greygirlbeast: (Default)
[personal profile] greygirlbeast
As days off go, yesterday was a day I truly would have been better spent working.

Comments would be very helpful today.

There was snow this morning, but nothing stuck, and it's changed over to rain. That was my gift from the Ides of March, I suppose. I've never before told Mars to go fuck "himself," but I'm getting there.

---

Last night, we finished Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay. And I'll keep this brief, because there's no need to do otherwise. As a trilogy, these books are a failure. However, The Hunger Games is quite good, and I recommend it. It has something to say, and it says it. It's grim and true. Sure, it's not very original, but original isn't actually very important (it's one of the lies of fiction, originality). That said, Mockingjay has it's moments, and the ending...the last seventy-five pages or so...are close to truly brilliant. Though, the epilogue stunk of one of those things that publishers coerce writers into tacking on so that books won't end on such "down notes." Oh, yes, kittens, this happens all the time. It has happened to me. No, I won't tell you which book.* So, if you want to read the "trilogy," read The Hunger Games, skip Catching Fire, read Mockingjay...BUT....stop at the end of Chapter 27, which is really THE END, and tear out the silly ass, venomous epilogue before you accidentally read it, as it risks making a lie of the truths told in the preceding chapters. The epilogue subverts the truths, exactly the way the propaganda machines of the novel subvert the truth.

The truth is simple and Orwellian. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. I applaud the author for having the nerve to be true to Katniss, but I lament whatever caused her to think a trilogy with a saggy middle was necessary.

I will add that Collins could have done better with her world-building. Specifically, okay...we know America has become Panem following war, climate change, disease, and social upheaval. We know that the population of Panem is small enough that the leaders worry about the size of the human gene pool and try not to inflict too many fatalities for fear of extinction. But. What about the rest of the world? Did all other nations perish absolutely? All of them? It seems very unlikely. And the people of Panem have sophisticated radio (never mind television). Even if Panem isn't actively looking for other nations, those nations would be able to detect Panem's presence.

If nothing else, Panem has boats. The Phoenicians and Vikings did quite a lot of exploration, even without steam, electric, and nuclear-powered ships (Panem at least has the potential to possess all three). I suspect we're not given this information because then questions have to be answered that would threaten the integrity of the story. Example: Why doesn't tyrannical Panem seek much needed resources (including breeding stock) by waging war on other nations? This isn't really a quibble. These questions could have been addressed in such a way that didn't harm the story. They just weren't. That is, not answered by better world-building, which is odd, because most of Collins' world is very, very authentic.

---

Other books are entering and exiting my life. Yesterday, we began reading Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels, which I suspect will be brilliant. Also began Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, which promises to be more brilliant still.

However, I also began what is surely the lousiest attempt at sf I've tried to read in many, many years. I only made it three chapters. Now, I will not tell you the name of the author, the book's title, or the publisher. I will tell you that this is a first-time YA author who got a whopping seven-figure deal for this piece of trash. I will tell you that, because you need to know these things happen. Every damn day. Not to put too fine a point on it, this book is absolutely, irredeemably fucking awful. On every level. Had I discovered it among the scrawlings of a fourth grader, I might have been impressed and thought that someday this person might be able to write. But this was written by an adult. And you need to know, this is how publishing works. Last night, reading it, I'm not sure if all my laughing was because the book's so bloody awful, or if I was laughing the way someone laughs when she peers into the abyss and it peers back into her.

You merely open this book, and all across the universe, brilliant fantasy and sf authors who labor in crushing obscurity and poverty, writing gems for pittances, bow their heads and shuffle on, knowing the score. Business as usual. Seven-figure advances....

If you can avoid it, do not open this book. I can't help you more than I have. My copy (fortunately it was free), goes to the paper shredder. It'll make good packing material.

---

I teeter on a needle tip, wondering if I can write YA without abandoning one of the few things that makes me a decent writer: my voice. I believe that I can, but I see so many examples to the contrary. It's hard to find good YA that also has a distinctive voice. Stories that give away their authors with every sentence. Contemporary YA is almost devoid of stylists, and I am, for better or worse, a stylist.

---

Yesterday was a success, if only because I didn't commit suicide. May the world still be here tomorrow.

