greygirlbeast: (white3)
Still very white Outside. There was a little new snow last night.

No day off yesterday. Instead, I wrote 1,025 words on The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. Today, I mean to make a great push and try to reach the end of Chapter 4, though it's at least 2,000 words ahead. I panicked a little yesterday, mostly because I realized Part One of the novel will be six chapters long, after all. Which means I don't have seven chapters remaining, but eight. So, there you go.

Lots of email answered yesterday. Lately, it seems I'm saying no more often than yes. When people ask me to write a short story or a foreword or whatever. There's just so little time. It all comes down to time, and how much of it I do not have.

Yesterday, I discovered how foolish it was not to have cleaned the snow off the van right after the storm. I measured about eight inches on top of the car. Anyway, while Spooky dug out around the wheels, I scraped at the windshield. Well, mostly I dug and pried small boulders of ice loose. There were patches of ice below the snow, stuck fast to the windshield, that were the exact color of old Coca-Cola bottles. Pretty, but a bitch to get off. She went to the market. I stayed home and wrote. This is the usual way of things.

---

Something that amused me a great deal, Charles Stross has compiled a collection of Amazon reader "reviews" of classics. The "reviews" are predictably wretched. But sort of funny, in a gut-wrenching way, when it's not one of my books the idiots in question are on about. For instance, from a review of The Lord of the Rings:

I can't stand this book! These fantasy things are really getting to me! I don't see how someone could read such un-true and so unbelievebly weird stuff!

Or, from a review of Catch 22: I personally don't read that many books, but this is one of the worst books I ever read. First, they're are too many characters. This book has too many characters that I can't remember even one of them in my head. They include many minor characters that nobody cares so you get confused about it. Second, it has too many mini-stories. It has lots of short stories that doesn't relate to any of the other stories and they are usually pretty boring. Third this is none sense. It doesn't have a major theme or anything and it's just talking about air force men being board of the war and just being crazy.

This is the future, and each and every moron has been given a public forum.

---

Last night we had hot dogs and a halfhearted attempt at Kindernacht. We streamed four episodes of MonsterQuest, which is actually a lot worse than I'd expected. Which is probably like being disappointed by a MacDonalds' cheeseburger or a Taco Bell "chalupa."

Later, Spooky read me Kelly's Link's "Most Of My Friends Are Two-Thirds Water," which was very, very good.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Thank you. Now, the words must flow.

Yours in Bafflement,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
I just figured it out. I'm not an insomniac, after all. Instead, I'm clearly suffering from hypnophobia, which is also called somniphobia. An irrational fear of sleep. Why didn't anyone ever tell me? Hypnophobia sounds ever so much cooler than insomnia.

So, in the weird-shit-happens category, yesterday I complained about some doofus on Amazon.com who suspects I "just threw in an ending" when writing The Red Tree. Which led [livejournal.com profile] robyn_ma to make a funny joke about a magical store called Endings where writers buy, you know, endings. Which led to my wanting to write a story about that very store. So, yesterday I wrote 1,010 words on a new piece (for Sirenia Digest #61) titled "—30—". Don't worry...I asked her permission, and she granted it, so I'm not committing the very crime I was complaining about in yesterday's entry.

Speaking of which, [livejournal.com profile] teacup_carousel has informed me there's a cosmetics company, Archetype Cosmetics, which has evidently named a number of products for my work: So far I've counted Low Red Moon, Child of Hounds, Glass Coffin (which is perhaps not damning in its self but when you consider that the next one is -)Salmagundi, Salambo, Madam Terpsichore and The Gargoyle Trees.

Thing is, this is all perfectly legit. I'm even a tiny bit flattered. I just wish they'd told me, so I could have been a tiny bit flattered earlier on. Also, a word of caution, apparently Archetype Cosmetics has a history of taking a very, very, very long time to fill orders, so consider yourselves warned and don't count this mention as any sort of endorsement.

My grateful thanks to everyone who took a few moments yesterday to comment on The Red Tree over at Amazon.com. It helps. It genuinely does.

---

Last night, we finished reading [livejournal.com profile] blackholly's Valiant. Whereas I very much liked Tithe, I actually loved Valiant. Where the hell was this book when I was sixteen? Street kids, magical heroin, junkies strung out on pixie dust, intrigue in rat-infested New York subways, hot troll action, goth baby dykes, murderous fay women with hooves, and a glass sword. It's a YA novel that isn't afraid to let the monsters be monstrous, and that understands that monsters can be heroes as well as villains, and that has the nerve to cast a troll as the male love interest. Not a prettied-up troll, not the whole cop-out "Beauty and the Beast" shtick where the troll turns out to be an ensorceled prince charming, but an actual, factual troll. So, thank you, Holly. Team Ravus! You rock. Now, on to Ironside.

---

The hypnophobia has me feeling— pretty much literally —like I've been hit by a train (not that I've ever been hit by a train, but I think this is how it would feel), so I'm wrapping this up. I think I'm going to fill the bathtub with black coffee and aspirin and lie in it a while. There's broken glass and razor blades embedded beneath my flesh.

Yours in Pain,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (white)
1) Numbers are necessary today.

2) I wish to ask a favor of a sort I am generally loathe to ask of readers. Last night, just before bed, I caught sight of the fifty-eighth "review" of The Red Tree on Amazon.com. It's a real winner:

The Red Tree has a horrible ending. It is a fair read until the end. Then it is like she just threw in an ending. She totally lost me at the end.

