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: (Kraken)
Yesterday I did 1,252 words on the new vignette which, as of this writing, is still named "Exuvium."

The weather here in Providence has been grey and chilly and on-and-off rainy for days now. Or so it seems. I can't recall the last time I saw the sun. Then again, I've not left the House since Tuesday. Which really isn't that long, not for me. But the sun would be nice, shining in my office window.

The sea would be nice.

Please consider observing "Black Friday" by bidding on the current eBay auctions, which include a copy of the lettered edition of my long-out-of-print first novel (though it was published after my second and third novels, just before my fourth). Also, check out the Cephalopodmas ornaments in Spooky's Etsy shop, Dreaming Squid Dollworks.

Last night, we had trouble deciding whether to watch Wes Anderson's The Darjeeleng Limited (2007) again, or, instead, watch Jim Jarmusch's The Limits of Control (2009). The Darjeeleng Limited won out, as we were both in need of a comfort film. Later in the night, we played WoW, our new undead characters, and met up inworld with [livejournal.com profile] scarletboi and [livejournal.com profile] memkhet.

No sun yet. It's not the sort of thing that comes when you call.
greygirlbeast: (white2)
A truly stunningly hideous dream this morning, even by my standards. So, just a tad dreamsick right now.

Yesterday, I wrote only 839 words on "The Colliers' Venus (1893)," which looks rather pathetic compared to Sunday's word count. I fear the story might have derailed, and I may have to spend today getting it back on track. This is another one set in my alternate-hitsory steampunk Colorado, in the city of Cherry Creek (known in this worldline as Denver), which was also the setting for "The Steam Dancer" (1896)," "The Melusine (1898)," and "Derma Sutra (1891)."

I should give some sort of historical context for the stuff I'm reposting at [livejournal.com profile] crk_blog_vault, for those who are following it. It's very strange for me, reading back over and reposting those old entries. At the time I began the blog, I'd just returned from my first (and bloody disastrous) move to Atlanta. I was once again living in Liberty House in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, in a loft (#304) next door to the loft (#303) I'd moved out of just a few months earlier. I adored Liberty House, though, sadly, it has since been devoured by the condo monster. Once upon a time, it was the Liberty Overall's factory, there on Morris Avenue, and Jada's grandmother worked there when she was young. The building was built in the 1920s. The ceilings in that second loft were, at their highest point, eighteen feet from the hardwood floors (there was a slope from the back of the loft to the front, with the ceiling becoming progressively higher). Threshold had just been released, and I was, obviously, trying to begin Low Red Moon. I was still doing research on mosasaurs and the Upper Cretaceous of Alabama, and would soon begin doing volunteer work at the McWane Science Center. I was thirty-seven years old, which seems very young now. Spooky had gone back to Rhode Island by the time I started the blog. Sophie (the cat) was getting old, but still had five years to live. I was scripting the last book I'd do for DC/Vertigo, Bast: Eternity Game. My office roof leaked when it rained. Anyway, I'm putting the entries up pretty much as written, making only spelling corrections and such.

Back to yesterday...

While I wrote, Spooky took the car to a mechanic down in Wakefield, to have fixed whatever went wrong with the windshield wipers back in September. She visited her mom, and they went to the Toy Vault (wicked cheap) in the Wakefield mall and found the Severus Snape action figure I've been coveting. Now, if I can just find Dumbledore. Anyway, Spooky drove her mother's van back to Providence, and tomorrow we should get our car. There was a big pot of chili for dinner. We made it through Chapter Two of The Red Tree. But I took a hot bath before we started reading and had a great deal of trouble staying awake for the first few pages. Later, when work was finally done, we played a little WoW. Shah and Suraa wandered from the Arathi Highlands all the way south to Booty Bay, where they drank cherry-flavoured grog in the company of goblins. Shaharrazad got a fancy new wand (35-66 arcane damage, 29 damage/second, speed 1.8) off a Dalaran summoner (human) that Suraa killed, which is pretty cool, considering there's only a 1% drop rate for that wand. Later still, we watched more Firefly.

Right. Coffee. Platypus. Deadlines. Here we go again....

And no, I do not celebrate Veteran's Day. I recognize Armistice Day (thank you, Mr. Vonnegut).
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 2)
I didn't write an entry yesterday because Sunday was the sort of writing day that hardly bears mentioning. I wrote twenty eight words. No, really. And having done that, I realized that I needed to read back over Chapter Six of The Red Tree before going deeper into Chapter Seven...so I read it aloud to Spooky, who was patient and listened. And there was some invaluable discussion afterwards regarding how the book will be wrapping up, because we've reached the point where I need to understand how that's going to happen. Anyway, despite that progress, at the end of the day I was annoyed and disgusted with myself. Fortunately, I made up for it yesterday, by writing 2,144 words on what will be the next to last chapter of the book. From where I am now, I can see THE END, and it terrifies me. And, too, I find myself more disturbed at the impending fate of my protagonist than is usual for me to feel. This is not a book with a happy ending. Maybe my grimmest ending ever, even more so than in Silk and Low Red Moon and Murder of Angels. At least each of those books leaves the reader (and, importantly, she who wrote it) with a sliver of hope. I hesitate to say so, but in many ways, The Red Tree is a more adult book than anything I've written previously. But, yes, a very fine writing day yesterday.

After I was done for the day, we hastily dressed and went out into the world. It was sunny, so we didn't have to worry about the damned windshield wipers (we're still waiting on the replacement part), sunny but quite chilly. I think we left about 4 p.m., and by then the temp was in the mid 50sF and dropping. We drove south, all the way to Harbor of Refuge at Point Judith. The tide was out, and the moon had risen, one night before the first quarter. The late afternoon sky was so blue, but with a few clouds. The air was so clear we could clearly see south all the way to the northern shore of Block Island, a good ten miles out. We went down to the spot where we usually sit, below the Rabbits' Restroom, in the ruins of Fort Greene. But I was fidgety, and we ended up walking along the granite jetty, farther than we'd ever gone before. We finally stopped at the point where the jetty begins to curve sharply back to the west (about 41°21'35.63"N, 71°29'22.67"W), some 368 yards from the place the jetty begins. I wanted to go farther, but the wind was very cold (the sea was calm), and our ears were starting to ache. So we headed back. There were deep tide pools on the harbor side of the jetty, and where the beach begins, great mats of seaweeds tangled with bits of innumerable mollusk shells and crabs. I found my first Anomia simplex (jingle shell). After leaving the harbor, we drove over to the parking lot beside Point Judith Lighthouse (to 41°21'43.46"N, 71°28'50.51"W), and watched a lone fisherman casting in the shallows. The water was filled with the floaters of lobster pots. Tall sailboats passed the Point as the sun began to set, and their sails were orange in the fading day. We spotted a one-legged Ring-billed gull (Larus delawarensis). Neither of us had identified a Ring-billed gull before, and here this one had only the one leg, though it seemed to be getting along just fine. Quite a bit smaller than most of our local gulls.

