greygirlbeast: (white)
Cold and rainy last night, and this morning the snow has mostly been washed away. It's warmer today, about 52˚F at this particular moment.

I'm going to try to keep this short, because I need to get some writing done today. Yesterday was all work and no writing. But, there's news. Some of it's Big and Good, but a lot of that part I can't announce just yet (or maybe even not for a while yet). I can say I have a new editor at Penguin – Danielle Stockley – and we had a really wonderful conversation on the phone yesterday. Turns out, she went to school in Woonsocket, and not only did the whole Woonsocket ghoul/werewolf thing from my fiction not offend her, she seemed to suspect I Know To Much. Also, my favorite story from last year – "The Maltese Unicorn" – has been selected for The Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2012 (edited by Paula Guran, Prime Books). Here you can see the whole Table of Contents. And I wish I could tell you more of the good things, but "to those who wait," right?

Last night, we braved the fog and drizzle to get Mama Kim's (the truck was parked on Broad Street, at Johnson and Wales). There are photos of the night, below the cut. If you're in the area and haven't had Mama Kim's, you truly must remedy that.

Later, we stumbled across one of those unexpected gems on Netflix. A film we've never heard of, and doesn't have an especially good rating, but proves to be brilliant. In this case, it's a grim little thing called Blood River, directed by Adam Mason (and topped off with an appropriately chilling song, that played over the end credits, by Martin Grech). There's almost nothing I can say about this film that wouldn't risk spoilers. I can only say that it's not what you'll start off thinking it is – it's something much, much worse. To quote a review by Johnny Butane (dreadcentral.com), "What's so great about Blood River is that nothing is spelled out for the audience. Your hand is not held, nor your steps guided, through this plot." Deeply unnerving, breathtaking, and highly recommended.

And I read a couple more chapters from Chris McGowan's book. Now, I go to write, but, first, the photos I promised:

23 January 2012 )


On the QT,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (zoe1)
And as you cross the circle line,
Well, the ice wall creaks behind.
You´re a rabbit on the run.
~ Jethro Tull

Comment, kittens! Comment!

1) Two "BIG" announcements today, and you might get one now and one later, or both now, depending on when and what I hear from my agent. But. I may proceed with Thing #1: Subterranean Press has begun taking pre-orders for Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart. Yes, now. Right now. The book is scheduled for release in Spring 2012. And I'm just going to say this upfront: Order directly from subpress, because Amazon is very likely to fuck you over. Many people who pre-ordered The Ammonite Violin & Others and Two Worlds and In Between had Amazon cancel their orders. So...don't even go there. Anyway, that's the first announcement. The second is dependent on whether or not I hear back from my agent before she goes to lunch (which now seems unlikely).

2) Yesterday was meant to be the day I wrote the next 1,000-1,500 words of "Another Tale of Two Cities." Instead, it was unexpectedly consumed by the need to unexpectedly leave the house and attend to a legal matter, regarding the second announcement I've not yet made, power-of-attorney stuff related to The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, but I cannot yet say what that is, remember? Anyway, most of the day was spent with legalese and a notary public and UPS and the post office (USPS costs ~$65) and I did at least stop into Myopic Books at Wayland Square and once again drool over used copies of Sankar Chatterjee's The Rise of Birds ($15) and Lowell Dingus and Timothy Rowe's The Mistaken Extinction ($30), but was good and did not buy either (again). That was what happened to yesterday. Oh, and traffic.

3) I hate to keep "hating on" (a phrase for morons, hence shutter quotes) Kermit the iPad, but I fear he is the shape of things to come with Apple. Which is to say, the intuitive nature of Apple products, which is a large part of my loyalty, is missing from the iPad. It's like I'm wrestling with mysterious alien tech. What do all those little (unlabeled) pictographs mean? Which microscopic button in the side did I touch that made the screen go black this time? And so on.

4) I know this might have, so far, seemed like a "happy entry." But I am anywhere but at the moment. Lots of reasons. And this is my blog, so here I may bellyache about these matters. A large part of it is that all those years I had to go without healthcare (mostly neurological and psychiatric) did a great deal of damage to my body. And every time I plug one hole, another pops open. I'm beginning to think I'm going to drown in only a year or two. Sure, money's not so tight now, but "not so tight" is a long way from I can afford to have my rotten teeth and gums attended to, for example. Or from we can afford to get Spooky the checkup she's needed for years. And there are days it would scare the hell out of me, were I not so suicidal. By the way, the suicidal hypochondriac, there's a funny one, no? No, not really. But it does embody the true meaning of irony, and it does bring a smile to my face (a rare thing, that). And maybe the next year or two will change all this. And maybe it won't.

5) There is a game I like to play with myself. What if my life had taken a completely different course? It's no secret I do not love writing, no matter how good I might be at it. It's no secret my first love is vertebrate paleontology, and one of the great tragedies of my life was the derailment of my paleo' career in the late '80s by an elaborate combination of factors, too complex to here explain. That the writing career was a fallback (I was lucky to have) that arose from the ashes. I played the game last night. I would post the results here (seven steps were involved), but it would seem too much like self-pity, and while I may pity another, I may not feel pity for myself. We have all been conditioned to believe that's wrong.

6) Three matters I need to attend to, and I'm posting them here because it'll help me not forget (the Lamictal [Lamotrigine] plays havoc with my memory). Firstly, I need to send ReaderCon an updated biography, because the one they have now is very out of date. Secondly, and on a related note, I need to get new bibliographical and biographical data to the Writer's Directory before December 17th. Thirdly, back to ReaderCon, I need to send Rose Fox a list of any programming I'd like as one of the two Guests of Honor, and I need to do it before the end of the month (suggestions welcome).

7. Question @ Hand #5, kittens! Do not disappoint me. We've gotten a couple of good entries, but I need about five more, or Sirenia Digest will be the poorer for the absence of any at all. I'm not asking for great literature, okay? Oh, and don't email me your answer, please. Write them in LJ; this makes my life easier.

8. Spooky and I had a HUGE Rift binge last night, leveling my Eth warrior, Indus (she has a spectral feline companion named River) from Level 32 to 34, and we got Dancy (yes; a Kelari cleric) leveled the same. Please come and play with us (Faeblight shard, guild Watchers of the Unseen). Here is your chance to take part in an interactive story written by "one of our essential writers of dark fiction" (the NYT says so!), and you're letting it pass you by? Inconceivable!

Oh, gods. That's enough.

Spun About,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (alabaster2)
So, one hour ago, the first news of my Dark Horse Comics project, Alabaster, went up at Comic Book Resources. The "Twitterverse" (I shudder violently at that portmanteau) and Facebook have been awash in the announcement. First, here are relevant links:

1) The first announcement, plus an exclusive (and informative) interview at Comic Book Resources.

2) A large, full-colour version of the cover for #1, by the amazing Greg Ruth.

3) The official Dark Horse press release.

Here's a secret I've carried since late last year. If you guys think it was hard waiting a week to hear the news, imagine my having to wait the better part six months to see the announcement! Actually, my first meeting with Dark Horse was in Portland last year, during the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival. Since then, I knew I would be doing something with Dark Horse, but many possible projects were tossed about.

Then it was decided last November that I would do an illustrated Dancy Flammarion prose story for Dark Horse Presents #9. I wrote the prose story, "Bus Fare," (delivered on April 12th). And then, in late May, it was decided that the prose story would become a comic, but would still appear in DHP #9, and would still be titled "Bus Fare." And then things...took off. By July, I knew there would be an actual Alabaster comic series, beginning in 2012, and that the eight-page "Bus Fare" would become the first eight-pages of the first issue. Except, those eight pages grew into twenty-four pages, and I finished the first issue in September. The second was written in October. "Wolves" became the title for the first mini-series, which will, later, be collected in hardback format, and then in trade paperback. The first issue will be released in April 2012. The Eisner-Award nominated Steve Lieber is the series' artist, and he's making wonderful things from my scripts. My editor is the vivacious Rachel Edidin.

I'm not sure if this question was answered in the interview, but I'll answer it again here. It is no secret that I was pretty much never happy at DC/Vertigo, at least not after 1997 (though, yes, there were two attempts to return to work with them after The Sandman Presents – Bast: Eternity Game [2003]. Longtime blog readers will recall the work I did trying to get two titles*, first The Chain [2004, with Ted Naifeh] and then Bullet Girl [2005, with Peter Gross, which was, by the way, an utter and protracted nightmare, insuring I would never again even speak with anyone at DC**]). After 2005, I declared I would never again work in comics, unless, perhaps, certain criteria were met. The first of these was that the project would be 100% creator-owned. Suffice to say, Dark Horse was agreeable. Dancy Flammarion remains my own. The stories I will write for Dark Horse remain my own. All of it. Had Dark Horse not agreed to this particular point, this wouldn't be happening.