In Utter Fucking Bafflement,
Aunt Beast

They heard me singing and they told me to stop
Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock
Sometimes I wonder if the world's so small
Can we ever get away from the sprawl?
Living in the sprawl, the dead shopping malls rise
Like mountains beyond mountains
And there's no end in sight

I need the darkness. Someone, please cut the ligths...


(Arcade Fire)

It's snowing again. And sticking. Fuck me. Which reminds me, I neglected to mention last night's sex dream involving quantum entanglement.

Postscript (6:19 p.m.): Okay, I will. It was Threshold. And also the novel I ghost wrote.
Page 1 of 2 << [1] [2] >>

Date: 2011-03-21 06:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joshrupp.livejournal.com
So ... what was the book?

Date: 2011-03-21 06:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

So ... what was the book?

"Now, I will not tell you the name of the author, the book's title, or the publisher."

Date: 2011-03-21 06:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] robyn-ma.livejournal.com
[redacted by commenter]

Thanks for the hint. Will avoid.
Edited Date: 2011-03-21 06:31 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-03-21 06:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Thanks for the hint. Will avoid.

You're welcome.

Date: 2011-03-21 06:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joshrupp.livejournal.com
Yeah, but that's like saying, "Somewhere in the world there is something just awful. It's kind of like a centipede robot bomb. Good luck with that."

Date: 2011-03-21 06:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

"Somewhere in the world there is something just awful. It's kind of like a centipede robot bomb. Good luck with that."

Exactly. But not really. Read [livejournal.com profile] robyn_ma 's comment. I've done all I can do.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] strange-selkie.livejournal.com - Date: 2011-03-21 08:42 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2011-03-21 06:42 pm (UTC)
ext_86961: (mermaid)
From: [identity profile] shantih.livejournal.com
The way I see it, if The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation could be published as YA — as indeed it was (and I loved it) — then your distinctive voice can't possibly be too thorny, or too difficult, or too stylized for YA to embrace.

Date: 2011-03-21 06:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

then your distinctive voice can't possibly be too thorny, or too difficult, or too stylized for YA to embrace.

We shall see.

(no subject)

From: [personal profile] sovay - Date: 2011-03-21 07:08 pm (UTC) - Expand

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From: [personal profile] sovay - Date: 2011-03-21 07:49 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2011-03-21 06:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nykolus.livejournal.com
FYI: newsletter from SubPress this morning is sporting "...the nearly completed dust jacket illustration" for TWaIB. i likes what i sees so far!!!

Date: 2011-03-21 06:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

FYI: newsletter from SubPress this morning is sporting "...the nearly completed dust jacket illustration" for TWaIB. i likes what i sees so far!!!

No one tells me anything.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] nykolus.livejournal.com - Date: 2011-03-21 06:49 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com - Date: 2011-03-21 06:58 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2011-03-21 06:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mlb194.livejournal.com
I was recently in Madagascar for a year and to avoid boredom in down time read anything in English I could get my hands on. I was constantly angered by the atrocious writing that gets some people published and stunned that people chose to read such things.

Date: 2011-03-21 06:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

I was constantly angered by the atrocious writing that gets some people published and stunned that people chose to read such things.

Shit floats.

Date: 2011-03-21 06:52 pm (UTC)
ext_22798: (Default)
From: [identity profile] anghara.livejournal.com
HAH. I may not have read THAT book,the one with the seven figure advance, but I've read books that come from the same damn family - first cousins, mayhap - and I've had much the same response to them. There are times that I try like hell to understand publishing and I fail utterly - books I've read in MS are rejected because "this book won't sell a minimum of 25 000 copies" (like, how would they know?) and books I've read as heavily promoted shiny volumes with embossed covers hold my attention for the first ten pages if that and then I can probably dictate the rest of the plot to you without EVER having read the rest of the book (and these WILL sell 25 000 copies? WHY?)

(I would LOVE to hear your take on my own YA series...)

Date: 2011-03-21 07:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

times that I try like hell to understand publishing and I fail utterly - books I've read in MS are rejected because "this book won't sell a minimum of 25 000 copies" (like, how would they know?)

Because they think they know the market.

(and these WILL sell 25 000 copies? WHY?)

Because shit floats.

(I would LOVE to hear your take on my own YA series...)

