greygirlbeast: (white)
First, here's a preview of Dark Horse Presents #9, which will include pages 1-8 of Alabaster #1. DHP #9 will be in stores on February 22nd. So, yes, Alabaster is coming! And Mike Mignola! Imagine that – me, in a comic with Hell Boy's dad!

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Yesterday, there was no writing, no real writing. And yet there was a great deal of work. I finished the corrections to Alabaster #3 (with great and wondrous and much appreciated help from Spooky), then sent them away to my Dark Horse editor, the vivacious Rachel Edidin. And then I wrote the synopses and proposals for the two sequels to Blood OrangesFay Grimmer (you either get this joke or don't) and Puppy Love. I sent those to my agent, then called her and we talked about publishing options. She was very happy with the synopses. I'm looking at writing Fay Grimmer this summer, and then the third (and final) book in August 2013. Merrilee and I also talked a good bit about ebooks, audiobooks, and The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. Then I did some design work on the rest of the website revamp.

Afterwards, I had a hot bath, before calling Rachel (at Dark Horse, remember?), and we talked about all things Dancy Flammarion. Only minutes after that conversation, she emailed me Greg Ruth's colored cover for Alabaster #3, which is unbelievably beautiful. And that was, essentially, work yesterday (if I've forgotten anything, screw it). Today I mean to actually fucking write, beginning Alabaster #4.

My horns came! Now I only have to get my goatish (horizontal pupil) contact lenses. By the way, the horns were one of my Cephalopodmas gifts from Spooky. They are amazing, and as soon as I have the headpiece made, I'll post photos here.

Geoffrey arrived about 8:15 p.m. (CaST), and we had Palestinian takeout for diner. We spent the evening talking about books, our favorite and not favorite authors, good writing and bad, the panel proposals I need to send to Readercon (they were actually due at the end of December), Star Wars: The Old Republic, the hideous folly of 3D films, that which I have been reading and that which I feel like I ought to be reading, Aleister Crowley, the Ruination of Boulder, iPads, addiction, and the trap of genre fiction. I think he decamped for Framingham about 2 a.m. (CaST).

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Speaking of Geoffrey and Readercon, I hope he doesn't mind, but I've got to post this mock-panel description he sent me yesterday for what I think would be the penultimate "horror" fiction panel. It is the truth, plain and simple:

WHY ARE WE STILL DOING THIS?

The antihorror panel. If you look around, any full-timer who’s here from over ten years ago has survived by giving up, writing five books a year, or shifting into thrillers, paranormal romance, or other greener pastures. Even the people in the audience who are currently writing “4 the luv” and think they’ll eventually earn their way onto this panel will regret attending this convention within five years. Horror’s dead for good and we’re the ones who killed it. If it weren’t for tenure, movie rights, and food stamps, the only people in this room would be locals and hobbyists. Yet, time and again, you ask people about this stuff and instead of shame you get stories of tormented childhoods rescued by monsters, women’s breasts, and copious amounts of blood. What’s wrong with us and how can we turn our lives around?

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Okay, regarding my thing about the word awesome. I think there are lots of people misinterpreting what I'm trying to say, which is not, actually, that the word ought to be banned from the English language (though the situation is so frustrating I might have said that a few times), but, rather, that the absurd level of saturation that has been visited upon us by the use of the word needs to end. I'm not a "grammar Nazi," but, for fuck's sake, there are many, many other adjectives (veritable oodles), both proper and slang, wonderful and useful synonyms, that mean what "awesome" is being used (almost to the exclusion of all these words) to mean. And never mind the grotesque permutations ("Awesomesauce"? No. No. No.) the word awesome is presently suffering.

Generally I loathe the Urban Dictionary, but even it understands, defining awesome as "1. Something Americans use to describe everything."

I am not now and have never been anti-slang. Slang is good and helpful. But all good things in moderation, for fuck's sake. How about cool, neat, groovy, nifty, keen, et al. And if you think any of these are too antiquated, does no one realize that this present usage of awesome actually entered our lexicon from Valley Girl speak in the late 1970s and early 1980s (except for Portland, OR, where it never exited and will will). It then exited, and was only resurrected to flood our sentences a few years back. So, toss in some other slang. Pretty please. With a goddamn cherry on top. That would be so bow tie.

And, for now, that's all. Oh, comment, kittens.

Chugging Red Bull, Because She Needs Wings,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Caveat: No one is going to read this, and no one is going to comment. (This is an expectation, not a command).

Bright outside, and warm. I'd be on my way to Moonstone for a day of swimming, if the passing of Katia (the hurricane that's taking a Norwegian vacation) hadn't left the whole Eastern Seaboard with dangerous rip currents. So, instead, I will sit and work. Weekends are for...people who aren't writers. Just like vacations (I'm looking at you, Katia), retirement, and health insurance.

And I had dreams that are nagging at me, even though I can't remember them. And I have a headache I've had since last night. But other than that, hey man, as far as I know, the motherfucker's tiptop.

I don't get a lot of headaches, and they make me extra not right. Sorry.

Yesterday, I worked. Let's be safe and leave it at that. Oh, I will add that I needed Spooky to help me, and she displayed magnificent restraint and didn't kill me.

No matter how much time I spend on the internet (and it's a shameful LOT of time), I have a fairly low opinion of it. But every now and then someone has a good idea, and that good idea actually works. This is the case with Kickstarter, which has made crowdsourcing a practical option for many of us who often cannot find a traditional, conventional source for funding this or that project. The success of mine and Spooky's Tales of the Ravens/Goat Girl Press Kickstarter astounded me. I never thought it would work. But we not only met our goal, we received 212% of what we'd hoped for. And now, with mine and [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy's The Drowning Girl: Stills From a Movie That Never Existed, as I write this we are in the Kickstarter's final hour, and its funded at 298%. So, not only will Spooky and I be producing this wonderful little book based on her raven paintings, but Kyle and I will be creating a set of photographs and a short film based on The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. A couple of years ago, none of these things would have happened. So, thank you, Kickstarter, and thank you donors. We will not let you down (though we may be slow as fuck).

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Last night, rather impulsively, we decided to drive over to the Providence Place Mall (we avoid this place like all bad things that are to be avoided), because there's a Borders there. I sort of felt an obligation to see the end of Borders firsthand. And...it was sort of horrifying and sad and, yet, peculiarly gratifying. Looking at what seemed like, in some parallax trick, to be miles upon miles of empty shelving, it became clearer than it has yet been that we stand at the end of an old age of publishing. I don't want to admit it, and I have no idea what the next age will look like, but there's no denying this is a transitional event. The horror and sadness, that came from seeing books that had, essentially, been reduced to worthless chunks of paper, devalued, stripped of their supposed, inherent merit, 70%-90% off. The peculiar gratification (and I know this is petty), that came from seeing the fall of one of the monoliths that took out so many small and extremely valuable bookstores over the last two decades. What goes around...