We left the shore reluctantly, and drove up to see Spooky's parents in Saunderstown. It was almost dark by the time we arrived at their house. I traded her father an older stack of Science for a newer stack. We headed back towards Providence about 6:30, I guess, and stopped in at Newbury Comics in Warwick on the way. I got a used copy of the director's cut of Neil Marshall's superb The Descent (2005), and Spooky picked up volume two of Angel: After the Fall in hardback.

Back home, there were a few hours of WoW. Mithwen has reached Level 26, and Shaharrazad is at 16. We did have some interesting and experimental attempts at immersive rp the night before, Sunday, with [livejournal.com profile] maetrics, an rp acquaintance from my time in Second Life. I can say now that it can be done, rp in WoW, even if just barely, though only if one is willing to worry a lot less about leveling up and such. Also, I'd no idea that night elves were so much larger than humans. Oh, and I bought a guild charter (10 silver), and it will be named the Wrath of Elune, if I ever get eight more signatures.

Oh, while we were driving down to Point Judith, we listened to My Big Hero by 12 Rounds. Spooky had gotten the album from Byron months back, but I'd not heard it. Very nice. Sort of Portishead with a touch of Shirley Manson, perhaps. The vocalist is pleasantly reminiscent of Billie Holiday.

Late last night, we watched The Descent, which was just as terrible and awesome as I recalled. And that was yesterday.
greygirlbeast: (white)
"The Z Word" appears to have (against all odds) grown into an actual story, the sort I have to finish, because Spooky likes it a lot. Yesterday, I did 1,325 words, which is a very decent writing day, but I made her read the whole thing to herself (usually, one of us reads the day's pages aloud to the other), as I had serious misgivings. She pronounces it different from anything else I've done, in a good way. Though, the ABBA blaring from my office was driving her insane, so I had to go back to the iPod and the ear buds. Then she only had to listen to me singing ABBA off key. So, yes, Sirenia Digest #33 will include a zombie love story, built around ABBA songs. All of this rampant perversity has the platypus in fine spirits. Me, I feel sort of dirty. Oh, the issue will also include the deleted "frame" part of Daughter of Hounds, in which the reader sees that the whole story is a bedtime tale being related by one of the Hounds to her changeling and ghoul cub wards in the warrens below College Hill. Plus, Geoffrey Goodwin ([livejournal.com profile] readingthedark) appears to have lined up an interview with a very excellent Russian photographer whom I adore (it's secret until the issue comes out), so I'm thinking #33 is going to be a grand issue.

Because I am an idiot, it was 4:30 ayem before I got to bed. You know, if I was out all night playing poker or hanging out in titty bars, like any self-respecting dyke, no one would think this the least bit strange. But no. I am a goddamn geek, and so I was up working on the Howards End sim, then just hanging out with Misi and Jimmy and Joah and Hya in the skybox, talking about movies and shit, and then I "had" to get over to Corvinus, where my Ravnos antitribu Nareth had to a) attend to the ghouling of her "cleaner," b) arrange a meeting between her Master —— who happens to be a Templar of the Sabbat and a Tzimisce kuldun —— and the head of the local Followers of Set, then accompany her Master to said meeting at a Sabbat-owned nightclub, because you never know when "meeting" is codeword for "ambush." Never mind that Nareth has been afflicted by some mysterious hypersenativity to all light, and her skin is a mass of seeping welts and oozing blisters. So, yeah, 4:30 ayem. But, Sonya ([livejournal.com profile] sovay) has revoked my vampire-privileges over a (very bad) pun I made in the comments to yesterday's entry, so maybe that will save my ass.

My thanks to Beq for passing along a link to this review of Low Red Moon by Ryan Cole of Waterstone's. It made me happy, being called "...one of the finest and most criminally disregarded authors writing today."

Also, there was truly wonderful email from Cliff Miller ([livejournal.com profile] cliff52), regarding "The Ape's Wife," but I want to ask his permission before I post it here.

The "weird tales" involving Swan Point's security continue to trickle in, and I should really go now, because there is email to answer before I can begin writing. It seems that news of mine and Spooky's harrowing encounter with the soul-guarding rent-a-cop has reached Roger Avary in Paris, and Neil in China (where, he says, the internet is really dodgy).....
greygirlbeast: (chi 5)
I'm going to try to make this a short entry, because I woke late (inexplicably, as I actually got to bed at a decent hour last night), and the day has sort of gone off the rails.

A good writing day yesterday. 1,171 words on Chapter Four of The Red Tree. The Shirley Jackson helped, after all. And my thanks to [livejournal.com profile] wolven for making me realize I need to read Borges' "The Garden of Forking Paths" again.

Also, yesterday there was more talk with my editor at Penguin about the book's flap copy, and I got my first look at some of the possible cover layouts for A is for Alien, featuring gorgeous artwork by Jacek Yerka. Spooky spent part of the day considering potential artists to be interviewed by Geoffrey Goodwin ([livejournal.com profile] readingthedark) for the next few issues of Sirenia Digest. All the good stuff seems to be coming out of Russia and Japan these days. Oh, and there was also a conversation with Anne (my editor at Penguin) regarding the cover art for The Red Tree.

I know I have a goodly number of German readers, so here's the link to the Amazon.de page for the forthcoming German-language edition of Threshold, entitled Fossil. I am really quite fond of that cover.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Bid if you are so able and inclined. Thank you. Also, don't forget to pre-order the mass-market paperback of Daughter of Hounds.

Last night, Chinese takaway for dinner (beef fried rice, steamed dumplings, hot and sour soup), and then we watched Jet Li and Jason Statham in Philip G. Atwell's War (2007). It struck me as a nod to old school Hong Kong action films, right down to the absurdly over-the-top twist ending, and I found it thoroughly entertaining.

