greygirlbeast: (Default)
Well, yesterday failed to measure up to the poopiness of its promise, though it was hardly conducive to the sort of work I'm supposed to be doing. You know...writing? Still, the anger subsided, and the day got better as it went on – a little better – and I have learned there's at least one person who thinks "awesome" is as overused (and inappropriately used) as do I, and who's willing to speak up. And that's pretty bow tie.

I managed to edit about one-third of Alabaster #3 before my agent called. It's fairly easy editing, as my editor at Dark Horse was very happy with this script, as was I. Hopefully, readers will also be happy with it.

My agent and I talked about Blood Oranges, mostly, and the fact that I'm planning two sequels (the second would be called Fay Grimmer; I don't yet have a title for book three). I'm morally opposed to any trilogy not written by Tolkien or Herbert or William Gibson or Holly Black. But...it's not really a trilogy-type trilogy. My story is more like one long (funny) story divided into three parts. It just works better that way. Also, the trilogy format allows me to write it over three years, instead of all at once. Many options are being explored. I am finally learning about options (after seventeen years in publishing). I'm fucking stubborn like that. Anyway, we also talked about the revamp of the website, and how not finished it is, and how the market is worse than ever, and how Dark Horse is now my day job, and how I'm turning down pretty much all short-story solicitations, and how to connect readers to booksellers that are not Amazon, and how to promote The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, and how my craziness sometimes impedes my communication with Merrilee and leads to my overreacting and misunderstanding (and stuff). Oh, Merrilee Heifetz is my bow-tie agent (has been since 1997) at Writers House. And no, I will not tell her your book is an incredible work of literature, the greatest thing since sliced halva, and how she should represent you. So, don't even think I might.

Yesterday, I renewed my membership to The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (I've been a member since I was nominated to the society in 1984).

---

Fuck all, but this is a fucking perfect sentence (from Gibson's Neuromancer): The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

--

Late in the day, I was treated to pencils for Greg Ruth's cover for Albaster #3, and like the fist two covers, it's goddamn beautiful. Greg Ruth rocks. Which is to say, kittens, he is most bow tie.

Okay, now I go to finish with the editing of #3. I also have to speak to my editor at Dark Horse later today, and write synopses for the two books that will follow Blood Oranges (and, fuck all, but I hate writing synopses). However, my diligence will be rewarded with a visit from [livejournal.com profile] readingthedark this evening. We're gonna talk about stuff.

Slightly Improved & a Tad Manic,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Starbuck 3)
Well, the day is still moderately young – three hours and forty-six minutes of daylight remaining – and already someone has managed to piss me off. And I'm behind on work, and angry, and therefore this will be a short entry.

Sirenia Digest #73 went out to subscribers early last night, and I'd love to hear feedback. I do apologize that the second chapter of the original 1993 Silk text was omitted. As I was doing the layout, MS Word decided there was something corrupt about the old file (last updated 1994) on my machine – though it was never an issue before – and freaked out. It took me about an hour to get Word working again. Since then, I've figured out a somewhat circuitous solution to the problem, and Chapter Two will appear next month, in Sirenia Digest #74.

Fuck, but I wish the ceiling in my office would support a punching bag.

Today will be spent making edits to Alabaster #3 and on a conversation with my agent.

Oh, also, if you'd like to purchase a print of one of [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy's beautiful still shots inspired by The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, just follow this link. Later, there will be a page on the website devoted to ordering the prints.

Weary of Nonsense,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (white)
He couldn't make a sentence stand up and be noticed if he put Viagra in the ink.

---

This the the sort of entry people do not like to comment on.

As this journal enters what I expect to be it's final three months as an entity that will be updated daily, my chief regret is that I have always held so much back. And that I have to continue to do so, probably, even now. From the beginning, I wanted this to be a blog where I talked about what it's like for me to be a writer, and, as much as I have been able, I've done that. But there have been many, many times when my hands have been tied by the politics of the industry. That is, I could say something true, true and useful to anyone with thoughts of trying to become a published author. But, as with all other arenas of human endeavor, publishing is ruled by politics, and telling the truth can be detrimental and even suicidal.

All writers lie about writing, and they do it for various reasons. But one reason that writers lie about what it's like to be a writer is their fear of repercussions that could end their career. Same with speaking openly and honestly about the work of other authors. To be able to do this would be immensely useful to anyone with aspirations in entering this shadowy realm. All those naïve wouldbes. But I've never been in a position to do this, to take those risks, and for that I apologize. Looking back, it's among those most valuable insights I could have imparted. I'll have to settle for old, familiar warnings such as Hic sunt dracones or, perhaps more appropriately, Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate.

---

As for my daily activities, writing and not writing and whatnot, the last couple of days that sort of thing has taken a backseat to getting the "teaser" trailer for The Drowning Girl out there. Let me see what I can now recall.

On Wednesday, I wrote 1,018 words on a piece for Sirenia Digest #73 called "Blast the Human Flower." Yeah, a lazy bit of titling, but not an inappropriate bit of titling. It may or may not stay on the finished vignette. I can recall nothing else of significance, or that's especially interesting, about Wednesday. Oh, we finished Season Six of Law and Order: Criminal Intent. How's that?