But there was, of course, this other thing. This other thing, that was fear. I am a writer, and here is my livelihood, in part, here in the store, and it's dying. No, it's dead, and we were just hanging with the last round of vultures (the lions, hyenas, and jackals left days ago), as the maggot-riddled carcass was picked clean. Oh, I know my career will survive, however the presentation of the art I create might eventually be altered, whatever form it might take. But I'm 47, and bookstores, that sell actual fucking books, that's what I've known all my life. I didn't grow up wanting to write data, ones and zeros, for Kindles or what-the-fuck-ever ugly hunks of plastic. I wanted to make books. And, no matter how much of my income eventually is derived from ebooks, I will, always hate that format, and always cling to the past, which is my present. The book: which is an object with covers and binding and pages, something tactile, something with a wonderful odor, born of ink. This will all likely be swept away in a few more decades or less, excepting small specialty publishers catering to the antiquarian tastes of people like me. But I'll keep writing, and people will keep reading.

And Borders had it coming, just as Barnes and Nobles has it coming. Just as Amazon has it coming. In time, they all fall, because everything does. Because greed is an absolute with a single inevitable outcome.

Anyway, eulogies and nostalgia aside, there really wasn't much left to buy, which made it easy to be good kids. Oh, there were veritable fucking mountains of celebrity bios, especially books about Sarah and Bristol Palin. It was satisfying seeing how many of those were left. There were sci-fi and fantasy paperbacks that had no business having been published in the first place, and tons of YA vampire dreck. "Literature" was gutted, as was "Science," except for theoretical mathematics. We must have been there about an hour (it was very hot, and the fluorescent lights were making me woozy), and we spent about $45, picking those bones, and came away with:

The Fallen Sky: An Intimate History of Shooting Stars (2009), Christopher Cokinos
The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must (1996, 2011) by Robert Zubrin
Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks (2011) by Juliet Eilperin
The Mystery of Lewis Carroll: Discovering the Whimsical, Thoughtful, and Sometimes Lonely Man Who Created Alice in Wonderland* (2010) by Jenny Woolf*
Katharine Hepburn: A Life in Pictures (2009) Edited by Pierre-Henri Verlhac**

...and one DVD, the only one left worth a cent, the two-disc special edition of Tony Scott's True Romance (1993).

---

I'm oddly homesick.

---

Later, I had some decent RP in Insilico. I read Joe R. Lansdale's "The Crawling Sky" from The Book of Cthulhu. Now, understand – Joe is brilliant, 99 times out of every 100. I once had dinner with him on the Thames, a Chinese restaurant on a huge boat, restaurant with some fucking absurd name like the Floating Lotus. Anyway, that's a story for another time. But "The Crawling Sky" is one of those rare cases where a funny Lovecraftian story works. First off, understand that this is like Cormac McCarthy writing a Lovecraft story, filmed by the Cohen Bros., starring Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn. Now, understand that, no matter how fucking funny the story may be, the "mythos" elements weren't being spoofed, but were taken pretty seriously. Anyway, yes. One of the anthology's gems. This line, I must quote: "He had the kind of features that could make you wince; one thing God could do was he could sure make ugly." Lansdale is, among other things, to be lauded for keeping the "weird western" alive.

Gods, what a fucking long blog entry! Gotta work!

* Winner of the Most Absurd Subtitle Award.
** A beautiful "coffee-table" book. How will Kindle fill that gap? How will we have beautiful coffee-table books on iPads? Maybe we'll stop having coffee tables. They seem a holdover from some more civilized age, anyway.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
A rainy day here in Providence. It's nice.

Kyle and I have been hammering out specifics on the still photography/book trailer project for The Drowning Girl, and it's a stressful affair. Well, if you're me. I can make stress out of thin air. Anyway, the Kickstarter is going extraordinarily well (166%)...and...Michael Zulli has just come on board to do the actual painting, The Drowning Girl, which, in the novel, was painted in 1898 by an artist named Phillip George Saltonstall. Zulli has become our Saltonstall, which is beyond amazing.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,480 words on Chapter Five of Blood Oranges, and talking through with Kathryn what remains of the story, blocking it (a term I use instead of "plotting," as blocking is much looser), I begin to see that it's not a ten-chapter book, or a nine-chapter book. Probably, it's an eight-chapter book. Otherwise, this becomes gratuitous. And I'll not have that. Regardless, the word count will be somewhere between 70,000 and 80,000 words.

Some news regarding Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart (Subterranean Press, 2012). The limited edition will include an extra volume (probably trade paperback), containing The Yellow Alphabet and 10,000 words of new fiction (likely in the form of two new stories). And I'll be working with Lee Moyer again on the cover.

---

A thought last night. Actually, a storm of thoughts whirling into a vortex. But, I'll play nice and call it a thought. Singular and calm. And it was just this: In today's subgenre-obsessed market, Harlan Ellison would be tagged a "horror writer." No, really. Go back and read the bulk of his fiction. Usually, he's writing "horrific sf" (as a disparaging Locus reviewer said of The Dry Salvages, "This is what happens when a horror writer tries to write SF"). Ellison's greatest achievements are almost all, at their roots, horrific. They're not about the sailing off into the stars, or the future, or the possibilities of technology, and finding a better world for mankind. Look at, for example, "The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World" (1967), or "Shattered Like a Glass Goblin" (1968), or "The Whimper of Whipped Dogs" (1973), or even "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" (1967). Though hailed as one of the most important SF writers of the 20th Century (I'd simply say one of the most important writers, period, and dispense with your fucking qualifying adjectives), if time were scrambled and he emerged into today's literary marketplace, a new writer, Harlan would be pegged a "horror writer." Probably, he would never receive all those Nebulas and Hugos. Being labeled "a horror writer" would define him in the eyes of NYC editors, and this would absolutely have a great influence on what he could and could not sell and see published. And this would be a crime of the first fucking order.

Stop thinking inside the genre paradigm, people. By doing so, you destroy art and opportunity. It's fiction, all of it. It's all literature. We need no other words to accurately define it. We need no reductionist baloney.

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I don't feel right any longer saying, "Last night I watched television," when, in fact, I streamed video files across the internet from Netflix or Hulu. Anyway, last night Spooky and I gave AMC's Mad Men a try, beginning with the first two episodes. And were very impressed. Then we finished Season One of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and began Season Two. At some point I'll maybe be able to summarize my thoughts on all this L&O stuff. After hundreds more episodes. I also read "New unadorned hardrosaurine hadrosaurid (Dinosauria, Ornithopoda) from the Campanian of North America" (very cool beast, is Acristavus gagslarsoni) in JVP. And we read more of Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and I read more of Denise Gess and William Lutz' Firestorm at Peshtigo: A Town, It's People, and the Deadliest Fire in American History. We're trying to get our bedtimes back to something sane. Maybe 2:30 ayem, instead of 5 ayem. Last night, I was asleep by four, I think. Baby steps.

Giving Genre the Massachusetts State Bird,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (sol)
I listen to R.E.M. a lot, and it will always be the music of Athens, GA, though I actually first discovered their music in Boulder, CO many, many years before I moved to Athens.

Spooky says I'm homesick. I'm not sure she's correct. But maybe it's something akin to homesickness.