This morning, we placed the order for the Howards End sim with Linden Labs. It may be delivered as soon as this afternoon or tonight, though it will be quite some time yet before we open the sim. First, the designated terraformer on our build team (we now have, I think, four builders, not counting me and Spooky) will get to work on the topography and warrens, the train tunnel and sea cliffs. All that has to be done before the landscaping and construction of the city itself begins.

There is something I wanted to mention regarding the sim, that I probably should have mentioned earlier. You might call this "Yes, you do have to read." Way back last November, just after the Dune: Apocalypse sim opened, I attended a meeting led by one of the sim administrators, and he actually stated that it was not important that potential players read Herbert's books (or even those written by Herbert's son and Kevin J. Anderson). Indeed, it was stated that the sim owners did not want to "scare people off" by expecting them to know the books. I found this position unthinkably wrongheaded (and said so), and I suspected then, that early on, that the sim was in trouble. Of course, it died a messy death in February, brought about largely by the ignorance on the part that same administrator of the universe in which the sim was set. Though he had been appointed "Canon Keeper," he, inexplicably, seemed to know very little about Dune. Anyway, I am getting to the point. Simply, I do expect the "players" to have a reasonable familiarity with the source material, which would be, primarily, Low Red Moon, Daughter of Hounds, the works of Lovecraft, and a number of short stories ("So Runs the World Away," "The Dead and the Moonstruck," "Night Games in the Crimson Court," "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles," and all the stories collected in Alabaster). The short stories I will likely put on note cards that will be free to players, and all the Lovecraft can be found free online. Frankly, we want literate "players," and if you cannot be bothered to read the stories that have shaped the rp, you aren't right for this. And, fair warning, faking it will be hard. It is not my desire to drive anyone who might be interested away, but the thought that someone would want to be part of the rp, but has no desire to read my work upon which it is based, is insulting, and letting such people in would only gum up the works. Plus, since the sim likely won't open until late October or early November, there's lots of time to play catchup. As we are not looking at this sim as a for-profit venture, it really has only two reasons for being: first, as something for my readers to enjoy, and, secondly, as something for me to enjoy. That's not possible if we end up with members unfamiliar with the books and stories in question. As of last night, we had about half the 25-30 members I'm looking for, which puts us far ahead of where I expected to be at this point.

Time to make the doughnuts....
greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
It's an odd way to start the day, reading Shirley Jackson, but that's how today has begun. I sat here and nibbled at my crumpets with blueberry preserves while Spooky read to me from Chapter 6 of The Haunting of Hill House. I'd awakened with that scene in my mind, frustrated at the similarity between that scene and the scene I have to write today for The Red Tree. So, I had to hear it, no matter how many times I've read The Haunting of Hill House, because I needed to know exactly what Jackson did and how she did it. Theodora and Eleanore getting lost where they shouldn't be able to get lost. And I know that Sarah Crowe, my own narrator, has surely read Shirley Jackson, and she will be reminded of the scene herself, and when writing about what's about to happen to her and Constance Hopkins, it would be unrealistic not to have her draw a comparison with that scene. Also, I'm once again baffled that Danielewski, in House of Leaves, never once references The Haunting of Hill House*, when he references almost everything else, and here the comparison is obvious (and, for that matter, so is Bilbo and Company wandering about in Mirkwood, and he never references that, either). But I digress.

Yesterday was a very good writing day. I did 1,244 words on Chapter Four. Also, I received the flap copy of The Red Tree from my editor at Penguin, and I have to write back to her about that before I begin work on the novel today. It's not bad flap copy, largely because I haven't deviated very far from the "proposal" I made back in April (it wasn't really any sort of formal proposal, just a paragraph or two). It makes me even more nervous seeing flap copy for an unfinished book than it does to think about seeing the cover of an unfinished book. The cart seems to get in front of the horse. But, like I said, it's pretty good flap copy, as flap copy goes. It's one of those necessary evils of publishing, because people insist on synopses, even when the matter in question cannot be accurately synopsized.

This morning, before Shirley Jackson, I got an email from Jennifer Escott at Writer's House in NYC, forwarding an email from Maja Nikolic in Munich (at the Thomas Schlück GmbH, the agency that handles my German rights), with the PR information from Rowohlt Taschenbuch's (my German publisher) catalog announcement of the forthcoming German-language edition of Threshold, which is titled Fossil (which is somewhat closer to the original English title, Trilobite). They even used an image of Dicranurus for the cover, and it always makes me happy when someone gets the trilobite right. I now know that my German translator's name is Alexandra Hinrichsen. Anyway, the German edition will be out in January.

Spooky has begun another round of eBay, so please have a look. Danke. Also, I will remind you again, again, again that you may now preorder both A is for Alien and the mass-market edition of Daughter of Hounds.

The rest of yesterday: Spooky spent a great deal of the day talking with our SL builders, beginning to realize the zillions of details that will have to be juggled to get Howards End (Linden Labs won't let us have an apostrophe) up and running. I finished the final chapter of Dawn of the Dinosaurs: Life in the Triassic, which deals mostly with the question of whether or not the mass extinction at the end of the Triassic was an actual mass extinction, and if so, what the agent responsible might have been. There are beautiful paintings by Douglas Henderson of asteroid impacts as seen from space. I'll probably make myself read the appendices before going on to the next book in the stack. Also, I read "A Positive Test of East Antarctica-Laurentia Juxtaposition Within the Rodinia Supercontinent" in Science (Vol. 321, 11 July 2008) and wished I were a paleogeographer. There was leftover spaghetti for dinner. We made a run out to our storage unit in Central Falls, and the Blackstone River (which runs down from Woonsocket) smelled clean, of algae and fish. The clouds were breaking apart, and I watched the night sky for Perseid meteors, but between the light of the moon (four nights from full) and the city light pollution, I saw no meteors. Quick stops at PetCo and Whole Foods, and back home about 9 p.m. After that, it was all Second Life, until...gods...4:30 ayem.

My thanks to Ieva Lutrova for a rather marvelous beginning to a scene, which might turn into a vignette for Sirenia Digest #33. An abandoned sector of some future city. An android who was somehow missed in the evacuation, and for fifteen years she has continued to dance to nonexistent patrons in an empty strip club. The wandering tech who strays across her. It has potential, and is a wonderful example of how I'm using SL to create fiction.