On Thursday, I awoke to the news that Penguin (Roc/NAL) had made on offer on Blood Oranges, and I spent part of the day discussing that with my agent. Nothing more was written on "Blast the Human Flower." I fucked off and left the house, and Spooky and I ended up at the Trinity Brew Pub, where I indulged in hot wings and beer. I don't often drink alcohol anymore (my meds), but I had a pint of their very excellent Belgian saison, made with a new variety of New Zealand hops. When I do drink beer, I want good beer. Later, Varla – my Sith Assassin – made Level 20.

Yesterday, we went to an early (1 p.m. CaST) matinée of David Fincher's adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and it's very, very good. Truly. And Trent Reznor deserves another Oscar for the soundtrack. The cover of Bryan Ferry's Is Your Love Strong Enough by How to Destroy Angels in exquisite, and, for that matter, the opening title sequence alone is almost worth the price of admission. No writing again yesterday. I don't think I've been slacking off; just too much anger and depression. Okay. Bullshit, no matter how I feel, I've been slacking off, and it ends today. Last night, I didn't get to sleep until after five a.m., sitting up late reading stories by Michael Shea and a very good piece by Kim Newman, "Another Fish Story." I don't usually care for Newman, but I did like this one.

And that, in a nutshell, is the past three days. Oh, except I've been watching documentaries on the Mars Polar Lander, cosmic collisions, and "ancient astronauts" (I'm ashamed to admit that last one, but sometimes we learn a great deal about good science by watching the crackpots who have no clue when it comes to methodology, reproducible results, outlandish claims, anecdotal evidence, and critical thought). There are some photos from Thursday, below, behind the cut. Oh, I did want to mention that in the next day or two, we'll begin a series of auctions on eBay which will include souvenirs from the shoot back in October and also a copy of The Drowning Girl. I'll announce those as soon as they go up.

Okay. Gotta go write.

Hands Tied,
Aunt Beast

5 January 2012 )
greygirlbeast: (walkenVNV)
0. Not gonna write about SW:toR today. There's too much else. I'll come back to it tomorrow. But, in short, it's the best MMORPG I've ever played, though I will temper that estimation with some minor caveats.

1. I haven't had to mark any days L for a long time (thank you, meds), but yesterday was a lost day. There was very little in me but anger. I managed only a flury of email before having Spooky drive me to the Athenaeum. It was peaceful downstairs in the reading room. The comforting, soothing smell of old, old books. Ghosts beyond counting. I am only sorry I committed a blasphemy by using my iPad amid those shelves (I'm not being sarcastic). I proofed the pencils for Alabaster #1, pages 17 through 25, but they were almost perfect, so it wasn't much work.

2. Today is the third anniversary of the day I first saw wintry precipitation in New England. Today, though, it's 52˚F, sunny and windy.

3.* Gonna talk shop. The business of publishing that is. Frequently, people ask me for writing advice, and, almost without fail, I refuse to offer it. But here's something. If a magazine, especially a fairly prominent online science-fiction zine, isn't willing to pay more than 0.003¢/word for a reprint in return for (and I quote from the contract) "digital media rights," which said contract defines as "...all non-physical forms including but not limited to html, Kindle, iTune apps, Mobi, ePub, and others" (id est, everything imaginable) then you need to stay far, far away from these sorts of publishers. They have nothing to offer you. No, not even "visibility." But, though I ought to know better, I just signed such a contract, because I have mountains of stories available for reprint, and when I agreed to the arrangement – several months ago – I had no idea what comprehensive electronic rights were expected in return for the paltry $25 I'd agreed to as an advance. I only saw the contract on November 21st (this is for their December issue), though the reprint request was made by them two months earlier. In between, I had to stop them from rewriting portions of the story. Anyway, point being, I don't care what the online publication is, you and your "digital media rights" are worth more than 0.003¢/word. Last I checked, pro rates were still hovering between 3-5¢/word. And, by the way, this emphatically was not Subterranean Magazine or Clarkesworld, both of whom have always paid me very well for online rights. I feel like, more and more, we're working – all of us, not just authors – in an environment that aggressively discourages dissent, then punishes dissenters, those who aren't so happy to get any work that they'll work under any conditions and for any price.

4. Today, I will do my very best to finish Alabaster. That's just five pages of script.

5. Please don't forget Question @ Hand #5!

6. I lay awake night before last, in the arms of Monsieur Insomnia, and watched George P. Cosmatos' Leviathan (1989) for the third or fourth time. What sort of film do you get when you splice Ridley Scott's Alien to John Carpenter's The Thing, then set it at the bottom of the sea? Well, you get Leviathan, a film which shamelessly steals from both those other films in almost every way possible. When I first saw it in theatres, I was furious. Later, on video, it just sort of bored me. But Monday night, watching it, I thought, Well, if I give Alien and The Thing each an A+ for Astounding, then I ought to give Leviathan a C for Could Have Been Worse, or Competent, or maybe for Cause I'm Only Half Awake. As the film has aged, it's easier to forgive the blatant plagiarism. Leviathan has taken on a questionable charm all its own. Peter Weller is truly fun to watch as he swaggers and scowls and uses the performance to bemoan the state of his career as it swirls round and round the drain. I actually love Peter Weller, and here he seems to be giving Cosmatos a well-deserved middle finger. And, too, Meg Foster autopilots her way through the role of the Tri-Oceanic Ice Queen rep giving the crew the shaft. It's those blue-white eyes of hers. But the rest of the cast is boring as dusty zwieback, though the monster/s is/are pretty cool. The whole thing with the sunken Russian ship and the blurry photos from its infirmary, that's nice, too. The tech is amusingly quaint (but not a tenth as convincing as the "used futures" seen in Alien and Blade Runner). As for the ending, it's clear neither the director nor the screenwriters were even trying to make sense. Still. Watch it if you can't sleep.

