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Yesterday was a day off, as predicted. It was not the best sort of day off. I was too tired to leave the House. I helped Spooky clean the place a little. I started a painting I've been meaning to start since May. I read a little. There was a nap before dinner. After dinner, I went back to WoW and played my night-elf warrior, Mithwen, who has sat neglected since November 2008, when I abandoned her for my blood-elf warlock, Shaharrazad. Anyway...it was a day.

It would only have been a day, had Spooky's laptop not decided to go belly up. Again. Once again, it's probably the motherboard. She's taking it in for repairs today. Fortunately, it's still under warranty. But she'll be without it for a couple of weeks, which is going to make it harder to deal with eBay and various other necessary things. So it goes. She's stuck on my ancient, but dependable, iBook until her laptop comes back.

---

I wanted to put down some notes addressing John Glover's concerns, posted yesterday, that the "Best of CRK" volume would neglect older tales in favor of new ones. It is a concern that gets to the heart of why putting together the table of contents is proving so difficult for me (though there are other factors, as you'll soon see, that also make it very hard).

Yes, it's true. It's very hard for me to read the older stories (certainly those pre-2000). This is normal. Authors grow. Change. Our voices change, as do our likes and dislikes, etc. But, so far, a good portion of the ToC is comprised of stories written between 1995 and 1999, stories from Tales of Pain and Wonder, From Weird and Distant Shores, and Wrong Things. So, they certainly won't be left out. It helps, too, that very few stories written after 2005 will be included, as those are being reserved for future collections. So, this is mostly Tales of Pain and Wonder through To Charles Fort, With Love and Alabaster. Mostly. There will be very little material from Sirenia Digest, for example. Which helps me to avoid giving the older stories the cold shoulder.

Of course, nothing from the novels written during that time will be included. And none of my comics work (the latter for legal reasons, as all my work for DC/Vertigo was "work for hire," and I don't own it, so have no reprint rights. And getting those rights would be prohibitively expensive and time consuming.). This is a "best of short fiction" volume.

But the question of what goes in and what doesn't is more complex than making sure the book represents the full range of my work during this initial eleven-year chunk of my career ('94-'05). The biggest problem I have is in defining the term best. Are we talking about my personal favorites? Reader favorites? Those stories that have been chosen by editors for annual "best of" anthologies? The stories that have won awards? The stories that were only nominated for awards? The stories that have been singled out by reviewers and received the most praise? Stories that mark a sudden stylistic or thematic shift? The stories that have most often been reprinted?

What does best mean in this context? Truthfully, there's no correct answer to that question. All answers must be subjective, relative to one perspective or another. I'm weighing all of these factors (and probably a few more) in choosing the stories.

So, that should offer some insight into how I'm going about this process. When I was offered the chance to do the book, I think my reaction was, "Wow. This will be so easy!" But it's not even remotely simple.

---

It's 12:49 p.m., and I'm still not awake. Mothmen, get the oxygen tank!

Postscript: I just heard from Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press that The Ammonite Violin & Others is down to the last 82 copies. That's only 82 remaining out of 1,800 copies. So, if you want to snag one, you'd better do it very soon.
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A wonderful morning here in Providence. Only 81F outside, and there's a cool breeze getting in through the open window by my desk. The humidity has dropped from 94% last night to a mere 48%.

As I said last night, I did 1,060 words on Chapter One of the Next New Novel yesterday. Unsure how much I'll get written today, or if I'll manage to get anything written today, as I have dinner with S.T. Joshi and friends at six p.m. I am desperately trying to find the end of Chapter One before Monday (July 26th), when I have to set the book aside and get to work on "The Yellow Alphabet" for Sirenia Digest #56.

Speaking of the digest, I am pleased to announce that it now has its own website, thanks to my new web guru (or web goblin, if you prefer), Karina Melendez. She designed and maintains the Lambda Literary website, and she's also manages the Wizard's Tower Press website. Oh, here's a link to the new Sirenia Digest site, though it's not yet even close to finished. So please don't try to order anything. You will also note that the site is in English and Spanish. Karina's native language is Spanish, and I'm currently working with her on a rather ambitious plan to translate all the back issues. Ultimately, we hope to use the new website to offer each back issue in both languages. Details TBA, and thank you Karina.

More on the Best of volume from Subterranean Press that I announced last night. I have begun trying to compile a preliminary table of contents, and I'm realizing this is going to be quite a bit more difficult than I'd first realized. As in "Argh." Even though I have 200k words to work with, which means a book somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 pages.
I have decided that, for the most part, I'll not be including work from Sirenia Digest, since a lot of those stories are destined to appear in followup volumes to The Ammonite Violin & Others (and, obviously, none of the stories collected in The Ammonite Violin & Others will be included). So, with a few exceptions, we're talking about 1994-2005. But eleven years of publishing is only a little easier to navigate than sixteen years of publishing.