A few more thoughts on the Howards End sim before I wrap this up. [livejournal.com profile] stsisyphus (and thanks for the email) posted some comments to my entry yesterday that made me realize that there is something I haven't clarified. Though I use the phrase "roleplay," because it is familiar and convenient, in no real way will we actually be "gaming." No dice. No stats. No experience points. None of the tedious stuff. This is to be something more akin to improv theatre, which is what I've always striven for in SL. Improv theatre, where the only audience is the players on the stage. So, truthfully, I'm even more interested in people with theatre background than hardcore gaming nerds. I will not tolerate arguments about what does and does not constitute fair or good or satisfying rp from people who have been into pen-and-pencil rping since Gary Gygax was in diapers. Nor is this rp in the sense that the videogame industry often uses the term. This is something new. This is something different. We have set up two groups so far, "Denizens of Howards End" and "Architects of Howards End," and if you express interest (here or by email or inworld via an IM) you will eventually receive an invitation to join the former (unless you are a builder). But please do note that entry into "Denizens of Howards End" does not automatically guarantee a slot in the story, as we'll need to talk to everyone to determine if they're really right, and if they'll actually enjoy the experience. What I am offering here is the opportunity to be part of an interactive, spontaneously generated novel, to walk and talk and change the course of events in the Providence of Daughter of Hounds. Only this is set before DoH, but after Low Red Moon, which puts it somewhere around 2005, I think. Also, if you'd like to donate towards the cost of this endeavor, just speak up. This whole thing is strictly non-profit, but we won't turn away additional donors.

Okay. Herr Platypus it pointing at the clock and preparing to kick my ass, so I'll wrap this up. Time to make the...well, you know.

* Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] wolven for pointing out that The Haunting of Hill House is, in fact, mentioned by Danielewski in footnote #167.
greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
It would seem that the local pyromaniacs shot their wad (so to speak) Friday night and Saturday morning, as last night was quiet. Thank gods. My nerves were not up to Night #2 of the rockets' red glare.

As for yesterday, no library, because they were all closed. So I made do with the internet, which was barely making do at all. However, there was a significant plot breakthrough, the sort of thing that never occurs to me when I'm actually writing. Also, Spooky had unearthed a rather dubious nugget regarding Lovecraft's paternal grandfather (and the man who was, essentially, the closest thing HPL ever had to an actual father), Whipple Van Buren Phillips (1833-1904). There was a bit of something posted to a UFO-related website, describing WVBP as "a notorious New England occultist." While intriguing and grist for the novel, this seemed, to me, just a bit unlikely, and I emailed Joshi about it. He agrees there's nothing to it, that it may all stem from a tongue-in-cheek introduction that Colin Wilson wrote for George Hay's Necronomicon (1977) hoax. Yes, Phillips was a Freemason, but then so were half the men in my family (okay, that's an exaggeration). Yes, Phillips fostered HPL's childhood fascination with the Weird, but my mother did the same with me, and she's a fairly conservative Xtian. In other words, dead end. However, HPL does have ties to the Moosup Valley region of Rhode Island which I may play off of in The Red Tree. Spooky and I went through a great deal of Rhode Island history yesterday, the Colonial Era through the 18th Century, and then she read me everything that has so far been written on Chapter Two, which, maybe, I'll be able to finish today. The more I learn of Rhode Island's early history, the more I think the state motto should be "Biggest Little Troublemaker."

Not much else to yesterday that's fit for public consumption. I did get some pretty good SL roleplay late last night (thanks to Joah, Cerdwin, and Bellatrix), and yes, that call that went out to the nascent "Sirenia Players" group is still good. Come to Toxia and play a rabid lunatic devotee to Labyrinth. IM me for details, or just show up, because confusion is appropriate when answering the call of Eris Discordia. [livejournal.com profile] blu_muse got some nice screencaps from last night, which you may see here. Labyrinth's new exoskeleton is coming along nicely....

Something I've not done in a while, which I'll do now, is post links to all those books of mine currently in print, the particular editions that need to sell for my publishers to continue to publish books by me. Please grab one or two (or three). And, no, sadly buying "used" copies doesn't help. Thanks:

Daughter of Hounds

Silk

Threshold

Low Red Moon

Murder of Angels

Tales of Pain and Wonder

And, of course, there's always Sirenia Digest.

One more thing for now, apparently some very kind and generous individual purchased the complete Angel DVD collection for Spooky, from her Amazon wish list (it vanished from the list), but it has yet to appear, and she's worried that this kindly, generous someone might have spent their money for naught, if the package has been lost in the mail. So, if you're reading this, and you were the giver, you might want to look into it. She says thanks.

Postscript (5:23 p.m.): I have just learned from [livejournal.com profile] ellen_datlow of Thomas M. Disch's suicide on the 4th. She writes, "I'm shocked, saddened, but not very surprised. Tom had been depressed for several years and was especially hit by the death of his longtime partner Charles Naylor. He also was very worried about being evicted from the rent controlled apartment he lived in for decades."
greygirlbeast: (Early Permian)
The world was deprived of no great entertainments that I posted no entry yesterday. It all goes back to the book I agreed to review for Publisher's Weekly. And the fact that I never do today what I can put off until next month. So, Wednesday was reading, reading, reading — and then I finally wrote the review yesterday. After this, I send it to my editor at PW. But. I was not meant to be a book reviewer. I don't know who would want to be. We'd all be better off without book reviews. And the pay, even when it's good, is for shit. So, yeah, likely I shall not do that again. I have no business mouthing off — in print — about an author many, many years my senior who has written and published far more than have I, and has awards out the wazoo, and so forth. And getting paid for it. But, you know. I'll try anything once...or twice, if it leaves a nice scar.

Congratulations to the winners of the "cephaloflap" and "doodleflap" auctions. They ended while I was looking the other way.