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I find myself needing to be tactful, though, no matter how hard I may try, I am never the most tactful of beasts. I get a lot of requests from aspiring writers, requests for me to read their work and/or offer advice on how they can become better writers, find an agent, find a publisher, and so forth. I can't answer all of these requests personally. Not one at a time, I mean. So, I'm answering the most recent batch personally here. And it's a short answer. Or a short set of answers. Truthfully, I can't help you. It's been nineteen years since I began my first novel, and eighteen since I sold my first short story, and sixteen since my first fiction publication, fifteen since I finished Silk, and fourteen years since I sold my first novel. It's been sixteen years since I got my my first agent. Now, the point of all those 'teens is that during the intervening years, publishing has changed, and it's changed in ways I only just begin to understand. For example, I used to type query letters, mail them (in an envelope with a stamp and an SASE enclosed, from an actual post office), and wait weeks for a reply. Back then, books were either paper or recorded on cassette (a few books-on-CD recordings were popping up). I could give a lot more "for examples." But, what's even more important than the changes that have been wrought upon the publishing industry is the simple fact that I'm not a writing instructor, and only a critic in the roughest sense. Sure, you could show me a story, and I could tell you whether or not I liked it. But, for the most part, that's useless to you. My opinion on any given piece of fiction is mostly subjective (aside from correcting grammar and so forth). I might love it. I might think it's a load of shit. A lot of what I think is shit sells like hotcakes, and a lot of what I think is brilliant can't sell for shit. And that should tell you everything you need to know, right there. Finally, I simply don't have time to read your work, not if I'm going to get my own writing done and have some semblance of a life in between. So...I hope you'll accept these answers, and understand them.

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I'm trying very hard to get myself back into the head-space that will allow me to finish Blood Oranges. But it's not going well. I tried to read Chapter Four aloud on Friday night, and I only made it a few pages in. The reasons are complex. My instinct is to shelve the manuscript and move on to the next project. But that would be ridiculous, if only because the novel is half finished. And it was coming so quickly before this wall.

We fall, or are knocked down, and we get up again. Or we stop calling ourselves writers.

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Yesterday, Spooky and Sonya and I escaped the broiling confines of the house, and endured truly horrendous touron traffic to cross the Western Passage of Narragansett Bay to Conanicut Island. Beavertail was dazzling. The sea off the west side of the point was such a dazzling blue gem it might have blinded me. Not my eyes, but other portions of my self in need of blinding. There's been far too much stress, lately. Stress I am ill equipped to cope with. There were more people at Beavertail than I'm used to seeing, but it was still easy to find a relatively secluded bit of phyllite jutting out into the bay on which to spread our blanket. About a hundred yards to the north, a flock of cormorants perched on the rocks. Occasionally one would streak away, skimming just over the surface of the sea. Or one would dive in and fish. There were gulls and robins and red-winged black birds. We fed a gull a cheese cracker. Just north of us was a rowdy lot of college kids, swimming and drinking beer and using watermelon rinds as hats. Spooky and I lay on the blanket. Sonya waded in. We weren't able to stay even nearly long enough, especially considering the the traffic there and back, and how hot sitting in the traffic was (the loaner car has no AC), but Sonya had a 6:27 p.m. train back to Boston. Amazingly, neither Kathryn nor I are sunburned (we did use sunscreen, but still).

Back home, Spooky and I had tuna for dinner. We watched more of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, and our Faeblight Rift toons reached level 18. It was a quiet evening, and we mostly managed not to sweat.

I think I'm going to spend the next couple of days sweating and writing something for Sirenia Digst #68.

There are photos from yesterday, but Earthlink is all whack-a-doodle, so I'll have to try to post them tomorrow.

No Sea, So Less Calm Than Yesterday,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Eli1)
Today is mine and Spooky's ninth anniversary as Us. We actually met in New Orleans in 1999, but there was much caution and testing of the waters and so forth before finalizing the arrangement. Time has proven that a wise move. It's going to be a fairly unremarkable day, though. A little work. I need my hair trimmed (Spooky does that these days), and I'll cook dinner. Our financial situation is currently too precarious to allow for "lavish" anniversary celebrations ("The check will always be late.").

Nine years. Kind of hard to wrap my brain around.

Yesterday, we made very good progress reading through the manuscript for Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart. It really is more of a read-through, and less of editing. I'm making line edits, here and there, but these stories are, for the most part, in very good shape. We read "The Melusine (1898)," "Untitled 33," "I Am the Abyss and I Am the Light," and "Dancing With the Eight of Swords." All fairly long stories. We'll make it through a few more today.

I've been trying to decide whether or not I'll write an introduction. I feel the need to justify these stories – they are profane, obscene, pornographic, and "bizarrely" so. But I also know that attempts at justification and defence would only subvert the stories, when the object of the stories themselves is to subvert normative, non-transformative sexuality. Of course, these stories are no more or less obscene than those in The Ammonite Violin & Others, and I didn't feel this urge to defend them. So, I'm not sure what's up, why I have become more skittish. But I'm reading Angela Carter's The Sadeian Woman: And the Ideology of Pornography, and pondering the matter. Carter writes:

Pornographers are the enemies of women only because our contemporary ideology of pornography does not encompass the possibility of change, as if we were slaves to history and not its makers, as if sexual relations were not necessarily an expression of social relations, as if sex itself were an external fact, as immutable as the weather, creating human practice but never a part of it.

She wrote this in 1977, but it seems as relevant now as it did thirty-four years ago. Perhaps we should consider that all fantasy (including sf) is obscene, as it subverts the normative, immutable view of reality and revels wantonly in the infinite alternatives. It certainly violates. You might even go so far as to say fantasy rapes reality in that act of transformation, as there certainly is no consent involved, between the writer and the "real" world as we know it. That most authors avoid including sexuality in the act of reshaping the world (or creating novel ones from bits and pieces of this one) is, more than anything, I believe, a reflection of our society's sexual hangups. There are exceptions, of course. Consider The Left Hand of Darkness, for example.

Then again, this may all be bullshit defence, where, as I said already, defence likely is both unnecessary and possibly detrimental.

Also, I've let the email back up again.

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Back in the early nineties, I was a great fan of Law and Order. That was just before I stopped watching television for several years. I was especially fond of the seasons with Michael Moriarty as Executive Assistant District Attorney, but confess to being less enthusiastic about the show once Moriarty left and the cast began to shuffle about. Anyway... last week, bored, Spooky and I began streaming Law & Order: Criminal Intent from Netflix, mostly because I love Vincent D'Onofrio, and I loved the Holmes and Watson parallel. The show is pretty awesome. I'm not so crazy about Kathryn Erbe, but she's growing on me. Most of the cast is pretty flat, and many of the actors seem baffled by D'Onofrio's delightful antics. Courtney B. Vance has potential, but rarely opens up. We blew through the twenty-two episodes of Season One in only a handful of days, and are ready to begin Season Two.

Also, we may be moving our Rift guild, Eyes of the Faceless Man, to another shard after all. Spooky's been exploring rp on the Faeblight shard***, and it seems rp really is taken much more seriously there (and the move is free and fast). On our present shard, supposedly an rp shard, we mostly get idiots, and see very little rp beyond our own. I was skeptical that things would be better on Faeblight, but seems I might have been wrong. That happens, on rare occasions.

Now...I should go. I need a bath before work.

In All My Sadeian Glory,
Aunt Beast

*** Turns out, Faeblight has closed to transfers in the last few days. But I have an alternate plan. I'll contact all the guild members.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Okay, so. Back on January 16, 2010, I posted just how much it cost me and Spooky to travel from Providence for me to take part in a reading at the Montauk Club in Brooklyn, a post that included an itemized list of our expenses that night. $111.46, total. And we were only gone about 12 hours, something like that. The point of making that post was to demonstrate why I so rarely travel significant distances to make public appearances.