7. Tomorrow, I'll post the final cover for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. (It's not the one up at Amazon).

8. Here are photos from a spectacular sunset on Monday:

28 November 2011 )


Counting Fractions of Fractions of Pennies,
Aunt Beast

* Postscript (4:47 p.m.): The editor of the unnamed magazine has contacted me and withdrawn his offer to reprint the story for 0.003¢/word. This is really the best outcome. I would have withdrawn it myself, but didn't want them left in a lurch (though they'd hardly treated me with similar considerateness), what with the December issue looming. Now, I only wonder who told them about my post, as I'm pretty damn sure he doesn't read my blog. And I wonder how far the news of my evil treachery will flow through the grapevine, and if I'll be blacklisted by others of this caliber. We take responsibility for the outcome of our actions, if we choose to act.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Late yesterday, we drove down to Kathryn's parents' place, where we filmed last weekend. I'd hoped being away from the city might help the darkness that's been creeping back over me the past week or so. I know the meds are still working, even if it feels like they're not. Anyway, yeah, so we went to the farm. And at first I did have hope. I napped yesterday evening in the room I find safe and peaceful. But that was it. There was nothing else about the visit that helped, and that brief lifting of the veil dissolved very quickly.

But I did see a sky with far less light pollution. The stars I half forget are there to provide perspective. Which I suspect is one of the main reasons human beings are spewing so much energy to drive away the night. They know what the stars mean (even if only unconsciously, in that hindmost reptilian-part of their brains), and it terrifies them. At four-thirty ayem, I was watching the moon rise through the trees.

We played with the great beast that is Spider Cat. We fed the chickens. We saw deer. The frog that lives in the koi pond. The apple trees dying for another winter.

None of it did much of anything for the anger and blackness. Every year, there are fewer and fewer things that help. There is a darkness the meds can never touch, and even my psychiatrist knows that. Kathryn certainly knows. I'd burn it out if I could. I'd fill my eyes with the sheep-blank stares I see on most human faces, or I'd fill it with the ancient sanity of starlight.

Okay, enough of that for now. I'd "friends lock" this, except it would still go up on Facebook and Twitter, and LJ seems to have made it impossible to shut off the cross-posting feature I switched on a long time ago.

I still find myself hating the iPad. I think some people have misunderstood. I do not hate the iPad because it is a device somehow substandard to similar mobile devices. I hate that I needed to waste money on it, and that, no matter how hard I struggle to the contrary, it will be the vehicle of additional time displacement. This has nothing to do with Apple. The iPad is all shiny shiny and shit. It works like a dream. It's just something no one* on earth needs (or anything similar manufactured by another company), no matter how much they may "need" it.

I still find myself loving the work we did last weekend, and missing everyone who was here and helped to make the magic.

I'm considering – well, actually in the earliest stages of planning – two more Kickstarter projects, both for 2012. Now that Spooky is entering the final stages of the process of completing our "Tale of the Ravens" project, and now that I see The Drowning Girl Kickstarter yielding such fruits as it is yielding. We have had such amazing success with Kickstarter (thank you). One would be a boxed, two volume limited-edition set of hardbacks of both The Red Tree and The Drowning Girl, with lots of tipped in color illustrations, facsimile documents, expanded text, appendices, and so forth (because, you know, there's time for these projects hemorrhaging from my asshole). It would be a very expensive undertaking, but it would be worth the expense and time, if I could make it happen. It would probably be limited to 500 signed and numbered copies. Maybe 26 lettered copies.

Anyway, the other project is one I actually began working on, conceptually, a year ago. A short film, a vignette of the sort you'd make of a Sirenia Digest vignette. A siren washed up and dying at the end of the world, and it might overlap territory explored in "The Bone's Prayer." That series of personal apocalypse stories. This would actually be a far simpler and far cheaper project than producing the books.

These are maybes.

Oh, we saw Kevin Smith's Red State last night, which I say is an unreservedly brilliant film, and which must be seen. Right now, Netflix is streaming it. It's a terrifying and sobering exploration of belief and the consequences of belief taken to extremes, the consequences of blindly following...anyone or anything. Only following orders. Only following a man. Only following a "god." There is a moment when the film almost veers into the supernatural that is the most genuinely chilling bit of film I've seen since Sauna.

Now...

*Amended to "not everyone."
greygirlbeast: (CatvonD vamp)
My head is all fire and fucking molten nails this morning. I am the Good Ship Righteous Fucking Indignation. My threshold for douchebags will stand at zero for the foreseeable future. We're talking hellfire-and-brimstone Old Testament shit. Today, I am the nastiest pirate ship that ever plowed the Seven, and we're out for blood, and there will be rape and pillaging and cities will burn, just because.

