The Wolf Pirate Project's Staff

CONFESSIONS

by Catherine Rudy

In 2007, when I founded Wolf Pirate Publishing, I wanted to focus on category fiction because it was what I enjoyed reading. I'd never seen the appeal of “literary fiction” for the simple reason I had my own drama to deal with—and I could admit to some that would make what was in literary fiction pale in comparison. So why should I care to read about someone else’s drama when I had my own. I wanted to read something for an escape from life. Delving into mystery, suspense, thrillers, horror, and yes, fantasy, was perfect for that. It gave me a reprieve from life’s obstacles.

Before opening the publishing company, I had already known there was a poor reception for category fiction. Many “reputable” presses frowned on category fiction as beneath them, even stating in their submission guidelines how they would NOT accept it. I began to feel cheap and unintelligent because I disdained literary fiction; but not only that, because I read category fiction. I felt like the serious literati were looking down their noses at me. I was embarrassed.

For two and a half years, I kept the publishing company open, reading submissions and hearing the laments of category fiction writers. Many of them were passionate writers who faced the daunting task of finding a home for their work because of the narrow market for it. In the meantime, I discovered something. I disliked the commercial and marketing demands of the industry. Because of that, I was a horrible saleswoman. Instead, I turned all my energies to the literary aspect of the company, shifting it away from publishing and moving it toward education. I took that direction because not many submissions we received were of very good quality. It led me to my next epiphany: that I was a demanding judge of literature. I wanted to see literary merit in category fiction.

Over the years, as a fan of category fiction, I became disappointed with what I found on the commercial market. I had always read books all the way through, but then I began forcing myself to finish some. Eventually, it reached a point where I stopped reading a book when I couldn’t take it any longer. Soon, I couldn’t make it halfway through some. Finally, I found myself wandering bookstores with the fear of wasting good money on something I wouldn’t get past the first few chapters. I opened the publishing company with the hopes of changing the market. I was disillusioned.

Changing the literary quality of category fiction wasn’t going to come from publishing excellent writers. Not as a small press. Small category fiction presses rarely get reviewed in Publisher’s Weekly, a staple of success in the industry; or find a distributor to reach bookstores, unless they want to limit themselves to online sales through BN.com or Amazon.com. Small category fiction presses rarely get accepted into “literary” associations that have merit. And as I mentioned already, I was a horrible saleswoman. I was a crack editor, though.

Catherine Rudy

President and Founder of The Wolf Pirate Project

Catherine spent over twenty-five years in civil service in the South Florida area to acquire life experience and pay the household bills. However, she discovered a passion for writing in high school and made it a part of her life ever since, in one aspect or another. During the course of her adult years, she wrote creatively for leisure, while employing her writing skills in other fashions. She became state certified as an instructor and began teaching in several aspects of her career. During this time, she wrote course curriculums on animal cruelty and animal-related crimes, domestic violence, and other related topics. She has written manuals on case studies for shift work and other management issues, one of which received an internal award. She has also written a long-standing blog on the writing industry and articles on writing techniques. She has always been an avid reader throughout her life, having an eclectic taste for a variety of genres, including mysteries, suspense/thrillers, fantasies, horror, and science fiction. However, she is a discerning judge of literary merit and demands quality in what she reads. Over the course of the years, she noticed the quality of commercial writing had begun to decline through the explosion of subsidiary and self-publishing companies that flooded the market with amateurish, unedited, and disappointing works. Many of these works could have been successful with more attentiveness to editing, structure, and story composition. In 2007, she got the idea of creating an independent publishing company that worked in the traditional sense but reviewed works for superior literary quality. In opening the doors of Wolf Pirate Publishing, she discovered that the majority of submissions were in dire need of extra work. She created the Writer’s Workshop to assist writers in the development of their manuscripts. By 2010, the publishing aspect of the company fell by the wayside when Catherine realized she was a better instructor than a salesperson. She harbors a belief that works of art are meant to be gifts to culture and found it hard to charge for books. With the same passion she has always had for writing and reading, she had no regrets in closing the publishing company and founding The Wolf Pirate Project, a nonprofit organization that is geared solely for developing and mentoring aspiring writers and finding a way of increasing readership for leisure. She has since left behind her career in civil service and moved to a tiny town in Colorado for peace and quiet and to focus on the Project’s efforts. She dedicates most of her time in running The Project, editing, reviewing, and managing all aspects of the programs offered by The Project. She follows the concepts found in The Chicago Manual of Style and has composed the majority of the class curriculums of the three Writer’s Classes and the Readers Appreciation Class that can be found on the web site. She currently serves as the committee chairman on the Writer’s Workshop and the drive to create textbooks, and is a committee member of the Contests program.