Gods, I'm probably leaving out a lot. But there are still things I'm not at liberty to discuss, and this is already a lot – what I've said here – and I'm haggard. I'll probably think of more stuff by tomorrow. Feel free to ask questions. I just can't promise I can answer them (questions I cannot answer, I'll simply not answer). Meanwhile, as they say, "Happy, happy, joy, joy."

Wearily Glad to Have That Out,
Aunt Beast

* Well, there's a future Sirenia Digest story, with art.
** That both projects went south was not the fault of the artists. They both rocked through the bullshit, and continue to do so.

Update

Nov. 2nd, 2011 01:17 pm
greygirlbeast: (Spalding)
Come back at 3 p.m. EDT/Noon PDT, and The Announcement, regarding The Secret, will be...well, something like revealed. Along with an actual blog entry. Huzzah, and please be patient.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Yes, kittens, it's going to snow 1-3 inches here in Providence tonight, and we're the lucky part of New England. Apparently, Autumn took the year off; I don't blame it. I hear it's snowing in Manhattan right now.

Still, I wish I were at the sea today. I want to watch a heavy snow fall on the olive-green waves.

Okay, here's some news, so perk up those ears. I've been sitting on a secret for many, many months, and many of you know this. On November 2nd, there will be some manner of revelation, and on November 9th, all will be revealed. That's Wednesday, and then the next Wednesday. The NSA has agreed to declassify the files, and the MiBs will go public. The gag order will be rescinded. Some of you will not hear the news here first. Machineries are in motion that are far greater than am I. But...I believe there will be a lot of happy campers among you, and I think the wait will have been worth it. It's worn me ragged, keeping this secret.

And that's what I worked on yesterday, this secret thing. Meanwhile, Spooky attended to line edits on Blood Oranges, using the old iBook (Victoria; the old girl's got a lot of life left in her).

---

Yesterday evening, as the sun was setting, we arrived at the Steel Yard, for the 6th Annual Iron Pour. A most appropriate post-industrial celebration of Samhain (though, of course, Samhain proper isn't until Monday). Five-thousand pounds of molten steel poured from a blast furnace, molten metal to fill jack-o'-lanterns, a great skull-shaped mold (the skull, weighing hundreds of pounds lifted, glowing, by block and tackle). Hundreds of voices screaming, "Fire." Enormous effigies to be devoured by fire: demons, witches, the head of a goat. A woman with the head and wings of a bat, dressed all in black and on stilts. A chainsaw that belches flames. The burning effigies are revealed to have wrought-iron skeletons. Deliriously eldritch and aharmonic anti-melodies played on violins, saxophones, and coronets. Volcanic showers and liquid iron of sparks filling the air, and raining down almost atop our heads. That's the Iron Pour in Providence. There are pictures behind the cut, below (though, batteries were low, we forgot to change them, and the camera, therefore, acted up).

Do people know about the not-so-secret pagan rites in Providence? Well, more than know about the Big Chair Rites of Moosup Valley.

---

After my post yesterday, and my mention of seeing The Rapture (1991) again, an analogy occurred to me. It's one thing to call the Judeo-Christian god petty and sadistic. It's another to explain what you mean. So, here's one of a...well, of countless...examples: That whole Garden of Eden thing, Adam and Eve and the serpent. That chestnut. Here's the same story - the very same story – recast in less fantastic language. An unnamed adult (ADULT) places two three year olds, a boy and a girl, in a large room filled with every manner of toy they might ever desire, every sweet confection, a computer with the best games, every imaginable three-year-old delight, and the children are told, "You may play with all these things, and eat whatever you wish, and as much as you wish. But...you see that jar of Watermelon-flavored Jelly-Belly jelly beans over there? You do? Okay, now...that's the one thing you must not eat from. Now, I'm going to leave you to your own devices. Be good, kiddos." (No explanation is offered as to why the beans must be left alone.) And the adult goes away. And the two children have a blast, for days and days and days.

But, eventually, a loudspeaker mounted in one corner begins to whisper sibilantly about those Watermelon-flavored Jelly Belly jelly beans. It whispers, and most persistently, and, kids will be kids, and...when the unnamed adult returns to find the forbidden beans of jelly have been tasted, the two children are shamed with the harshest possible language, then tossed from the paradise of that room. They're thrown out into the cold winter streets, and guards are placed at the doors, that they can never again enter the marvelous room. Because they ate jelly beans that were placed there so that they would be tempted to eat the jelly beans. And there was that voice planted there to help them along, right? Don't think for a moment the adult didn't put that speaker there (whether or not the voice was his or hers, that's another matter). But it gets better, which is to say it gets worse. For having tasted the Watermelon Jelly Bellies, no child may ever again enter the room, and all the descendents of these two children will suffer unspeakable agonies and trials, and die, and face an eternity of torment unless they love the sadistic adult (ADULT) in question, despite this dirty, little trick with the jelly beans and the whispers...and, well, you know the story. And no, this is no more simplistic a parable than the original. Just a tiny bit more honest. And don't give me that "freewill" bullshit. ADULT knew better. He/she knew the nature of the children, she/he made them. The whole thing was rigged. For the Bible tells us so.

---

Spooky's Hallowe'en Sale isn't quite over, so have a look.

Last night, some good RP in Insilico, and then a tiny dash of RIFT. Then we watched last week's episode of Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story, and...it was...surprisingly better. It was actually...haunting. A tremendous number of story threads and themes were skillfully tossed about and interwoven and, hell, it would have made a fine last episode. Still that Dark Shadows camp, but elevated just a bit. Moments of genuine chill. I think it's possibly more interested in the problem of hauntings than in ghosts, and that would be a good thing. Oh, and now Zachary Quinto, also known as Spock #2 and My Second Husband (you get to guess who's my First and Third husbands are), has joined the cast...so I have to keep watching.

Later, I read Steinbeck's The Log of the Sea of Cortez until I could get to sleep, about four-thirty ayem.

And now, I hear those black panel vans...You know, Tom Waits* needs to write a song entitled "Black Panel Vans."

Clandestine,
Aunt Beast

28 October 2011 )


* "Mankind is kept alive by bestial acts."
greygirlbeast: (river2)
Cold and sunny here in Providence. Tonight, we are promised it will be colder, but still mostly clear, for the Steel Yard annual iron pour. Meanwhile, we have a winter storm watch set to begin tomorrow at five p.m. and run until early Sunday morning. The first nor'easter of the year, and early. Looks like most of New England's going to get hit, but it also looks like we're in a narrow band that will escape the worst of the weather. Yay, us. I'd really like to have another six weeks or so until I have to worry about the blizzards. Anyway, as long as weather predictions are being made, I predict this is going to be a long and bad, bad winter.

Yesterday, we made it through the last two chapters of Blood Oranges. What a weird book. But, also, what a funny book. How did I do that? It's pretty much Buffy the Vampire Slayer directed by Quentin Tarantino. I think maybe the more interesting question is why did I do that? Was I trying to purge the deleterious effect that writing The Drowning Girl: A Memoir had upon me? That seems to be the popular opinion, but I can't say for sure. But it does hold up, and that's a great relief. I shall think of it as a belated tonic against the waning ParaRom market. I won't even dignify "ParaRom" with the sobriquet "genre." Not even "subgenre." It's just a market. You know, like varieties of porn. No, wait. I like porn. Porn is useful, and has dignity. Especially the creepy stuff from South Korea.

Oh, and I'm thinking of calling the obligatory sequel Fay Grimmer. No one will get the Hal Hartley reference who isn't meant to get it.

Today, it's back to work on Project Arrowhead for the MiBs at No Such Agency. As I said to Spooky, it's going to be the first long day of a long weekend at the beginning of a long winter.

Last night, in the rain, sleet, and snow, we went forth into the darkness to run errands. I got two new (and badly needed) pairs of shoes for the winter. I went all last winter in my Cros, coupled with New Zealand bedsocks. Which is really no fit state of affairs. Anyway, and the cat food/litter place, we had to go there, too, and also get dinner, and it must have been nine p.m. by the time we got home.

After dinner, there was RIFT. Mostly, dailies and world-event stuff, and then we watched Michael Tolkin's The Rapture (1991). I'd not seen it since the video release in 1992 or whenever, but after seeing Red State, and discovering that Spooky had never seen The Rapture, I very much needed to see it again. Well, I could have done without David Duchovny's mullet. But the rest of the film has aged very well. There are few better examples of the "Christian horror film." It's sort of Red State turned inside out, and the horror isn't so much what people are willing to believe (though that's bad enough). The horror lies in the objective existence of a sadistic "god" who demands it be loved, like a spoiled child demanding attention. It will be loved, or you will be damned. It will be loved, and you will destroy yourself for it's love, or you'll spend forever alone. Even if you are a "good" person, it will still damn you, unless you love it. In the final moments of the film, the film's protagonist redeems herself by finding her own salvation simply by telling the Bully in the Sky that no, she won't love it. "Who forgives God?", a question asked moments before the climax, is especially apt. So, yes, this is a keeper. A film which doesn't so much question the cartoonish Biblical eschatology, as it questions the ethics of a omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being who would subject its creations to a living hell, just to get its ya-yas off. You know, just because. Like any shitty parent or schoolyard bully. See it, if you've not already. And if it sounds like the sort of film that would piss you off because you're a good Christian, then you especially need to see it. If you're that sort of person, this film was made for you. It won't change your mind. But, nonetheless.

