greygirlbeast: (Default)
Yes. I am on a Kate Bush kick.

It's a beautiful autumn-summer day out there, sunny and blue skies, the temperature at 70F. Nice. Have to get Outside today. Getting out of the house is mandatory on a day like this. I'm doing a good job, actually, of not keeping myself cooped up.

At 4 a.m., not sleeping (despite the meds), I was on Rift talking with a friend in Alaska, and he said it was midnight and the sun hadn't set. In Providence, the sky was just beginning to lighten. It was a marvelously surreal moment, especially considering I was doped and half asleep (but only half). By the way, I want to actually calculate the distance across the part of Telara we can see, the size of the landmass north to south and east to west. I don't think many people have paused to think how small it must be. At first, I estimated it might be the size of Rhode Island (37 miles x 48 miles long, 1,214 sq. mi.), but I'm beginning to think it may only be half that size or less. Spooky's worked out a way to get a firm estimate, which we will do this evening (because we are pathetic nerds). A fantasy MMORPG will be truly fucking amazing when it can offer a continent the size of, oh, say Australia.

Where was I?

Yesterday was as tedious as I'd expected. I didn't actually make any progress with the galleys for Two Worlds and In Between (and I'm not going to explain why, because it's a tedious explanation that's all about editing PDFs and Adobe software and me being a psuedo-Luddite). But things did get done. Vince sent me the initial pencils for his "Figurehead" illustration. I did some more tweaking on the ms. for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, and sent the Really and Truly Final Manuscript away to my editor. I spent about an hour on the immensely tedious and long guest questionnaire for Readercon 22. I read "Figurehead" and "Untitled 35" aloud to Kathryn, and we marked the pages red. I talked with [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy about what ravens who might be nuns would....

Sorry. Lost my train of thought. Spooky and I were talking about Houdini.

Last night, we did Kindernacht with hot dogs and Tom McGrath's Megamind (2010), which was really a lot of fun, but not as good as Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud's similar Despicable Me (also 2010). Of course, one is not supposed to talk about whether or not Kid Night movies are any good, so long as they're fun. We picked the DVD up at Acme Video, since it was an excuse to go Outside. Also, Acme Video gives away free atomic fireballs. After the movie, we did, of course, play Rift. Mostly it was rp for me, though there was also a major incursion upon White Fall and the Chancel of Labors by the minions of Crucia, and Selwyn and Miisya helped to repel the bad guys.

Yesterday, I read the title story of Johnathan Thomas' Tempting Providence (Hippocampus Press). To be sure, it's a weird tale, but it's also a poignant travelogue/walking tour devoted to a finer and simpler and far more interesting Providence than has survived to the present day. I also read "A new unintan horned brontothere from Wyoming and evolution of canine size and sexual dimorphism in the Brontotheriidae (Perissodactyla: Mammalia)" in JVP. Speaking of reading, kittens, tomorrow I'll be announcing the June selection for Aunt Beast's Book Club.

---

On this day in 2007, I wrote:

I have been worrying a lot lately about my writing. It started when I reread Silk and looked through Tales of Pain and Wonder for the first time in ages. Sure, I'm a much, much better writer now, but is what I'm writing inherently better than what I was writing then? More importantly, is it about something more than telling stories? Almost ten years after it's original publication, I see lots of flaws with Silk I couldn't see in 1996 or 1998, and parts of it make me groan, but it has something to say, something it says, and for that I will likely always love it. This is even more true of ToPaW. It's true of The Dreaming. But is the same true of Threshold? Low Red Moon? I think so. And I know it's true of Murder of Angels, but I'm not so sure about Daughter of Hounds, even though I also know it's my best-written novel to date. One may write well — one may write exquisitely, even — and have nothing at all to say. Writing "The Ape's Wife" last month, this all seemed suddenly very important to me again. I fear that in the rush to meet deadlines and write enough to keep all the bills paid, somewhere along the way, I may have forgotten that it is not enough to tell a good story, or even to create characters who ring true. These are necessary accomplishments, but they are surely not sufficient. Art requires more than mere craft, more even than talent. It requires meaning. Heading into The Dinosaurs of Mars and Joey Lafaye, these thoughts will be my Beatrice (so to speak). There's something I feel I might have drifted away from, and I want...no, I need to get back to it again.

So, four years later, I can say I found an antidote for this anxiety and these worries, which was writing The Red Tree and The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, no matter how much the effort has exhausted me. Also, it should be noted that, in June 2007, I was still suffering from the trauma of having written that unmentionably shitty novelization for Robert Zemeckis' butchering of Beowulf (2007)*. That Mordorean death-march ordeal (fuck you, Roger Avery) left me unable to write long-form for the better part of a year, until I began The Red Tree in April 2008. By the way, I'm still waiting on The Dinosaurs of Mars to reveal itself to me, and have come to accept that Joey Lafaye will likely never happen. You may always think of Beowulf as the novelization that murdered Joey Lafaye. At least the Beowulf gig sort of paid well. And at least you didn't need 3-D glasses to read the book. Seamus Heaney, forgive me.

So...now, today.

* And as bad as my novelization was, the movie was at least a hundred times more awful.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Very, very cold in Providence today. Currently, 25F, though it feels like 12F. I can feel the cold in my bones (especially my lousy, rotten feet). I'm hoping snow comes soon. Somehow, snow makes it all easier.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,703 words on The Drowning Girl. Now that it's finally begun, after numerous false starts, it seems as though this novel is bleeding out of me. A torrent, it seems. I've been writing it to Clint Mansell's soundtrack to Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain (2006). I love both, the film and the soundtrack, but in 2007 I made the mistake of writing that Beowulf novelization to the soundtrack, which rather spoiled the music for me. So, now I'm taking it back, as They are wont to say.

What else was there to yesterday? I didn't leave the House, but I'd not expected to do so. After the writing, my hair was washed, as it badly needed washing. We listened to more of A Wrinkle in Time, as read by the author. There was another story from [livejournal.com profile] blackholly's The Poison Eaters, this time "Rock Breaks Scissors." After dinner, we watched Michael Winterbottom's Code 46 (2003). I'm not even sure how I missed this film, all these years. I've been an admirer of Winterbottom's since The Claim in 2000. Anyway, it's a wonderfully soft-spoken sf film, all light and glass, fluorescence and desert sunlight. It's the sort of science fiction that doesn't dwell on the technology at the center of its plot, but focuses, rightly, on the characters. I very highly recommend it. Currently, it can be streamed via Netflix.

There was more WoW, but after the insanity of Tuesday night, there was also moderation. We played through a new chain of Forsaken missions with Shaharrazad and Suraa, wherein Sylvanas (my Dark Lady) leads her troops against an alliance of the Worgen of Gilneas and human men from Stormwind. I'm not going to drop spoilers, but it's some of the best stuff I've ever seen in WoW. All in all, I have very few complaints so far about the expansion. There are so many improvements. For one, their writers have either learned to write, or they've hired actual writers. There's not much that can be done about the poorly thought-out tangle that is the game's lore, but at least the writing's improved (and some of it is very, very funny). I think my major disappointment with Cataclysm has been the design of the Worgen. Though some great conceptual designs were considered by Blizzard, they finally went with a design not much better than the anthropomorphic cartoon animals of furry slash fic/art.

Yes, it really is that bad. Especially the female Worgen. It's this huge sour note in an otherwise (so far) amazing expansion. It's all the more a shame because the Worgen starting area, Gilneas, is so beautifully realized. Yo, Blizzard! You've actually managed to make werewolves less scary and less threatening than the frackin' gnomes! Sheesh. You had the chance to do this right, and you blew it. Fortunately, the rest is pretty damn cool.