I might get to it, but I can't make any promises.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] anghara.livejournal.com - Date: 2011-03-21 07:46 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com - Date: 2011-03-21 08:28 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2011-03-21 07:02 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sovay
My copy (fortunately it was free), goes to the paper shredder. It'll make good packing material.

Yeah, if you put it in the cat box, it'd probably give Hubero an allergy.

I teeter on a needle tip, wondering if I can write YA without abandoning one of the few things that makes me a decent writer: my voice.

Yes. Kathe Koja. Tanith Lee. Ysabeau Wilce. Alan Garner. Elizabeth E. Wein. That's just off the top of my head; I'm sure I'm forgetting even more striking examples. But there are any number of YA authors who are also distinctive stylists: I wouldn't let that be an impediment to the evolution of Blue Canary.

Which reminds me, I neglected to mention last night's sex dream involving quantum entanglement.

That sounds like it could have been awesome . . .

Date: 2011-03-21 07:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Yes. Kathe Koja. Tanith Lee. Ysabeau Wilce. Alan Garner. Elizabeth E. Wein. That's just off the top of my head; I'm sure I'm forgetting even more striking examples.

Thank you. I've read none of Kathe's YA, or any of these other authors, but I will. I should also note that both Lanagan and Zusak has distinctive voices.

Yeah, if you put it in the cat box, it'd probably give Hubero an allergy.

Hells yeah.

(no subject)

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Date: 2011-03-21 07:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] niamh-sage.livejournal.com
Contemporary YA is almost devoid of stylists, and I am, for better or worse, a stylist.

Go for it. YA could use more writers like you :)

Date: 2011-03-21 07:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Go for it. YA could use more writers like you

Let's hope the Gatekeepers agree.

Date: 2011-03-21 07:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ericmvan.livejournal.com
No, no, no, if the unnameable awful book made you laugh out loud it goes not to the shredder but to me for possible inclusion in Kirk Poland. I will not credit you for the discovery.

Oh, and think about renting Winter's Bone a week from tonight; that's when Bob and I will be watching and I certainly hope [personal profile] sovay will join us.

Date: 2011-03-21 08:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

No, no, no, if the unnameable awful book made you laugh out loud it goes not to the shredder but to me for possible inclusion in Kirk Poland. I will not credit you for the discovery.

Will do! Actually, there's a line that Spooky suggested last night would be perfect for the Kirk Poland.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] chris-walsh.livejournal.com - Date: 2011-03-22 01:33 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2011-03-21 07:49 pm (UTC)
blackestdarkness: (death)
From: [personal profile] blackestdarkness
Not to put too fine a point on it

I've noticed you inserting this line lately and it makes me smile. I've been humming that song for days now.

Date: 2011-03-21 08:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

I've noticed you inserting this line lately and it makes me smile.

I think it's on my string of prayer beads.

Date: 2011-03-21 07:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] negothick.livejournal.com
at ICFA there were quite a few papers on the Hunger Games books, including an entire session: the latter presenters have pitched (and had accepted) a scholarly essay collection for McFarland.
I made your points about the problems with worldbuilding, plus the even more obvious contradiction between the low-level tech of most of the country and the sophisticated nationwide TV broadcasts and surveillance cameras, which would require materials not found in the US and a huge energy infrastructure. The analogy with the Roman empire works well for food, I can see that the Capital could be well fed while everyone else starves, but not with technology.
My other comment was that these books are not read as SF by some YA readers (based on anecdotal evidence from several YA librarians of my acquaintance). In fact, several high-schoolers informed me that they hated science fiction, but these novels are not science fiction. When asked when they thought it was happening, they said "Now" or "A few years from now."
So the inconsistent worldbuilding is not bothering them.
It's parallel with the Harry Potter fans who read no other fantasy.

Date: 2011-03-21 08:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Thanks for these observations.

In fact, several high-schoolers informed me that they hated science fiction, but these novels are not science fiction. When asked when they thought it was happening, they said "Now" or "A few years from now."

Smart fucking kids. I'm impressed.

Date: 2011-03-21 07:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrs-ralph.livejournal.com
I really appreciate your book reviews. They keep me from wasting a lot of money since I tend to buy books on recommendation.

Hang in there the snow won't last long this time of year. A few more weeks and we will be complaining about the rain/heat.