Er...yesterday. Well, besides finishing the novel I had to review, I moved the CD shelf, all the hundreds and hundreds of CDs (and no one should own hundreds and maybe thousands of CDs) from the "middle parlour" to the kitchen. More unpacking. After 5 pm, Spooky and I went to the little farmer's market at the Dexter Training Ground, to pick up our weekly bag of produce (it's a local farmer's support thingy), and this week we got apple butter, a mescaline salad mix, three tomatoes, apple mint, a cucumber, strawberries, and sugar snap peas. And then we went to Whole Foods, and East Side Market. Providence is at its most stunning in the late afternoon sunlight of summer. I'm going to have to walk out onto the Point Street Bridge soon, late in the day, and take some photos. Many boxes were broken down and carried to the street yesterday, as this morning the recycling truck came. No, they're not yet all unpacked, the boxes from Atlanta, but we're at least 90% of the way there. This is coming out all higgledy-piggledy, my recollections of yesterday, but who cares, eh? Late, late, I did some ritual work and also some writing in my Book of Shadows for this evening's seaside Solstice ceremony. Spooky and I took a very short walk about 2:45 ayem (I stayed up too late), and the moon was full (well, one night past) and beautiful hanging over all these old Victorian rooftops. Spooky trimmed my hair, which badly needed it after the ravages of the move. The postman brought the June 2008 Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, and it looks to be a great one, lots of dinosaurs and non-archosaurian herps. Oh, and I got a package from Writer's House (the lit agency that handles me), with half the advance for the German-language editions of Low Red Moon and Threshold, and that was a welcome sight (Amazon.com has gone back to making it a pain in the eema to find the new mmp of the former, by the way). For dinner, Spooky made bow-tie pasta with an arugula pesto and spicy Italian sausages. I read more of Fraser's book on the Triassic (I wish I were being paid to review that). And, give or take, that was yesterday.

Oh, I've made another "word cloud," this time from three paragraphs near the middle of Chapter One of The Red Tree. Also, this one uses two hundred words, whereas the last one used only one hundred and fifty (just click to see the larger version):



Today, well...there's some work, though there likely won't be much. We're getting ready for Solstice tonight and for [livejournal.com profile] sovay's arrival tomorrow afternoon. Monday, though, I make one more trip over to Moosup Valley, and on Tuesday I nail myself inside this office and don't come out until The Red Tree is written (fortunately, there's an entrance to the bathroom from my office). I have lost far too much time, and have far too little time until the book is due. And I know it will refuse to be rushed, even if I had the will to rush it, which I don't.

Yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] nullmode wrote: Having been involved with wicca some years ago and being disappointed by the fro fro nature of what I found there I gave up on it. However, reading your blog and the comments of some of your readers I find myself inspired by the fact that there are intelligent people out there practicing in a meaningful way. So, although I know that discussion indicates that there are not many great books out there, do you have any recommendations? I'd like to re-explore a bit and I was wondering what you've read and liked.

And I replied: I have found very, very few.

First, and foremost, I would recommend Ronald Hutton's
Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft (Oxford; 1999). Also, something of a classic and slightly dated (but maybe good for that reason), Margot Adler's Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess Worshipers, and Other Pagans in America Today (Penguin Compass; 1979, 1986). Those are, by far, the two best that I have found. Starhawk's The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess (HarperSanFrancisco; 1999), in its 20th-anniversary incarnation, is not so bad as many who disparage "fluffy-bunny" Paganism make out. Sure, Starhawk is still full of it as regards buying into Murray's ideas about there having once existed a universal goddess religion and a race of Pictish dwarves and all that, and she can go a bit twee at times, but she has a poet's ear. Too many Wiccan books read like bad goth poetry. Starhawk also gets points from me for at least trying to embrace science and rationalism, for her ecological emphasis, and for generally seeming to regard magick as a matter more of psychology than of manipulation of cause and effect and matter.

Anyway...those are the three I'd recommend at this point. Hutton is the best. Adler shows us what Paganism in America was like before the Coming of the Fluffy Bunnies and the subsequent loss of diversity, before wishful thinking overtook common sense.


Okay. Gotta go. Merry Litha, to thems what observes it. Miles to go before I sleep, and all that rot.
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: (new chi)
How bad can a day possibly be, when it begins by finding a note you left to yourself five years ago, so that you would once again discover the mind-shredding joy that is the Spongmonkeys? And I love that the dorks over at the Modern Humorist deemed the Spongmonkeys "what you see before you die." Indeed. Yippie ki yay, motherfuckers.

Which is to say, yesterday — despite my great empty office — I did an exceptional 1,751 words on Chapter One of The Red Tree and found THE END of the chapter. I think I stopped writing about six pm, but then I went back a little after nine and worked on the chapter's seven footnotes until almost eleven. I think the footnotes work. Of course, what sucks walruses through drinking straws is that now that I am in that space the story occupies, now that I have found the character, I have to set it all aside until after I reach Providence a couple of weeks from now. I should be horsewhipped. But there you go. The packing must be done, and I'll just have to get back into The Red Tree ASAP once we've moved.

Not much to last night. A fairly bad seizure yesterday. More packing. More Millennium ("The Pest House," "Owls," and "Roosters."). Half the day, my stomach was a roiling cramp fest, thank you doxycycline, thank you Miss Tick. Really, I just don't handle antibiotics very well. My digestive system's enough of a mess to start with. And my frelling face still hurts, even though the dentist couldn't find anything (admittedly, she didn't actually open the Bad Tooth). But these are, of course, small, small pains. Did I mention the Spongmonkeys? Oh. Okay. Well, anyway, no Second Life last night. Nary a single moment spent in the metaverse. Late, after Millennium, Spooky read to me from House of Leaves — much of Chapter XVII, which not only deals with the three psychological models seeking to explain why Navidson returned to the house on Ash Tree Lane (the Kellog-Antwerk Claim, the Bister-Frieden Criteria, and the Haven-Slocum Theory), but also includes the letter he wrote to Karen prior to Exploration #5, so much of which goes into Poe's song, "Haunted."

Don't cry,
There's always a way,
Here in November in this house of leaves
We'll pray.
Please, I know it's hard to believe,
To see a perfect forest
Through so many splintered trees.
You and me,
And these shadows keep on changing


I think I'm trying very hard not to think about the impending move. I do not fear it, and I know we'll be ready, but the anticipation is getting to me. Counting today (midnight on the 19th to midnight on the 28th, which is in no way actually accurate), we have only ten days remaining, 240 hours, 14,400 minutes, or 864,000 (or so) seconds. Time approximate, at best. I do dread the long drive (well, I don't drive, so the long ride), with Hubero, who is most emphatically not fond of cars or trucks. I think Spooky is much more nervous than am I, and for her, this is simply going home.

I've not listed the books in print in a while, the ones I need to sell well (new copies, not the "used" copies Amazon gets kick-backs on), in order to remain a publishing author. So, here goes. Please, if you haven't, pick them up. Thank you.