Also, Hellscream called Sylvanas a "bitch." Which rather sealed my disgust with the new warchief. Hopefully, Thrall will be returning from his time spent communing with the elements very soon, and we can be rid of this tiny-headed asshole before the Horde is in utter shambles. Yes, I do sound like a raving fangirl waiting in line at San Diego ComiCon. My roots are showing. Sometimes, it happens.

Anyway...time to make the doughnuts.
greygirlbeast: (white)
Some days, I haven't enough for a good blog entry. Some mornings, I have enough for three. This morning is of the latter sort. Full-on spring seems finally to have come to Providence. Sunny with a chance of thunderstorms today, and a bit warm in the House. I have the fan going in my office, and the window open.

There's a very nice new review of The Red Tree up at Green Man Review.

Also, Lou Anders emailed me the Publisher's Weekly review of Swords and Dark Magic, the anthology that includes my story "The Sea Troll's Daughter" (mentioned prominently in the review). Here it is:

Swords and Dark Magic Edited by Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders. Eos, $15.99 paper (544p) ISBN 978-0-06-172381-0

Editors Strahan (
Eclipse 3) and Anders (Fast Forward 2) present 17 original stories that recall the classic works of Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber. To earn the book’s subtitle of “The New Sword and Sorcery,” Gene Wolfe puts on literary airs (“Bloodsport”); Tim Lebbon contributes some of the graphic horror and moral twists of the New Weird (“The Deification of Dal Balmore”); and Caitlín R. Kiernan introduces a complicated heroine rescued by the ostensible villain (“The Sea Troll’s Daughter”). But most of the stories are more traditional tales of apprentice mages coming-of-age and down-on-their-luck mercenaries facing unexpected perils. Fans of the classics will appreciate the tie-ins to familiar series by Michael Moorcock, Glen Cook, and Robert Silverberg, plus a “fully authorized” Cugel the Clever cameo by Michael Shea. (July)

And here's the cover from the Subterranean Press limited edition of the book. I'm very pleased that the cover art (by Dominic Harmon) was clearly inspired by "The Sea Troll's Daughter," a story which is, essentially my lesbian/feminist reworking of Beowulf:



---

Yesterday, we took advantage of the excellent weather to get out of the House. I'd not been Outside in about a week, what with all the work on Sirenia Digest giving me such a seemingly valid excuse not to leave. Spooky needed more beach glass for her jewelry-making endeavors, so we headed to West Cove, the best place we've found in Rhode Island for glass. As we made the familiar crossing of the Jamestown Bridge to Conanicut Island, over the West Passage of Narragansett Bay, we could see that the water was rough and choppy. There had been thunderstorms all morning. We drove to the ruins of Fort Wetherill. Instead of immediately going down to our usual spot on the beach, we spent some time exploring the granite cliffs just south of the sprawling concrete remains the fort (ca. 1940). In some places, the bluffs here tower a hundred feet above the sea. There's a clear view south and east to Beavertail. The wind was wild, but I got right up on the edge.

The rock here is a porphyritic granite (porhyritic meaning that the stone has large-grained crystals, such as feldspar or quartz, dispersed in a fine-grained feldspathic matrix or groundmass). According to my geologic map of Rhode Island, the age of the granite here is uncertain, and it's dated only as "?Late Proterozoic," so let's say 1,000 to 542.0 million years ago. That means the rocks are quite a bit older than the Cambrian and Ordovician slate and phyllite at Beavertail, two miles to the southwest.

Heading back towards west cove, walking northeast through the woods, we found a fantastic ravine the sea's cut into the granite, maybe thirty feet deep and some sixty or seventy yards long. The waves rush into it and crash loudly against the walls, throwing spray high into the air. A little north of the ravine, we investigated a beach we'd seen from a distance, but never tried to visit, as the path down to it is steep. I suppose we were feeling intrepid yesterday. The small "beach" (all cobbles, no sand) was alive with tiny wolf spiders, so we dubbed it "Spider Cove." We found a few interesting bits of glass there, before moving on to our usual beach farther north.

I needed to relax, clear my head, and let the sea soothe my nerves. But my mind was too filled with the news of what's happened and is happening and will be happening for a long time to come in the Gulf of Mexico, in the wake of the sinking of BP's Deapwater Horizon rig. I sat on the rocks, trying to hear and see nothing but the wind, the sound of the breakers, the colors of the day, but there was no way to push back the horrors of the oil spill. I felt an odd guilt, sitting there with the bay lapping at my feet. In less than an hour, I'd seen fish crows, cormorants, egrets, gulls, all manner of songbirds, a rabbit, a turtle; the woods and water and sky were alive. How easy it would be, I thought, to lose all this. How quickly a single mishap of technology could devastate and change this ecosystem, possibly forever. I stopped looking for beach glass and sat writing in my notebook:

How do I explain to someone that it is the ocean itself that I worship? Not some deity of the ocean, some anthropomorphic thing that resides in the sea, but the whole of the sea itself (Panthalassa). How do I explain how my "goddess" has been and is being defiled?

Anyway, I have some photos from yesterday (more tomorrow):

3 May 2010, Part 1 )
greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
Raining here in Providence. I think we might have had three consecutive days without rain. But this is a steady, gentle sort of rain, and I don't much mind. It would hardly matter if I did, of course.

The anthology's editors loved "The Sea Troll's Daughter," which was a huge relief. I'll give the book's title and release date as soon as I can. One of them emailed to say, "I felt I'd read 'Beowulf: The Truth Behind the Myth,'" which was sort of the cherry on top of the sale. So, yes, two long weeks after I began writing the story, I can say that went well.

I have my final schedule for ReaderCon 20. Here it is (with panel descriptions):

Friday 4:00 PM, VT: Group Reading

Lovecraft Unbound Group Reading (60 min.) Ellen Datlow (host) with
Laird Barron, Michael Cisco, Caitlín R. Kiernan

Readings from the anthology of Lovecraft-related or inspired fiction
edited by Datlow and forthcoming in October from Dark Horse.

Friday 5:00 PM, RI: Talk (30 min.)

How I Wrote A is for Alien. Caitlín R. Kiernan

Breaking with Readercon tradition, Kiernan talks about writing the stories
that make up her first sf collection.

Friday 6:00 PM, Salon E: Panel

Reality and Dream in Fiction. Jedediah Berry, Michael Cisco (L), Caitlin
R. Kiernan, Yves Meynard, Patrick O'Leary, Gene Wolfe

[Greatest Hit from Readercon 9.] "It seems almost like a dream that has
slowly faded." "Not to me," said Frodo. "To me it seems more like
falling asleep again." Some books create a world so engaging and
convincing it seems more real than reality. Others (e.g., Gene Wolfe's
There are Doors) seem like dreams from which we awaken. What elements in
fiction create these disparate effects? Are they mutually exclusive?

Friday 7:00 PM, RI: Talk / Discussion (60 min.)

You Never Can Tell What Goes on Down Below: Reading Dr. Seuss as Weird
Fiction. Caitlín R. Kiernan

Few would consider Dr. Seuss a master of weird fiction, but most of us
knew about the strange denizens of McElligot's Pool long before we were
introduced to those of Innsmouth. We met the Lorax before Great Cthulhu,
and shuddered at the Joggoons long before we ever met up with our first
shoggoth. Join us for a review of the strange worlds of Seuss (and other
"children's authors") and a discussion of how the surprisingly
sophisticated oddities we meet as kids shape us as aficionados of fantasy
and science fiction.