Our Tuesday/Wednesday trip to Manhattan stands as another prime example. Below is an itemized list of our expenses:

1. Round-trip bus fare (Providence to Port Authority) x 2*: $160
2. Cab fare (three cab rides): $58**
3. Parking at the bus*** depot in Providence: $16
4. Three soft drinks: $7
Total: $241 (for a day and a half)

Now, keep in mind, we had a place to stay, so no hotel bill, and Peter and Susan picked up the dinner tab on Tuesday, then Peter fixed us breakfast, so no meals were purchased. Lodging and meal expenses could easily have added another $200+. For one night. Obviously, a four-day convention is much more expensive.

Now, I also have to add to the total our museum visit, which added $53. But. We virtually never do anything of that sort. Our normal monthly entertainment expenditure averages less than $60. So, you add the museum (which isn't the business part), the cost goes up to $294.

* If you're wondering why I don't save money by traveling alone, the short answer is because I'm not well enough to do so, not at the present. Maybe at some future date, but not now.

** True, the subway would have been much cheaper. But. Our schedule would have made using the subway extremely inconvenient, neither of us are familiar with the routes, and riding the subway vastly increases the odds of catching this or that bug and sacrificing more money to lost days/productivity once the trip is over. I've used the subway lots (last January, for example). This time, it simply wasn't practical.

*** Had we taken Amtrak from Kingston, RI it would have cost us about twice as much.

So, why don't I do more conventions, readings outside Providence, etc.? This is why. Rarely do such activities even begin to prove cost effective. What they do, primarily, is increase my visibility within the community of writers and editors. Most readings net tiny attendance and insignificant book sales (and often lead to bookstores returning the extra stock they ordered for the event, which drives up my return rate). Far bigger names than me often have lousy turnouts at readings. And even if, say, fifty people show up (and for most of us, that's a huge turnout), what the bookstore makes selling books, and what your publisher makes, is likely less than what it cost you to travel to the event.

So, what work-related traveling I do, I choose the trips with great care. I do only those things I really, really want to do. KGB readings, for example. And ReaderCon. Of course, if an event or publisher is willing to pay for all my expenses, I'll usually make the trip; this has almost never happened for me.

I would also add, it horrifies me to think how much I would increase my carbon footprint...

By the way, have I mentioned this wonderful book my [livejournal.com profile] nihilistic_kid (Nick Mamatas), Starve Better: Surviving the Endless Horror of the Writing Life.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
I could not possibly exaggerate the chaos of the last twenty-four hours. I'll say more in a day or two, but my nerves have been on edge until they no longer have edges.

On the bright side, I finished the story for Dark Horse yesterday, two days ahead of schedule. Which means I can take today off before diving into the next story and the race to the next deadline.

Sitting here, I'm having a little bit of trouble actually reconstructing the events of yesterday in any stepwise or linear manner. It was a day like that. My goal for today is to have an afternoon and evening that isn't like that.

I posted the next "Question @ Hand," which you may read and respond to here. Responses are screened; no one can see them but me.

I read "A new Triassic marine reptile from southwestern China," in the new JVP. It's a really fascinating beast, Sinosaurosphargis, a bizarre turtle-like creature that seems to lie somewhere deep in the ancestry of placodonts and plesiosaurs. Also, Spooky and I watched Christophe Gans' Le pacte des loups for the first time since I saw it in theaters when it was released in the states. A brilliant, strange, beautiful, terrifying, sexy film. And, between The Drowning Girl: A Memoir and "Random Notes Before a Fatal Crash," I've been so hung up lately on la bête du Gévaudan. Actually, I've been hung up on the tales of the beast since I was a small child, but it gets worse sometimes. One of the things that makes Le pacte des loups work so well for me is Grégoire de Fronsac's mercy for the beast at the end.

After the movie, a little Rift, but I was really much too tired. I got my main, Selwyn (Kelari mage, necromancer), to Level 22. Selwyn's mute, and she holds some secret and devious congress with the Faceless Man. Oh, I almost forgot. Spooky spent the day downloading Lord of the Rings Online for me. Free, sure. But it took something like twelve hours. Anyway, this is the game I wanted to play, when I began WoW, instead. And maybe if I'd been able to play the game in 2007 or 2008, I'd have been impressed. But...last night? No. Considerable disappointment, after the wonders of Rift. No matter how big a Tolkien fiend I may be. Alas.

Congratulations to [livejournal.com profile] kiaduran on the discovery of her "hobbit tea house" by the sea.

A reminder to those who helped out with the Tale of Two Ravens/Goat Girl Press Kickstarter project, that Spooky's keeping a blog on her progress with the illustrations. Be sure to have a look.

Okay. Now I go forth to slay this fucking day and drink its chilly black blood.

Bound and Determined,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
As days off go, yesterday was a day I truly would have been better spent working.

Comments would be very helpful today.

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

---

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

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

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

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

---

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

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

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

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

---

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

---

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

In Utter Fucking Bafflement,
Aunt Beast

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

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


(Arcade Fire)

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

Postscript (6:19 p.m.): Okay, I will. It was Threshold. And also the novel I ghost wrote.
greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
Utter chaos and panic today. Three looming deadlines. Fear I'll break the novel. Fear of word limits. Fear I won't have the collection edited in time. Fear of other looming deadlines, editors, agents, readers. Insomnia. Exhaustion. Fear. Panic. Rage. Money fear. Isolation.

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

But still, I have been silent.
greygirlbeast: (The Red Tree)










greygirlbeast: (white)
Last night, I learned that The Ammonite Violin & Others has made the cover of Publishers Weekly (Volume 257 Issue 27 07/12/2010). It should go without saying that I am quite entirely pleased and somewhat gobsmacked. Here's the cover (the largest image I could find):



You can read the cover story here. And there's also a nice profile of Subterranean Press in the same issue, which you can read here.

Sadly, not only do I not have a subscription to Publishers Weekly, we spent part of the morning calling bookshops in Providence and Warwick, including the Brown University Bookstore, and were unable to find anyone who carries it. So, if some kind reader could please send me a copy, I would obviously be very, very grateful:

P.O. Box 603096
Providence, RI 02906

I need to let Rick Kirk know...
greygirlbeast: (white)
1. I realized, day before yesterday, that I'd miscalculated* how many days I'd not left the House, by including the last day Out in the tally. Which means that today, not yesterday, is Day 12. Yesterday I set the record, today I break it. Then, says Spooky, I have to leave the House.

2. Talking about the Oscars yesterday, I neglected to say that what I personally consider to be the best and most important film of the year, John Hillcoat's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Raod, was snubbed and completely shutout. In part, I blame the Weinstein Company's half-assed release of the film. But it's all rather inexplicable, since pretty much everyone in the Academy would have had access to the film, regardless of a general release. In the end, I chalk it up to the film hitting a little too close to the mark, being too true, saying too much that people didn't want to hear. And I'm sure all sorts of crazy politics of which I am not aware are at play here. But yeah, it's sort of hard for me to take the Oscars seriously this year, and their failure to recognize The Road is the biggest reason why.