We read more of Wildwood.

And now, I see the black van has pulled up outside.

Off to the Airbase,
Codename: Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Starbuck 3)
I didn't forget this morning's dreams. And more's the pity. I dreamed that the Eastern Seaboard had been destroyed in a nuclear war by the Japanese (????), and I was a child in Jacksonville, Fla. and all was soot and ruin, and I watched a television broadcast of a firestorm raging across Texas. A million little details in my head.

This is why I generally hope to forget my dreams. Also, just now, right this very fucking minute, I'm having to refrain from one of those "You kids these days! Get off my lawn!" tirades, this time about how much I hate the way that the abbreviations of the states were dumbed down (i.e., simplified) back in the 1980s or when the hell ever. Florida is not FL; Florida is Fla. Massachusetts is not MA, it's Mass. Michigan is not MI, but Mich. West Virginia isn't WV, it's W. Va. Yeah, okay. I'll stop now. But I haven't lost all the battles. For example, the Girl Scouts of America, at least in the state of Colorado, are now trans friendly. I still marvel at the emerging phenomenon of transgendered children being permitted to express and explore their gender identities as children. Sure, it's still not even close to being included in this society's "normative state," but its become ever more common in the US. Kids these days...

Yesterday, we made it through chapters Five and Six of Blood Oranges. Assuming the MiBs leave me alone today, we'll get through Seven and Eight, and all that will be left to be done to the manuscript is actually making the marked corrections (there are a bazillion, so it'll take at least one long day). And since tomorrow will definitely belong to the spooks, It'll likely be Sunday before those corrections can be made.

And here we come to a note regarding Sirenia Digest. I am very, very sorry, but #71 is going to be late, and by late I mean maybe as late as the 10th of November (whereas it's "due" out on the 5th). October was a monster, and here I am with four days of it left, and I've not had a moment to put towards the digest. But it will come as soon as I can pull it together, and I apologize profusely. I'll do my best to never be this late again.

Last night, Spooky made astoundingly yummy turkey legs (toss in mushrooms, apples, onions, garlic, etc.) with mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts (a cultivar of the wild cabbage, Brassica oleracea). I had a hot bath. Oh, wait. The bath was right after I made my blog entry, which means I had to wake up twice, because warmth makes me sleepy. Anyway, after dinner, Rift, and after Rift I finished reading Steinbeck's "About Ed Ricketts" to Spooky. So much is quotable, but I'll settle for one. On religion and Ricketts, Steinbeck writes:

He has no religion in the sense of creed or dogma. In fact he distrusted all formal religions, suspecting them of having been fouled with economics and power and politics. He did not believe in any God as recognized by any group or cult. Probably his God could have been expressed by the mathematical symbol for an expanding universe. Surely he did not believe in an after life in any sense other than chemical. He was suspicious of promises of an after life, believing them to be sops to our fear or hope artificially supplied.

I love those words. And now, four more stills (by [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy) from the October 15th shoot at Rolling Dam (Blackstone, MA) and Thundermist Falls (Woonsocket, RI):

Beast on Location )
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Listening to the new Tom Waits, and so a big thank you to Steven Lubold ([livejournal.com profile] oldfossil59) 'Cause this one rocks, even for Mr. Waits, and the 40-page book that comes with the deluxe edition is sublime.

But I slept eight hours, and I am not awake. Six hours, that's not enough, but I come awake fast, then feel like shit. Seven hours is perfect. Eight hours, a good lot of sleep, but then I can't wake the hell up. And I wish I could recall last night's (this morning's dreams) as they were odd and seem dimly important. Probably just the end of the world again.

I get ahead of myself. Or behind myself. Whichever. Yesterday, we read chapters Three and Four of Blood Oranges, so we're more than halfway through the ms. Kermit continues to prove useful in text editing, so maybe I haven't made a bad decision, keeping the iPad. I gotta post a photo of me and the Dubious Kermit Tech. But not today. Anyway, unless the MiBs call me to attention today and there's alien retroengineering to be done, we'll be reading chapters Five and Six. There are only Eight chapters to Blood Ornages. Only 70,000 words (my novels are usually well over 100k). So, we'll be done editing (id est, correcting typos and continuity errors) by Sunday evening, and my agent will have the ms. on Monday, when she gets home from the World Fantasy Convention in misbegotten and woebegone San Diego. No, as I keep telling people, I won't be there. If The Ammonite Violin & Others should win a WFA, Elizabeth Bear ([livejournal.com profile] matociquala) will be accepting on my behalf. I do not spend a thousand or so dollars to fly to southern California and risk getting felt up and fisted by the motherfucking TSA for any con.

Speaking of short story collections, I have the cover art by Lee Moyer for Confessions of Five-Chambered Heart (Subterranean Press, 2012). And here it is, behind the cut, based somewhat on "Dancing with the Eight of Swords" (Sirenia Digest #36, November 2008):

Guard Your Heart, No Matter the Chambers Therein )


And if you ordered directly from subpress, but you've not yet received your copy of Two Worlds and In Between, hang in there. Be patient. It's coming. To quote Arcade Fire, "We used to wait." I haven't even received all my comp copies yet.

Oh, but the weather has gone to shit and looks like it's gonna stay there a spell. We were so lucky with the shoot for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir and Stills from a Movie That Never Existed. We're in wet Rhode Island October now. Cold and wet, just in time for Samhain and Hallowe'en. If we'd have had to wait one more week, the weather would definitely have been too shitty for our needs. Cutting it close and all.

By the way, the cover art for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir is now up at Amazon.com (follow that link). But the text on the cover isn't final. Not sure why they put it up before we finalized that, but there you go. There's no fathoming the minds of Big New York Publishers. And yes, Penguin did a cover THAT I ACTUALLY LIKE, a lot. There's even a nod to The Red Tree in there. I'm taking that lone oak leaf as a belated apology for the gods-awful mess they made of The Red Tree's cover (which featured a poplar tree, by the way). Anyway, I'll post the cover here when they get the text corrected.

Last night, some good RP in Insilico, then a tad of RIFT before bed. I read more of "About Ed Ricketts" to Spooky.

Only Somewhat Disappointed Today,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Starbuck 3)
Before I begin rambling on and blithering on and what not, a wonderful thing (I'll repost this on Monday, because we seem to have fewer readers...or at least fewer comments on Saturdays). One of [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy's photographs from last weekend's shoot for "The Drowning Girl: Stills from a Film That Never Existed," based on The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. This one is...astounding (inspired by a scene in Chapter 8). You will note the two titular paintings by Michael Zulli. And I owe an unspeakable degree of "Thank You" to Nicola Astes for nailing Imp in this fictional (but true) moment :



Um...the rest of yesterday. Well, there was a great deal of work, and a benchmark was reached, though an infinity of benchmarks lie before me. But when you're working with No Such Agency, there's only so much that can be said, and I've said too much already. The truth is out there, and it's coming soon.

I have this stuck in my head, going round and round:

And it came to me then that every plan
Is a tiny prayer to Father Time.
— Death Cab for Cutie, "What Sarah Said"

Maybe by putting it here, and causing other people to read it, I'll let it go. For now.

Nothing else much to yesterday. Leftover meatloaf. Too much RIFT (in silent moments, the futility and vapidness of MMORPGs weighs heavily on me, the whole issue of time displacement, what I could be doing with my life instead).

We watched the second episode of American Horror Story, which I'm on the fence about. There's an interesting trick that's trying to be turned here, straddling a fine line between utter camp and halfhearted sincerity. I'm still trying to decide if the show is very good, mediocre, or actually quite awful. Mostly, I think producers somewhere are hoping to capitalize on the impending release of Tim Burton's film version of Dark Shadows by whipping up this hodgepodge of the supernatural. I do like Tate (as played by Evan Peters), and there was a good scene last night, when Violet is talking to her new "friend," that former-mean-girl-turned-witness-to-true-evil. I think the Jessica Lange character is, unfortunately, very much over the top for my liking, and I hope we're not supposed to have sympathy for Ben Harmon (as played by Dylan McDermott), because he's a total douchebag. There's still potential here, but I'd like to see more focus and less reliance of wearisome horror movie tropes and those shots we all expect. Having said that, I realize that I may be missing the point. But I also realize that missing the point may mean getting the point, which may be a mark in my favor.