Oh, I'm fine. And how are you?

I have the first line of a poem: Murder is underrated. Likely, that's all I'll ever write of it, but it's a good opening line.

I think I might have frightened my agent, finishing Blood Oranges so quickly. For my part, no, there will be no celebration. The speed was the result of desperation and necessity, and it was not an artful speed, and I would advise no one to follow in those footsteps. Most people who write multiple novels in a year...well, they write crap that looks like they write multiple novels in a year. They churn out. They produce. The paranormal romance, spawned by an unholy fusion of the death of "genre horror" and a dip in the romance market. But, I suppose, given that Blood Oranges is me giving ParaRom the "fuck you" finger, I suppose it's sickly appropriate I wrote the book as quickly as I did. "Oh, this is how you do it? With your hands tied behind your back, typing with your toes?"

There is no romance in Blood Oranges – which is funny, because my novels usually have romantic relationships, though they're adult ones. Not the schmaltzy, kiddy shit people like Patrica Briggs sell. Regardless, in Blood Oranges there are glimmers of kindness, but it always ends badly, and it ends badly with a sledgehammer. I think it's sort of like an episode of Angel directed by Quentin Tarantino, after he's been on an all night Jägermeister binge with Lars von Trier and David Lynch. Okay, no. It's not that good, but maybe you get the picture. There's Ian McShane in a very important role, and the soundtrack is a collaboration between Nick Cave, Tom Waits, and Einstürzende Neubauten. There's very little gore. It's sort of silly, and sometimes it's funny, if you can laugh at car wrecks.

But, no. No romance. But there is a vicious, merciless sort of concern.

I don't know. I'm just saying shit.

Oh, hey. And if you're a goddamn 'shipper, just fucking butch up and admit it, okay?

Me, I'm going to wander away and revel in the beautiful devastation Madame Irene has wrought upon the race of men.

Not Your Solace,
Aunt Beast

I once knew a girl
In the years of my youth,
With eyes like the summer,
All beauty and truth.
In the morning I fled,
Left a note and it read,
"Someday you will be loved."

I cannot pretend that I felt any regret,
Cause each broken heart will eventually mend,
As the blood runs red down the needle and thread.
"Someday you will be loved."

You'll be loved, you'll be loved,
Like you never have known.
The memories of me
Will seem more like bad dreams.
Just a series of blurs,
Like I never occurred.
"Someday you will be loved."

You may feel alone when you're falling asleep,
And everytime tears roll down your cheeks.
But I know your heart belongs to someone you've yet to meet.
"And Someday you will be loved"
–– Death Cab For Cutie

(I love this song.)
greygirlbeast: (Narcissa)
It's already 1:39 p.m., because I was unable to get to sleep until almost 5 ayem, and because I awoke to fresh sorts of chaos. But what difference does it make, when I'm almost an entire month behind schedule.

Schedule. An idea that is anathema to life.

My head is filled, this morning, with all the colors of anger, and I'm making a conscious effort to let out only as much of it as I wish to release. Otherwise, it will gush forth and drown the...I almost wrote "drown the page." But there is no page, is there? We are moving rapidly towards the Extinction of the Page. Maybe whatever has stolen the page from me – vagaries of history – deserves to be drowned in all the colors of anger. Schedule surely deserves to drown. Sink it all.

In theory, I'm trying again to begin Chapter Five of Blood Oranges this afternoon. But...you, know...the story of how this book's gone sour is far too bizarre to explain here. Maybe someday I'll explain it somewhere. But it's bizarre and long. All that matters now it that I finish the thing, and move on to the next thing.

It's only a string of things.

If I'm very, very, very lucky I'll write today. If there were any other way on earth that I could make as much money as I make now – which is only just barely (and truly not even) just enough to take care of Spooky and myself – I'd stop writing. No, I mean for good.

Hardly any of the anger leaked out at all.

Teeth Bared,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (white)
So...the heat finally abates. Which is the one good thing to be said for this shitty day.

The car is back in the shop. Third time. No idea what's up now. But it's pretty much been in the garage since July 5th. I suppose there are people who can afford to buy new cars.

And Frank the Goat and his mob of Russian hackers crashed LJ for the better part of the day. The next time an editor asks me why I've missed a deadline, I'll just say, "I'm experiencing loading issues."

The results of last night's poll were interesting. As I'd expected, WoW received the most votes of any other game, and, also as expected, a lot of people here don't game, or are still into tabletop/text-based gaming. I do wish I'd disallowed comments on the poll, as a few of the things people felt motivated to say were unnecessarily defensive/combative.