3. Yesterday evening, Sirenia Digest #50 went out to subscribers. By now, you should have it. I never, ever imagined the digest would make it to fifty. Well, technically, fifty-one, since the first issue, in November '05, was #0. My thanks to Gordon Duke ([livejournal.com profile] thingunderthest) for being patient with my annoying requests last night, as I tweaked this and that and the other. Anyway, I do hope everyone enjoys it. I'm very pleased with "Hydrarguros." But yeah, fifty issues. Wow, and as I said in the latest prolegomena, thank you to all the subscribers:



4. [livejournal.com profile] jacobluest asked: Out of curiosity, because you've written so freaking much: I'm seeing your stuff with anthologies that are invitation-only for submissions...like Eclipse is now. I'm trying to build a cosmology here, so I know where to build my ladder. Is it normal practice to get to a point in your career where people are approaching you as a successful writer more than you need to approach them for publishing short stories? Does that wheel ever start turning the other way?

I've been writing almost exclusively for invitation-only anthologies since the very beginning, in 1993 and 1994. I virtually never send someone an unsolicited manuscript, and I haven't in...about fifteen years, I think. How it happened that way, well, I just got lucky, truth be told. But a lot of this is about networking and getting your work seen by the editors and publishers who produce those anthologies. I guess what I'm really trying to say is, I'm not sure how to answer this question, as my path to becoming an established author was a bit odd. I don't have much in the way of useful advice, especially when you factor in that the publishing industry today is so greatly changed from that of the early '90s.

5. Last night, Spooky and I watched Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds for the second time. I think I was actually more amazed by it the second time through. Truly, this is Tarantino's masterpiece thus far. Before the movie, Spooky made a very yummy dinner of roast chicken and potatoes (with lots of onion and garlic), and also brussels sprouts with chestnuts. I ate until I thought I'd burst.

After the movie, I tried to play a little WoW, but coming on the heels of a week of rp in Insilico, I was completely unable to get back into the game. Everything seemed so very, very silly. And I think I realized that, at this point, what I am after— aside from intelligent rp —is immersion that offers me unique and unrepeatable experiences. Everyone who plays WoW, they get essentially the same experience. It's like a theme-park ride on rails. Sure, if you play a blood elf instead of a human, or a troll instead of a gnome, the ride will be a little different, but only a little. And at this point, I've played seven of the races (nelf, belf, human, troll, Draenei, undead, and dwarf + death knight Draenei and belf). Maybe I'll be able to get back into WoW at some point, but last night was so dull I gave up after about an hour.

6. Lastly, I want to remind you that you may now preorder my next short story collection, The Ammonite Violin & Others (Subterranean Press). And, by the way, if you've only bought one copy of The Red Tree, that's easily remedied.

Postscript (3:02 p.m.): This is sort of funny. Turns out, I mis-miscalculated. Today is day 13 after all, not day 11. I'd gotten it in my head that my last day out was the 23rd, but Spooky just pointed out that it was, in fact, the 22nd.
greygirlbeast: (The Red Tree)
The Red Tree is having a particularly good week. Indeed, last night its sales ranking went as high as 3,949, which is the highest I've seen it. The numbers went up some time ago, right after Amazon.com posted that "Top 10 Books: Science Fiction & Fantasy" list back in early November, which includes The Red Tree at #2. With luck, the numbers will stay high for at least another month or so. By the way, this absolutely does not mean I'm suddenly making money off the book; it only means that the book is selling, and so some part of my debt to the publisher, incurred via my advance, is being paid off, and so the publisher is more likely to continue publishing my novels. If it kept selling like this for a year or so, I might see a royalty check.

---

No Writing yesterday. I tried. The best I managed was proofreading the galleys for the reprint of "Pickman's Other Model (1929)" in Joshi's forthcoming Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror. It's a very good story, one I'm quite proud of, and I found a small number of errors.

It's bitterly cold here in Providence, and will be more bitter tonight. What is it Amanda Palmer said in "Coin-Operated Boy"? Oh. "Bitterer." Tonight will be bitterer than today. The sun is out, at least.

Yesterday, the December '09 issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology arrived. Lots of good papers in this one. I began reading "Tethyshadros insularis, a new hadrosauroid dinosaur (Ornithischia) from the Upper Cretaceous of Italy." Oh, and I had no idea that, last year, Greg Paul (a notorious taxonomic "lumper" since at least the '80s) split the taxon Iguanodon into Iguanodon, Mantellisaurus, and Dollodon. I'm extremely skeptical, and it should be noted that most of Paul's "lumping" of taxa has failed to withstand the test of time (for example, his attempt in 1988 to combine Deinonychus, Velociraptor, and Saurornitholestes into a single genus).

We read more of Greer Gilman's amazing Cloud and Ashes last night.

Oh...almost forgot. We also watched Roar Uthaug's Fritt vilt (2006, aka Cold Prey) yesterday evening. I was very, very underwhelmed. To start with, the version we could stream from Netflix was dubbed from Norwegian into English, only it sounded like the dubbing had been done in Japan. Dubbing is never a good idea (possible exception, some animated films). It mutilates a film as surely as do pan-and-scan prints. Regardless, it's not a very bright film, only a very formulaic slasher flick. Five kids trapped in an abandoned ski lodge and pursued and picked off one by one by a lumbering serial killer. Blah, blah, blah. It's a shame the director could not have done more with the setting, which manages to simultaneously inspire a sense of claustrophobia and agoraphobia. I will say that the last ten minutes or so were almost interesting, but coming, as they do, after all that dullness, they were hardly worth the wait. Sure, it was definitely an improvement over Deadline, which we watched on Tuesday night. At least the murders aren't bloodless. But I would not recommend Fritt vilt, unless maybe the Ambien's not working for you.

On the other hand, here's something both beautiful and terrible, the art of Monica Cook.

Okay. Time to make the doughnuts.
greygirlbeast: (white)
Yesterday, I did 1,027 words on "The Jetsam of Disremembered Mechanics." Precisely the same word count as on Sunday, which is odd, but there you go. It's beginning to seem unlikely that I'll have the story finished by tomorrow evening as I'd originally hoped. It's turning out longer than I'd "planned," which is, of course, its prerogative.

I suspect that thing has happened again, that thing that happens almost every December. So far as publishing is concerned, all NYC is on holiday, and I'm left waiting for three checks I'll likely not see until early January, though I needed them in late November.

Really not much else to say about yesterday. I got the page proofs for Black Wings, the anthology of Lovecraftian fiction edited by S.T. Joshi that's reprinting "Pickman's Other Model" (Sirenia Digest #28, March 2008). The anthology is due out from PS Publishing in March 2010, I think.

Last night, we almost went to the Avon on Thayer Street to see Werner Herzog's The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call — New Orleans. We got dressed and were about to leave the house, when I pointed out that it was a film that we'd likely enjoy just as much on DVD, and we've got three films coming up that we have to see in the theatre (Avatar, Sherlock Holmes, and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus). The last few years, we've mostly reserved the theatre for films that need to be seen on a big screen, which is a somewhat shitty thing to have to do, but given the steep price of tickets it's also become necessary. See a film at the Avon for almost $20, or wait a few months and see it just shy of free via Netflix. So...we didn't go to the movie, but we did leave the apartment, which I'd not done since Tuesday of last week, though we only went to the market and to check the p.o. box.