Bryan Rudy

Vice-President of The Wolf Pirate Project

Bryan is the sounding board of the Wolf Pirate Project, keeping the ideals of the programs and services within perspective of the organization’s means. He, too, spent over twenty-five years in civil service, meeting Catherine and enjoying a storybook courtship and marriage. He was a state-certified instructor in his field and taught in many areas of his career. His continued training in instruction has made him an invaluable asset for The Wolf Pirate Project’s main goal of developing writers through education. He has always been the supporting force behind the Project, primarily in keeping it a practical organization. He wrote and composed the majority of the standard operating procedure manuals for The Wolf Pirate Project. He is an avid nonfiction reader, encompassing many topics, including politics and sports. He is responsible for administrative functions, including managerial and logistics at The Project. He currently serves as committee chairman on the Inspirations and Operation Paperback programs, and is a committee member of the drive to create textbooks.

May Bestall

Volunteer Editor

May Bestall has been an editor since 2007, when she began working with Wolf Pirate Publishing. She agreed to stay on as a volunteer editor for the Writer’s Workshop when the publishing company closed and The Wolf Pirate Project came into existence. She, too, believes in the aspect of art for the benefit of culture and strives to find literary quality in what she reads. Her personal tastes range from mysteries and thrillers to humor and horror. During the time she has been in the Writer’s Workshop, she has mentored twelve aspiring writers, nine of which have gone on to become sponsored writers in the organization. She is the committee chairman for the Libraries program and is a committee member of the Contests and Writer’s Workshop programs, as well as the drive to create textbooks. Ms. Bestall works with the Project and her assigned writers through email.

CONFESSIONS (cont.)

Being a state-certified instructor and involved in training for the past eighteen years, I'd been focusing my energies on a completely different aspect than writing. But having worked on the sideline in the literary field for almost twenty years and having written several manuals and class curriculums, I was subconsciously moving in a particular direction all along. It wasn’t until I'd gone through my experience with the publishing company that I realized what that was. I wanted to show writers what they were doing wrong and teach them otherwise.

I won’t go into a long list of deficiencies with today’s emerging writers (published or not), but I will expose my discovery of why there is such a high-brow attitude against category fiction. Readers, publishers, and reviewers assume there is no literary value in category fiction. I say, in part, they might be right. However, I must remind these people that literary fiction is not a separate genre in itself, but a judge of the aesthetic value of the work. Aesthetic value is not found exclusively in literature that can’t be categorized as a distinct genre. It is the quality of the writing, not the category of the work that matters. The literati need to stop judging the book by the genre and view the content between the pages. They may find literary merit in works that fall under the categories of romance, mystery, thrillers, science fiction and even horror if they look.

On the obverse side, writers of category fiction must begin to write aesthetically if they want to enjoy literary appreciation. True, many writers are content only to find commercial success in the mainstream of the general public. Even the majority of writers I have dealt with were interested only in getting published and not working on the quality of their manuscript. I wished them luck and sighed about the sad fate of category fiction if that was the main direction of writers. I did find a few serious writers who wanted to take it to another level, though. My editors and I worked with them in the Writer’s Workshop, spending months with each to help them understand the philosophy of literary merit. We gave them direction and advice, and in return, they worked hard. They were given a lot of latitude in the course of what ultimately went into their book, and two have subsequently found publishers. We didn’t charge anything for the service, but we were immensely rewarded with gratitude, accomplishments, and a sense of doing something beneficial for someone. After a year of running the Workshop, we decided unanimously to make it one of our main goals. With some relief, we closed the publishing aspect of the company and opened a nonprofit organization to focus on education, development, and mentoring writers, as well as drawing readers back into the realm of entertaining fiction.

We welcome category fiction at the Wolf Pirate Project, as well as “literary” fiction. In our effort to get the literati to change its views about categorizing literature, we accept everything. If it falls within the realm of creative writing, we will review it. We want to look at writers as assets to our culture as human beings, not commodities. We do not imagine we will change the marketing views of the industry, but perhaps we can change a few minds in the meantime about literary merit. That means starting with writers and getting them to view their work as something more than just a money-making venture, writing with an emphasis on the artistic value of literature.

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