As kids these days are wont to say, o.O . Did I do that right? I feel as though I missed some inflection. Anyway, afterwards I lay in bed, imagining myself reaching into a big bucket labeled "ENDINGS," grabbing one at random, and carelessly slinging it towards the manuscript. The favor that I wish to ask is simply that if you read the book and enjoyed it, please take a moment to say so on Amazon, to help counteract some of the stupid. Obviously, these comments don't have to be more than a few sentences long. I will be very grateful. Thank you.

3) I ought to be going to a matinée of True Grit today. But it's cold as fuck (30F, windchill 19...which I'll note is a vast fucking improvement over yesterday), the roads are still icy, and I have too much to write that I've not written. Maybe next Tuesday (because Tuesdays are the discount matinée days).

4) Not much to yesterday. I sat here all day. I wrote a single paragraph on a story for Sirenia #61. It may or may not be usable. I may or may not be writing a vignette titled "Pixie-Led." But I need to figure it all out today. The month isn't getting any younger. The year is wasting away.

5) I have begun to notice a disquieting phenomenon. Recently, on two occasions, I've found short stories by other authors with titles clearly, unmistakably, taken from this blog. Now, generally speaking, you can't copyright titles, and if someone finds an inspiring title in some stray comment here, fine. One of the stories was like that. But the other, well, it's essentially the title of a story I've repeatedly referred to here, a story I've been trying to write for a couple of years, but which remains shelved. I know the author in question reads the blog. This is called plagiarism. I won't name names, and maybe it was even an unconscious plagiarism. But it certainly isn't mere coincidence. So, pretty please, don't rip off my titles. Thank you.

6) Spooky ventured out into the snow yesterday. I didn't. She didn't make it very far. The sidewalks were glacial slicks, and the wind was brutal. But she took a few photos, behind the cut below. Also, I've added a sunset photo to yesterday's entry.

7) Last night, there was some good rp in Insilico with Molly and Grendel. And a little WoW. And soup and grilled cheeses. Two episodes from the most recent season of No Reservations. And we read more of [livejournal.com profile] blackholly's Valiant. I think I have a crush on Ravus. I always fall for the beasts. By the way, if you want stellar examples of shitwit Amazon "reviews," have a look at some of those posted for Valiant.

Yours in Haste,
Aunt Beast

The Blizzard of 2010, Part 2) )
greygirlbeast: (Neytiri)
I got almost seven hours sleep last night, probably the best sleep I've had in three weeks. And it's a good thing, because I was becoming seriously useless. Oh, and there was a half hour nap yesterday afternoon, also unusual. So, this morning, I almost don't feel like ass. And sure, I had to use Sonata last night, but I'm reaching the point where sleep is sleep.

I managed to get a little work done yesterday. Mostly reading back over "The Prayer of Ninety Cats," and discovering, to my great relief, that it all holds together and the constituent parts work as a whole. I have to go over it again today, and then make a lot of line edits. I mean this story to be as close to perfect as I can make it. Okay, well...I always do that. But I'm happier with this story than I have been with anything in quite some time. So, no warts if I can help it. Anyway, today will be a day of pulling the digest together. It should be ready to go out tomorrow, and as soon as I get Vince's illustration for "The Prayer of Ninety Cats" we can put it to bed.

I have something this week with Dark Horse. Details as soon as I am able, I promise. I'm very excited about it, but it's also something else that's popped up to interfere with me getting back to work on The Drowning Girl.

I got some work done yesterday on the Dancy box. I think it's actually finished. It no longer looks merely like a carefully orchestrated collection of interesting things invested with obvious meaning. It now has authenticity. It now has clutter. Partly, it was a matter of including enough of the right sorts of items, things that can have no possible significance except to Dancy, and so can only be puzzled over at length. Why did she keep that crayon? Why those marbles?

---

Last night, we watched the Capturing Pandora documentary that comes with the three-disc extended collector's edition of Avatar (thank you, Steven). Lots of fascinating stuff, especially the costuming and linguist Paul Frommer's work creating the Na'vi language. But I think what struck me most of all were comments from Cameron and others about the negative remarks that started popping up online after the first 15 minute preview and the trailers, the idiotic "smurf" and "thundercats" comments on blogs and what have you. Even after the film's release and its enormous critical and financial success, it's clear these comments still sting the creators. So, I'll try not to feel so bad about feeling bad about those stupid Amazon "reviews."

Oh, and speaking of Amazon "reviews," a dirty secret is finally becoming public: "Women writers at war over fake book reviews on Amazon". This is the sort of thing people won't believe, that publishers can be this petty, that this shit is common practice, that the Amazon review system is so completely faulty, corrupt, and potentially damaging. It's very good to see articles like this appearing. Well, except for the condescending "women writers" part of the headline.

Before bed last night, a little WoW, leveling our orcs, and then Spooky read me a story from Joan Aiken's The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories (Big Mouth Books).

And now, the platypus says the time has come.
greygirlbeast: (death&themaiden)
No, The Red Tree didn't win the World Fantasy Award, but that in no way diminishes my pride and my joy at having been nominated. And my congratulations to all the winners. And my thanks to Peter, who would have accepted for me, had I won.

Here is it, Día de los Muertos*, and me without calaveras de azucar. Truthfully, I've never had a sugar skull, but would love to someday.

Sirenia Digest #59 should be going out the subscribers this evening. There were a few problems with the first PDF that are being corrected, and we'll get it out to you as soon as everything is just so. Yesterday was spent on the issue's layout. Today, I have to go back to actually writing, and, truthfully, it's a sort of relief.