And I was unable to get back to work on the novel today, on Blood Oranges. I'm going to drug myself into a stupor this evening and hope the space rock arrives while I'm semi-conscious.
greygirlbeast: (stab)
Spooky just read me a review of Ellen Datlow's Supernatural Noir, which includes my story, "The Maltese Unicorn." Actually, no. She didn't read me a review, or even a "review." It was just some dipshit's blog entry. He took issue with the fact that Gregory Frost's "The Dingus" and my story both use the word dingus in different ways, and this confused the blogger. Because, you know, he doesn't own a dictionary or know how to use Google (never mind an obvious unfamiliarity with the works of Daishell Hammett). Honestly, how much longer do I have to endure unabashed human stupidity? It's as if people are PROUD to be morons. Anyway, I just timed myself. I needed only five seconds, using Google, to learn that dingus is:

Used to refer to something whose name the speaker cannot remember, is unsure of, or is humorously or euphemistically omitting - here's a doohickey—and there's the dingus. – and – Dingus –noun, plural -us·es. Informal: a gadget, device, or object whose name is unknown or forgotten.

Five measly seconds! The internet! Use it, motherfuckers! Maybe Google has become like libraries; cool people don't use it.

Meanwhile, in the Great State of Alabama, where so much of my life was squandered, I have the story of Republican state Senator Scott "Top of His Class" Beason, who is unsure why he called blacks "aborigines." Yes, you read that correctly. A brief quote from the article:

In one transcript, Beason and two other Republican legislators were talking about economic development in predominantly black Greene County and the customers at one of the county's largest employers, the Greenetrack casino in Eutaw.

"That's y'all's Indians," one Republican said.

"They're aborigines, but they're not Indians," Beason replied.


As kids these days are wont to say, o.0. Actually, the comment "That's y'all's Indians" might be the worst of it.

---

Kittens, there's no such thing as salvation. But if there were, it would be anger.

---

Anyway, yesterday I wrote something, but I can't yet tell you what I wrote, because it's related directly to that NEWS THAT IS SO GOOD, SO COOL, but that I can't yet announce. I emailed the first half of Blood Oranges to my agent. And then I spent a couple more hours editing the ms. of Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart. And that was work yesterday.

Oh, and, as it happens, my contributor's copies of Ellen Datlow's Supernatural Noir arrived, and this is an awesome book, which you must own. The beady eyes of the platypus, they compel you! Also, all modesty aside, "The Maltese Unicorn" is one of the best short stories I've written in years. Dingus!!!!!

---


Late last night, we watched a movie. Now, here's the problem with Hal Hartley. On the one hand, he can make a brilliant film like No Such Thing (2001), and on the other hand he makes turds like The Girl from Monday (2005) and (the film we saw last night) The Book of Life (1998). Imagine a film devoid of acting, a script, art direction, cinematography, direction, sets, all production values...well, most that stuff you find in movies. Instead, it's just a garbled story about Jesus deciding the end of the world is a really bad idea, and you have The Book of Life. Now, the good news is threefold: 1) Polly Jean Harvey plays Mary Magdalene, and she at last tries to act in one scene, and is cool to look at the rest of the time; 2) William S. Burroughs adds a voice-over as a hellfire-and-brimstone radio preacher; and 3) the film is, mercifully, only 63 minutes long. Honestly, kittens. Not worth your time or the cost of a rental. Watch Henry Fool or No Such Thing again if you need a Hartley fix.

Fuck. I have to work today. Throw comments at me. Maybe something will stick.

Angrified,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Barker)
Sunny and cool again today.

About half an hour after I made the blog entry yesterday, there was a fairly bad seizure. I spent most of the remainder of the day in bed. Spooky brought me Ranier cherries and slices of chipotle cheddar. I sketched and read. Just before sunset, I began to feel better, and had a bath, and dinner, after which I felt much, much better. Another hour, I was good as new. But, all of yesterday was lost, workwise, and now I have to scramble to try to make up for the lost time. I'd like to be back at work on Blood Oranges by Tuesday. I mean to have another three chapters written by the end of the month, at least.

But today, I have Vince's illustration of "Figurehead," and it's the fifth of May, so today pretty much has to be assembly day for Sirenia Digest #67. Tomorrow, I'll make a furiously determined effort to finish up with the galleys of Two Worlds and In Between. Oh, and I need to proof the galleys of "Fish Bride," which is being reprinted in the second issue of S. T. Joshi's Weird Fiction Review. And there are contracts, and...

I need to be writing. There's too much writing needs doing not to be writing.

---

Hopefully, a fair number of you read last month's "book of the month" selection, Kathe Koja's Under the Poppy (if you didn't, or haven't finished, don't apologize; nothing here is compulsory). I mean to write more about Under the Poppy, but I'm going to do so when I'm just a little more awake than I am now. I had a double-dose of the Good Worker Bee Pill last night, and I feel like it.

This month's selection for Aunt Beast's Book of the Month Club is Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants:



You may have seen the movie, which I liked a lot and is a fairly faithful adaptation. But it's no substitute for the novel, which you ought to read. Also, Spooky says the Audible.com adaptation is pretty good. It's unabridged, so you might go that route. Either way, book or audiobook. But, with the actual book-type-book, you get cool vintage circus photos.

---

An utterly moronic article in the Wall Street Journal, "Darkness too Visible," by someone named MEGHAN COX GURDON. Hey, it was in all caps on the website. Truth in journalism, right? The article carries the provocative subtitle, "Contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity. Why is this considered a good idea?" Anyway, obviously Gurdon isn't at all happy about "dark" themes in YA literature. In fact, she's pretty sure that books like Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Game are mangling the minds of impressionable teens everywhere and will, I don't know, lead to mass suicides or something of the sort. The article is...well, read it if you must. But it's most entirely angrifying, fair warning. In response, a Twitter hashtag, #YAsaves, has sprung up, and editors such as [livejournal.com profile] ellen_datlow and authors such as [livejournal.com profile] blackholly have weighed in (lending their support to YA).