Back home, we watched two fairly awful and all but incoherent episodes of Dollhouse. But at least Summer Glau was hot in sling and black glove. And then there was more WoW, mostly doing errands for the Taunka camp in the Grizzly Hills. We did get to see female Vrykul, and it's good to know they're out there (and just as hot as I thought they'd be). We fought Vrykul shield maidens at Skorn. I think Shaharrazad, weary from all her years away from Silvermoon City, is growing tired of the fight. I can imagine her never going back to the Eastern Kingdoms, deciding instead to remain at Vengeance Landing to continue her occult studies in seclusion and obscurity. Anyway, later still, I read more of Greer Gilman's superb Cloud and Ashes to Spooky, just before bed.

And there are two photos of Hubero on my desk, from yesterday:

14 December 2009 )
greygirlbeast: (Blood elf)
Cold and clear here in Providence. And I have not left the house since Tuesday afternoon, almost a full week. But we shall remedy that as soon as possible.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,027 words on "The Jetsam of Disremembered Mechanics." It's slow going, as this story is not set in one of my fictional universes, but in that of another author (I don't think I'm supposed to say who, not yet). Someone on Facebook had the gall to say, yesterday, that this constitutes "cheating," to which I reply "bullshit." I'd always much rather be playing in my own world and by my own rules, no matter how honored I might be at being allowed into that of another author. Staying true to their vision, not only the facts of that world but also the spirit of that world, it's no easy undertaking. I think I might be halfway through this story. If so, I should finish it on Wednesday.

And I'll post these links one last time, as there was another Solstice/Cephalopodmas gift inquiry yesterday evening. Here's the link to my Amazon wishlist, and here's the link to Spooky's. We are always just as happy to receive used copies of books, DVDs, and movies, by the way.

Back on Thursday, when the news went out that Kirkus Reviews is folding after seventy-six years (and I never got a bad review from them), I was dumbfounded and a bit saddened. After all, it's yet another sign that the publishing industry has been much healthier than it is right now. But, at the same time, I have been heartened to see that competent, literate bloggers who are also competent readers have begun picking up the slack. This has been more evident with The Red Tree than with any of my previous novels. Indeed, a number of the blurbs that will be included when the mass-market paperback is released next year will be from such blog reviews. Even as the easy chirping of Twitter and snarking of Facebook seem to be supplanting mass blogging, literary blogging seems to be coming into its own. For example, this morning I was greeted by this very fine review of The Red Tree at "The Black Letters" (even if it does deem me "snarly").

---

So, last night Spooky and I took Suraa and Shaharrazad (respectively) away from Outland and into Northrend, by way of the Howling Fjord. And it seems only fair that I should bestow upon Blizzard some deserved praise, after yesterday bestowing all that deserved scorn. Which is to say that Northrend is fucking beautiful, and the quests are great. My impression so far is that this extension is a vast improvement over the mismatched chaos and chintz of The Burning Crusade extension. We've only made it as far as the Tauren encampment of Winterhoof and the southern slopes of the Grizzly Hills, but these environments are gorgeous. The graphics are of an entirely different level than those from Outland. We found ourselves pausing in gameplay last night, just to stare at the sun sparkling off the snow, or the aurora coruscating above the fjord, or the mist lying thick in the boreal forests. This is a far more mature and fully realized world than we've previously seen on Azeroth, and I hope that when the big Cataclysm reboot roles around in 2010, the whole world is given this sort of face lift. Because Northrend makes the rest of WoW look shabby and cartoonish, it's that good. Also, nice to be fighting the "good" fight against the Alliance again, and hopefully all that Aldor vs. Scryers crap is behind us. No more Argent Dawn, please.

Before heading off to Winterhoof, we relocated to the inn at Vengeance Landing, fought the Alliance bastards at the Derelict Strand and then went off to battle the Vrykul at Baleheim. By the way, I thought the Vrykul were especially well realized, though I'd have liked to see women among them. WoW has this habit of tossing races at you, races which exist primarily to offer up adversaries, and making every member of that race male. They've done it with the orges, the trogs, the kobolds, and so forth. Are we supposed to suspect that these races are hermaphroditic or reproduce by budding? Is this just more neglect of female gamers? Come on, the boys would love to see giant Vrykul boobies. Well, the gay boys probably wouldn't. Maybe that's it. WoW is pandering to teh gay...

Anyway, yes, Northrend is absolutely amazing.

And now I have to go write.
greygirlbeast: (The Red Tree)
So, I got to bed at 3 ayem last night, but at 5 ayem, and after two doses of Ambien, I was still wide fucking awake, my mind racing, trying to solve insoluble problems. The sun was coming up when I finally drifted off. I keep dreaming of Mars, of being on Mars. I wake feeling as though every muscle and bone in my body has been pummeled to dust. I've been sitting here since noon, trying to "wake up" enough to write an entry.

Yesterday was sort of a waste of a day off. It stormed. It rained. Going outside was essentially pointless, so we stayed in and worked on getting Spooky's laptop reloaded. The Geek Squad guys retrieved all her data, and gave her a neat little external hd. But yeah, not much to yesterday worth mentioning. Spooky made a pot of chili. We re-read passages from Danielewski, because he calms me. I obsessively watched the Amazon sales rank for The Red Tree, as it went up, and down, and up, and down, and up....

Please do order a copy, if you've not already. Or pick one up in a bookshop. Either way, it helps. Official release is still August 4th, but it seems to be out on shelves everywhere.

Much of yesterday evening was spent fretting over whether or not to proceed with the book trailer. Getting the footage tomorrow, that's no big deal. But an enormous amount of time and energy will have to go into editing it. And we're on a clock. We're already about six weeks late, and hoping to get it out by August 14th (while I also prepare to begin the next novel, work on Sirenia Digest #45, and a short story for a YA sf anthology, and editing The Ammonite Violin & Others, and I have that appearance in Boston on August 6th). Yesterday, I was doing more research into whether or not anyone knows if book trailers actually sell books. The verdict is, of course, no. No one knows, and there's really no way of knowing. In a June 7, 2008 article, a writer for the The Wall Street Journal concluded, ""There is scant evidence . . . that the average book trailer actually has much impact on book sales." And here's a long quote on the subject from the Build Buzz website:

"It is very difficult to find a direct and concrete link between book sales and any form of promotion, whether it's a video on YouTube, a review in a magazine, a blog Q&A with the author, or a radio talk show interview. Collectively? Sure. If you're out there getting the book's name in front of your target audience and the book is selling, it's safe to say that your hard work to promote your book is paying off. But linking sales to one individual tool is a challenge.

"Let's say your book trailer on YouTube motivates someone to buy the book. You can't link from your video's YouTube page to your book's Amazon or Barnes & Noble page, which means there is no direct connection between the video and the purchase page. If the video motivates somebody to purchase, they have to leave YouTube and search for your title on a retail site. How could you possibly track this? You can't really connect sales to videos unless you're retailing your book yourself from your own site and are tracking incoming links to your purchase page.

"The only way we can know if a book trailer is helping to sell books is if it's the only promotion tool out there working on the book's behalf. Even then, you don't know if other factors are influencing sales as well -- factors that might include strong support among independent retailers known for hand-selling books they like or a viral marketing campaign started not by the publisher or author but by a fan."