---

I really dislike getting angry first thing in the goddamn morning. Or, well, early afternoon. For that reason, I try to avoid reader comments about my books on Amazon.com. This morning, I slipped up, and found this, posted anonymously two days ago by "R.M.B." (I've not bothered correcting R.M.B.'s misspellings):

I was very intrigued with the reviews of this book. It sounded great and I couldn't wait to read it. I was very dissappointed and quit after about five chapters. As is mentioned by other reviewers, the main character is very foul-mouthed and difficult to like. Also, and forgive me if this is a spoiler, in all the reviews and the synopsis I saw on this book nowhere is it mentioned that there is a very heavy gay/lesbian story-line. It's certainly not the first (nor I'm sure the last) book I've read that contains this element, but as that is not my taste and certainly not what I thougt I was getting here, I felt like that little detail was hidden. Frankly I feel a little mislead and wish I could get my money back. I can overlook some of these issues in some books, but this one was'nt one of them.

So, yeah, here's some angrifying shit (thank you for that word, Kristin Hersh). And suddenly I'm having flashbacks to that last (and horrible) Readercon 21 panel this past July, during which I had to listen to people complain that books ought to come with warning labels. Is it wrong for writers to respond to critics? No, not in the least, and I don't know who thought up that tiresome old chestnut. Regardless, I want to be clear that what I am responding to here is not the fact that the reader disliked the novel, as a novel, but to the reader's homophobia and sense of entitlement.

To start with, had she or he actually read "reviews of this book," he or she would have known that Sarah and Constance were lesbians. Few reviews fail to mention Sarah's sexuality, or the fact that she becomes involved with Constance. Ergo, the "reviewer" is either lying and didn't read reviews, or means cover blurbs when he or she says "reviews." Secondly, it is no one's responsibility— not mine and not my editor's and not my publisher's and not Amazon.com's —to inform anyone "that there is a very heavy gay/lesbian story-line." Does R.M.B. think books should notify their readers when there are very heavy straight plots? Of course not, because, remember, heterosexuality is normal and to be expected. It's a given that straight characters will suit the "tastes" of most readers, so this sort of warning would be silly. Obviously. So, never mind the disgust that betrays this reader's homophobia, there's the entitlement issue, that she or he has a right to be informed of queer characters, so such characters can be safely avoided. Same old shit, different goddamn day.

Is this worth me getting upset over? Yes. Maybe it wouldn't be, if gay men and women were accorded the same legal rights as straight men and women. But we are not. We are targeted as deviant. We are shat upon. We are relegated. We are shunned. We are threatened and murdered for loving those we love, and, ironically, told we cannot die in war. We are told we are sick and need to be cured. Even were all this not true, I would find the expectation that a book about us ought to come with a warning utterly abhorrent. So, yes. Sarah Crowe is a lesbian, and she's also "foul-mouthed," and if that gripes your ass, don't read my goddamned novel. If your sensibilities are so easily assaulted, do some research before you buy a book. Don't publicly whine after the fact, because the world can't be bothered to hold your little hand and cover your little eyes and keep you safe from all you find distasteful. And if you are going to publicly speak your opinion about a book, criticize the actual book, instead of using it as a platform for your loathing of queers. Want to review a book? Then review the fucking book, asshole.

There were other things I was going to write about in this entry, but I'm too angry. The whole goddamn world is falling into ruin, and people have time to be offended at queers. This shit has to stop somewhere. To quote Malcolm Reynolds, my favorite space cowboy, "So here is us, on the raggedy edge. Don't push me, and I won't push you."

* My mistake. Día de los Muertos is November 2nd. Surely, I knew that.
greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
Warm here in Providence, but not the unbearable heat of last week. I'm not yet certain whether or not I shall need the services of Dr. Muñoz today. Spooky's going to South County to see her sister and mother and her nephew Miles. I'm staying here, at this accursed desk.

And here's one of the sorts of things that make me want to go back to bed. This idiotic "review" of The Red Tree from Amazon:

[1 star] "Ignore the good reviews!," July 18, 2010 (By R. Esposito [Northern Virginia]):

This is one of those books that you keep reading in the hopes that it will get better but just ends up being a complete waste of time. It's not scary on any level. It's just extremely boring. The characters are not very likable, their actions make no sense, the writing is tedious and the dialog is stilted. The "did she go crazy" or "did the tree get her" plot left me only wishing she had come to her demise much sooner. And no that's not a spoiler since she's dead from the start of the book. I not only want my money back, I want the time wasted reading this book back.

Sure, it's obvious the reader is an ignoramus ("the characters...actions make no sense"). And sure, I'm not a "horror writer" and The Red Tree isn't a "horror" novel, and I didn't try to write a "scary" book. Or "likable" characters, for that matter. Is "the writing tedious and the dialog...stilted"? I'm not sure I can tell anymore. So, there you go.

I did have a very small (and likely useless) epiphany on Sunday, one I'm sure I've had before. A writer may study what potential readers like, and she or he may then pander, and struggle to be accessible, and have the common touch, and take workshops, and listen to the advice of those who say they know how to make it work. And still, the odds of success in the literary marketplace are very, very poor. Or, a writer may choose to write what she or he pleases, with no regard for that potential marketplace or accessibility or anything of the sort. And their odds of success in the literary marketplace are very, very poor. From a financial perspective, almost all writers fail. From a financial perspective, almost all books fail. That's a given. There are exact numbers, I just don't have them on hand. Two things may be deduced. One is that the odds of success are not improved (but neither are they hindered) by pandering. And another is that you might as well write what you feel moved to write, because you'll probably fail anyway.