And

I don't know whether to be sad or glad that I have no idea what a quantum entanglement sex dream would involve.


Date: 2011-03-21 08:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com


I don't know whether to be sad or glad that I have no idea what a quantum entanglement sex dream would involve.


A couple of extra dimensions.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] chris-walsh.livejournal.com - Date: 2011-03-22 01:37 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2011-03-21 09:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unknownbinaries.livejournal.com
Comments would be very helpful today.

Have something that made my day a bit better (http://bit.ly/gBYSui). I am hoping that these will end up on shirts.

Which reminds me, I neglected to mention last night's sex dream involving quantum entanglement.

Dream-envy is becoming a familiar state. I think mine involved one of my cats escaping in a new town [livejournal.com profile] wolven and I moved to. They haven't been that interesting in a long time.

Enjoy your snow. It was eighty the day before Equinox, the trees are fucking already here, and I don't dare take anything for it or I'll just be unconscious.

Date: 2011-03-21 09:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com


Have something that made my day a bit better. I am hoping that these will end up on shirts.


yes, it made me laugh. Thanks. I especially love the first.

the trees are fucking already here,

I need the trees.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] chris-walsh.livejournal.com - Date: 2011-03-22 02:19 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com - Date: 2011-03-22 04:42 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] chris-walsh.livejournal.com - Date: 2011-03-22 09:54 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2011-03-21 09:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] insanitybook.livejournal.com
The world will still be here tomorrow, and we will all be here looking forward to hearing from you.

Date: 2011-03-21 09:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

The world will still be here tomorrow

Above all else, never take this for granted.

Date: 2011-03-21 09:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] seph-ski.livejournal.com
I agree with your thoughts on the end of Mockingjay. It was brilliant, until that forced and awkward bit of wrap-up.

I wanted another page turner this weekend, and nothing in my reads-in-progress pile fit my mood, so I gave Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth a try since it was recommended to me by the same friend who recommended The Hunger Games. It served as a page-turner with action that kept my curiosity peaked, but the story as a whole was kind of flat, the characters were annoying, and the ending pissed me right off. It did pass the time though, which is all I really wanted in the moment. It only took about five hours to read.

Now I think I'm in the mood for something a little more complex, so it's back to The Orange Eats Creeps, which I'm almost a third of the way through. I'm loving the mood, but it's definitely the kind of read that requires my complete and uninterrupted attention. I feel like I need to put it down regularly to let what I've read settle in my head just to feel like I know a little of what's going on.

Date: 2011-03-21 10:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

It was brilliant, until that forced and awkward bit of wrap-up.

Yep.

Now I think I'm in the mood for something a little more complex, so it's back to The Orange Eats Creeps, which I'm almost a third of the way through. I'm loving the mood, but it's definitely the kind of read that requires my complete and uninterrupted attention. I feel like I need to put it down regularly to let what I've read settle in my head just to feel like I know a little of what's going on.

The ending...it's antithetical to all happy endings that have ever been.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] seph-ski.livejournal.com - Date: 2011-03-22 01:28 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2011-03-21 09:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] blackaire.livejournal.com
Having made the jump from writing adult fiction (though probably more popcorn-style fiction than you'd approve of), to fantasy/steampunk young adult books, I can say that voice definitely has a place in YA. My first YA novel very deliberately had an old-fashioned and somewhat Lovecraftian "voice", and it was one of the positives editors mentioned most frequently when my agent was shopping it. Wooden and voiceless or just plain terrible writing might be easier to digest for some readers, but it's definitely not a requirement for selling a book to a publisher, or the public, where YA is concerned.

Date: 2011-03-21 10:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

My first YA novel very deliberately had an old-fashioned and somewhat Lovecraftian "voice", and it was one of the positives editors mentioned most frequently when my agent was shopping it. Wooden and voiceless or just plain terrible writing might be easier to digest for some readers, but it's definitely not a requirement for selling a book to a publisher, or the public, where YA is concerned.

Thank you. I'll take faith in this.

Francesca Lia Block has a style.

Date: 2011-03-21 10:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] melissaleeg83.livejournal.com
I always wondered how Poppy Z. Brite would do with young adult fiction.