We watched more Mad Men, which is excellent, no fence straddling required. We read more of Wildwood, which is delightful in that way that the truly good books we read as children are delightful. It makes me wistful in a good way.

Oh, and I'm regretting having bought the iPad. It's fair astounding, sure, this device. And I need it for work, because the world is going All Digital. But I sort of hate it. And can't help thinking about the infinitude of better ways the money could have been spent, and how easy it would be to let this Thing devour more of my life.

And now I'm going to sit in a corner.

Reticent,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
Ugh. Yeah, we're awake now, right? I've been chattering away like Robin fucking Williams for an hour, and I think Spooky's ready to murder me. But, then, she usually is. Ready to murder me.

Hey, let's get off on the right foot. Here's some depressing-ass shit: "Police Seek Escaped Exotic Animals in Ohio." And while we're at it, since when is it acceptable to only capitalize the first word of a headline and any proper nouns? Who decided that? It's fucking idiotic. I think I only noticed this about a month ago, but it seems to be a New Internet Rule. I'm sure some bunch of cocksuckers are responsible, like the authors of the The Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual of Style, who have to keep making up "new rules" so people have to keep buying new copies. Linguistic evolution by way of capitalism, yes! Anyway, the proper way to write a headline...oh, never mind. World, meet hell in a hand basket, and you kids get off my lawn.

Yesterday, I worked. Can't say how or on what. I am told the beans will be spilled in only a few more weeks, you will all be happy, and I can stop keeping this particular SECRET.

Also, [livejournal.com profile] sovay reports having received her copy of Two Worlds and In Between, so folks who wisely pre-ordered (even the trade hb edition is almost sold out now, less than fifty copies remaining) should be getting it this week and next.

---

I was going to talk about Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.'s prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). Yes, I was. I said that yesterday. First off, the pros. This is a good movie, and remember, I may have seen the Carpenter film more times than any living being (easily a hundred times, start to finish). It's a terrifying, fun, awe-inspiring tribute to the Carpenter film and, for the most part, it gets it right, because the filmmakers had the proper respect for the original and convinced the studio/producers to permit them to make a prequel instead of a remake. Though we do not need to know what happened before Carpenter's film, or what happens afterwards (this is part of the film's genius), the prequel doesn't provide some sort of infodump that ruins the original. Oh, and no SPOILER WARNING; if you don't want to read this, then avert thine eyes. However, rather than fawn over the good points (which are many), I'll point out those things I found annoying or disappointing. You know, like any good internet "reviewer." Overall, Heijningen gets the continuity with the first film right, and his scientific gaffs are minor (no one has ever found a prehistoric carnivore preserved in tundra, though we're shown Mary Elizabeth Winstead's paleontologist, Dr. Kate Lloyd, examining what appears to be a frozen Homotherium near the beginning of the film). I loved the microscope view of the alien cells consuming human cells and converting them, and the understanding that the alien was single-celled virus capable of acting as a multicellular organism. Wait, I'm saying good things. What kind of internet reviewer am I?!

Anyway, the delightful isolation of the first film is broken when we cut to Lloyd's lab at Columbia University, whereas maintaining that sense of claustrophobic isolation was crucial to the film's success. Bad filmmakers. Also, this film isn't nearly as quiet or as slowly paced as the 1982 film, but if it were, 2011 audiences would probably walk out, having been trained for constant, unrelenting action. One thing I love about the Carpenter film is the pacing, which took a cue from Alien (1978). Also, while the special effects and creature design were very good, I still prefer the analog effects in the original. Give me latex and methylcellulose over pixels any damn day of the week. I liked how we were shown the alien's ability to absorb and replicate via ingestion, but also it's ability to infect and slowly convert a human. I loved that we are shown so much of the inside of the alien ship, but was annoyed that the original means of its discovery wasn't preserved. The prequel does a pretty good job of being set in 1982 (thank fuck it wasn't updated), but I missed seeing 1982 computer technology. That would have been charming in the right way. There are too many characters, and except for Lloyd, they have a tendency to bleed together (no pun intended), one into the next. A wonderful thing about the first film was its carefully delineated characters.

The ending is handled well. I very much like the sense that we're given the impression that Lloyd, despite having survived, knows it's best if she sits there in that snowcat and freezes to death. Ultimately, we're left with the ambiguities and fatalism of the original, the sense of impending apocalypse, and you better stay for the credits, because that's where Carpenter's and Heijningen's fuse seamlessly together (no pun intended), with footage from the 1982 version. Again, DO NOT LEAVE WHEN THE CREDIT ROLL BEGINS, or you'll miss where 1982 meets 2011. Tentative final conclusion: I'll give it 8 out of 10; definitely worth seeing in the theaters.

---

We finished Shirley Jackson's The Sundial last night. It's a wonderful novel, with multiple interpretations and a marvelously inconclusive ending. I learned so much from Jackson. Is this a statement on the Catholic Church (the Halloran House) and Protestantism (the inhabitants; remember that Jackson was an atheist)? On human idiocy in general? The hysteria of crowds? Jackson's strong dislike for insular New Englanders (which she repeats again and again in other works)? We have to draw our own conclusions, or draw none at all. And now, I will announce (though I may have already beat myself to it) that the next Aunt Beast Book Club book is Collin Meloy and Carson Ellis' Wildwood. Note that this is a beautiful hardback, and if you purchase it as an ebook, you're shooting yourself in the foot and will miss at least half the pleasure. Also, last night I read Peter Crowther's "Memories." And played some Rift. I miss the house guests. I need more of them.

Speaking of whom, here are some crappy, blurry shots I took on Friday night at Spooky's parents' farm in Saunderstown, before we stepped out into the torrential fucking downpour to get the first round of nude shots of Eva, when Imp finds her at the side of the road. We were ordering pizza (thank you Spooky and Geoffrey) and playing with Spider cat, the feline basketball:

14 October 2011, Part 2 )
greygirlbeast: (Default)
The Book has landed. Late yesterday afternoon, early yesterday evening, on my backdoor steps. It's a beautiful book, and I'm very happy with it, and can say that, in terms of "booksmithing" alone, it's of the most beautiful editions I've ever produced with Subterranean Press. And yet, it's sort of terrifyingly daunting to be 47 years old and looking at Volume 1 of the "Best of" your life's work. So, this book makes me want to hug it, but it also makes me want to run screaming, both at the same time. The second reaction, however, is of no concern to anyone but me, and if you've not bought a copy, it's still not too late (well except for the limited edition, and fuck, the art section looks good). I assume your copies should be arriving (unless you didn't order, in which case they won't).

I hope that as the mass-media & publishing industries, along with various associated symbiotes and parasites and whores, continue to play circle jerk with ebooks and reader thingies and whatnot, and pat themselves on the back for embracing the cold, soulless, plastic Brave New (& Ever So Much More Practical) World of the Insubstantial, that it makes way for a "booksmithing" renaissance. The disease could be the cure. I'll suffer Kindles and Nooks and Schnooks and whatever, as long as real books (which are more than pixel words on a screen, in sixteen shades of grey) survive and thrive, even if only in a marginalized niche. I embrace marginalization. It's all I've ever really known, anyway. Also, fuck the world's bullshit desire for convenience. Art is not meant to be convenient, any more than it is meant to be easy to create or interpret.

Anyway, yes. I am happy with Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Me. In fact, I went to bed snuggling it, as you can see in this photo (Spooky says it looks like I'm eating it):


Photographs Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn A. Pollnac
Cover art Copyright © 2011 by Lee Moyer.


Work yesterday. But I can't tell you what. I cannot even hint. There was a long teleconference, but that's all I can say. Next.

In fact, all of yesterday pales in comparison to the arrival of The Book, so...there's not much else to say.

Tomorrow, noonish, Spooky and I will be picking up a gaggle of folks at the train station in Providence, and the next three days will be spent filming (and right after that, I'm supposed to be in Northampton, Massachusetts...Tuesday, maybe) and photographing and such, from one end of Rhode Island to the other, getting material for [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy's series of still photos based on The Drowning Girl and material for the book trailer, which is being shot by Brian Siano. There will be reports all weekend, in theory, behind the scenes nonsense, if I have the time. I know Kyle will be tweeting and whatnot, using all that newfangled gadgetry the kiddos are so proud of these days. It's going to be an intensely weird three days, and we'll be having thunderstorms on at least the first of those days...which sucks. But there you go.

Sucking As She Goes,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
No numbered lists today. I've not the patience for it, and I have too little to say, and, besides, NASA finally decided the odds of the elctro-whatsit generator we need to proceed "probably" won't create a vast artificial black hole.

Secrets make me weary.