Daughter of Hounds

Silk

Threshold

Low Red Moon

Murder of Angels

Tales of Pain and Wonder

Now, platypus. Where the frak's my coffee?
greygirlbeast: (Late PreCambrian Earth)
So, even though there is absolutely no time for being sick, I'm sick. Hard to tell yet just how sick, but sick enough. It started off yesterday morning as a scratchy throat. Thing is, Spooky's been sick for almost a week, and every time I'd ask her about it, she'd tell me it was just allergies caused by the dust we're stirring up packing. To me, she looked sick, not allergic, but hey, she ought to know. So I didn't worry about catching it. But now I'm sick. Last night, fevers and chills. We have to hope this fucker is short lived, because here it is May 6th, and we leave Atlanta on Thursday, May 29th for Providence. And there is all the packing, and a mountain of work, and deadlines and scheduling that simply can not be Put Off Until Later. I used up all my sick time, back in February. And, possibly the worst problem here is that colds and flu often (since the mid '80s) leave me with a severe cough that can last, literally, for months. After I had the flu in February, I coughed an additional six weeks. And the bad tooth cannot be pulled if I'm coughing, because then it won't heal properly. So. Yeah. It's sort of a disaster.

Yesterday. We spent eight hours (1-9 pm) working on the corrections to A is for Alien, and we're still not done. So, that will be today. We also need to take books back to the Emory University library, but that may have to wait until tomorrow. Today, I get more misplaced or missing commas, fact checking, clumsy word repetitions, and other assorted tedium. Oh, and a good example of why sf writers should worry only just so much about the science in their sf stories. When I wrote "Zero Summer" in the summer of 2005, Saturn was believed to have 43 moons, but now, revising the story in 2007, I know that Saturn has more than 60 confirmed natural satellites. But the story is set in the nearish future. By then, we may know that Saturn has 80 moons. Do I stick with 60, knowing that astronomers consider that number provisional? Do I "guesstimate" ahead? Do I revise the story again in a few years? Frankly, the facts are hardly relevant to the truths of the story, so screw it.

My thanks to [livejournal.com profile] robyn_ma for pointing out that I can now actually see Isabella Rossellini's "bug porn" (Green Porno) at the Sundance Channel website. Yesterday, the site wasn't letting me in; today it is. Oh, and yes, I have downloaded the new, free NIN, and I'm listening to it now.

At some point yesterday, I left Spooky alone to work on the corrections to A is for Alien. I lay down on the sofa, thinking I could at least read the next chapter of Chris Beard's book on primate origins, but, instead, the best I could manage was an hour of being half asleep, dreaming though I was partly still awake. Later, late last night, Spooky read me more from House of Leaves, the terrible scene on the staircase, Navidson trapped alone at the bottom when it suddenly grows to impossible proportions, Tex's story of the sinking of the Atrocity. Not the perfect thing before bed, so then she read me Robert McCloskey's Time of Wonder (1957), which won a Caldecott Medal and is one of my all time favourite children's books. "Where do hummingbirds go in a hurricane?" Beautiful.

I got the following from Alan S. Montroso, via email, "...As was your story "Concerning Attrition and Severance"; its imagery and majesty have haunted me through the weekend. I understand why you felt it belonged in the obscurity of a closed drawer, but I am also grateful such a cruel creature has been unleashed." Thank you, Alan. It's good to see these reactions, because the story's out there now, and there's no pulling it back in. Comments on Sirenia Digest #29 are still welcome, by the way.

I haven't given the list of books in print in a while, so here it is again. And, though it might be cheaper and the "green" thing to do, buying used copies of my novels from Amazon, sadly, in no way helps my sales figures. Sadder still, I have to actually think about shit like sales figures:

Daughter of Hounds

Silk

Threshold

Low Red Moon

Murder of Angels

Tales of Pain and Wonder

And here's the Amazon wish list, because, after all, this has been declared my Royal Birthday Month and -04 is a mere 20 days away.

There's a lot more of substance I wanted to write about this morning, but I feel like unto butt, and somehow I have to make it through the remainder of the corrections to A is for Alien.
greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
Sunday morning. I know it's Sunday morning because the Xtians one block over are wailing like the rapture came yesterday and none of them were taken. I have music (PJ Harvey) playing on the iMac as loud as is reasonable, trying to block out the PentecostalBaptistwhatever whooping and caterwauling. I am fairly certain there are no churches so near the new place in Providence, and if there are, they almost certainly won't be of the yodeling variety. Some nice, quiet Catholics, please, or Episcopalians or something of that ilk. Maybe a synagogue or mosque.

Asleep about 3 ayem last night, but then awake at a little before 9 ayem, after a long and unnerving series of dreams. Mild dreamsickness now, almost three hours since I awoke. I don't recall much of the bloody thing (thank you, Ambien). Even less I'm willing to put down here. But there was some bit where I was sitting on the kitchen floor with a carving knife, and all the lights were out. All the lights, as though from a power outage. It was so dark, and I sat there with the knife, gouging at the wall, listening to something moving about outside, just beneath the kitchen window, rustling through the holly bush. And another fragment, still with the knife, but I was sitting in a very brightly lit room at a sink, scrubbing at the blade. It was clean, but I kept scrubbing at it. The water from the tap was icy cold. I had nothing to scrub at the knife with but water and my bare fingers, and always there was the sensation of being watched.

---

Yesterday, I wrote 1,030 words on a new story/vignette for Sirenia Digest #30 (May; the issue after #29, the forthcoming April issue). For several years now, I've been trying to find a story to accompany the title "Rappaccini's Dragon." Sitting here yesterday, paging through Laurence Gadd's Deadly Beautiful, the story found me. It's a fairy tale, sort of, about revenge, and toxicity, and the limits of the human body as a weapon.

A rather nice little review of Threshold at Rambles.net. I figured I'd mention it, since I made such a fuss about that silly Amazon.com "review" of Low Red Moon a few days back. The comment, "It's hard to believe Threshold is only Kiernan's second book," made me smile, because, in truth it was my fourth novel. The first was The Five of Cups (though it wasn't published until 2003) and then there was the ghostwritten novel I did after finishing and selling Silk (and no, I can't tell, so don't ask). I do wish reviewers would resist this urge to summarize, and remember that book reviews are not book reports. But yes, a nice review.

Otherwise, not much to yesterday. I didn't leave the house. I packed exactly one box (books). Spooky went out and got BBQ from Dusty's for dinner (truly, I will miss Dusty's). There were splendid thunderstorms all night, it seemed. In Second Life, Spooky and I worked a bit on the new wing of the Palaeozoic Museum in New Babbage, then attended a Very Special Event in Toxia. And that was yesterday.