Saturday 12:00 Noon, Salon F: Autographing

Saturday 2:00 PM, Salon E: Panel

Is Fiction Inherently Evil (and If So, What's My Job)? Michael Bishop,
Caitlín R. Kiernan, James Morrow (L), Peter Straub, Gene Wolfe

[Greatest Hit from Readercon 8.] Simone Weil (in "Morality and
Literature") argued that fiction is inherently immoral because it reverses
the truth about good and evil: in reality, good is "beautiful and
wonderful" and evil is "dreary, monotonous," but in fiction, it is evil
that is "varied and intriguing, attractive, profound ..." while good is
"boring and flat." Certainly we can all think of counter-examples (To
Kill a Mockingbird
gets it right), but this is a problem as old as Milton.
Does a writer have an obligation to try to make goodness interesting, and
to show the banality of evil? How does doing so affect the fiction?

Saturday 3:00 PM, Salon E: Panel

Is Darwinism Too Good For SF? Jeff Hecht (L), Caitlin R. Kiernan, Anil
Menon, James Morrow, Steven Popkes, Robert J. Sawyer

This year marks the sesquicentennial of the publication of The Origin of
Species and the bicentennial of Charles Darwin's birth. Considering the
importance of the scientific idea, there has been surprisingly little
great sf inspired by it. We wonder whether, in fact, if the theory has
been too good, too unassailable and too full of explanatory power, to
leave the wiggle room where speculative minds can play in. After all,
physics not only has FTL and time travel, but mechanisms like wormholes
that might conceivably make them possible. What are their equivalents in
evolutionary theory, if any?

Sunday 2:00 PM, NH / MA: Reading (60 min.)

Reading from The Red Tree.

Also, note that I was originally scheduled to be a participant in the "How Acting Techniques Can Enhance your Writing" workshop, Friday at 1 p.m., but I asked to be dropped from it, as I'm not feeling physically up to anything that asks you to wear "comfortable clothing." Also, I won't be arriving at the con until Day 2, Friday, contra my original plans.

---

Yesterday evening, we had to drive down to Saunderstown, because Spooky's mum and dad are in Montana, and we're looking after the farm in their absence. It was, as usual, nice to get out of the city. Spooky collected eggs from the hen house. I tested to electric fence that keeps the deer at bay, to be sure it hadn't shorted out or anything. We fed the koi. We let Spider Cat out for a while and played with him. The blueberries aren't quite ripe yet, but soon will be, which means we'll be picking them before her parents get back. On the way back to the car, we spotted a Fowler's Toad (Bufo woodhousii fowleri). There are photos behind the cut:

June 6, 2009 )
greygirlbeast: (chi 5)
I seem to be unable to wake up today. I blame the Vitamin D from all that unexpected sunlight yesterday evening.

Yesterday, I did 1,123 words on "The Sea Troll's Daughter," which I think I'm almost halfway through. Or maybe a little less than almost halfway. Thereabouts. It's a very different piece for me. The closest I've ever come to doing this sort of "sword and sorcery" fantasy is the Beowulf novelization. Spooky's ([livejournal.com profile] humglum) liking it, and Sonya ([livejournal.com profile] sovay) is liking it, and that's usually a good sign. I've not shown it to anyone else yet.

I spoke with Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press this morning, before I was quite awake. So there's no telling what I said. I have been told that I can announce (drum roll, please) that subpress will be doing my next short-fiction collection, The Ammonite Violin and Others, which will include an introduction by Jeff VanderMeer, and which will be a 2010 release. We also talked about Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart, the third (and final) erotica collection, which I think is still planned for 2010, and about The Dinosaurs of Mars, which is, alas, still anybody's guess.

My thanks to everyone who's taken part in the latest round of eBay auctions. Spooky will be listing new items sometime this afternoon.

As I said (or did I?), the sun came out late yesterday afternoon, and that's the only thing that finally got me moving, that got the words flowing. After work, we drove down to Warwick and picked up Spooky's belated birthday present, a new turntable so that she can begin digitizing the squillion or so pieces of vinyl she has stored at her parents. The drive was good, getting out of the House, and seeing the sun and blue sky after all these days without either. It's sunnyish today, though I think thunderstorms are inbound.

Watch for today's micro-excerpt tweet from The Red Tree, over at greygirlbeast

So, yeah. Time to make the doughnuts.
greygirlbeast: (white)
I think the snow that fell on New Year's Eve has no intention ever of melting. It's a hard white crust laid over half that portion of the world that is visible from the many windows of the house. I've not left the house since the storm, which means I've not left the house this year. Today the sun is brilliant, and the sky is utterly blue. There is no warmth, though.

I did some tallying this morning, and see that I've done 53 pieces of fiction (vignettes, short stories, etc.) for Sirenia Digest over the past four years, since December 2005. During that same time, I've written only 5 short stories that were not intended for the digest; I also did the Beowulf novelization and wrote The Red Tree. The number of non-digest stories climbs slightly if I include the original pieces for Tales from the Woeful Platypus (as opposed to the reprints). If I include those, the number comes to 10. Still, 53 to 10. Plainly, the vast majority of my short fiction these days is being written for the digest. I just hope that quantity has not overwhelmed quality. That is one of my greatest fears.

I have an email from Mat Winser, who asks:

I think a few years ago, you wrote a story for an anthology based on Absinthe. Did that collection ever see light of day?

The anthology did not, which is a shame, as I was to be paid, in part, with Mari Mayans. However, the story I wrote for the anthology, "La Peau Verte," was published in my collection To Charles Fort, With Love, and also won the International Horror Guild Award for "Outstanding Achievement" in mid-length fiction. It was also reprinted in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror (vol. 17), edited by Steve Jones.

All of yesterday was spent getting Sirenia Digest #37 together, and it went out to subscribers late last night, at 11:12 p.m. (CaST). If you have not received #37 and are a subscriber, please write to Spooky at x.squid.soup.x(at)gmail(dot)com, and she'll make it right.

Last night, we had a sort of Nicolas Cage binge, and watched Vampire's Kiss (1989) and Moonstruck (1987). Nothing much else to yesterday.
greygirlbeast: (stab)
Bad Lortab hangover this morning. The world is slick and gooey, and my stomach wants to rebel. Spooky woke at 6:30 ayem to find the bathroom flooded and water pouring in through the ceiling. As she was trying to mop it up, one of the guys from downstairs knocked. His bathroom, which is directly below ours, was also flooding. This morning, we're really not sure where the water originated from. Not upstairs. And we have to hope there won't be more of it when Hanna actually gets here tonight or tomorrow. So far, we've had only the first outer rain bands. Naturally, I slept through all the drama.

Yesterday, despite the heat (86F inside), I wrote a more than sufficient 1,606 words on Chapter Five of The Red Tree. I have decided, if I can just do 1,500 words a day on the book most days between now at the beginning of November, all will be well. It can't be half as unpleasant as last year's Forced March of Beowulf, since this is a book that I actually want to write (and I will try not to think about the fact that it will sell only a small fraction of the copies that the Beowulf novelization sold, much less will it be translated into umpteen million languages like Beowulf).

This morning, I have not even had breakfast, my stomach is a stormy sea, and all I seem to desire is whiskey and a pack of Camel's.

I did not leave the house yesterday. I'll try to get out this evening. Tuna sandwiches for dinner last night. Then unspeakable frustration regarding terraforming in Howards End. All I want are tunnels. Is that too bloody much to ask? Tunnels. Vacuities in the earth. I hope people in the rp group are keeping up with the notecards, because I've been sending quite a lot of them out. I'm getting a lot of good character proposals. So, thank you for that.

Some decent rp in SL last night, when I could no longer endure the tedium of not-building, so thank you, Joah. Truly, my opinion of Second Life...no, wait. Let me rephrase this. Truly, my opinion of the people who infest Second Life, preventing it from realizing its potential, has dropped to an all-time low. I've been struggling with this great idiot beast since May '07, because I see how SL could be used. Of course, ultimately, the Lindens are at fault, because they surely encourage the multiverse's overpopulation by morons who only want a chat room with a visual interface. What does it matter to Linden Labs, so long as people come. Any people will do. It doesn't matter how they use the place, so long as they do use the place. I suspect that Howard's End will be my last attempt at making SL work. It either will, or it won't, and if it doesn't, I'll nuke the sim and go back to whatever my life was before I slipped into that thunderous mess. Yes, this ayem, I have only pure hatred for most of SL, but for the handful of determined artists and writers and actors who are trying so hard to make it something worth our while, I still have sympathy. Rest assured, Howards End will never be a self-congratulatory, wankfest social club for those without a First Life.