Look at this stinking shithole of a world, people. You really want to sugar-coat literature for the young'uns? You really want to try to insulate them from the difficulties of being a teen, or the hardships they're going to be facing very, very soon (if they aren't already)? Here again, we have the threat of warning labels rearing it's censorious, myopic head.

Whether I'm writing for an adult or a YA audience (and now I do both; also as my agent recently pointed out, Silk, Threshold, and Alabaster would likely now be considered YA), I mean for my fiction to be triggering. That's not a word that ought in speaking of art carry negative connotations. This is the very objective of art, and most especially including fiction: to trigger. To elicit in the mind of the reader a powerful emotional response that will move them, change them, upset or inspire them. We do not "protect" readers from this, else there's no point in writing or reading. We create art that will get their attention and make them think, and will help them survive some nightmare/s past, present, or future. Hey, other kids beside me cut. Other kids have survived rape. Other kids are gay and trans. And, fuck, look at this Catniss chick, what a kick-ass role model. And even if the reader has not experienced or is experiencing some personal trauma, just maybe these books will cause them to behave towards those who have with a little more understanding and sympathy.

Oh. I almost forgot. Gurdon hates dirty words, too. And she segregates the sexes, recommending "books for young men" and "books" for young women." It's still 1945, right?

So, fuck off, MEGHAN COX GURDON. You have the nerve (and are dumb enough) to recommend Fahrenheit 451 - a novel about book burning - in an article calling for censorship. Have you read Bradbury's book, MEGHAN COX GURDON? Do you understand the meaning of the word "irony"?

I'm sure there are many others who responses will be more "civil" and "politic," but I don't feel this nonsense deserves the effort required for either. However, if you'd like to see a really good and thoughtful response, read this post by [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy, or this post by Laurie Hall Anderson.

---

Last night we watched what must be one of the worst films ever committed to celluloid, Chris Sivertson's I Know Who Killed Me (2007). Two words, Lindsay Lohan. Why did I inflict this upon myself? I don't know. Plain and simple. This film is so bad...never mind, there are no adjectives in the English language capable of expressing of the badness of this film. Lohan can't act. The script...wait, what script? Silverton can't direct. The cinematographer spent the whole film in the crapper. It's like after-school-special torture porn. No, that would be better than this movie. Never mind.

---

Last night, Spooky and I measured Telara as best we could. Choosing as our standard the distance between Lantern Hook to the south and the Chancel of Labors in the north, we arrived at a base measurement of 5,500 meters, which I then used to get a north/south measurement on Telara, at the widest visible point of the (sub)"continent". And that measurement was 7,333 meters (+ or -), or about 4.5 miles. I was stunned. Truly. I'd expected to arrive at a measurement of at least 15 miles. As a point of comparison, the island of Manhattan is 13.4 miles long (or 2.97 Telaras).

Okay. Enough. Work awaits.

Angrified,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
Utter chaos and panic today. Three looming deadlines. Fear I'll break the novel. Fear of word limits. Fear I won't have the collection edited in time. Fear of other looming deadlines, editors, agents, readers. Insomnia. Exhaustion. Fear. Panic. Rage. Money fear. Isolation.

If anyone wants this shitty job, I'm selling cheap.

But still, I have been silent.
greygirlbeast: (Humanoid)
If gaming shit bores you, skip this. I won't be offended. I'm mostly writing it for me.

Setting aside the recycled cover fiasco with The Red Tree for a moment, I want to talk about World of Warcraft, and how my time with the game is growing short. I'll be playing for about another six weeks, then leaving WoW.

I've worked out an exit strategy. I'll finish getting my Loremaster title, and then that's it. And, by the way, as most of this entry will be devoted to how WoW has worked so hard the last couple of years screwing the pooch, I'll point out that Spooky and I were both within a hair's breadth of having Loremaster, when the Catacylsm expansion essentially undid all our progress, forcing us to start over. That's hundreds of hours each spent working towards the title (which is a pathetic example of time displacement, I am well aware).

I'll be going to Rift and LoTRO, as soon as I (hopefully) have a laptop later this spring. Spooky's on the Rift beta, and has been playing LoTRO, and they both look far superior to WoW. Rift is blowing my mind.

I did want to post a list of the particular things that have driven me, after three years of intensive WoW play, to jump ship. So, here goes:

1) Blizzard has chipped away at class abilities. Warlocks have lost a lot. Paladins even more. And it's still happening. Just last week, warlocks lost mana drain, a very important defensive spell for a class stuck in cloth armor. And, perhaps even worse than the chipping away, has been the inexplicable reorganization of abilities. Old spells have new names. It's beyond confusing.

2) Changing the talent specialization system. Now, you're forced to place all our talent points in one specialization, until you've spent 30 points, and only then can you place points in other specializations. The old ability to create hybrids has been severely hampered.