Yesterday...well, I did do some stuff. Spooky went out and rented a second storage unit, because there's too many comp copies of books I've written or have stories in, and everything has to be reorganized, and my isn't that exciting? Tonight, we'll be lugging boxes of books to Pawtucket. Still awaiting the go-ahead from the National Aeronautics geeks, I tried to begin a new vignette...or short story. Not sure which yet, or either. Or if either? Something's wrong there. Anyway, [livejournal.com profile] sovay helped me with the Greek for the title: "Hē tēs thalássēs mártys (ἡ τῆς θαλάσσης μάρτυς)," and I even wrote 104 words on it before giving up. Not in disgust. In something else. Possibly in misgiving or in trepidation.

Sometime, thereafter, I had my first seizure in months. Spooky wasn't here, and I came to on the kitchen floor. The usual "I have no idea what happened immediately beforehand" amnesia and the back of my head hurt. But no damage done. Just when I think I'm never going to have another one of these things...Anyway, my suspicion is there's just been far too much stress the last couple of weeks, which is, obviously, a primary trigger for PNES seizures,

Yesterday, talking about Silk, someone in the comments mentioned how they enjoyed the interconnectedness of the books. And I replied that, truthfully, I regret the novels being interconnected — Silk through Daughter of Hounds — and that I've seriously considered rewriting "Bainbridge" to remove its connections to Silk and Murder of Angels (and, so, by extension, the other three novels). I have no idea how my readers would feel about my attitude towards having tied all this stuff together, but as the years go by it seems juvenile, and as though I did the wrong thing for all the wrong reasons. Hence, The Red Tree and The Drowning Girl: A Memoir are almost entirely devoid of any connection to my earlier books. The bizarre series that Blood Oranges may be the beginning of, this is not the way I will continue to write most novels in the future (and I do not think of Blood Oranges as one of my serious novels; it's just a peculiar lark, fun, something to wake me up after the long fever dream of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir).

The weather's turning to shit just in time for this weekend's shoot. I suppose we will muddle through. Perhaps literally.

Oh, I know what I was going to say. One reason I stopped writing "Hē tēs thalássēs mártys (ἡ τῆς θαλάσσης μάρτυς)" yesterday was this sudden fear that I'm writing far too many stories about the sea. Yes, I know I do it very well. But I'm beginning to feel like I'm...repeating myself. Well, I know what I mean.

In the end, yesterday was an all but wasted day...which makes four in a row...during a month when I couldn't afford even one. But this shit happens. At least, today, I can go back to work in earnest. After all the email. Spooky has to drive down to her parents' place to gather up some spare blankets and pillows and stuff for people who will be crashing here over the weekend. We're still waiting on final conformation about shooting scenes in the Athenaeum. There's an awful lot of chaos (not with the Atehnaeum, that wasn't what I meant to imply). But this whole thing begins day after tomorrow, and a lot of things are still up in the air. And the funny part? There's zero evidence that book trailers help sell books. But we have a three thousand dollar budget.

I should go now, before I hurt myself.

Oh, but first — and speaking of book trailers — there's this. The first volume of Odd?, a new biannual anthology from Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (presently only an ebook, but a hardcopy edition is on its way), reprints my story "A Child's Guide to the Hollow Hills." But I think the promotional video is far more entertaining than is my story:



Masochistic,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (cullom)
0. Comments would be very welcome today.

1. Chilly and sunny today. Our little Indian Summer has come and gone. All three days of it. I left the house only once, briefly, the entire time. I expect no more days in the eighties until June.

2. On this day, eighteen years ago, I began writing Silk. Weather-wise, it was a day much like today, though much farther south. Eighteen years, so that means babies born that day are, as of this day, old enough to vote. One of them picking up Silk today, would be like me, on the occasion of my eighteenth birthday, picking up a copy of a novel whose author began writing it in 1964. These are very strange thoughts. Silk is, lest anyone delude themselves into thinking otherwise, a snapshot of a time, culture, and place long vanished. I am not that person anymore. No, not really. There's a faint echo of her around here somewhere.

3. My mood is lower today than it's been in, I don't know. Months. These things happen, and we stay on our meds, and we speak of ourselves in the third person, and we ride them out.

4. Yesterday, you might have seen a news story with a sensational headline something like: "Giant 'Kraken' Lair Discovered: Cunning Sea Monster That Preyed On Ichthyosaurs.". People kept sending me links to it yesterday. And the best I can say about this affair is that if I were still teaching, I'd point to this as a sterling example of Really Bad Science. One does not find a peculiar pattern (in this case, the arrangement of ichthyosaur vertebrae) and invent an outlandish explanation with no evidence whatsoever. And call it something lurid and ridiculous like a "Giant Kraken." There's zero evidence for the existence of a giant Triassic teuthid (squid). Zero. No fossil evidence. So, to posit that one was moving ichthyosaur bones around is very akin to the Weekly World News having once blamed "Alien Big-Game Hunters" for the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs. In short, it's silly. I could write a long essay on this, but I won't. Even if Mark McMenamin could find fossil evidence for a giant squid of roughly the same age as Shonisaurus popularis, it would still be almost impossible to say it was responsible for moving those bones into that pattern.

5. Yesterday...I worked. Not as much as I should have, because...sometimes it's hurry up and wait. But I did work. Mostly, more planning for the book-trailer shoot this weekend. Only three days to go. And it looks like there will be rain on Friday, which is going to play merry havoc with our schedule.

6. Want to see the American Consumer at its least rational? Just look back over the recent fiasco with Netflix, and the damage its done to the company (a two-thirds stock drop since July, and still going down). Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has apologized for the proposed Netflix/Quickster division for rental/streaming services, which is absurd. That he apologized, I mean. People need to cut the entitlement bullshit. Better streaming services will cost more, and the industry is moving towards streaming. Period. I am far from being a financially stable person, but the original Netflix business model won't work forever, and it's wasteful, and is costing the USPS a fortune.

7. Frequently, people have asked me to blog my Second Life roleplay. Usually, I don't do this, because doing so leads to spending time writing that could be spent RPing. But I have begun keeping a journal of Ellen "Grendel" Ishmene's trials and tribulations in Insilico, the life of an illegal Level A clone/Class V AI. It's an excuse to keep myself limber with cyberpunk narratives. If you're interested, you can follow the journal here. Oh, and there are pictures. These days, about the only reason I can find to bother with SL is Insilico, and it's far from perfect. But the build is exquisite, and the RP is probably about the best ever in SL.

8. As for the non-work part of yesterday, I read two articles in the September 2011 issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology: "Variation in the skull of Anchiceratops (Dinosauria, Ceratopsidae) from the Horseshoe Canyon Formation (Upper Cretaceous) of Alberta" and "A sauropod dinosaur pes from the latest Cretaceous of North America, and the validity of Alamosaurus sanjuanensis (Sauropoda, Titanosauria)."* And we read two more chapters of Shirley Jackson's The Sundial (we're nearing the end of the book), and played some Rift, and I read a rather awful short story by F. Paul Wilson, "The November Game," an extremely unfortunate "sequel" to Ray Bradbury's classic "The October Game." If you're going to attempt a sequel to one of the best spooky stories of the 20th Century, at least have the respect and good sense to mind the mood and tone of the original. And that was yesterday.

Twiddling Her Thumbs,
Aunt Beast

* Looks as though there's only a single species of Anchiceratops, A. ornatus, and that Alamosaurus is a valid taxon.
greygirlbeast: (walter3)
Oh my bloody fucking fuck. I am so fucking over this aging thing. I did something stupid to my hip...my FREAKING fucking hip...yesterday. Probably when I was trying to clean and reorganize part of my office, rearranging bookshelves in the vain attempt to turn that House on Ash Tree Lane trick and create larger spaces within smaller spaces. It didn't work, but I feel like, during my sleep, someone took a sledgehammer to my left hip. Wanna wake up really goddamn fast? Forget fucking coffee. Trying motherfucking hip pain. Tiger balm and two Doan's tablets—yes, motherfucking Doan's tablets—have dulled the pain enough that I'll be able to sit up and write. But FUCK THIS SHIT (to quote Frank Black). This winter, I'm joining a gym and getting this meatbag into some semblance of working order. Last night (not suspecting the hip pain was headed my way), Spooky and I were discussing how we both need to lose some weight. Using Hubero as a standard of weight measurement, it was decided I need to lose 1 Hubero. That's one whole FAT cat I'm carrying around, all day and every day. Again (second verse, same as the first), FUCK THAT SHIT.