Last night, I finally saw Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island, and wow. It's almost as grand a mindfuck as Inception. A beautifully made and deeply disturbing film. It is haunting in the truest sense of the word. And I think Leonardo DiCaprio is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. He's come a long, long way from Critters 3 (1991).

And now...I need to try to get some work done.
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A thunderstorm is moving in, and the sky has gone marvelously dark above Federal Hill here in Providence.

I have what I think is quite a momentous announcement. This morning William Schafer at Subterranean Press emailed to ask if I'd "be interested in a 200k word The Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan, that, in addition to 5-6 uncollected stories, drew from all of your published collections..."

And, of course, I said yes. I said yes immediately.

So...over the next month or so I'll be compiling the table of contents, which, frankly, seems like an almost impossible task, even with a two-hundred-thousand word limit. I have to go back over all the short fiction I've written the last seventeen years, almost two hundred stories, and figure out which pieces I consider my best (as well as which pieces have received the most attention, and so might be said to represent my "best" work). The book will be released sometime in the spring of 2011, and the limited edition will be accompanied by The Crimson Alphabet as a free chapbook. I will post more details as they become available. By the way, feel free to post suggestions here, or email them to me, your personal favorites you might like to see included. I'll consider those, too, when making my choices. I hope to deliver the manuscript to subpress by the end of the summer.

So, yeah. Big News. Also, I'll be getting back to work on The Dinosaurs of Mars next year, after having set it aside in the summer of 2007. If all goes well, subpress will release it in the fall of 2011. Which means I'm doing two books with them next year.

Meanwhile, my copies of The Ammonite Violin & Others arrived late yesterday, along with the "Sanderlings" chapbook. I am beyond pleased with how the collection turned out. It's definitely one of the best-looking books I've ever done with subpress. And if you preordered and do not yet have your copy, it should be along shortly.

---

Today, I did 1,060 words on Chapter One of the Next New Novel, and it's the first writing I've gotten done since Sunday. The less said about the first half of yesterday the better. Most of it was spent at the Peace Dale Public Library, reading Joshi's The Rise and Fall of the Cthulhu Mythos.

Sunday evening, we returned to the Blackstone River Gorge area in southern Massachusetts, the towns of Blackstone and Millville, and almost to Uxbridge. I found more locations important to the Next New Novel, and fell more in love with the region. Many photos were taken, and I'll try to post some soon.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Also, there's the cool stuff at Spooky's Dreaming Squid Dollworks & Sundries shop at Etsy (she says, "Tell them to please buy this stuff, because I'm tired of looking at it."). Yes, she really said that. So, thanks. Buy or bid if you are able.

Okay. That's all for now. I have a table of contents to ponder....
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I am painfully not-yet-awake. I seem to have suffered some bizarre reverse insomnia. I got to sleep just fine, around three a.m., but woke around nine, and only dozed fitfully afterwards, jerking awake every five or ten minutes, until I finally got up about ten. Blegh. Not how I needed to begin this day.

It's going to be a scorcher here in Providence today.

---

Yesterday, I wrote 1,143 words on Chapter One, falling somewhat short of my 1,500-word-a-day goal. Mostly, this was because I spent an hour and a half reworking portions of what I wrote on Thursday. The novel has been entirely changed by the impromptu "workshop" at Readercon last weekend, and hopefully for the better. I'll post details when I am farther along, deeper into this first chapter and more certain this new direction is working.

My hands are so dry.

I have not yet received my copies of The Ammonite Violin & Others, but I'm told they started shipping from subpress yesterday, so if you preordered, your books are on their way (unless you preordered from Amazon, which is always a little slower on deliveries).

I think that I may be writing "The Yellow Alphabet" this month, for Sirenia Digest 56. I've been wanting to do it for quite some time, to complete the triptych I began with "The Black Alphabet" and then continued with "The Crimson Alphabet." But first, I need to make substantial progress on Chapter One of the novel.

---

About six-thirty p.m., When the writing was done yesterday, and also the reading aloud what had been written, Spooky and I drove north and west to Woonsocket. I've always needed to "location scout" for stories and novels, to ground at least some part of them in a place I have actually visited. We'd not been in Woonsocket since the summer of 2004, when I was scouting locations for Daughter of Hounds. We stopped at Thundermist Falls, though the sun was setting fast, and I knew Thundermist Falls wasn't the spot I was looking for. Still, the Blackstone River crashing down from the dam's spillways to the rocks below is irresistible. On the south side of the bridge we spotted a large turtle (Deirochelyinae incertae sedis) getting the last rays of the day, and also a muskrat clambering about on the rocks.