---

The last few days are not quite a blur. I expect I'd be in a better mood if they were. There was no writing yesterday, because there was an afternoon doctor's appointment, and that throws everything into chaos. On Sunday, still ill from insomnia, I did manage to make less of a mess of what I'd written on Thursday and Friday, what I'd dithered over and picked at on Saturday. That is, the beginning of the Next New Novel. We read it over and over again. And I still don't like it. It's just more coherent now. I have no idea what's going to happen with it today.

And I have to look at the transcript of an interview I did while at Readercon.

---

Yesterday, before the doctor, in order to keep my mind occupied so I wouldn't back out of going, I had to do something that was not writing. So, there was no work yesterday. We went to a very early matinée of Christopher Nolan's Inception. This is, simply put, a brilliant film. I honestly have nothing but praise for it. I could heap adjectives and hyperbole, but I won't. It's just brilliant, and needs to be seen, probably multiple times. Yes, it owes a great debt to numerous predecessors, most notably Alex Proyas' Dark City (1998), but it succeeds in being something new, invested with its own power and vision. A great score from Hans Zimmer. This is one of those films I cannot recommend highly enough. And it must be seen on a big screen. And thank holy fuck it wasn't in 3-D.

Then, last night, we watched the Hughes Brothers' The Book of Eli (2009), which was a quite a bit better than I'd expected (all the Xtian nonsense aside). Of course, I went in with no expectations. The cast helped enormously, with people like Gary Oldman, Tom Waits, and a Malcom McDowell cameo picking up any slack there might have been. I'm not sorry I missed it in the theatres, but it's fun, and even a slight bit better than "just fun."

---

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Thanks.

Now I try to make some sense from this day.
greygirlbeast: (white)
A rainy day here in Providence, and the high today is forecast at 58F, which is something of a change from the freakish low nineties of Wednesday. The sun will be back tomorrow, and the world is going green.

Yesterday, I wrote only 581 words on Chapter 1 of The Wolf Who Cried Girl. I'd have probably made it past a thousand, had I not felt the need to rewrite Everything Thus Far, so that the narrator is delivering her tale in past tense, instead of present tense. "This is what I remember about the night I met Eva Canning. She is walking down the road." became ""This is what I remember about the night I met Eva Canning. She was walking down the road." These are not actual sentences from the book, but rather rough approximations to illustrate the edit. I intended to explain here why I made the change, and how it was not necessarily the right thing to do, but I find I just don't have the requisite motivation. Too few people comment, which leads me— perhaps fallaciously —to suspect far fewer read the blog than once did. And, besides, I've never been much for talking shop, talking the mechanics of writing.

And there's this other matter. For the record, speaking as the author, The Red Tree does not have a "twist ending." Of course, that fact, and my stating that fact, will not prevent Amazon.com "reviews" of this sort:

I was able to figure out the twist ending less than halfway through.

Which is a neat goddamn trick, I'll admit, given that even I don't know precisely what happened to Sarah Crowe. I'm not usually fond of "twist endings," and I almost never employ that device in my own fiction. At the end of the novel, the reader is left, quite intentionally, with an inability to determine what has and has not been experienced by Sarah, what she might have imagined and what might be "real," where reality begins and ends, and all manner of other things. But a twist ending would require a concrete outcome of one sort or another (Bruce Willis is dead, To Serve Man is a cookbook, etc.), and that sort of ending is plainly lacking, by design. So...this "reviewer" is, at the very least, mistaken. Revelations of uncertainty do not a "twist ending" make.

I fucking hate snitty readers who are more interested in appearing world-weary and cleverer-than-thou than in paying attention to the book they're reading. I do not write books for these sorts of people.

I should wrap this up before I dig the hole any deeper.

Here are a couple of photos from Tuesday, a breath of spring after a hard winter:

6 April 2010 )
greygirlbeast: (The Red Tree)
Cloudy today, but warm. Overcast. There was a bit of rain before I got out of bed.

I'd rather not talk about yesterday. I'd rather not, but clearly I'm going to talk about it anyway. Yesterday, I realized something about The Wolf Who Cried Girl I'd not realized before. I may have found its voice, and the framing device that makes sense of the fact that it's a first-person narrative. And then I wrote 771 words, and read them to Kathryn, and had yet another realization, that most of them would have to go. I may have made a beginning yesterday, but if so, only just. And even the small part I may keep will need rewording to some degree. I have only five months to get this novel written. I have a handful of pages, at best.

This morning I awoke from nightmares, which kept me briefly disoriented, and then, coming back to myself I thought, "If I kill myself today, I will not have to write this novel."

Yesterday, FedEx brought the signature sheets for the Subterranean Press edition of the forthcoming Lou Anders and Jonathan Strahan sword and sorcery anthology, which includes my story "The Sea Troll's Daughter." I received contracts from my agent for "digital verbatim text only display and download rights" for Kreatur, the German-language edition of Low Red Moon. I reread portions of Ursula K. Le Guin's The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction (1979). I exchanged emails with Sonya Taaffe ([livejournal.com profile] sovay) regarding programming at this years ReaderCon. I learned that "The Madam of the Narrow Houses" will be reprinted in The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women. Gordon Duke ([livejournal.com profile] thingunderthest) sent me a link to a very much appreciated piece in Salon.com on Amazon "reviews". I drank coffee, limeade made with pomegranates, and Red Bull. I made a halfhearted attempt to clean my keyboard. No, not really even halfhearted. One ventricle, at best.