Oh, and please. No commiseration, or I feel your pain, or whatever. No stories that go something like: "Well, when I was only fifteen years old I was riding my bicycle and a pit bull grabbed my ankle and dragged me and the bike—by the ankle, mind you—twelve blocks, up hill both ways, before it was shot in the head by a kindly spaceman who called an ambulance that hitched my ankle to its back fender and dragged me twelve miles, up hill both ways, over a dirt road that was mostly potholes, all the way to the hospital—which was closed! Now, you wanna talk hip pain? That's hip pain!" None of those stories. In fact, I want a T-shirt that reads, simply, "Do Not Commiserate."

But at least the Hip Agony does help me not feel so bad that I'm spending the Last Warmest Day of 2011 in Rhode Island (going up to about 85˚F) trying to fix the timeline, instead of "chillaxing" (hold on while I choke myself for using that odious "word," even sarcastically) at the beach, swimming, losing a cat.

Anyway...

Yesterday was mostly me discovering that things were worse than I suspected. That failed time-travel experiment? Well, feel free to blame me for the Eighties. That's right. Blame me for the entire decade. But...Frank the Goat's on it, and there may yet be hope. You may wake up tomorrow and have no idea whatsoever that the Eighties ever occurred, because they won't have. Unless we fail, me and Frank (that's me and Frank the Goat, not me and Frank Black—and I mean Frank Black from Blue Velvet, not Frank Black, née Black Francis, from the Pixies, or the ultra-cool-and-spooky Frank Black from Millennium, and certainly not Frank the Interdimensional Demon Bunny), and that's always a possibility. One must never underestimate the likelihood of failure. John DeLorean, he underestimated his ability to fail...and look how that turned out. And of course I'm right. I'm me.

Next week's shoot for the book trailer for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir races towards us (five days to go), and...frankly (black), I'm terrified. Will we be ready? I'm gonna roll a 1d4 and hold my breath.

Um...and...what?

Last night, Spooky and I saw last week's episode of Fringe, "One October Night," and..wow. Olivia and Fauxlivia. That was pretty much a slash episode (albeit, without the hot Fauxlivia-on-Olivia sex). And we watched another episode from Season Four of Mad Men. Oh, and something that I can't (or, rather, won't) show you until tomorrow.

And then I looked through the marvelous Dark Horse hardback collection of Bernie Wrightson stuff from the pages of Creepy and Eerie (thank you, Steven Lubold!), then read another story from the Halloween anthology, "Three Doors" by Norman Partridge. The story itself is so-so, but it's narrative technique has moments of sheer brilliance. To whit:

"Doesn't matter to me how you explain it.
I'm not here to draw you a diagram.
I'm just here to tell you a story."

The voice of the narrator (ergo, the author), is a grand "fuck you" to all the morons who want their hands held during story time. In fact, those lines echo rather remarkably Quinn's attitude towards her imagined readers in Blood Oranges: "You can believe this or not. Whatever"

But now, now I must go fix the timeline, so you who are old enough can stop remembering "designer stubble", Guns N' Roses, and the return of shoulder pads.

Accidentally Retro,
Aunt Beast (in pain we trust)
greygirlbeast: (Al)
So, there's some asshole next door, guy has a lawn the size of a postage stamp. No, seriously. A postage stamp. And he's out there with a motherfucking leaf blower. Now, longtime readers will know that, as far as I'm concerned, no lawn is big enough to warrant the profound laziness, the unnecessary waste of energy derived from fossil fuels, the damage to the environment done by leaf blowers, or...and this is important, so please pay attention...the noise produced by the goddamn things. There is this marvelous invention, dating back, well, a long damn time. It requires a little sweat, sure. But that's why evolution gave us muscles and sweat glands and the ability to burn calories. This invention of which I speak is called a rake. And, in a sane world, I would go outside with a claw hammer, dismantle that leaf blower, gaily strew the shards across that cockwaffle's lawn, then offer him a rake with which to clean up the mess I've made. We do not live in a sane world, kittens.

Yeah, it's gonna be that sort of a day.

Doesn't help that it seems the DeLorean time machine didn't quite hit its target date (almost, but not quite...so now we have Bill Gates and Ann Coulter, neither of whom existed yesterday), and I'm going to spend the day chasing ripples through the matrix of space and time in order to make this the Present Day that the experiment was intended it make it into. Ripples.

Should a traveler appear earlier in the timeline of his own existence, he would be but as a pebble cast upon still water. But the ripples he creates would, over time, radiate upon far distant shores—geometrically altering events in their path.

Exactly.

I've gotten distracted.

Yesterday was a frustrating sort of day, waiting for that news from the past and all. But I worked on this and that related to the shooting of the book trailer for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, which will be happening next weekend if it's ever going to happen. The three million details. You know, scooping up all the itty-bitty bits of brain and shit. I did some of that, while I watched the chronometers. I watched dozens of movie trailers, thinking, thinking, thinking. I made notes, and sent them to our cinematographer, Brian Siano. Gods, there are some beautiful movie trailers, an art in their own right, and I especially admire the ones that make shitty movies look like gold. Now, mind you, I'm not admiring the intent of whatever studio exec had those trailers made, the marketing people, all those deceitful assholes trying to pass shit off as gold. I'm applauding the poor schmucks who were tasked with the editing jobs, and who will do the job well, unless they wanted to go looking for another line of work. They are among the all-but-unsung heroes in the shitstorm of ballyhoo and jackassery that is Hollywood. Though, I will say, the trailers are frequently my favorite part of going to the theatre. But...I've gotten distracted again.

Oh, also I received sample design pages from Penguin, for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir (of course). Overall, it's looking good, except for some hideous curlicue font used in the headers, a font I am assured will be replaced with something appropriate, something that doesn't make me want to gouge out my eyes.

Anyway, Spooky came home from the market with a cardboard shipping tube containing another nigh-unto-unspeakably beautiful piece of Philip George Saltonstall's artwork, created, of course, by the incomparable Michael Zulli, one which will appear in the book trailer. Seeing it was like being punched in the chest. And yeah, I've been punched in the chest, so I know what it feels like.

The evening's entertainment consisted of watching Serenity for the five-hundreth time (it's still a great and inspiring ride), and then playing my part in an Insilico RP that was almost very good...except—at some point it descended into "You're stealin' my man" soap-opera nonsense and utterly failed ooc communication—and, also also RPers online need to learn the difference between godmoding and how actions would realistically unfold in particular circumstances, cause and effect, and fuck the whiners. By the end of the scene, which went on for about three hours, I was just tired and wanted to go to bed. But it had it's moments.

Anyway, now I must go attend to those ripples.

Thinking wormholes,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
C'mon, kittens! Sirenia Digest #70! Comments!

Though I'm trying to get more sleep, it's not really working. I did manage to make myself lie down by 3:30 ayem last night. I fall asleep now almost as soon as I do that (and almost any fucking time I do that). But there is in me, I have discovered—having conqured Monsieur Insomnia—a tremendous reluctance to sleep. We're not talking actual hypnophobia. But, see, there are the dreams (last night, I dreamt of being trapped inside the plot of some weird-ass Aliens 5 thing, which I would post here, if I could make sense of the fragments I remember), and then there's the fact that we spend about a third of our lives sleeping, and then there's the dread of waking...it's complicated. And I'm rambling. This will be a hodgepodge of an entry, that's what I'm trying to say, because...well, I can't remember. Why. But it will be.

Yesterday was spent in a mad dash to make a time machine out of a DeLorean DMC-12. We're still waiting to see whether or not we were successful. But we may not know until three weeks ago. But yes, lots of work.

Oh, and I sold reprint rights for "Random Thoughts Before a Fatal Crash" to Subterranean magazine. Not sure which issue it'll be appearing in just yet. By the way, "Random Thoughts Before a Fatal Crash" almost became part of the "Back Pages" section of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, but Peter Straub pulled my head out of my ass, and for that I am grateful. Just because it's a good piece of fiction relevant to the novel doesn't mean it belongs in the novel. At least not until there's a massive limited-edition hardback (for which there are currently no plans).

A wish to congratulate Holly Black ([livejournal.com profile] blackholly), who will be expanding her short story "The Coldest Girl in Coldtown," one of the few brilliant vampire stories I've read in ages, into a novel for Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. But you can read the whole story on her LJ. Very, very cool. I especially like that it's not just reworking the characters from the short story, but taking another route into that world.

I neglected, yesterday, to say that I think the assassination of President Kennedy was worked into the Mad Men very, very well. Last night, we finished Season Three and began Season Four. Wonderful stuff. Watching the first episode of the fourth season was weird, Thanksgiving 1964, because there's the world when I was about six months old. And it's so much not this world.

Spooky's no-longer-premature Hallowe'en Sale (!!!) in her Etsy shop, Dreaming Squid Dollworks and Sundries—20% off on everything—continues. Only one necklace and a bracelet left (plus paintings and other cool stuff), and who knows when she'll have time to make more. When making a purchase, IF YOU WANT THE SALE PRICE, you need to, at checkout, use the sale code SPOOK. People! Buy cool stuff!