3) WoW, which was never a very bright bulb, is increasingly, pandering to the lowest common denominator. This has gotten so bad with the release of Cataclysm that I've come to think of it as the Beavis and Butthead of MMORPGs (and really, that should just be MMOG). It's an endless barrage of lame National Lampoon-style pop-culture satire, faux wit, and endless poop and fart jokes. WoW is now a game for fourteen year olds and forty year olds who never matured beyond fourteen. WoW is sunk almost as low as Second Life. And the game just gets easier, and easier, and easier...and easier. Mounts at Level 20, maps that hold your hand all the way to quests objectives, etc. I'm not even going to get into examples of racism and homophobia.

4) The homophobic hate speech in chat is only getting worse, and if anyone's trying to stop it, there's no evidence of that effort.

5) The game's penchant for forced socilaization and it's disinterest in solo players (or even groups of two or three) is worse than ever. It's aggressive. Sure, we have the random dungeon finder now, which is fine, if you want to take your chances on winding up with a bunch of teenage dounchebags.

6) Dungeons are essentially closed to solo players and small parties. You must be many levels (and sometimes entire expansions) beyond the dungeon's level to run them. And endgame is essentially closed to us.

7) The game has abandoned any pretense at being immerssive (see 3), if, indeed, it ever tried.

8) With Cataclysm, the last vestiges of a coherent ingame timeline has been lost. And the game's lore is, and has long been, utterly incoherent. It's Tolkien, Moorcock, Howard, etc. perverted to utter fucking nonsense. Contradictions are rife.

9) The obsession with mindless "achievements" is truly clogging up the gaming experience, and is one of very many transparent attempts to keep players online long after there's any truly engaging reason to play. I'd say it preys on the human propensity for obsession...but...no, I will say that.

10) WoW's barrage of holiday nonsense, which has never made any sense inworld, and which just keeps getting worse.

11) Watching Spooky play LoTRO, I see a much greater level of maturity among players, but this goes back to item 3.

12) One word: mini-games.

In short, I need a game that takes itself seriously. A joke here and there, fine. But WoW has become a really badly written spoof of sword & sorcery. I adore my main, Shaharrazad. I've been with her, as of this moment, 55 days, 15 minutes, and 35 seconds, since September 27th, 2008. I've invested a lot, in money and time. It's hard to let go of her, but I just can't take the idiots anymore, or the idiotic mess Blizzard has made of the game. Likely, I'll come back for expansions, for two or three week intervals, but that's it. Blizzard could have made it all right with Cataclysm; they did the exact opposite.

Shaharrazad, self-exiled Sin'dorei, servant of Sylvanas and Thrall, veteran of the war against the Burning Legion, the struggle against and defeat of Arthas and his Scourge, and the rise of Deathwing, is exhausted, and sees the world she fought for fall into the ruin and chaos. She will retreat soon to the peace and splendid cold of the Howling Fjord, and make a solitary life for herself in Northrend.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Elizabeth would have been forty today. I can hardly even begin to wrap my head around the weirdness of that fact.

1) Bear with me. I'm more awake that yesterday, and not in half as much pain, but this is still gonna be a bumpy ride.

2) Yesterday, I wrote 1,533 words on "—30—", which I'm liking, and which I think Spooky is liking more than I do. It will appear in Sirenia Digest #61. A reminder to subscribers (if you were one, I could be reminding you, as well) that the digest now goes out on the fifth day of the month. So, expect #61 on January 5th.

3) Some time back— like a year or two or something, I don't know exactly —I began making a concerted effort not to reply to the idiotic things that idiots are apt to say online during or after reading one of my books. And, mostly, I've made good on that. Not because I think it's wrong or unseemly for an author to reply to her critics, but just because it gets fucking tiresome, for me and for the people reading this blog (I don't know who convinced so many writers they shouldn't ever reply to their critics, but it's a bit of conventional wisdom that baffles me, and I suspect a reviewer is to blame). Just two days ago I complained about Mr./Mrs./Miss Threw In An Ending over on Amazon. Which ought to be my quota for the month.

But no. From Goodreads, via Twitter, another gem was brought to my attention this morning. Someone who's reading Daughter of Hounds. I won't give her name, but I will note she is a she. It's relevant:

Not liking the angry woman in the story; angry women are not cool.

I shit you not. How does one even reply to anything so utterly, perniciously...wrongheaded? Seriously, I have no idea what to say in response. Everything I think of seems too obvious. Some statements are so perfectly, sublimely stupid— and prima facie so —that they successfully resist any articulate rebuttal.

4) Last night was meatloaf (Spooky does amazing things with meatloaf), and we watched the end of Season Six of Deadliest Catch, and played WoW, and I had a hot bath, and we started Holly Black's Ironside.

5) One year ago today, I asked the readers of this blog a question: If you had me alone, locked up in your house, for twenty-four hours and I had to do whatever you wanted me to, what would you have me/you/us do? The answers were screened, to encourage explicit, honest, imaginative responses, and I promised I'd include the answers I liked best in an upcoming issue of the digest. And there were some very good replies, but, for some reason, I didn't keep my promise. I think it's time that I did so, and the best of the lot will be appearing in #61.

Yours in Anger,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
In a somewhat dark place this morning. It's cloudy and cold and windy, the Outside reflecting my internal weather, or, to be more precise (and less egocentric), my mood reflecting the dismal weather Outside my office window.