Now, truthfully, I knew all this going in, when this idea belatedly occurred to me, way back in May. But I never imagined, at the time, that on top of this inherent uncertainty, we'd find ourselves facing the time crunch we're looking at. In many ways, I've stopped looking at this as a "trailer," and more as a short film (I've said that before) expressing some splinter of The Red Tree. That has become my motivating force, to make a film that is artful, which would, de facto, separate it from 99% of all book trailers. But there is so little time, and so much else to do. It seems an unwise allocation of the scant available resources. And yet, I seem to be pressing ahead with the project.

I'm hoping that the website is proving a more useful sales tool. And it's actually been fun, and I'll continue adding to it. But, I will admit, it also brings a share of frustration. I can tell from the stats I see for the pages every night that the traffic's halfway decent, but most people are spending an average of 2.20 minutes on the site. Which isn't even in the neighborhood of the time needed to actually see and read everything that's up. Yes, the site could be more straightforward. It could be a page screaming, "FUCKIN' BUY THE RED FUCKIN' TREE BY CAITLÍN R. FUCKIN' KIERNAN," but where would be the fun or artfulness in that? Yes, the website is oblique. Yes, it's something more than a straightforward advertisement. That's the point, to encourage people, to entice them, by actually augmenting the book before they've read it. But I feel like there's no besting that 140-character attention span, or the people who simply will not even try to explore.

So, yeah, I'm running uphill today. more even than usual. But I'm still running, which is something.
greygirlbeast: (The Red Tree)
A muggy grey day here in Providence. There was rain little earlier. Maybe we'll get sun later today.

No new links related to The Red Tree today. At least, not yet, anyway. I do think we might have some fresh evidence for the website this evening, though.

Yesterday, we discovered that Spooky's laptop was behaving oddly, so we drove it down to Warwick, to the Geek Squad guys at the Best Buy where she got it last year. Turns out, the hard drive was fried, so thank fuck for the three-year warranty. But we're still having to pony up for data retrieval, which wouldn't be so annoying, if there had not been unexpected car expense last week.

On the way home, we stopped at the Barnes and Noble in Warwick, because I'm getting all these reports of premature shelving on The Red Tree. But it seems that the B&N at Warwick is sticking to schedule. However, there was a very funny something, espcially in light of my comments on the 27th regarding "paranormal romance." As we were leaving, we passed a man and woman standing before a table displaying a large number of PR titles, all with this or that incarnation of the ubiquitous "tramp vamp" cover. The man seemed to be trying to explain the concept of the subgenre to the woman. She replied, "So, they've all got exactly the same plot." I actually laughed out loud, and I'm sure people thought I'd lost even more of my mind.

Also, on the subject of vampires who are not really vampires, yesterday, I was directed to this article at Slate: "Vampires Suck. Actually, they don't. And that's the problem." Very amusing, even though I do admit to having a big, ol' soft spot for Angel. I will say, I have half a mind to write the most balls-to-the-wall, blood-and-guts vampire novel possible. Something that would make Near Dark and 30 Days of Night look tame. Just as a personal "fuck you" to Stephanie Meyer and the Mormons. The hard part would be not to lapse into the idiocies of "splatterpunk."

Back home, I spent the evening working on Sirenia Digest #44. It's pretty much ready to go to [livejournal.com profile] thingunderthest to be PDFed, as soon as I have Vince's final artwork for "Vicaria Draconis."

It really does seem as if LiveJournal is evaporating around me. Posts to my friend's list grow fewer and farther between. So many people are fleeing to Facebook and the 140-character gratifications of Twitter. But I intend to keep this blog going for as long as LJ exists, and I have a backup at Dreamwidth, if it should all go kaput.

Okay. Platypus says we're almost done. Only thing left is to post three photos of the Eastern garter snake that Spooky and her mom and me spotted way back on July 3rd. Her mom saw it again a few days ago, sunning itself at the koi pond, and got some pictures before it slithered away:

Little Dragon )
greygirlbeast: (The Red Tree)
Hot yesterday, and it looks like more hot today. Summer finally found us, halfway through the summer.

A strange sort of day yesterday. I only managed 616 words on "January 28, 1926," before the swelter of the office got to me. I could no longer trust that I was putting the words where they belonged, or that they were even the correct words. So Spooky and I left the House, venturing Outside, where it was not quite so hot. We drove down to Beavertail on Conanicut Island. The wind was wonderfully cool. We followed the trail leading north from the northernmost parking lot, through the woods, along the fairy trail to the field on the other side. The tide was coming in, and the surf was rough, wild, sending white spray up and out across the slick black stone. We watched herrings gulls and cormorants and smaller sea birds until it was almost too dark to see. I think we reached Beavertail about 7 p.m., so it must have been well after 8 p.m. when we headed back to Providence. But it was only a little time with the sea, and I need so much more just now.

This book, The Red Tree, I don't think I've ever before had such a feeling that I was selling a book one goddamn copy at a time, by hand. And, here, I mean all the promotion that I've taken upon myself (because who else would ever do it?). Most of the summer has gone into promoting it, and I obsessively watch the sales rank at Amazon. It goes way up, then it drops precipitously. It goes up, and for an hour or three I have hope. Then it plunges again, and hope is pulled apart and scattered to the winds. This is the reality of publishing. None of the romance is left to me, I think. Only these numbers, the fear of these numbers. And I ask, if you haven't yet pre-ordered, please do so today. Thanks.

I'd not meant the comments I made yesterday to spiral into some sort of debate over "paranormal romance." I'd thought there would, instead, be discussion of Plate XV and a certain dubious bit of film. But what I intend to happen, and what actually happens...often they bear little resemblance to one another. I won't retract anything I said, because it was well thought out, and I meant what was said, and if I may not speak my mind in this blog, then it has no value, not to me and not to anyone else. I will add a couple of points, though. There were protests that it's not fair to compare what is obviously junk food to the gourmet stuff. That it's like, oh, comparing a B sf film to Dr. Zhivago. And yes, I will agree. I myself occasionally enjoy bad food and bad movies (though not so much bad writing). And this is fine. Just as long as we do not delude ourselves into believing that because we like Big Macs, because they make us feel good, that they are actually, you know, good food. And these books I speak of, they are literary candy bars, and if you subsist only on a steady diet of them, your brain will rot as surely as if it were only made of the stuff of teeth. Bah, I really don't feel like talking about this anymore. Though, I will add this, a marvelous quote from Liz Williams ([livejournal.com profile] mevennen):

I am occasionally asked to do a talk on the Gothic, and one of my pet peeves is the continual process of making the other safe. Once, unicorns were savage destroyers that slew anything that wasn't a virgin. Vampires were a horde of rats, or smoke. Angels eviscerated those who did not believe the word of God with flaming swords.

And now they're our imaginary friends, who have nothing better to do than schlep around being our 'totems.' I do, sometimes, feel that pagans have debased the great powers far more effectively than any Christian fundamentalist ever has. I work, on occasion, with Sekhmet, who is not to me a symbol of modern women's empowerment, but something huge and distant and remote. Like Aslan, not a tame lion. I think we need to get the 'awwww' out of 'awe', and pretty damn quick, too.


Which really gets to the heart of it all, much better than I managed to do.