Ever seen a platypus brew a cup of coffee? Someday, I shall have to take photos.
greygirlbeast: (Sweeny1)
I have tried, the last year or so, to ignore "reviews" on Amazon.com, as well as those posted to blogs and suchlike. I am aware that in the eyes of some, it appears unseemly when an author replies to her critics (and I'm being rather generous here with the word "critic"). However, myself, I have always felt that it is only reasonable that the author be permitted an equal opportunity to reply, especially when the criticism in question is demonstrably wrong or wrong-headed and may, in theory, adversely affect book sales. Anyway. Yes. I have been good. But this morning I saw a "review" of Low Red Moon on Amazon.com, posted maybe a month back, and it annoyed me, and then I had a hard day, and so I am allowing myself to fall off the wagon (for one day only). The "review," posted by Kathryn Daugherty ("tropo9"), reads as follows:

In this sequel to Threshold, Deacon and Chance are married and Chance is pregnant. Sadie is Deacon's friend, but neither remember their affair after Chance left Deacon. Even Chance doesn't remember turning back time in the water tunnel to save Elisa, but instead is again freaked out by her psychic premonitions of raining blood.

This story is really about Narcissa Snow, a part goblin child raised by an insane father on the coast of Rhode Island. She is convinced that if she gives the goblins a changeling child, then she will finally be accepted into the goblin community. The child she wishes to give them is Chance's. She travels to Birmingham, committing mutilations and murders along the way. Deacon is caught up in her schemes when Narcissa kills one of Deacon's old friends and the police ask Deacon for his psychic assistance.

The best part of the novel is that the author has cleaned up her language. The narrative is strong and sure. The worst part of the novel is that not for one second can you believe that Deacon loves Chance or that Chance loves Deacon. Why did they get married? Why is Deacon sober? Chance seems to hate Deacon and is always convinced that he is about to fall off the wagon. Deacon feels weak and useless. If you have no sympathy for the main characters and no understanding of their situation, then the author has done a very poor job. It is rather depressing that such a good writer has no understanding of human motivations.


Now...to start with, I must assume that Miss Daugherty means "ghoul" when she says "goblin," as the word "goblin" appears only twice in the novel, and only once, jokingly, as a reference to the ghouls. Secondly, who the hell of "Elisa"? I will assume, from context, that she means Elise. Third, Narcissa was raised in the North Shore region of Massachusetts, north of Cape Ann, not "on the coast of Rhode Island." Okay. So that three factual errors in the first paragraph, when, I assume, Miss Daugherty must have written this review fairly soon after having read the novel. Do I question reading comprehension here or retention of what has been read?

Regardless, what really stuns me is that final paragraph, where we are told that "not for one second can you believe that Deacon loves Chance or that Chance loves Deacon," and her calling into question the possibility that they would have married. This is so idiotic that I'm not even going into all the instances by which I could prove that, while Chance and Deacon are hardly one of those mythic ideal couples you see beaming from Match.com commercials, there is ample evidence in this book that they do love each other quite a lot. And never mind the fact that the "reviewer" seems to be labouring under the assumption that all marriages are successful, or that all married people love each other, or that all married people appear to love each other, and so forth. She's joking, right? Please note, I am not objecting to the fact that she didn't like the book, but to the fact that she cannot be bothered to write an informed review. And as for the line, "The best part of the novel is that the author has cleaned up her language," well, I'm not even going to presume to know what she means by that.

Idiot. Anyway, yeah, you can read (and rate) the "review" here.
greygirlbeast: (Bowie1)
Yes, I am disappointed by the results of the Pennsylvania primary. I don't think that either Clinton or Obama have much of a chance of winning the presidency, and I'm not one of those who sees Obama as some sort of panacea for the ills of this country, but, still. I've been trying to hope.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,125 words on a new piece for Sirenia Digest #30. It has no title, and I'm really not sure, yet, how to describe it.

While I'm thinking of it, here's that list again, those of my books in print, the ones that need to sell, the editions that need to sell (new, not used copies), etc.:

Daughter of Hounds

Silk

Threshold

Low Red Moon

Murder of Angels

Tales of Pain and Wonder

Not much else to say for yesterday. I read a bit of Justine by the Marquis DeSade before I started writing. Last night, I watched two episodes of Deadliest Catch (despite the Bon Jovi theme song), a series I have a peculiar fondness for. My thing about the sea, I suppose. Hauling things up from the sea. The bleak beauty of the Bering Strait.

I think I need intravenous Red Bull this morning... (and it's not even really morning now, as of seventeen minutes ago).
greygirlbeast: (dr10-1)
I'm predicting a short journal entry. Let's see if I know of what I speak...

Yesterday, I began and finished the second section of Chapter One of The Red Tree. A total of 1,346 words, so a very good writing day. At least, as regards the number of words written. Already, I am struggling with doubts. Somehow, the text does not seem as solid, as dense, as detailed, as authentic as it needs to feel. This may all be in my mind, I do not know. I see now that this chapter will likely have four sections. I'll begin the third this afternoon.

And yesterday I had two readers tell me that they find endnotes more distracting than footnotes. So, there you go. I've had readers, in the past, extoll* the horrors of footnotes, that they are distracting, destroy the flow of text, and (gasp) feel pretentious (it's all pretentious, kiddos, as it's all pretend, it's all pretense). So, now I'm not sure what I'll do. I guess I'll figure it out when I reach the end of Chapter One. Also, I have considered inserting the Caitlín R. Kiernan construct as "the editor" of Sarah Crowe's journal, which means that I would be writing the prologue, afterword, and foot/endnotes as "me."

I sat out in the sun a bit yesterday, when all the writing was done, just loving the warmth, dozing, soaking up a little Vitamin D. The sun so rarely touches my skin.

Some reader questions now. First [livejournal.com profile] eldritch00 writes, "Question about the new Penguin paperback reissues: were all of those novels revised? I remember that Threshold was." Here's how it works: Silk was extensively revised for the mass-market paperback Threshold was revised, but not as much as was Silk. Both Low Red Moon and Murder of Angels received minor edits (more in the former than the latter). Daughter of Hounds will receive almost no revision at all (in part, this is because it doesn't need it, and, in part, because I don't have time).