Oh, and I know I said that Spooky would come along and help me catch all the typos in yesterday's first entry. Only, she was busy and never did, and after all that nonsense with the DeLorean time machine, I was too tired to catch more than a few of them. Apologies. I hate being sloppy. But, I was too distracted, after work and a short nap and dinner, and, besides, I was building my first ever male Second Life avatar. He took me two nights to construct, even with Spooky's avatar foo coming to the rescue. He is Alexander Ishmene, and may, or may not, be the "brother" of Ellen "Grendel" Ishmene, which would be a might odd, her being an AI hiding in a cloned body and all.

Also, I will make my official announcement about this month's book of the month tomorrow. But it's Colin Meloy's Wildwood, illustrated by Carson Ellis.

I wish, wish, wish I could be in Manhattan, actually taking part on the Occupy Wall Street protests, but since I can't, I can at least donate pizza money. So can you! Pizza and other much needed supplies. Just go to the Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs webpage for their #occupywallstreet scent, and there are links, pointing to all sorts of ways you can lend your support. Including buying a bottle of #occupywallstreet.

My imaginary children are Carson (daughter) and Winslow (son). Some of us can only afford imaginary children, and are responsible enough not to have children we can't afford to care for and send to college.

Oh, yes! And don't forget to celebrate Columbus Day this weekend by walking into someone's house and telling them you live there. If they won't cooperate, just kill them. In fact, just kill them on general principle. It's worked before.
greygirlbeast: (apple)
The first computer I ever used wasn't an Apple. This was June 1986, and the computer was something or another manufactured by the Kaypro Corporation. Looked like it had been yanked from a control panel on the Nostromo, that eighty-column, nine-inch green phosphor screen, 64 KB of RAM, the 2.5 MHz Zilog Z80 microprocessor, and so on and so forth. Drives for 91 kb 5¼ inch floppy disks. Remember those? Floppy disks? Anyway, I'd moved to Boulder, Colorado to go to school, and I was typing a paper for a conference—the umpteenth draft, dabbed with liquid paper—and James Kirkland (the first friend I made at UC; he was finishing his PhD) walked in and was like, "Jesus, you're still using an electric typewriter? You've gotta be kidding me. Come over here. Let me show you something." So, he introduced me to the Kaypro (in its all metal chassis) and a horrid, deafening little Okidata dot matrix printer. And it was a weird sort of love at first sight. I was using a computer. Just like on, you know, fucking Star Trek. I was fucking Lieutenant Uhura on the bridge of the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701, writing about extinct marine reptiles! It was fucking cool.

Then, later that same year, I met the Apple IIe, with it's large screen and amber letters. It didn't look half so science-fiction, but was some how less annoying to work with. And then, in 1987, I met the Mac SE with its big grey screen, and diskettes, and a MOUSE (!!), and it was all modular and sexy and friendly and intuitive, and I fell instantly, utterly in love. It the thing broke, even I could usually get it up and running again. The computer lab became a glorious place to be. I made up excuses just to be there. Need someone to input all your data on the relative dimensions of the ammonite phragmocone, with possible relevance to sexual dimorphism? Sure, I'll do it free, and, besides, it's a chance to skip an organic chem lecture.

But it wasn't until 1993, back in Birmingham, Ala. that I got a special Apple student loan to buy my own machine, an Apple Color Classic. Of my very own. That I could take home! And here was that lovely 10″ Sony Trinitron color monitor, 512×384 pixel resolution, and sure, it only had 4 megs of memory, but later I was able to bump that up to 10 megs. I named her Pandora. And everything from "Persephone" to "Apokatastasis" on that lovely machine. I used AOL and Usenet and played SimEarth. I took it to Athens, Ga with me (1994), then back to Birmingham (1997), then to Atlanta (2001) and right back to Birmingham the same year.

But while I was in Atlanta, in October 2001, I bought a reconditioned Mac iBook, and slowly transitioned from Pandora to that machine, which I named Victoria Regina. I used this laptop until April 2007, when I took part of the advance from my shitty little Beowulf tie-in "novel" and bought the iMac I've been using ever since. She's named Arwen, and memory is measured in gigs, and there's over two hundred thousand colors on her huge LCD screen. That's only three Macs in twenty-five years, with virtually no crashes or trips to the service guys or anything. So don't tell me Macs aren't wonderful machines. Don't tell me they don't work for shit. Because I have the experience to know otherwise, a quarter century of it.

Oh, and I've also had two iPods (Moya and, then, Inara) I'd still be on my first, but it had a run in with an unfortunate very powerful magnet on the trip to Oregon a year ago). Pandora needs work on her screen, and Victoria still runs just fine, and I expect to be using Arwen for many years to come. The only reason I don't have an iPad or iPhone is that I cannot present afford either on my freelancers income.

And yesterday Steve Jobs died. It's messed with my head in ways I can't articulate. He was my Tesla. Something like that. He spawned wonders that changed the world, for better or worse. To quote [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy, who I hope won't mind being quoted: [Jobs took] those thing that Apple had -- the weird idea that you'd want to have a sort of electronic Rolodex you'd carry around, that you can take notes on, that would schedule your appointments, the idea that you'd want to be able to talk to your computer and have it do things, the idea that a computer didn't sit on your desk, but that it belonged in your pocket, the idea that you could read a book on your computer and it could have sound and it could have video -- he took those things and he made them work.

It is very safe to say I never would have had a writing career without Apple. I can't even begin to fathom the Microsoft boxes and their unintuitive Windows interface (a creation stolen from Jobs and Wozniak by that ferret Bill Gates, then mutated into something nightmarish). I never would have had the patience to learn to use PCs, and my style of writing, I fear, isn't conducive to typewriters. Am I member of the so-called "Cult of Apple"? Maybe. I really don't care. But I would have liked to see Jobs get a little more time, and I am grateful for his work. It's safe to say I'm going to be mourning the loss of him for a while.

----

I can't tell you what I worked on yesterday, or what I'll work on today. But it's a crazy-lot of work, and it's going to be awesome beyond belief. Oh, and Sirenia Digest #70 went out late last night.

Late, I read Thomas Ligotti's "Conversations in a Dead Language" (1989), which I'd managed somehow never to read, and which I found oddly disappointing. I all but worship Ligotti, and hardly expected the disappointment. Most of the tale is fine, and I loved the twins in their gender-reversed wedding attire, but then the whole thing is spoiled by a silly "horror" story ending.

And now I gotta so. Many, many words before I can rest. Oh, there are typos in this, I'm sure. Spooky, she'll help me fix them later.

Goodbye, Mr. Jobs,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 1)
See, it's not insomnia when you just stay up too late reading. No. It's not. That's called stupid. And so now I'm not awake, and I'm having to augment my sugar-free Red Bull by listening to Hubero going on about Sméagol freaking him out with carrot cards and a squeegee board. Funny cats are no fit substitute for sleep.

Currently, I'm being horrified by a new "texting" acronym: LMBO. Which is apparently what the Jesus has instructed good Xtians, fans of the Jonas Brothers, and devotees of Stephenie Meyer to use instead of LMAO. Because it's more wholesome to say "butt" than to say "ass." Really, people. What the fuck was wrong with "haha"? It's just as easy to "text" as LMAO. Four letters. Actually, it's easier to type than LMAO, because of the QWERTY keyboard layout. Also, it's logical. "Haha" isn't an acronym. It's an example of onomatopoeic language. Do not badly reinvent the wheel, people. That's why we have the Microsoft Corporation.

Yesterday was a symphony of...well, not dull. Actually, anything but dull. Exhausting, though, and vexing. I am now working on so many different projects at once, switching gears throws out my back about once a day. Or throws out my brain. Or whatever. Yesterday, after the blog entry, and after I brushed my teeth, and answered email, after all that, I had to send electronic files of the Authors Note and Author's Biography from The Drowning Girl: A Memoir to Penguin, because...let's not go there. I think people are forgetting how to retype. It all began with James Watt in 1779, unless it began with Johannes Gutenberg's printing press in 1436, unless it actually began with Bi Sheng in China in 1040, ol' Bi Sheng and his porcelain movable type. Wow. There's nine hundred and seventy-one years of laziness. And a huge digression.

I was saying, yesterday, after the files were sent to my editor at Penguin, I got back to my work on XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (guys, the TRUTH is out there, and it will be revealed in late November or early December, I am told, and we all have to sit tight until then). After that I was greeted by a mammoth email from my editor at Penguin, who needed clarification of several illegible comments I'd written on the CEM for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, illegible because the Lamictal (which I take for the seizures) makes my hands shake so badly. And that meant comparing my photostat (back to xeros + graphus) with her notes and...it took awhile, and a lot of patience on the part of the vocally reluctant (but ever helpful) Spooky. Then we had spaghetti. Then we proofread "John Four" for the first time since September 24, 2010 (I finished writing it on September 22, 2010), which is being reprinted in S. T. Joshi's A Mountain Walked: Great Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, to be released in limited and trade editions in 2012 by Centipede Press (and maybe I wasn't suppose to announce that yet, but there you go). That was work yesterday, leaving out a few victuals and bits of flayed skin.