The Very Special Auction auction continues. I should add, this is the only ARC of The Red Tree I will be auctioning.

And there are photos from yesterday:

27 July 2009 )
greygirlbeast: (The Red Tree)
Merce Cunningham, the choreographer, has died at age 90.

Somewhat balmy day here in Providence. I should have already put my hair up, but I haven't. After this entry, if I can last that long. The sky is a dappled mix of clouds and blue.

Yesterday, I began a piece I'm calling "January 28, 1926," and wrote a very respectable 1,346 words. So, quite a good writing day. Sirenia Digest #44 is quickly coming together. Late last night, Vince sent me a sketch, his plan for the illustration for "Vicaria Draconis," and it's looking great. So, yes, two new vignettes this month, plus a new guest poet who shares my love of cephalopods.

A new page has appeared on the website, under evidence. It showed up on Saturday night, actually, but I decided to wait and see if anyone else noticed it before I said anything. This seemed more prudent. But, to my knowledge, no one has noticed it. Under evidence, read back over Plate XV, then note the links at the bottom of the page. Not the one on the left, nor the one on the right, but the one in the center. And no, that's not the book trailer. And if all these answers are beginning to vex you, be patient. The questions are coming.

Last night I made the mistake of perusing what's called "paranormal romance" on Amazon.com. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you've already heard my reaction. I seem to live in some sort of self-imposed state of literary asylum. I had no idea there was so much of this crap, or that it sold so well, or that it was so awful. I go to some of the bestsellers, which are, by the way, bestsellers, and cannot read a single sentence aloud without laughing, a reaction I'm fairly certain the authors were not trying to elicit. I'm not talking badly written; I'm not sure this stuff is written, at all. And no, I won't name names. That's poor form. But looking at all this junk, I felt so utterly, oddly defeated. Just seeing how people are lapping up this pablum, I never wanted to write another word (and yet, here I am, babbling away). Several things occurred to me, scanning the pages of Book 15 in a series by some woman who brags about writing three novels a year (on average). One of the thoughts is something that I've been saying for many years, that vampires are no longer monsters, no longer an incarnation of the Other. They have, instead, become primarily a socially acceptable expression of humanity's collective, if latent, necrophilia. Much the same way that zombies are in danger of becoming clowns, vampires are the daemon lover no one really wants to admit is a demon.

And a second thought, I'd be willing to bet you green folding money that a high percentage of the women (and men) who get off on "paranormal romance," who find all this werewolf/vamp/angel/mermaid/fairie/dragon/fluffy-bunny "otherkin" soft core so very titillating are also staunchly anti-GLBT. For example, we could start with a certain Mormon...oh, wait. I said I wouldn't name names. But, you know where I'm headed with this. I'll fuck a dead man (or woman) who drinks blood, this undead serial killer, and I really get off on stories about crime-fighting werewolves doing the nasty with dragons who are actually fairies pretending to be twentysomething human women with anorexia. But, ewwwwwww, men with men? Women with women? Transsexuals? The Bible says that's wrong.

Anyway, damned depressing stuff. [livejournal.com profile] grandmofhelsing observed that "paranormal romance" is "erotic horror" that is neither erotic nor horrific, which seems about right. And I suppose this is one reason that Sirenia Digest doesn't have a million subscribers. I know I'm shooting myself in the foot, sure, but I feel it's my sworn duty to write books and stories and vignettes that would never in a million years appeal to the consumers of "paranormal romance" (I shall not again call them "readers"). There is awe and wonder, terrible beauty and mystery, in the dark places, but you'll never see any of it if you're afraid to turn off the lights.

Only nine days (counting today), until the release of The Red Tree. Have you had another look at Plate 15 yet?

Oh, and the Very Special Auction continues.

And now I must go remember unpleasantries that may have occurred early in 1926, and late in 1919, and write it all down.
greygirlbeast: (The Red Tree)
Dreamsick and disoriented. And not even sure if I can write an entry this morning, or if anyone is still reading LJ, or if anything happened yesterday worth writing about.

Regarding the signing at Pandemonium Books and Games in Boston (well, in Cambridge, actually), I have a time slot now. The event will be from 7-8 p.m. on Thursday, August 6th. If you're in the Providence/Boston area and want to hear me read from The Red Tree, you should try to attend, as this is the only reading/signing I have scheduled, and another looks unlikely at this point in time.

Here's a thing. Well, two things, actually. I'm pretty sure I've talked about both of them before, but...some stuff bears repeating. There are two things that you never, ever tell an author. One of them is that you can't find hisherits books. Now, on the one hand, for the most part, these days the claim that you can't find books is malarkey, thanks to the internet. Every book I've ever written, even the sold-out and long out-of-print titles, can be found at Amazon.com, etc. However, I still get email from people telling me that Bookstore X, Y, or Z. doesn't carry my books. Thing is, learning this is terribly depressing, and there's absolutely nothing in the world I can do about it. I have no say whatsoever in distribution. The other thing you should never tell an author is, of course, that you've found a typographical error in a printed book, and pretty much for the same to reasons I've just listed —— nothing we can do about it, and it's depressing —— but we'll come back to that another time.

Please, please do preorder The Red Tree if you can. Preorders are enormously important in the eyes of the sales and marketing people. Preorders and the sales that magical first six weeks after release. I have no idea why. That's just the way it is. Sales have actually been pretty decent for The Red Tree since Readercon, two weeks back, then they suddenly dipped yesterday. So, naturally, now all I can do is obsesses about how to get them up again. I awoke obsessing about it, even through the afterimages of my nightmares.

Also, the Very Special Auction continues.

Yesterday, thinking about werewolves and "fakelore," working on promotional stuff for The Red Tree, I may have come a bit closer to understanding what the next novel is about. I need to begin it in September. I should have begun it in June, but asked for extra time, in order to give this novel the push it needs.

The sun's back, thank fuck. We just had two more March days, here in Providence, but it looks like early summer may have returned. I doubt we'll ever see late summer.

Okay. Gotta go. But, yes, reading in Boston on the 6th, and please do preorder. Thanks!

Postscript: Spooky just found this at BarnesandNoble.com. Kirkus loved The Red Tree! Here's their review: "Dark-fantasy specialist Kiernan (Daughter of Hounds, 2007, etc.) delivers a creepy and engaging tale. Portrayed as the posthumously published memoir of a suicide, the narrative is introduced and commented upon by a fictional editor. In the story proper, that suicide, novelist Sarah Crowe, tells of moving into a rural Rhode Island house. There she finds a rather spooky manuscript, written by the house's former tenant, a professor who was driven mad by his obsession with a 130-foot-tall red oak on the property. The tree is apparently full of dark magic and is somehow connected to various deaths throughout the town's history. Before long, Sarah becomes preoccupied with the red oak herself. Horror fans will recognize the familiar Lovecraftian gothic-horror elements-indeed, Lovecraft, Poe and other writers are explicitly referenced in the text-but Kiernan's prose is thoroughly modern, even colloquial, with none of the gothic genre's tendency toward archaic phrasings. She ably keeps the proceedings from devolving into formula, and her portrayals of Sarah's growing obsession, and the violence surrounding the tree, are evocative and chilling. A multileveled novel that will appeal to fans of classic and modern horror." Booya.

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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