocean Scavengers. Worldly goings on and artistic expression can and must meet.

Proceed to Chapter 3...

Copyright © 2015 by Channie Greenberg

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