We left Woonsocket and followed the river, driving a little farther north, across the state line into southern Massachusetts to Millville. We stopped on a bridge between another (smaller) dam and two railway trestles. Then we drove on through Millville, a town very possessed of that decayed, haunted New England feel. We followed dark, tree-shrouded roads to the Blackstone Gorge, which we reached just before sunset. And as soon as I saw the little dam and the wide, still river backed up behind it, the woods pressing in on either side, the marshy banks, I realized I'd found the place I was searching for. Eerie and beautiful in equal measure. Something deeply unsettling about the glassy surface of the river above the dam. This is where the novel begins, or at a spot just northwest of here. We sat a while, watching the crescent moon rise over the trees. We'll be going back, this evening or maybe tomorrow, because there's more I need to see. But it was a very successful trip. We left Blackstone Gorge about eight p.m. and headed back to Providence. I took fifty-three photos, and there are six behind the cut (they're a little hazy, as the camera settings were off). I'll get more up later:

16 July 2010 )


---

Back home, after dinner, we watched Niels Arden Oplev's Män som hatar kvinnor (2009; The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), which was very, very good. I'm very taken with Noomi Rapace. And after the movie we read through what I've written so far on Chapter One once more before bed. Just before sleep, I read some of S.T. Joshi's The Rise and Fall of the Cthulhu Mythos (2008); I'm having dinner with Joshi next week.
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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...
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Update from Subterranean Press:

"We received the first copies of Caitlín R. Kiernan’s excellent new collection, The Ammonite Violin & Others, last week, and noticed a glaring error on the dust jacket, one big enough that we decided to have the djs reprinted rather than let the books out in the world with the error.

We’re expecting the books to be ready to pick up on July 13 or so, and will be shipping copies immediately after they land in our warehouse. Our apologies for the delay to everyone who preordered a copy, but we’d rather have things take a week or two longer than anticipated in order to get everything right."

Posted on Thursday, July 8th, 2010 at 7:14 am.
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My last entry before Readercon 21.

The past two days have been hell here in Providence. The temperature hit 101F on Tuesday (a record for the date), and wasn't much better yesterday. We've had to stay out of the House as much as possible, trying to stay cool. It is an old house, this House, and it is made to hold in heat in cold winters. It also holds it in during summers. Which is usually okay, unless we get these heatwaves. Dr. Muñoz could not even begin to keep up. Yesterday, it was 93F in the cool part of the House for much of the day. But last night the fever broke, and we have a reprieve until sometime next week, when the heat is supposed to return. At least we get three nights of AC at the hotel.

Here's an update regarding The Ammonite Violin & Others: The book came back from the printer, but there was a problem with the dust jackets, so subpress had to send the books back to the printer to have the dust jackets redone. This has created a delay in shipment of the books to those who've preordered them. This part is fairly straightforward and has not caused me to gnash my teeth. However, Amazon.com, in it's infinite lack of wisdom, sent out email to those who preordered via Amazon, stating that the book was "out of stock," and asking people if they wished to cancel their orders. Apparently, from what I've been told (and my information may be in error), Amazon will cancel the preorder unless you reply to this email, telling them not to do so. None of it makes much sense to me. The books have not shipped from the publisher, so there's no way they can be "out of stock" at Amazon, given they've not yet been in stock at Amazon. Also, I heard a rumor the book was sold out, and that's not true, either. Only the limited edition is sold out (and it has been for months). As to when you can expect to get your copy, Bill at subpress says, "Ammonite should be done next Monday or Tuesday, when they've been rejacketed."

So. Apologies for the delay, but the books should go out in another couple of weeks, I'd think (regardless of what Amazon might say to the contrary). This is one reason it's always a good thing to order directly from subpress.

---

The heat has been so bad I didn't even make the hair appointment on Tuesday, so everyone who makes Readercon will be blessed with the sight of my shaggy greying mop. Maybe this will spur me to just let it grow out, and accept the grey. Which is something I should have done years ago.

My thanks to Geoffrey ([livejournal.com profile] readingthedark), who made the drive down from Framingham on Monday evening. It was good to have company and conversation.