This morning I learned of another very positive review of The Ammonite Violin & Others, but I'm not at liberty to say more until May 15th.

And here are more photos of the Prym mill in Dayville, CT, as promised:

4 April 2010 Pt. 2 )
greygirlbeast: (walter3)
1. Sooner of later, I will stop numbering the items within my entries. Any day now, my mind will cease to be so disorganized.

2. My thanks to everyone who reported "Blue Tyson's" Amazon.com "review" of The Red Tree. Hopefully, it'll come down soon. Near as I can tell, this guy's Australian, and he got his knickers in a twist because of Kindle limitations ("georestrictions"). So, he did the rational thing, and took it out on the one person who has absolutely no say in whether or not her book is available in Australia. The person who wrote the book. Mostly, I want to say to him, dude, buy a fucking copy of the book. An actual hard copy. If you really want to read it, I mean. Stop expecting the world to be what you think you need it to be. Stop being a whining fanboy. Lately, my tolerance for whiners has fallen near zero.

3. Last night, Richard Kirk sent me the artwork for the endpapers for The Ammonite Violin & Others. It's based on "Bridle" (Sirenia Digest #3, February 2006), which a few of you might remember, the kelpie story. Anyway, the art's beautiful. I'll post it here later on, in a few days.

4. Nothing was written yesterday, and, at this point, I am near to a full-on crisis, as far as The Wolf Who Cried Girl is concerned. I should be at least a couple of chapters in by now. I have a prologue. And a deadline. The time has come to find some way to stop fucking around and write the book. I have maybe a week, at best, before I have to set it aside and pull Sirenia Digest #50 together.

5. Last night, we watched Christine Jeffs' Sunshine Cleaners, which was really very good. I'm starting to think of Amy Adams as the new Nicole Kidman. We also watched the first episode of Primeval, which was goofy, but sort of fun. The paleontology was better than average, and I only cringed and rolled my eyes a few times. It was neat that they used creatures from the Permian Period (a gorgonopsid, a pareiasaur, and what appeared to be an oversized coelurosauravid named "Rex). And speaking of movies, I was very pleased to learn that Avatar won best picture at the Golden Globes, and James Cameron best director. Oh, and that Robert Downey, Jr. got best actor for Sherlock Holmes.

6. No Montauk Club photos today. Sorry, there wasn't time this morning to edit and upload them. Tomorrow, perhaps.

I can't accept and won't concede,
In aftermath we find redemption.
The causes that are seized
And disguised as revolution.

Quell the rage that deeply seethes,
The extremes of these devotions.
Dismantle the machine,
The device of their creation.

I can't accept and won't concede
That this is who we are....
(VNV Nation, "Sentinel")
greygirlbeast: (Walter1)
1. Something strange this morning. Someone going by "Blue Tyson" has posted a one-star review of The Red Tree to Amazon.com. Thing is, it's not actually a review of the book. Instead, the "review," titled "Blacklisted - Georestricted," reads: This book is georestricted and hence will not be bought. Unfortunately it is probably good, too. Now, I have no bloody idea what this means, but I see the same person has posted identical "reviews" to novels by a number of other authors. I've reported it as "inappropriate," and I'd like to ask my readers to please do likewise, as the novel and I certainly do not need a one-star review that's not even a "review" dragging down the book's rating. Thanks. It's an easy process. Just click "report this." Eventually, Amazon.com will take it down. Also, if anyone can explain to me what this bullshit is all about, I'd appreciate it.

2. I slept too late. I must have been truly exhausted, as I slept more than eight hours without Ambien. And now I'm running hopelessly behind today.

3. Not much to yesterday. Decompression. No work done, speaking of getting even farther behind. I managed a hot bath, a very large corned-beef sandwich, and a nap.

4. I did get a rather marvelous email from Micheal Cisco, a link to a short film (very short) that David Lynch made to commemorate the centennial of the Lumière Brothers' first motion picture.

5. Kathryn and I have begun reading Peter Straub's new novel, The Dark Matter, which we're both loving. We made it through the first forty-three pages yesterday evening. The book will be released on February 9th. So, now we're reading three novels simultaneously: Dark Matter, along with Greer Gilman's Cloud and Ashes and Francesca Lia Block's Pretty Dead. I hate reading more than a single novel at a time, but....

6. Last night, we watched Karyn Kusama's Jennifer's Body. I'd avoided it in theateres, because I'm really not a fan of Diablo Cody (and let's not get into that here, please). But it's actually quite good. The comparisons with Gingersnaps and Heathers that I've seen are apt. Definitely one of the few good "horror" films of the last year. The kitchen scene, just after Jennifer's reanimation, was probably my favorite bit. I think I will need to own this one on DVD. We also saw the latest episode of Fringe, which was good. I'm starting to think Playing God would have been a better title for the series. But, I'm an atheist, and I probably fail to appreciate how a title like that would have pissed off a significant percentage of the series' potential viewership. I also fail to care, so there you go.

7. An idea has occurred to me, a sort of more transgressive take on the loathsome "paranormal romance" subgenre, which I may pitch to my agent and editor as a three-book series, and which I would write under the pseudonym Kathleen Tierney (if you know your Gælic, this is essentially the same name as "Caitlín Kiernan"*). I'm not sure where I would find the time, but it might be fun. Geoffrey and Kathryn find the idea intriguing. There would be incestuous lesbian half sisters, demons, interdimensional travel, vampirism, an order of ceremonial magicians bent on some appropriately dark purpose, and all sort of Lovecraftian frippery. One trick would be to circumnavigate the default (and ironic) homophobia of "pr." We shall see.