[livejournal.com profile] eldritch00 also asked about the Table of Contents for A is for Alien, and I reply it will probably look something like this (the order of the stories is likely to change):

“Riding the White Bull”
“Zero Summer”
“A Season of Broken Dolls”
“Faces in Revolving Souls”
“The Pearl Diver”
“In View of Nothing”
“Ode to Katan Amano”
“Bradbury Weather”

And, remember, a FREE e-edition of The Dry Salvages will be released by Subterranean Press to coincide with the release of A is for Alien. Also, this from MySpace reader Kate La Trobe:

I always read your blog with interest - have done for years, from London, Holland, the States...wherever I am... and your books of course. You're an incredible inspiration. My favourite is Low Red Moon which I read over many coffees in Amsterdam...am now reading and very much enjoying my recently-acquired Murder of Angels. In Montana! Isn't it great that your work is everywhere?! I always find your books, wherever I am. Usually in shops, and if not, I ask them about your titles and get them to order it in. And there's always Amazon if the worst comes to the worst. Thanks for being fabulously talented. You're enjoyed worldwide.

See? This is what does not make the "Baby Jesus" cry. Yes! I can find your books.

More Millennium last night. Episodes Three and Four. Many more pages of House of Leaves And that was yesterday. Tonight, we get Byron and new Doctor Who and another new Battlestar Galactica. And no, this wasn't a short entry...

* extoll may, indeed, be spelled with two L's, and, to me, extol looks like the name of a neotenic tiger salamander or Aztec god.
greygirlbeast: (chi3)
First, an apology, of sorts, to the people who read this journal via MySpace. A few days back, MySpace mysteriously jettisoned the login cookie that prevents me having to remember my password and which email account I use for MySpace, and because I do actually rather hate MySpace, it was this morning before I could be bothered to try and remember what was what.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,267 words on Chapter One of The Red Tree. And I think that I have decided that there will not be footnotes, because too many people complain that footnotes break up the flow of the text. Instead, there will be endnotes for each chapter, which are really the same thing as footnotes, only they come at the end of the chapter instead at the foot of each page. Yesterday, I completed the first section of the chapter, and today I will begin the second.

It's that time again, time to point you to the places where you can easily acquire copies of all of my novels, and one of the short-story collections, so that no one has to utter those dreaded words, "I can't find your books." (shudder)

Daughter of Hounds

Silk

Threshold

Low Red Moon

Murder of Angels

Tales of Pain and Wonder

Not a bad day yesterday. I was done with the writing by 4:30 p.m. or so, and it was one of those perfect spring days outside. All those shades of fresh green bursting forth against the blue sky, and the sun so white and dazzling. I left the house for the second day in a row. We walked to Videodrome to return Enchanted (which I still name grotesquely charming). Then we got Thai for dinner, and then we watched the first two episodes of Millennium (now that we're done with Angel). Though I truly loved the second season, I missed most of the first. I think Millennium might have been Chris Carter at his creepiest, and I'm just glad it didn't show up on television until more than two years after I'd written my first Deacon Silvey story.

I passed much of the remainder of the evening in Second Life, rping with the Omegas in Toxian City. Really, it was all too complex and wacky and peculiar to try and recount, though Nareth's victorious battle against the sentient interstellar fungi that had infected her thrall's brain was quite invigorating. Later, Spooky read me more of House of Leaves. "Which is exactly when Karen screams." Such a sublime line. Oh, there was a very brief "absence" seizure following dinner, but I think I'm actually getting used to those little ones. So yes, a fine yesterday.
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: (sleeps with wolves)
I've been making myself go to bed at 2 ayem the last two nights (or mornings), and slowly I am catching up on all the sleep I've lost. Still, here it is 1:12 pm, and I'm still groggy. It's cold in Atlanta this afternoon, but we got marvelous thunderstorms yesterday, and the warm will be back tomorrow, so that's not so bad.

Yesterday. Let's see. It was all about getting Sirenia Digest #28 put together. I did the corrections to "Pickman's Other Model" that I marked when we last read through the story on the 18th, but had not yet made. I have a feeling I'm going to have to read over this one one more time before I send it out into the world. Anyway, that took about an hour and a half. Then I snurched HPL's "Pickman's Model" from Wikisource and spent a bit of time making sure the formatting matched HPL's original (there were some discrepencies), because I want Sirenia readers who haven't read "Pickman's Model" to have it on hand. I gathered up some images I want to use in the issue. I wrote the prolegomena, which is mostly about inspiration. So, it's looking like #28 will go out tomorrow. I still have to do the layout today, and I'm waiting on Vince's illustration. Oh, and this issue will also include, for all those new subscribers, one of the older stories, one of my favourites, "The Sphinx's Kiss" (from #14, January 2007). I think I will be very happy with this issue.

Also, yesterday, the contracts for the German-language editions of Threshold and Low Red Moon arrived. Of course, the IRS still hasn't sent me the forms I need to send to my German publisher to prove that, yes, I really am an American citizen (in order to avoid the hefty German taxes). The post also brought a package from Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs, because Spooky had ordered a bottle of their Baghdad for me (amber, saffron, and bergamot, with mandarin, nutmeg, bulgar rose, musk, and sandalwood), plus a bunch of "imps" (and I'm not gonna list them all, but her faves are Zombi and Séance). Baghdad is the new smell of me.

Last night, there was Manhattan-style clam chowder for dinner, followed by a pretty good episode of Torchwood and a very good episode of Angel ("Damage"). I started reading another JVP paper yesterday — "Cranial anatomy of Ennatosaurus tecton (Synapsida: Caseidae) from the Middle Permian of Russia and the evolutionary relationship of the Caseidae" — but didn't finish it.

Another casualty of the March 14th-15th tornadoes, one I have not yet mentioned, was the second of the two trees in Freedom Park that played an important role in a dream I wrote of way back on March 8th, 2006. Somewhere, there's an entry with a photograph of the two trees standing, but the journal's gotten so long, I'll be damned if I can find it. Anyway, one of the two trees was already dead and fell in storms last year. These two oaks were a bit special to me, because of the dream, and because we'd done some magick there, and they were just very fine trees in their own right (which is the most important thing). There's a photo, taken late on Thursday, behind the cut:

Fallen )


My thanks to [livejournal.com profile] furrylittleprob for pointing me to more LJ icons by artist Liz Amini-Holmes.

Yeah. I hear ya, platypus. Where's my damn coffee?

Postscript (2:34 p.m.) — Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] cliff52 for pointing out that the photo of the two trees can be found in my March 10th, 2006 journal entry (third photo down).

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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