My left arm, the one that I used to break my fall into Lionshead Chasm, it quite sore and stiff this ayem.

Oh, I registered Nebari.net for another two years yesterday. However, that was mostly to stop the domain from being squatted. Nothing's been done with the site since August 2007, and later this month I'm going pull the plug. I'm tired of paying $20 a month to keep it up and running. I fully intended to do this a year ago, and just never got around to it.

And I think that's quite enough for now. Maybe if I stick a fork in my eye...
greygirlbeast: (white2)
Until yesterday, there had been a long lull in my "fits," these seizures that have so disrupted my life (and work). Indeed, we'd begun to think that, just maybe, they were being triggered by trichothecene mycotoxins in the "black mold" (Stachybotrys) growing in various parts of the old house in Atlanta. But late yesterday, there was a very severe seizure, the first since May 19th, I believe. To my knowledge, I was nowhere near any growths of Stachybotrys (the new place is extremely clean and mold free), so I guess we go back to the PNES diagnosis. I ought to go to a doctor here in Providence, but I still have my meds from my doctor in Birmingham, and I have neither the time nor the energy to waste on this foolishness just now.

All Sirenia Digest subscribers should, by this point, have a copy of #31 in their inboxes. If not, please let Spooky know. My thanks for the kind comments to yesterday's entry, regarding the two new stories. I wouldn't mind seeing more comments. (hint, hint)

Yesterday, I wrote 1,245 words on The Red Tree, beginning Chapter Two, which I am racing to finish by month's end. Just now, I'm aiming for a minimum of 1,200 words/day. Every day. At least, unlike the "Mordorian death march" that produced the Beowulf novelization last year, these are my own words, and my own story, and I am free to take it where it needs to go.

I know better than to say "never again." But, still, I am constantly saying "never again" and then eating my words. Yesterday, on the strength of my "signature review," I was offered a regular gig writing reviews for Publisher's Weekly, and I'm taking it, primarily because a) I need the money and b) the reviews will be published anonymously. And, hey, it might even be fun. Who knows?

Also yesterday, Sonya ([livejournal.com profile] sovay) was kind enough to go over A is for Alien a second time, this time in galley form, and many errors were caught. I think the ARCs have already been printed and gone out to reviewers.

Yesterday is only the second day since coming to Rhode Island that I managed not to leave the house even once all day long. It's not something I will make a habit of doing, or not doing, or whatever. It just happened. Spooky made egg salad sandwiches for dinner, and we played Unspeakable Words, which really is a sort of anti-Scrabble. It's silly, but a great deal of fun. She beat me two games out of three. I hung four pictures and a plaque. It's starting to look like people live here. Much later, I had about an hour and a half of good rp in Second Life. Life after the fall is proving disquieting, horrific, and somewhat exhilarating. Nareth (well, Labyrinth) had a wonderful showdown with a cocky, prying Catholic priest, and he made the mistake of treating her as though he were facing some demon or common vampire. He was actually left gibbering on the floor, and had to drag himself from the building. I let him go. Where's the sport in killing wounded animals? The Latin did him no good whatsoever. He should have tried Sumerian.

Looks rainy out. That would be nice....
greygirlbeast: (chi 5)
One of the weirdest things (sensu Lovecraft et al.) about the move from Atlanta to Providence is trying to get used to the much earlier sunrise, brought about not so much by being nearer the eastern border of the Eastern Time Zone (presently EDT), but being at such a higher latitude. For example, tomorrow morning, in Atlanta the sun will "rise" (a misnomer and an optical illusion, of course) at 6:26 a.m. and set at 8:49 p.m. Yet here in Rhode Island, in Providence, the sun will rise at 5:10 a.m. and set at 8:22 p.m. The sunset differential is not so severe —— only twenty-seven minutes —— but the sunrise differential is far greater, a full hour and sixteen minutes. I first noted this in 2006, but it caught me off guard early this morning, when, at 3:45 a.m. Spooky said I should get to bed soon or the sun would be up. Weird. I think I went to bed about 4 a.m., and was asleep almost at once.

Yesterday, finally, I had something resembling a "normal" writing day. I thank the cooler weather, more than anything. I don't believe the thermostat went much higher than about 83F (and I had Dr. Muñoz in the office for a brief spell, so it was quite a bit cooler in here). I wrote 1,165 words on "The Melusine" for Sirenia Digest #31. That's a very decent, if not spectacular, writing day. Word count-wise. Of course, word count is only one way of measuring how successful any given writing day is, and it may be, truthfully, the least important. What matters is that I like what I wrote yesterday, that it was written well, and that I shall not have to do any significant revision on it.

And this brings us back around to the story I linked to yesterday about writers, even us mid-list types, being pushed to churn out a novel a year and the possible effect of this industry demand on quality. By the way, if you're trying to break into this market, if you think you want to be a working author (i.e., an author whose sole income is herhisits income derived from fiction sales, which means largely novel sales), you really, really ought to read this article. Anyway, yesterday [livejournal.com profile] jtglover commented:

I read that article and enjoyed it. I found it via a link that indicated that there had been some grousing in some writerly corners of the blogosphere about the article. I'm sure that there are people, even now, complaining about the audacity of any writer to demand the time to try to create art instead of just cranking out the closest-to-good story possible in the super-tight timeframes that All Real, Professional Writers deal with constantly. I get that there are regular timeframes involved when dealing with publishers and contracts and such, but it seems to me that little is more corrosive to a writer than to be told always to hurry, because nobody gets it right anyway, and who's foolish enough to try to "write well" anyway?

To which I replied, Nice. I may address this tomorrow. To which Mr. Glover replied:

I don't want to come across as a sycophant, but that would mean a lot to me. Right now I'm struggling through the first draft of what I hope will be my first completed novel, and I'm regularly torn about how quickly to write. Slowly (4-800 words/day) means I can get inside the characters' heads more easily, but I'm afraid of losing momentum. Quickly (800-1600 words/day) means I finish sooner and can "fix it" in the second draft, but the characters rarely come to life when I'm moving at that pace.

All I can do, of course, is write about this problem from the perspective afforded by my personal experience. I think of myself as a slow writer, though, often, I seem wildly productive. When I was writing for DC/Vertigo, for example, expected to produce a script a month, I sometimes would write three a month. Back then, my daily word count, on novels and short fiction was about 500 words/day. These days, it's up to about twice that, about 1,100 words on average, and my all-time record is something like 2,800 words in a single day. Anyway, yes, all in all, though I write a lot (because I do little else), I write rather slowly, and it is very, very hard, if not impossible, to do this book-a-year nonsense. Partly, this is because I do not write in drafts. I write a single draft, to which I make line edits. That's almost always been the case. What I write the first time around is usually what shows up on the printed page —— usually. First and second and third drafts are fine for people who need to write that way, but it's not the way I taught myself to write. I work on a sentence until it's as close to perfect as I can get it. Same for any given paragraph, and then I move along to the next. Does this slow me down? I don't know, because, after all, it seems to me loads of time is wasted in rewrites by authors who have learned to write in multiple drafts. Below is a list of my novels, to date, and how long I took to write each one:

The Five of Cups (nine months, '92-'93)
Silk (twenty-eight months, '93-'96)
Threshold (twenty-two months, '98-'00)
Low Red Moon (eight months, '01-02)
Murder of Angels (A complicated one, as I started it in '01, then shelved it, and went back to work on the ms. in '03, finishing it that year; offhand, I do not know how long it actually took me to write, but it required about three years to complete the finished ms.)
Daughter of Hounds (about fifteen months, '04-'06)
Beowulf (all told, about three months, '06-07, though the forced rewrites — the "Mordorian Death March" — went on for another three or four months afterwards; and yes, it was a better book before those rewrites)

Now, here you see a great degree of variation, from Silk, at twenty-eight months, to the Beowulf novelization, at maybe three months (I would disqualify the latter, as I was working from a shooting script for the movie and also had numerous earlier drafts of the script and the source material to guide me). Also, my novels usually start out slow, the writing of them, and then I end up doing the bulk of a ms. in the last four or five months, as the pieces fall into place. Point being, for me, the time varies wildly. And I would say, it's all about the time I need to write the book the way it needs to be written. Trying to force a writer to write faster is, in my opinion, idiotic, and it will almost always result in a compromise in quality. I write novels, and whether you think they are good novels or bad novels or mediocre novels, they are novels, not product. This is not manufacturing. There is no assembly line. There is what my mind can do, given the strictures of my health (both mental and physical) and other non-writing concerns and interferences. That's all I can do. If that's not good enough, I'm screwed. So far, it's worked out, though I know my editor would be happier if I could produce more regularly. I know my agent worries about this. I know, in a sense, it has held me back from gaining a wider audience. But it's the best I can do, which is all that can ever be fairly asked of any artist. So, when all is said and done, my advice is take the time you need. Artistically, getting it right is more important than getting it published, even if it means you'll never be published.

However, those of us who have —— I would say unwisely —— chosen fiction writing as a career must to some degree cater to the needs (or perceived needs) of our publishers and readers, and the deadlines they set for us. It is, I would say, a necessary evil, that schedule that comes along with contracts and an audience and money and promotion and actual, printed books. In an ideal world, readers (who i will never, ever call "consumers"), would understand that any given book requires X amount of time to be written, X being an indeterminable variable. So would publishers. And they would be patient and give us the time that is required. This, you do not need me to tell you, is hardly an ideal world. And a working writer must accept these deadlines, on some level, or get out of the game. Unless you're Thomas Pynchon. It's not an issue of whether the publishers are right or wrong. If you are lucky enough to have a publisher (and it is, mostly, luck, luck and perseverance), and if that's where some large percentage of the money that pays your bills comes from, then you accept this and live with it as best you can. I cannot produce a book a year, but I do try. After all, if I could write simply 500 words a day (my old standard), I could write a 100,000-word novel in only 200 days, easy as pie. Much less than a year. Of course, it's not really about the time it takes to put the words down on paper, but the time it takes to find the words in your mind, and there's the wicked, wicked catch.

Not much to say for yesterday, beyond the writing. The cool air was greatly appreciated. I went with Spooky to the market. Pasta salad for dinner. A great deal of unpacking, finally. Just after midnight, I allowed myself to go on Second Life, and I spent most of that time in the library in Toxia, in my usual place on the sofa. That was yesterday. And I need to wrap this up, but I wanted to mention that late today or sometime tonight or maybe tomorrow, I'll be starting our Queerest Auction Ever (QAE; but not, sadly, in the homosexual sense of the word "queer"), which will be two flaps (auctioned seperately) from cardboard boxes used in the move. Bored, I drew on each before we left Atlanta. Monster doodles. Seems a shame to throw them out, especially given how much more the move cost than we'd expected. I'll keep you posted, natch. Also, I want to repost the link to Spooky's Amazon wish list. Her birthday is June 24th this year. And every other year, I suppose...

My Amazon.com Wish List
greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
Today marks the fourth anniversary of my having begun keeping this LiveJournal on 15 April 2004. You can see that entry here, if you're interested. Since that day, I have made 1,706 entries in the journal, received 19,503 comments, and made 5,484 comments of my own. When it began, I was waiting for Murder of Angels to be released and had not yet begun writing Daughter of Hounds. We were living in a loft over in the old Kirkwood school. Of course, this journal, sensu lato, actually goes back to 24 November 2001, when I was just beginning to write Low Red Moon, and Neil talked me into keeping a blog. You can read the very first entry, on Blogger, here.

This line from Danielewski's House of Leaves:

We all create stories to protect ourselves.

I think it's going to end up being an epigraph for The Red Tree. Speaking of which, I spent an hour or so talking over the narrative structure with Spooky yesterday, first person and the problems thereof, the ins and outs of an epistolary narration, and a bit about my protagonist, Sarah Crowe. I already knew that the novel would be set in rural west-central Rhode Island, and after talking with Spooky, I spent an hour or so with Google Earth, tracking down just the right spot. I found it off Barb's Hill Road, north of Coventry, southwest of Foster and Moosup Valley. Unlike all my previous novels, this one shall come close to observing Aristotle's rule regarding "unity of place" in drama. Almost all the story's action will occur on the old farm where Sarah is living. The house standing there now was built around 1850, I think, though it was built on the foundation of a house that was erected on the spot in the late 1700s. After all the talk and Google Earth, I wrote what I hope will prove to be the first 705 words of Chapter One. So, work yesterday.

Having done the Beowulf novelization last year, I'm getting some curious sorts of offers. I've just passed on doing a Guild Wars novel. I will not go tumbling down the slippery slope of media tie-ins.

The postman brought me cover flaps for the mass-market paperback of Daughter of Hounds, which will be released on September 2nd, 2008. It looks good. Also, the signed contracts and IRS forms for the German translations of Threshold and Low Red Moon went into the mail.

Once again, I did not leave the house yesterday. I have to make myself go outside today, as it has now been...almost five days. Spooky spent much of yesterday packing. Yes, the packing has begun. It makes me antsy.

Last night, I watched two episodes of How It's Made on TLC, which I find very oddly soothing. I watched part of an episode of Spongebob Squarepants (which I just find odd). And the rest of the evening went to some rather intense rp with the Omegas in Toxian City (Second Life). Nareth took out her straight razor and gave a...demonstration...in control, and in anatomy, and also in self denial. Her thrall, Nicholette, having committed a rather grave insult against her, was the canvas. It might actually make a nice piece for Sirenia Digest, with just the right sort of tweaking. But, still, I was in bed by 2:30 ayem.

I think I need to read Le Fanu's "Carmilla" again...
greygirlbeast: (Bowie1)
Slowly retrieving some of that lost sleep from last week. A full eight hours last night. I'm feeling much, much better, thank you. Sleep deprivation is one of the worst things for me just now, and I've made a new resolution to be in bed by two ayem every night. I may not be asleep, but at least I'll be in bed.

Today, with luck, I will begin writing The Red Tree. I now have four and a half months to write the novel, and I'll easily lose two weeks of that to the move. Yesterday, I finished Michael E. Bell's Food for the Dead: On the Trail of New England's Vampires (2001), a really excellent book treating the folklore of the tuberculosis-related cases of "vampirism" from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, etc. I first encountered the book at the Peace Dale Public Library (one of the most beautiful libraries in South County) in August 2006, while doing research there, and I scarfed a used copy of the book somewhere or another, but it's taken me this long to get around to reading it.

Yesterday, I also read "Ichnotaxonomy* of bird-like footprints: an example from the Late Triassic-Early Jurassic of Northwest Argentina" in the latest Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. After dinner (Spanish rice with chicken, pintos with jalapeños, fresh avocados and tomato), I did a nice bit of rp with Lorne, Brit, Nicholette, and Artemisia (er...Spooky) in the library in Toxian City. Then Spooky and I watched Danny Boyle's Sunshine for the fourth time. Later still, I organized the hard-drive on my old iBook (Victoria Regina) while she read me a couple more chapters of House of Leaves (this will be our third time through). That was yesterday, pretty much.