8. I promised there would be more photos from the trip to New York, and there are, behind the cut. They're a bit grainy, because we decided to use only the available light and not disrupt everything with a flash. I may post two more sets, one of the Montauk Club's architecture, and another of Grand Central Station.

15-16 January 2010, Part 2 )


* In both instances, the surname is an anglicized derivation of the Irish surname Ó Tighearnaigh.
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 1)
1. I've been reading the reports coming out of Haiti. In a nation where so many buildings are not built to withstand strong earthquakes, a magnitude 7.0 is very bad. The earth moves, in some places more than in others.

2. I see that the Vatican does not approve of Avatar, and I'm wondering why this is even news. Did anyone think they would approve? More importantly, why the hell should I care? I don't, of course. But I am annoyed that the media is treating this as relevant.

3. Yesterday, no work of any sort was done, not really, because I had to brave Outside, to reach the wretched fucking Providence Place Mall. The time to buy a few shreds of clothing had come. I loathe shopping. And I especially loathe shopping for clothes. Few things have the power to make me feel worse about myself than trying to find new clothes (which is why I only shop for them maybe once or twice a year). Finding clothes that will fit, clothes that will fit that I like, clothes that will fit that I like and can afford...I could go my entire life without ever having to shop for clothes again, and I'd be a happier woman. But, that said, there were sales, and enough useful items were found that the trip into that howling maelstrom of consumerism could be justified. So, I won't be forced to do the Lovecraft Unbound reading at the Montauk Club in the nude, which is a good thing, given the weather.

4. On the way back home, we stopped on Wickenden Street so I could get some photographs of the old I-195 overpass that's being torn down this week. I'm not sure why, but somehow it's an important Providence landmark for me. I remember it from my first trip up here, back in 2000. There are photos below, behind the cut. The support structure of iron girders that you'll see, those were added as the bridge became structurally unsafe sometime back. I'm going to try to get more photos later in the week, as the demolition progresses. I hope to get better shots of the murals and graffiti on the walls of the overpass before it's all reduced to so much rubble.

5. I have been very fortunate with The Red Tree, in terms of Amazon "reviews." From August 4th until this morning, it stayed at five stars, which is the longest any of my novels have managed that. However, when the book was included on Amazon's "Top 10 Books: Science Fiction & Fantasy" list and then the holiday sales spike, I predicted more negative reviews would begin to be posted. And I was right. Two or three are the sort that I struggle not to complain about publicly: readers who can't relate to and don't like reading about lesbians*, readers who don't like reading about flawed or unpleasant characters, readers who take issue with the book's extensive use of older texts by other authors, and so on, and so forth. However, I am more experienced, and very slightly wiser, and I understand that those reviews will likely have no impact whatsoever on sales. Sure, the stupidity and small-mindedness and what I suspect to be homophobia eats at me...but I need to look the other way. And also thank everyone who loved the book and has already posted a positive review.

6. Last night, we went to the Avon on Thayer Street and saw Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Gods, what a brilliant film. I see I was entirely justified in including it high on my list of the best fantasy and speculative films of 2009. I'm wondering, though, if it ought to be tied for the number one slot with The Road, with Avatar staying at #2. Yeah, I loved it that much. It flawlessly speaks the language of dreams, never wavering from dream logic, never succumbing to the "needs" of narrative or exposition, and it allows our eyes to roam among indescribable marvels. I was pleased that it was grimmer than I'd expected. Tom Waits is delightful. Really, there's nothing here to complain about. Nothing at all. I won't say for sure that it's Gilliam's best film, but it's certainly now one of my favorite Gilliam films. It was a perfect end to a pretty decent day (despite the fact that we almost froze on the way home).

7. Just something I scribbled in my Moleskine last night, a stray thought I want to remember: "Here is the future, and the future is ugly, and poisonous, and filled with wonder."

8. While we were in the wretched fucking Providence Place Mall yesterday, I heard The Sundays' "Here's Where the Story Ends." Back in the early 90s, the Sundays were one of my favorite bands. They were also one of Elizabeth's favorite bands. Something we shared. After her suicide, I could no longer bear to listen to the Sundays. But hearing the song yesterday, I began thinking I would like to try to "reclaim" the Sundays. I've managed to do it already with The Cure's Disintegration (but not with the Cowboy Junkies). So..we shall see. Few things are as poignant, for me, as music.

9. Today I have to go over production notes on The Red Tree for Audible.com, as a number of things that worked great on the page need revising for the forthcoming audiobook. They are small problems. I'll post more about this tomorrow.

10. I did promise photos, didn't I? Well, here they are (not great photos, but they get the point across, sort of):

12 December 2009 )


* If you are one of that sort, be warned: The central characters in my next novel, The Wolf Who Cried Girl are lesbian and (maybe) transgendered.
greygirlbeast: (cullom)
And here it is, the first day of Spring, the Vernal Equinox, Ostara. And I greet it with great relief, that another winter has come and gone.

There was very little to yesterday, except the continued reading and correcting and editing and rewriting of Silk. Many commas and hyphens were added, a few compounderations were hewn asunder. Some atrocious phrasing was made less so. In the end, we did three chapters, though I'd hoped to do four, and this morning the Zokutou page thingy looks like this:

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
225 / 354
(63.6%)


Going over the novel again after all these years, I remain perplexed that so many readers found the characters so loathsome. Sure, Robin and Byron are a bit much, too goth for their own good or anybody elses, but all in all, I still find the people inhabiting Silk as sympathetic as I ever did, and I do not waste my time trying to write characters with whom I cannot sympathize. I would not know how to do that. But I've heard it from so many people. This person, for example, in an Amazon.com "review":

If you are really into super-confusing, creepy books with self-pitying, annoying, wear-it-on-their sleeve outcast characters-- this might be just the tale for you.