Yesterday was one of the frustrating sorts of writing days. I spent over an hour searching for a title. I read through T. S. Eliot's "Four Quartets" for about the hundred billionth time. I found a very appropriate epigraph in an Oscar Wilde essay, and then I realized the vignette's title was "At the Reef." I read long passages of Joseph Campbell, Jung, and a book on Byron and Romanticism. It was after four p.m. before I finally started writing, and I got only 502 words done. Today, I have to hope I wrote well yesterday. My plan had been to finish this piece today (yes, two vignettes in four days), but now I see it's time to revise the plan. I'll push forward with "On the Reef" today, finish a long interview tomorrow, then finish "On the Reef" on Saturday, which will take care of most of Sirenia Digest #59. Maybe take Sunday off. Then, next week, try to get back to The Drowning Girl, as the novel has sat neglected since August (and even with the second deadline extension, it's expected in March). But November will be spent on a short story and the contents of Sirenia Digest #59.

The truth is, if I had about a hundred more subscribers to Sirenia Digest, and believed that the subscriber base was reasonably stable, I'd stop trying to write novels. I'd write my vignettes and short stories and maybe the occasional novella, and that would be just fine.

---

For a sobering look at what's being done to the planet, have a look at the NASA/JPL/Cal Tech Climate Time Machine. Just don't tell the teabaggers. They're pretty sure all this talk of global warming is really a communist/Islamic plot to deprive them of Wal-Mart and the NFL.

---

I've grown very accustomed, thanks to the Lamictal...a wondrous, merciful drug I wished I'd had twenty years ago...to not having to cope with Angry Caitlín. But, even now there are rare days, like today, when she finds her way out into the world.

---

Thanks to everyone who's voted in the podcast poll (if you haven't, please do). Speaking to those who have expressed concerns that, were I to do this, I would only be adding one more thing to a plate that is far too full, that it would give me yet another deadline to worry over, here's my reply. No, it won't. For one, as it's free, I'd plan it once a month, but if I miss a month, whatever. No big deal. For another, my end of the thing would consist of me sitting at my desk reading a vignette or short story into the tiny little microphone (DO NOT DARE SAY "MIC" WHEN YOU MEAN "MIKE," thank you), and then emailing it to the person who would a) turn the sound file into something that could be downloaded and b) post it to be downloaded. So, each reading would require about an hour of my time. As for copyright issues, the audio files would be released under Creative Commons, though I would reserve all other rights on the stories. So, that's not an issue, either.

The only real concern is the one I've already stated, my own dislike of my voice. And that's something only I can overcome (or not).

---

Too much time has been going to MMORPGs lately. But...how is that any worse than watching television or hanging out in bars or playing endless rounds of Scrabble? True, I ought to be spending all that time reading. I know that. But, at the end of the day, I'm usually too tired from writing to read.

Anyway, still having a lot of fun with WoW, and eagerly awaiting the Cataclysm expansion. But most of my gaming time the last couple of weeks has gone into City of Heroes and Villains. It's kind of funny, because I've never cared for superhero comics. Last night, though, I pretty much resolved to stop playing CoX as a game, and just go to it for rp. The game's engine is just too clunky and the game architecture too cryptic and tedious. Plus, my 2007 iMac's not quite up to Cox and I get serious latency issues. Load screens take for fucking ever. And I've never played a game with so many load screens. Add to this the impossibility of soloing (i.e., enforced socialization), and also my being blind in one eye, which makes it pretty much impossible for me to track the insane rate of combat in the missions, and I'd just rather stick with WoW as for as actual gaming goes. I've leveled my villain to 25, but can't seem to find any interest in leveling her farther. So, I'll rp in CoX, which is really what I need from it anyway, because I can't get good rp anywhere else (though, I very much look forward to the release of CCP Games' World of Darkness MMORPG, which has the potential to be exactly what I've been looking for since, well, forever).

Meanwhile, Kathryn's been playing a lot of Middle Earth Online. While I still think the avatars look like action figures circa 1976, she's enjoying it a great deal. And, I will admit, the environments are pretty amazing (just don't get me started on the horses). I geeked out over seeing the Party Tree in Hobbiton. From what I can see, Middle Earth Online takes it's basic design from WoW, but I am disposed to look upon it a bit more kindly now, if only because Spooky's enjoying it so much.

And the Platypus is cutting me off....
greygirlbeast: (Default)
The heat is back today.

I woke from angry dreams to the anger of yesterday.

Last night, I swallowed an amazing pill. Amazing. For four hours, there was no anger. In the end, there were hardly any feelings at all. I think maybe the effects of that pill are what sramanic thought means by achieving Nirvāna. People spend their lives searching for it and never come close. But it can be had in a pill.

Yesterday, I wrote 134 words on Chapter One of The Drowning Girl. And then the anger found me, and I was unable to write anything more during the afternoon. I'd hoped to finish Chapter One before moving along to "The Yellow Alphabet" (for Sirenia Digest #56). I'm maybe three thousand words from the end of the chapter. It'll still be there when I come back in a week.

In another entry, I may explain some of the sources on the anger. Or I may not.

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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