Most of the stress during the last couple of weeks has derived from our trying to find a place to live in Providence, a living space suited to our particular needs and my particular aesthetic. We thought we'd found something good in Elmwood, but it turned out not to be so good after all. Don't even get me started on the three front doors. But yesterday, Spooky's mother looked at an apartment near the Armory District, which we think is going to be the place. It's perfect. So, the stress level has lessened considerably. Now, I just have to contemplate the nightmare of packing and making the actual move. We'll likely leave Atlanta sometime between mid and late May, so, not much time left at all.

I've not left the house since we got back from the Colin Meloy show on Thursday night, mostly because the weather turned cold after the thunderstorms on Friday. The warm-up is coming slower than predicted. It's been a chilly spring. I don't think we've had a single day in the '80s (Fahrenheit) yet. Right now, it's 48F, but feels like 42F with the wind chill.

My thanks to David Kirkpatrick ([livejournal.com profile] corucia) for the following photo (behind the cut), taken in a local (for him) Barnes and Noble in Minneapolis. I've always been annoyed at authors who measure their success by how many inches their books take up on the shelves of a bookshop, but, after most of these novels went out of print two years ago, seeing them back, seeing that I presently have five novels and a novelization on the shelves (and that they appear to be in the "science fiction and fantasy" section, not "horror"), is somewhat reassuring, I must admit.

Shelfage )


Oh, and I have this comment from [livejournal.com profile] reverendcrofoot, regarding the age of the narrator in The Red Tree: "See, the thing with age is unless the author says it directly it's really hard to tell. I would have never guessed Dancy's age if you hadn't told me...Make her whatever age you want, but just don't tell us how old she is...avoid it. It would be interesting to see the ages people guess."

It would be interesting, perhaps, but I am far too visual and specific in my writing to allow the age of a central character (or most minor ones) to go unstated. How Sarah Crowe will face the trials of the novel, who she is, and so forth, all that stems from the sum of her life experiences, which can be measured, in part, by her age. A twenty-year-old woman would very likely not cope with these experiences the same way that a forty-four-year-old woman would, and much of what concerns me as an author is how a character acts or reacts (truthfully, I would argue action and reaction are synonyms) in any given situation. That was one of the joys of writing "Salammbô Redux (2007)" for the 3rd edition of Tales of Pain and Wonder, having the opportunity to go back and look at a character I first wrote as a preteen, now in her forties. So, interesting idea, but it would never work for me.

Oh, and I think today is the last day to vote in the 2008 Locus Poll & Survey. Many of my short stories are eligible, and Daughter of Hounds made the drop-down menu in the "Best Fantasy Novel" category.

Okay. Time for the juice of the bean.

* An ichnotaxon is a taxon — a family, genus, or species — based solely on evidence derived from fossil footprints (or other traces, such as the burrows left by marine animals). When I lived in Birmingham, back when I was still doing paleontology, I was often aided by Andy Rindsberg, a friend and inchologist, Curator of the paleontological collections of the Alabama State Geological Survey.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Winter returned to Atlanta with a vengeance. Lows in the 20s, windchills in the teens. Ugh. But we're supposed to be back up into the 60s by Saturday.

I spent yesterday on Sirenia Digest #27. I read over the story that is not called "Untitled 33," but is, in fact, called "Beatification," and made a few edits. It's dark, visceral, but I think it's also one of the most intensely erotic pieces I've yet written for the Digest. I wrote a longer-than-usual prolegomena. Oh, and I'd decided the day before, after talking with my agent about Joey Lafaye, that I'd include Chapter One of the book in this issue, as a sort of "sneak preview." Anyway, back to yesterday, I also picked two older pieces, because we've got quite a few new subscribers this month, and I wanted to give them a better idea of what the Digest is like on those months when I've not had to deal with dental trauma and the flu and such. I chose "The Sphinx's Kiss" and "Untitled 23." Both of these stories include a Vince Locke illustration. So, this month is an extra-long issue, 47 pages, including 9,567 words of previously unpublished fiction. At this point, I'm just waiting on the final inks of Vince's illustration for "Beatification" before sending the issue out to be PDFed. It should go out to subscribers tonight or tomorrow.

Not a whole lot else to report in this entry. I've been watching far too much television, including a marathon of seven episodes of Angel Tuesday night, which brought us to the end of Season Three. Last night, we watched Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited (including the short "Part 1" feature, The Hotel Chevalier), which I loved. Wes Anderson has become one of my favorite "new" directors. I've dubbed his films morosely upbeat, which seems about right. Spooky made a wonderful chicken soup last night, with tomatoes and kale, tons of garlic and mushrooms, thyme, sage, bay, and so forth.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions if you have not yet done so. Bid if you are able and so inclined. This is probably the only copy of the Japanese translation of the Beowulf novelization that I'll be able to offer. Also, I think the new edition of Tales of Pain and Wonder should be shipping any day now (unless it already has). I believe, at this point, the edition is 80% sold out, so if you haven't ordered, and you intend to, now would be better than later.

Time to make the doughnuts....
greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
I woke about 7:30 this morning to the commotion of the most wonderful thunderstorm, rain coming down in great roaring sheets, lightning. I fell asleep again listening to the storm, but have no recollection of whatever dreams followed.

Yesterday afternoon, still without an idea for another vignette for Sirenia Digest #27, I got in touch with Sonya ([livejournal.com profile] sovay) and asked her to please toss a couple of ideas my way. The first few, I could see straight away, were doomed to become actual short stories, but then she gave me one word, "Snegurochka." Marvelous! Unfortunately, then I had the call from my agent regarding Joey Lafaye, and Spooky and I needed to proofread "The Steam Dancer (1896)" for Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy, and there was eBay to be done...so, at the end of the day, I still had not begun a second vignette.

Though I'm not making the final decision until tomorrow, I think that Sirenia Digest #27 may be comprised of the one new vignette, plus two reprints from early issues. We have so many new readers this month, that will help to give them a more balanced idea of what to expect from the Digest. Of course, I also might miraculously produce a second vignette today, in which case, #27 would be two vignettes and a couple of reprints. Hopefully, everyone will be cool with whichever way this goes. This month has been a disaster, but it was being sick the last two weeks that really screwed things up good and proper. At any rate, expect #27 on Thursday or Friday.

We had a good walk yesterday afternoon, about a mile there and back again. We walked to Videodrome and rented Olivier Dahan's La Vie en Rose (aka, La Môme), and now I see that it really is a beautiful, brilliant film. Marion Cotillard's performance is sublime, and the makeup artists were, indeed, deserving of that Oscar.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions, which include a copy of the Japanese edition of the Beowulf novelization. Thanks. And because Amazon, with their "bargain books" boondoggle, is still making it rather difficult to find some of the new editions of my novels, the ones I will be judged by the sales of, here are the links again:

Daughter of Hounds

Silk

Threshold

Low Red Moon

Right, platypus. First coffee, then email...
greygirlbeast: (tilda)
Just something quick. We've begun two new eBay auctions earmarked specifically for the medical bills: a copy of the Japanese translation of the Beowoulf novelization (with a free copy of the UK edition) and a copy of the Tails of Tales of Pain and Wonder chapbook, which I am auctioning before the release of the collection, with Subterranean Press' kind permission. Please have a look at these. Thanks.

Also, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] robyn_ma for this link to a rather thoughtful, and sometimes hilarious, summation of the '08 Oscar ceremony @ Salon.com (written by Cintra Wilson):

In a year where most of the actresses were shielded from their own regrettable taste by professional stylists like Rachel Zoe, best supporting actress winner Tilda Swinton, at least, was bravely and refreshingly fashion-forward enough to look bonkers. She wore no makeup and what looked like a velvet Isamu Noguchi coffee table, and spoke in insouciant, artistic free verse about Oscar's naked buttocks in the great weirdo-artiste tradition of Dustin Hoffman.