Or this "review":

I had a hard time sympathizing with these pathetic, soullessly conformist waifs.

Or this one:

What bothers me is that I find the characters so enormously unappealing. They're all self-absorbed 20somethings proudly and defiantly wrapped up in their own pain and dysfunction. I couldn't find any sympathy in me, much less empathy, for any of them, not even Spyder, who was horribly abused as a child. Every time Daria lost her temper over her junky boyfriend I wanted to slap her. Every time Spyder evaded the questions of those who wanted to love and help her with vague mumblings I wanted to strangle her. These are people who enjoy wallowing in their pain.

Even now, a decade after the book was first published, fourteen years after I started writing it, these reactions simply mystify me. Much of Silk is awfully close to autobiography, and I was writing about a time and places and people I had known and been. And though I am now someone very, very different, I still do not understand these reactions, this hostility. For me, Silk is a novel about people doing the best they can do, given their unfortunate situations and histories. Yes, many of them are broken and insane and self-destructive, and they usually do not behave like or have the priorities of sensible, down-to-earth, workin' class folks or property-flipping yuppies. But, for the most part, they are true. And that is my first and most important job as a writer, to write true people. Maybe what rubbed these people the wrong way was that I didn't turn Silk into some sort of tiresome morality tale or a cautionary screed: Be careful, or you'll end up like these losers. Anyway...

I did find one extremely annoying error in the book yesterday, one that has made it into print three times now. I refer to the black widows Spyder's keeping as "Latrodectus geomstricus," thereby managing to make both a taxonomic and a spelling blunder. There is no such beast as Latrodectus geomstricus. Latrodectus geometricus, on the other hand, is the brown widow. But. The Southern black widow, which would have been the species in Spyder's care, is Latrodectus mactans. I am at a loss to explain how I made this error in the first place, much less how it was carried on through three editions. People pick on my characters when they ought to pick on my taxonomy.

Like I said, not much else to yesterday. I was up until 1:30 a.m. writing Wikipedia articles, one on Judeasaurus and one on the squamate clade Varanoidea, because that's just the sort of self-absorbed, dysfunctional, pathetic dork I am.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Yesterday, I did 1,529 words, which I count as none too shabby. Also, I worked on an interview for a local paper (more on this later), which I need to finish up today.

When the work was done, we drove over to Borders on Ponce de Leon, because it was January 2nd and I felt some vague duty to actually see copies of Daughter of Hounds and the mmp of Threshold in a bookshop on the day they were officially released. Borders had two copies of each, and I was disappointed to see them in the "horror" section. For a while there, I was mostly finding my stuff under "fantasy and science fiction," which I would much prefer. Of course, as long as the books sell, it really does not matter where they are displayed or what they're called. Anyway, Spooky took a blurry photo (behind the cut), to commemorate the occasion.

Two by Me )


The book has been doing decently in Amazon.com's sales rankings. It made it all the way up to 5,950 last night. If you have not yet ordered a copy, please do so. I cannot help but feel that an awful lot is riding on how Daughter of Hounds sells during its first six months. You might also consider picking up the new edition of Threshold, as it is now pocket-sized and contains far fewer mistakes than the original 2001 edition. Also, if you've already read Daughter of Hounds and liked it, please consider leaving a "review" to that effect at Amazon, because, sooner or later, some idiot's gonna hit it with a one-star review because hesheit found it too artsy or is jealous of the vast fortune I am so obviously making off my fiction.

But I have to admit that I find the cover art for Daughter of Hounds a little more ridiculous each time I look at it. Please do not blame me if you read this book and are disappointed that it's not even remotely some sort of confabulation of The Road Warrior and Underworld.

While we were at Borders, we picked up Gregory Maguire's Lost and Christopher Priest's The Prestige. Began reading the former last night. I'm not yet sure what I think. Previously, I've only read Maguire's Oz books. And so far this is a very different beast. We shall see. Certainly, I should not dislike it for not conforming to my expectations.

That's all for now. Have a day.
greygirlbeast: (wookie)
A very good writing day yesterday. I did 1,530 words and finished "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Ghoul." I like it. Despite all the grimness and death which cannot help but attend a story about the ghouls, it is surprisingly...I don't know...sweet. In a good way. Afterwards, with the aid of a Red Bull, I got my second wind, and we worked on the Daughter of Hounds CEM until sometime after seven p.m., making it as far as page 292 (just about halfway through). It is my intent to spend all of today on the CEM and finish up with the copy-editor's marks.

Preorders on the novel remain high for the third consecutive day. Yesterday, the book's Amazon sales ranking went all the way up to 1,242. Is there anyone out there knowledgeable enough about what those numbers mean to tell me how sales ranking translates into actually copies sold? Does jumping from 500K on Saturday morning to 1,242 on Sunday afternoon mean that 20 copies have sold? 200? 2000? I have no frelling clue. Anyway, I do assume this means the first printing, which is usually rather small, will sell out before publication, which has happened in the past with my Roc trade paperbacks. My thanks to everyone who's preordered or who yet intends to.