"John Four" is one of my best and strangest Lovecraftian stories, and I'm pleased to see it will be reprinted in such a good home.

Oh, and my comp copies of Stephen Jones The Book of Horror arrived, which reprints my story, "Charcloth, Firesteel, and Flint."

Last night, some very good RP in Insilico, and two episodes of Mad Men, and then, even though I was in bed by two-thirty ayem, I was awake until three forty-five, reading this, that, and the other. Included were two more stories from the Halloween anthology, Sarah Langan's "The Great Pumpkin Arrives at Last" and "The Sticks" by Charlee Jacob. The former is, at best, so-so. It relies too heavily on a somewhat unconvincing "twist ending." The latter, though, was quite effective, a story reminiscent of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery," though only in its most basic premise. I will admit, I'm uncomfortable talking about other authors' stories here, but there's a long tradition of authors commentating on authors, and if I'm going to read the damned things, I can at least be honest.

Spooky's no-longer-premature Hallowe'en Sale (!!!) in her Etsy shop, Dreaming Squid Dollworks and Sundries—20% off on everything—continues. Only one necklace and a bracelet left (plus paintings and other cool stuff), and who knows when she'll have time to make more. When making a purchase, IF YOU WANT THE SALE PRICE, you need to, at checkout, use the sale code SPOOK.

By the way, this is the one year anniversary of our return to Providence from Portland, Oregon. One year ago last night, we spent the whole night awake in the almost entirely deserted Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. Then...well, hell ensued. Anyway, here is a token from that night, which I may auction someday on eBay. It's companion, the shortest novel I ever wrote on a napkin, was auctioned last autumn.

The Napkin of Caribou )
greygirlbeast: (white)
Nobody knew what to do with Buckaroo Banzai. There was no simple way to tell anyone what it was about — I'm not sure anybody knew.

Yesterday was. Sometimes, isn't it enough to say no more or less than that about any given day? After all, this is what most days of any given life are. That day....was. A life is a compilation of days that mostly just are. So, yes. One of the pitfalls of a blog that's being written for other people to read is that there's the feeling you have to make each and every day, in some way, interesting. Though most of them truly aren't. Most days just are.

That said, I spent yesterday tweaking Phase One. The oscillation overthruster was running a little fast, too many RPMs and all that. Someone could have gotten hurt. Oh, and speaking of secret and cool things, I am told that sometime in late November or early December, the cat will likely be allowed to leave the bag. So, we only have to wait that long.

---

The last couple of days, I've been engaged (along with several other authors and agents) in what [livejournal.com profile] ellen_datlow described to me as an endless game of "whack-a-mole," trying to stop various pirate sites from illegally selling copies of our ebooks. Or, as I would prefer to say, electronic copies of our books. Yes, not giving them away, but selling them. And every time we whack one, another pops up. But, like Mr. Jefferson said, eternal vigilance is the price.

No, it's not like buying an analog book and then, when you've read it, selling it back to a used bookstore (or anywhere else). Not unless it's a magical book that endlessly produces identical copies of itself, or unless you have some sort of magical book-pooping device that performs the same function. If you are selling copies of my books, which you have made, you are in violation of US Copyright Law (which, I admit, I am often not fond of, but it still applies) and, more importantly, you are stealing from me. You're not taking a quote. Or a few lines. Not even a preview chapter. But a whole goddamn book, which likely took me a year or two to write and edit.

And that's money my publisher loses, and when my publisher loses money on my books, they lose interest in publishing additional books by me. And if I can't make a living off my writing, the novels and short stories will, I assure you, cease to be created. Oh, there might be one or two very short stories a year, maybe. But I'd be too busy trying to get by with some other shitty job to write. And that, kittens, is why, if you actually enjoy what I write, you should never, ever steal one of my books.

Oh, and if you steal my books, I'll cut out your motherfucking heart and feed it to you, still warm and beating, if I ever get my hands on you. I will not even use a knife. But that's just a trifle, compared with all the other possible consequences. So, pretty please. Don't do this shit. People who pirate books waste the time and money of people who write those books.

And don't even get me started on Amazon and Google again.

Actually...to answer a question posed in yesterday's comments (and thank you, thank you, thank you for all those comments, even if I wasn't able to respond to all of them): [livejournal.com profile] lilith_333 asks, "I try to consume ethically when I can and I want to make sure authors get their fair due when I buy their books; what do you suggest?"

There is no easy answer. Like most authors, I live off advances, not royalties. I have seen only a tiny handful of royalty checks (one, to be specific) from the novels Penguin has published, beginning with Silk. This is over a period of time spanning most of two decades. One check. But set that aside a moment, because that's not the question being asked. The question is one of ethics, and there is nothing ethical about Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Penguin or any of those corporations, not when the bottom line is involved, the bottom line being profit margins. They fuck us all over. No, really. These are evil empires, even the ones which, like Penguin, are struggling to stay afloat. Still, the most ethical thing you can do (if I skip a lot of caveats) is buy the books from a legit online bookseller (Amazon, B&N, Powell's, etc.). Here, I mean the novels. As for the subpress books, I'd say buy them directly from Subterranean Press. And, by the way, Subterranean Press does a pretty damn fine job of actually behaving ethically towards authors, and, in this day and age, that's a rare and precious oddity.

I am, occasionally, called "greedy" for worrying about being stolen from. But, consider, is an author, a writer, who feels guilty for buying books, is that a greedy person? If so, fine. I'm greedy. I expect to be paid for work, as do you.

But now! I must away! There are...things to be done.

Hardly Ethical,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Phase One seems to have left no one burned, mangled, and/or bleeding. So, tomorrow, I have to finally turn my attention to the blasted CEM of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. Always I have found dealing with CEMs a distasteful, and, often, infuriating experience. And I expect I always will. I even recognize that my reaction to CEMs is not always rational. But I hate the things. I especially hate the things when copyeditors try to rewrite my prose; I can only hope that has not happened this time. I'm not in the mood for pyrotechnics.

Truth be told, I only want to be at the sea today. There is nothing else I want. There is nothing else I need, but that one thing I almost certainly will not get.

Summer is almost over.

Day before yesterday, I received contributor's copies of the limited and slip-cased edition of Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 3, which reprints my SF story, "Hydraguros," possibly my best SF story to date. The limited is sold out, but the trade edition is still available.

My thanks to Maria Gerspacher for a marvelous package, which reached me day before yesterday. Somehow, yesterday, when writing my blog entry, I apparently forgot any mail arrived the day before.

Last night, I read "A revision of the Lari (Aves, Charadriiformes) from the early Miocene of Saint-Gérand-le-Puy (Allier, France)" and "New materials of Argentoconodon fariasorum (Mammaliaformes, Triconodontidae) from the Jurassic of Argentina" in the July JVP. The first article was of especial significance, as I'm trying to begin to puzzle out the morphology of some of the local seabirds, many of which belong to this group (most notably, gulls).

I should clarify something: The second entry that showed up in this LJ yesterday wasn't written by me. It said, right at the top of the post, "Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna at The Year of the Unlimited Free Ebooks Brought to You By Amazon.com." Now, we can't be much clearer than that, can we? It wasn't my idea, but LJ posts can now be "shared," reposted in one's own LJ, and, in this case, I thought Cat was speaking very articulately on a subject that desperately needs addressing. But a number of people seem to think I wrote the post, and I didn't, and that was always plain as day. Pay attention, please.

And no, I will not write a story for your shitty little self-published anthology, and no, not even at the princely sum of 1¢ a word.

I want to write about how I've seen readership of the LJ falling off dramatically, and how I think a lot of that's to blame on the DDOS attacks against LJ (hence, the hackers win). I want to write about how LJ was already in decline before the DDOS attacks, because of Facebook and Twitter, and I want to write about how I believe this is because most people want instant gratification and so gravitate towards those more immediate and transient "social media," because, you know, blogging requires actual words, thoughtfulness, and the effort of reading. I want to write about how I've watched comments decline, and how I used to look at this journal as a means of communicating to my readers – that's why it exists – but how it's becoming something I write for myself, as fewer and fewer of my readers come to it, and even fewer comment. I wanted to ask that people please not comment just to tell me why they rarely comment because they think I'll think that by doing so I'll think they're being either fannish or behaving like stalkers. But I'm tired, and it's going to be a long day.

There are more important things to write about.

Whatever Comes Next,
Aunt Beast

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greygirlbeast: (Default)
Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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