That was pretty much it for iconoclasm during the evening. They really should learn to invite Björk every year.


Oh, and:

This Oscars was noteworthy, though, if only because it featured the worst musical interludes since the Great Debbie Allen Interpretive Dance Meltdown of 1999. The Disney movie "Enchanted" somehow had three completely unsingable, perversely idiotic, overproduced, melody-free songs nominated. Amy Adams sang the first of these: a frantically upbeat anthem about being vermin and doing menial labor -- kind of a "Whistle While You Work" number that had suspiciously happy housewife/sweatshop/totalitarian overtones.
greygirlbeast: (Amano)
Generally speaking, when seen from space, the earth is a blue planet. Not a green planet. I was thinking this some indeterminable number of weeks ago, after a barrage of "green" television commercials — everything from "green" house cleansers to "green" automobiles to "green" oil companies. Whatever genuine meaning the word might have ever held for environmentalists, it has now been co-opted and lost to doublespeak and marketing/PR strategists. However, since this world is actually a blue world, and not a green world, the only damage that has been done is that a lot of gullible (if, perhaps, well meaning) people have been suckered into believing that they're doing good when they're only adding more crap to the landfills and more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

Yesterday, I did 1,132 words on the story that will not be called "Untitled 33," and came rather unexpectedly upon the ending. It's a vignette, which was, after all, the original purpose of Sirenia Digest. I only partly suspected I'd found the ending, but then Spooky read it aloud, and she said, "That's the end." So, there you go. I went ahead and sent it to Vince Locke to be illustrated. Today, I will try to find a second vignette for #27. Oh, and I've had several people email or comment that they don't mind if the digest is a little late, to which I reply, thank you, it's a kind and generous and appreciated sentiment, but just because my brain has decided to start having these stupid little electrical storms, it doesn't mean I'm going to start slacking off.

Yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] sovay asked for photos of the Japanese edition of the Beowulf novelization, and I meant to take some photos, but never got around to it. Sorry. Maybe tomorrow. I'm thinking of adding one copy of the Japanese edition to the eBay auctions. Also, if you intend to pre-order the 3rd edition of Tales of Pain and Wonder, which comes with the FREE Tails of Tales of Pain and Wonder chapbook, perhaps you should do so before much longer, as I am told it will likely sell out soon.

Spooky made a marvelous Indian dinner last night — a brown curry with potatoes, carrots, and beef, along with nan and samosas. Later, Byron came by for Torchwood, and afterwards we talked for a while. It was the first time we'd seen him in a couple of weeks.

I take it as some bit of evidence that I have begun to heal from the idiocies of 2005 that I'm actually interested in the Oscar telecast this year. I've always been sort of an Oscar nerd, then in 2006, I just didn't care. In 2007, I simply forgot to watch, which had never happened before. But this year, I'm actually somewhat excited. It probably helps that there are so many good movies nominated, and that I've seen a fair number of them. Anyway, later today I'll do my obligatory Oscar post, my list of who I think ought to win.
greygirlbeast: (platypus2)
It is with great relief that I can report that yesterday I wrote 1,173 words on a new piece for Sirenia Digest. It doesn't have a title yet, but I know it won't be called "Untitled 33." I was slightly annoyed, after getting quite a ways into the piece to realize that it shares a good bit in common with "Untitled 31" from #25. Spooky says this is not a problem, and I'm trusting her, because I like where it's going.

Also, yesterday the UPS guy hurled a package from HarperCollins onto the front porch. Turned out it contained comp copies of the UK and Japanese editions of the Beowulf novelization. The UK edition is fairly unremarkable, virtually indistinguishable from the American mass-market paperback, but the Japanese edition is a gorgeous little thing. Not as gorgeous as the Korean translation, but very, very cool, nonetheless.

And Subterranean Press is now reporting that the 3rd edition of Tales of Pain and Wonder, currently their featured title, will be shipping next week to those who have preordered.

Still grey out there, but we're supposed to get a high of 57F today, and there's supposed to be sun this afternoon. Last night, Spooky found a pointy stick and made me leave the house for the first time in a week. She herded me into the car, and we stopped at Videodrome, where we rented Calum Grant and Joshua Atesh Litle's magnificently underwhelming Ever Since the World Ended (2001), which I think is evidence I should leave the house even less often. Oh, and we watched two more eps from Season Three of Angel ("Couplet" and "Loyalty").

Okay. Just a reminder that the current eBay auctions continue. Now, it's time to make the doughnuts.
greygirlbeast: (Shai-Hulud)
Winter finally came with a fucking vengeance, and right when I began having the inevitable trouble with Joey Lafaye. Or there is no coincidence here at all, and the cold weather has brought the difficulties. Bitter cold for Atlanta. And wet and just vile. And this house is a sieve, not good in weather of this sort, no insulation to speak of, so hot baths are the only genuine way to escape the cold for a little while. But, it looks as though we have sun today, which should warm things up a little (even if it also means bottomless carnivorous skies).

As I have said before, I can only write, "Yesterday I did not write" so many times before I start wanting to gouge my eyes out with rusty grapefruit spoons. That's why there was no entry yesterday. But yesterday I think I finally found What Happens Next, which was nothing at all like what I thought would happen next, and if I am right and this is the scene I've been looking for, it will violently change the tone of this novel. It'll also mean I have to do a slight rewrite on the prologue. But, so far, it feels like what happens next. We shall see.

On Saturday, the post brought me six copies of the Italian translation of the Beowulf novelization, and I discovered that in Italy it was printed as a hardcover. Then, yesterday, the post brought a big box from HarperCollins with copies of the Portugese, Korean, and Polish translations. All three are trade paperbacks, and all three are more attractive than the little American mmp edition. But the Korean edition, which does not use the movie poster art for the cover, is absolutely beautiful. It even has glitter on the spine! And no, I have no idea what the hell glitter has to do with Beowulf, but damn it's a pretty book. I should also note that the Korean publisher was the only one who bothered to consult with me during the translation, and that there is, of course, irony in that the book recently had that very vocal Korean detractor on Amazon.com. I've never had any American edition of any of my novels look half so wonderful as this Korean translation (excluding, of course, the beautiful subpress editions). So, yeah, that was a welcome diversion, the novelization in all these many languages. I really want to see it in French and German now.

Last night, Spooky dragged me out into the cold, because I'd not left the house since Friday, before the coming of the snow. We had marvelously hot Thai food, and that helped, and then she drove me past the gargantuan snowman someone built in Freedom Park, which will likely take another week to melt.

Tonight is a big night for me in Second Life, as it is the night that my Dune character, Shahrazad al-Anwar, Fremen Naib, has her Taud, her Water of Life ceremony, entering the Sayyadina, undergoing the spice agony, changing the water for the spice orgy, and so forth. I am actually nervous. Like, stage-fright jitters. Plus, assuming Shah survives, she will have become the first Naib who is also her tribe's Reverend Mother (she's already the first female Naib). And there's all sorts of intrigue and weirdness, and all the factions (as observers) and Fremen from the other two Dune sims are invited...so, yeah, stage fright. So, a big night for Dune:Apocalypse this evening, and hence the Shai-Hulud icon for this entry. The ceremony begins at about 7 p.m. SLT, which is 11 p.m. CaST, so I have about ten hours and twenty minutes until the curtain goes up. I think someone's going to shoot video for YouTube, so hopefully I can link to that eventually.

Note that we have eBay auctions ending today, so please do have a look. Thanks!