Not much else to say about yesterday. We're broiling alive here in Atlanta, but I won't complain too much, as I know much of the rest of the country is suffering the same fate. Dinner was a bit of a disaster last night, despite my excellent guacamole. Our kitchen reached temperatures that, I'm sure, put to shame the very bowels of Hell. From here on, I think we stick to salads and other cold meals until the heat breaks. Later, we watched a very good documentary on IFC about the New Queer Cinema, GLBT film in the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s.

It's been a while since I've complained about any particular Amazon.com "review," mostly because I've pretty much stopped reading them. But, while keeping up with the sales ranking on Daughter of Hounds yesterday, I allowed myself to stray to Murder of Angels, and came across the following by one Esther Schindler of Scottsdale, AZ (behind the cut, for those with better things to do):

But it made me saaaaaad! )

Anyway, we have only one auction remaining, a copy of the signed limited edition of The Dry Salvages, as utterly depressing a story as you are ever likely to read. Guaranteed. Please have a look. Bid or buy. Just don't come whining to me when it bites your fingers or keeps you awake. Or when it doesn't. Thanks.
greygirlbeast: (chidown)
The weather's turned cooler and wetter again. I think my emotions were jacked directly into the climate yesterday. Yesterday and today. Both. It'll be warm again next week. Everything's only a passing phase.

And as for yesterday, well, it was only more editing. Hours and hours and hours of editing. We did chapters Five-Eight. Halfway through Chapter Eight, I was losing perspective, getting angry at the tedium, at the recognition that certain things become arbitrary whether I want them to be or not. It was never this way in the "old days." Yes, I think once you've been publishing for eleven years and writing for fourteen, you are permitted to talk about the "old days." In the old days, when it was a feverish rush of words, when it was more words and the sound of words and the relationship of one word to the next and also to the word before it. When it was almost poetry and almost mathematics, when story and characterization were a given, were second nature and so I was free to think about nothing but the words. When it was all like that, say 1994-2002, say "Anamorphosis" to Low Red Moon, there were rules. I cannot now tell you what they were because I only ever knew them instinctively. They were there, though. Rewrites, revisions, editing, all that shit was minimal, as it only occurred when mistakes were made, and correcting a mistake was simply a matter of channeling the rules and changing something that was the way it shouldn't be into the way it ought to be. There was never an infinite number of choices or choices that are effectively infinite. Or arbitrary. There are few things worse than knowing that I'm only making sense to myself, which I suspect is what's happening right now. I said a lot of this to Spooky late last night, and she listened patiently, as she does. It's made all the more frustrating by the fact that I lack the language required to discuss such things in an orthodox fashion. I don't do workshops. I wasn't taught to write. It has always been an entirely, or almost entirely, organic process. Trying to explain how I wrote any given story or why would be like trying to explain the behaviour of my chromosomes, and I am not a geneticist. When the rules went away, well, that was organic, too.

And I do recognise that much of my best work has been done since the decline and fall of the rules, since story and character overtook and then moved on ahead of the words themselves. "La Peau Verte," for example. And "Houses Under the Sea" and "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles." And "Mercury." And "Riding the White Bull" and "Bradbury Weather" and Daughter of Hounds. I never could have written those things before. Or, at the very least, they'd have come out as something entirely different than what they are. But yesterday, halfway through Chapter Eight, as some part of my mind tried to solve problems the old way, by looking for just the right word, and then realising that those rules were no longer applicable, that any number of words would suffice...it's disheartening. I miss the rules, but it's like missing childhood or a pulled tooth or a dead friend or 1977. And so I lose my patience with myself and the surliness sets in, and I have to stop before I begin throwing things and making decisions just to have it over and done with. I have to stop because I know that I'll regret it when I see Daughter of Hounds in print and I turn to page 354 and there I've used the wrong word and Spooky says you only have yourself to blame, because that's the day you said, oh, what the fuck. Just stick in a word. Any goddamn word will do.

This is what it's like to be a writer. If you're me. Those people who say, this is what it's like to be a writer and try to convince you it's some all-inclusive statement, useful and applicable to all cases, those people are idiots and you can either ignore them or listen to them, as is the case with all idiots.

Speaking of idiots, some idiot on Amazon.com claims I stole the conclusion of Low Red Moon from Roger Corman's 1970 adaptation of The Dunwich Horror, which mostly annoys me because I can hardly abide Sandra fucking Dee. Jessie Bell, that's the name of the "reviewer," and I suppose I should at least commend him for having the stones to use his own name. Assuming that is his own name. And we should never assume anything at all.

And yes, when someone accuses me of plagiarism, I have the right to call that person an idiot.

Don't worry. I'm running out of steam. We're almost at the end of this thing. I will remind you that if you wish to e-mail me, write me at greygirlbeast@gmail.com and not at lowredmail@mac.com. Too bad I don't have dunwichhorrorripoff@gmail.com. Oh, and, much to my surprise, Doom was a far, far better movie than it had any right to be. I think it did justice to the game. I thought it'd suck at least as much as the two Tomb Raider movies, but, yet again, I was wrong. (I might feel differently if I'd paid to see it at the theatre.) I think it helped that it wasn't stuffed full of pretty plastic people, as was the case with, oh, let's say The Cave. The fps sequence actually worked, and the monsters were appropriately monstery and even having to look at The Rock® didn't make me gag more than once or twice. Sure, it borrows a lot of its best bits from The Thing and Aliens, but at least it didn't rip off Roger Corman and have Mars besieged by Dagon-worshiping hippies and Sandra fucking Dee and stuff. Hmmm. Now I'm wondering how Sandra Dee would have worked as Narcissa Snow...

Postscript: We are now in Day 3 of the letter S auction.

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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