I adore your posts. And I appreciate the fact that you are honest and don't try to hide/fake it.
You give me the motivation to at least try writing things out even when no-one else will read it, because everything else is going so wrong. I admire your writing/work ethic.

Re: Francesca Lia Block has a style.

Date: 2011-03-21 10:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Francesca Lia Block has a style.

a) Well she did. Lately, its been flagging, and b) I love her, and the Weetzie Bat books are a beacon in the dark.

Date: 2011-03-21 10:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pisceanblue.livejournal.com
I hold out (and hold up) hope your voice will flourish in YA; as I consider one of Kathe's amazing feats to have switched genres and continued to find an audience with her talent and the world is well and truly fucked (we know it is, but beyond wondering) if there's no place for you in such a state.

Date: 2011-03-21 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

I hold out (and hold up) hope your voice will flourish in YA;

I'm banking a lot on this.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] pisceanblue.livejournal.com - Date: 2011-03-21 10:29 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2011-03-21 10:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olivia nishkian (from livejournal.com)
Good heavens! I had no idea the world was out to crush your soul, lately. If there's anything I can do, let me know.

I can do many things.

Date: 2011-03-22 04:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Good heavens! I had no idea the world was out to crush your soul, lately.

It's nothing personal. Sometimes, I just stray onto the wrong side of the vasty indifferent universe.

Date: 2011-03-21 11:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eluneth.livejournal.com
I got The Hunger Games out of the library this weekend, and read it in one sitting. I'd been avoiding it beforehand for some vague reason, but your repeated praise convinced me, and I'm glad it did.

It's grim and true. Sure, it's not very original, but original isn't actually very important...
is pretty much how I ended up feeling about it. So thank you again for the recommendation.

One of the best stylists I've encountered lately was, to my surprise, a YA novelist (Franny Billingsley, The Folk Keeper). (I was surprised partly because the cover for that novel is quite mismarketed and makes the book look appropriate for second-graders or thereabouts, when in fact it's extremely dark.)

And sticking. Fuck me. Which reminds me, I neglected to mention last night's sex dream involving quantum entanglement.
That was an awesome segue.

Date: 2011-03-22 04:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

And sticking. Fuck me. Which reminds me, I neglected to mention last night's sex dream involving quantum entanglement.
That was an awesome segue.


Thank you. I try.

Date: 2011-03-21 11:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jenjen4280.livejournal.com
Just ordered Two Worlds and in Between. Fan-frakin-tastic cover!

Date: 2011-03-22 04:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Fan-frakin-tastic cover!

Ain't it, though.

Date: 2011-03-22 12:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] poesillchild.livejournal.com
Bill at Subterranean posted Lee's absolutely beautiful dustjacket art for Two Worlds and In Between. One more thing to be proud of in your life's work. True you didn't create it, but Lee, as well as many others, think very highly of your work.

Date: 2011-03-22 04:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

One more thing to be proud of in your life's work.

I am very happy with the painting.

Disaster

Date: 2011-03-22 12:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] captaincurt81.livejournal.com
About 5 years ago a major publishing house bought two novels from a first-time novelist for a rumored $2 million. The first book was horribly over-written, with characters that made no sense and a plot so outlandish I laughed out loud. When it was reprinted as two shorter paperbacks, copies of part 1 sold, but our store sold none of part 2. I wasn't the only one who found the novel lacking. A second novel has never appeared. It makes me wonder if some editors only read outlines, then publish whatever comes in sight unseen. And the publisher is out $2 million.

Re: Disaster

Date: 2011-03-22 04:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

And the publisher is out $2 million.

This also happens a lot. Publishers like Vegas.

Date: 2011-03-22 04:20 am (UTC)
ext_4772: (Whale fluke)
From: [identity profile] chris-walsh.livejournal.com
So, if you want to read the "trilogy," read The Hunger Games, skip Catching Fire, read Mockingjay...BUT....stop at the end of Chapter 27, which is really THE END, and tear out the silly ass, venomous epilogue before you accidentally read it, as it risks making a lie of the truths told in the preceding chapters.

Now I wonder if someone who knits or sews is crafty enough to re-bind the books to be the way you describe.

Date: 2011-03-22 04:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Now I wonder if someone who knits or sews is crafty enough to re-bind the books to be the way you describe.

It would be a worthwhile endeavor.
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