Coffee's getting cold, so that's all for now. I must make the words. I must stop second guessing myself and write the words. Meanwhile, may Shai-Hulud clear the path before you.
greygirlbeast: (cleav2)
Finally, it's uncomfortably cold in Atlanta. As the globe warms, autumn doesn't really seem to be ending here until mid-January. Yesterday, about 5 p.m. (CaST) it began to snow, and the snow continued to fall until well after dark. For at least two hours, white stuff fell from the skies. I lay in the living room on the chaise, staring up into the twilight sky, pleased at the sight of the heaviest snowfall I think I've ever seen in Atlanta. And we learned that Hubero hates snow. By 7 p.m. or so, we had maybe a quarter of an inch. We took some photos, which are behind the cut:

Dandruff from the sky! )


As predicted, yesterday was spent reading what presently exists of Joey Lafaye, the prologue and first chapter. Spooky read, and I listened. And then I sat down and figured out that I have 18 weeks or so until the ms. is due in New York. Only 18 weeks, mind you, and 3 of those weeks, at least, have to go to Sirenia Digest, which leaves me a mere 15 weeks or so. And since the contract is calling for a novel that is approximately 100,000 words in length (I'd have preferred something closer to 70,000 for this one), that means I must write a minimum of 6,034 words per week to make my deadline (as I have, thus far, written only 9,749 words on the book). It's doable, just barely, even with the several days I'll be losing to the trip to Maryland to speak at the O'Neil Literary House at Washington College (in April). Of course, there are writers I know who could do this in their sleep, even with the Digest thrown in. I just don't happen to be one of them (or want to be one them), so I'll have to do it while awake.

Oh, and I answered a lot of email yesterday. Later, I watched two episodes of Project Runway 4 (it feels like I never watch TV anymore). The prom-dress episode was completely vomitous and silly, but the "Avant-Garde" episode made up for it. I truly loved the punky, futuristic coat that Victorya and Jillian created. It might be the most fabulous thing I have ever seen made on the show, and I would wear it forever. Chris and Christian also did a fantastic job with their "48 yards of organza." But I also liked Kit and Ricky's dress quite a lot, and Nina needs to get a clue (Santino knew this, and no one would listen to him), and I was very sad to see Kit go, as she is just too cute to be believed. And I know that most of you neither know nor care what I am on about, but yes, I am a fashion nerd (even if I dress like a steampunk bulldyke), and it can't all be word counts and narrative angst, now can it?

And this morning, I have an email from my Beowulf editor at HarperCollins (or HarperPrism, or whatever), saying he's sending me copies of the book in Polish, Italian, Korean, and Portuguese. Which I think is about a third of the languages it's being translated into. Oh, and we have begun a new round of eBay, which you may see here. And I just got Vince's finished art for "The Collector of Bones," and it is awesome.

Oh (again), and here's a question from yesterday's reader comments (thank you, [livejournal.com profile] wistful_nana_o), which I will treat as a sort of micro-interview, because that's sort of what it is, and I don't really do interviews anymore (behind the cut):

three questions )
greygirlbeast: (white3)
There were plans for yesterday, a long road trip and "field work" for Joey Lafaye, but the weather turned shitty, and it's still shitty today. There was rain yesterday and last night, something that has become almost mythical here in Atlanta. A cold, stinging rain, and if it did that for a couple of months, it might save us from the Great Water Riot of 2008. Or not. Oh, and I was up way the hell too late on Friday night, until something like 4:30 ayem, and that also messed with my plans for yesterday. No rain today, just cold and grey.

Instead, I stayed in and began proofreading the galleys for Tails of Tales of Pain and Wonder. Spooky and I spent a couple of hours writing out a sort of prospectus for "The Crimson Alphabet," parts one and two. We have a least one word for each letter at this point. Several people said they wanted to see me do "The Crimson Alphabet," and no one said they didn't, so I interpreted that as a vote of confidence. Oh, and I managed to combine three boxes of paperbacks (Silk, Low Red Moon, and Beowulf) into only two boxes. They'll go to storage in Birmingham now. I washed my hair. That was the work I did yesterday instead of the work that I should have been doing yesterday. Oh, and I got a $10.56 royalty check, for "Bela's Plot" in Love in Vein II. Over the years, only a tiny handful of the 100+ short stories I've sold have actually earned royalties, and "Bela's Plot" is one of them.

Last night, we had dinner with Byron at the Vortex, then came back here and watched Badder Santa, which I must confess I loved. Quite a lot of films lately, and I can't recall if I've mentioned them all. Friday night, Spooky and I saw Daywatch (Dnevnoy dozor, 2006), which was beautiful and superbly dreamlike, but which didn't make much more sense to me from a narrative standpoint than did it's predecessor, Nightwatch (Nochnoy dozor, 2004). I think it's something about fundamental conventions of Russian filmmaking and/or storytelling that I fail to grasp. Which is to say, the problem is probably with me, not the films.

The latest round of eBay auctions continue, and please note that the auction for Letter X of Tales from the Woeful Platypus (complete with hand-sewn paisley platypus) ends tomorrow. I think Spooky's going to be listing a couple of new things today.

I learned on Friday that, in light of my recent health problems, my editor at NAL — Anne Sowards — has agreed to extend my due date on Joey Lafaye to June. Which is a huge relief.

Here we are, approaching the long cold death before the year is reborn, and so I must remind you of Cephalopodmas, which falls on December 22nd.

One last thing: Clarkesworld is doing a "favorite story of the year" poll, and if you happened to really love "The Ape's Wife," please take a moment to tick that particular box and let it be known. Thank you.
greygirlbeast: (serafina)
A very groggy sort of morning, though I did manage to get to bed not long after two ayem.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,218 words on the untitled prologue for Joey Lafaye, and it seems to be going well. Spooky likes it. Right now, her opinion is all I have to go on, that and my own instincts. The prologue actually happens shortly after Chapter One, and I'm trying to figure out how to make that clearer. I also made more beanie platypi (I'm calling them beanie, because "ricey" just sounds dumb). So, yes, lots of work yesterday, and working almost always helps. The auctions will begin sometime today.

I also finished reading Jim Ottaviani and Big Time Attic's Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards: A Tale of Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh and the Gilded Age of Paleontology (G.T. Labs, 2005). Quite nice, all in all. I have a long-standing fascination with the "bone war" that waged between Cope and Marsh, and like me, Ottaviani's somewhat fictionalized account comes down more firmly on the side of Cope. I think it's truly very difficult to tell the story of that rivalry and not cast Cope as the "hero" and Marsh as "villian." This is, of course, something of an oversimplification, but there's only so much anyone can do in a 150 pp. graphic novel. Using Charles R. Knight as the tale's fulcrum was an interesting approach. Plus, supporting roles and cameos by the likes of P.T. Barnum, Buffalo Bill Cody, Alexander Graham Bell, and Ulysses S. Grant. It makes a nice introduction to an odd and shameful chapter of American paleontology. I was especially pleased with a bit near the end, where Marsh, at his home in New Haven, is entertaining Chief Red Cloud, and the Sioux leader makes the point that such stories as myths and history are about men, not science.

Not much else really. We had a good walk yesterday. I'm feeling less stiff, but tire far too easily. The weather here continues to be more like May than December. There were a few clouds yesterday, and the sky spat drizzle for about five minutes. I cannot imagine anything, at this point, that's going to save Atlanta from a disastrous water shortage. Spooky made a pot of chili. I spent too much time in Second Life. That sort of an evening (and my thanks to [livejournal.com profile] blu_muse for filling Void full of lead, then taking her to the hospital).

I wanted to write something else this morning, something about how much easier it is for Americans to sympathize with the plight of American screenwriters (because, well, you know, movies make money), as compared to the plight of working American novelists, and how this relates to my generally unfortunate experiences the last two years writing the Beowulf novelization. As in, you think screenwriters have it bad, you ought to hear how the other half lives (but yes, I do fully support the current WGA strike). But I need coffee, and I'm just not up to it right now. Maybe later, like tomorrow. Or next week.

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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