Tuesday, trying to escape the heat, we headed for the theater. We took in two matinées. First, M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender and then Lee Unkrich's Toy Story 3. The latter is probably one of the best films of the summer. The former, alas, is not. But it also wasn't even half as awful as most of the critics are making it out to be. The plot was not "incomprehensible," for example. The plot was very simple and straightforward. The Last Airbender is a painfully mediocre movie, that's true, and I do not expect painfully mediocre movies from Shyamalan. I know this cuts against the grain, how it's been cool to hate Shyamalan since...I don't know...since at least Signals, but I have adored all of his films except the also painfully mediocre The Happening (2008). As for The Last Airbender, I thought it was a gorgeous film, and, as a children's film, it worked in a sloppy sort of way. I even enjoyed the last third quite a bit. But yeah, the acting was consistently stiff and heavy-handed (even with people like Cliff Curtis, who I know can act), which likely means the direction was off. The screenplay was flat and unremarkable. As for the charges that the casting is racist, again, I don't see a problem of the magnitude reviewers have indicated. I noticed only three white actors cast in roles that seemed to require non-white actors (admittedly, two of these were main characters): Nicola Peltz (Katara), Jackson Rathbone (Sokka), and Katharine Houghton (Katara's grandmother). How you get three Caucasians in a village full of people who seem to be Inuit, I don't know. Yes, the roles were inexplicably miscast, but when almost everyone else in the film isn't white, I hardly see how this qualifies as a massive "racefail" (gods, I hate that silly compounderation). The Last Airbender isn't a particularly good film, and it's a strange move for Shyamalan, who I would think would be trying to get back on track with the sorts of film's he does best. But it's also not nearly as bad as I'd expected it to be. Then again, I never cared for the animated series. Maybe my reaction would have been different if I were a fan.

Also, can we all please stop with the idiotic 3-D soon?

I'd say more, but it's beginning to get hot in the office, so I'm going to wrap this up. Perhaps I'll see you this weekend at Readercon. Perhaps I won't. No, I won't be twatting from the con. I will be unplugged. Next entry, Monday morning.
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It's going to be a hot day here in Providence. I was unable to get to sleep, and finally had to take an Ambien, which I am trying very, very hard not to do. But it was almost five a.m., and the sky was growing light.

Yesterday, Spooky and I spent another five hours or so on "The Maltese Unicorn." We read all the way through the story again, and then I made a number of last minute line edits and added a few passages. Then emailed it to the anthology's editor (both TBA), and now, mercifully, it is out of my hands.

This week will be devoured by everything I need to do to be ready for Readercon. I'm going up Thursday night. But I haven't bought anything like clothing since I did that reading at the Montauk Club in Brooklyn back on January 15th. I'm considering "dressing down," as what I wore last year seemed to inspire some degree of fear and loathing. And my hair...my hair has been left untended since January, as well. I'm having it cut and colored on Tuesday. I don't want to do any of these things. I hate shopping, and don't want to be futzed over by a hairdresser.

Anyway, as for Readercon 21, for those of you who are attending, here's my schedule:

Friday 12:00 Noon, RI: Event (60 min.)

A Dramatic Reading of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Acts I & II. Inanna Arthen, Ron
Drummond, Greer Gilman, Adam Golaski, Caitlin R. Kiernan, K. A. Laity, John Langan,
Shira Lipkin, Faye Ringel, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Sonya Taaffe, Eric M. Van.

Friday 1:00 PM, Salon F: Panel

New England: At Home to the Unheimlich?. F. Brett Cox, Elizabeth Hand (M), Caitlin
R. Kiernan, Faye Ringel, Paul Tremblay, Catherynne M. Valente.

Friday 2:00 PM, 4 PM RI: Event (60 min.)

A Dramatic Reading of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Acts I, II, IV & V. Inanna Arthen, Ron
Drummond, Scott Edelman, Jim Freund, Greer Gilman, Adam Golaski, Walter H. Hunt, Alaya
Dawn Johnson, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Mary Robinette Kowal, K. A. Laity, John Langan,Faye
Ringel, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Sonya Taaffe, Eric M. Van.

(I'll be reading the part of Oberon.)

Friday 4:00 PM: Autographing

Friday 5:00 PM, Salon F: Panel

David Foster Wallace Wanted Us to Do This Panel: Authoritativeness in Fiction.
Michael Dirda, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Sarah Langan, Eugene Mirabelli, James Morrow (L),
Catherynne M. Valente.

Saturday 12:00 Noon, RI: Talk / Discussion (60 min.)

Tree Networks and Transspecies Sex: Biology in Avatar Joan Slonczewski

Saturday 1:00 PM, NH / MA: Group Reading

Haunted Legends Group Reading (60 min.). Ellen Datlow (host), Caitlin R. Kiernan,
Kit Reed, Catherynne M. Valente.

Readings from Haunted Legends, an anthology of all new retellings of urban legends
and regional ghost stories, edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas. The book will be
out in September from Tor Books.

Sunday 11:00 AM, Salon G: Event

The Shirley Jackson Awards: Nalo Hopkinson (MC), Nick Antosca, Ellen Datlow, Gemma
Files, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Robert Shearman, and Paul Witcover (nominees), F. Brett Cox
and John Langan (judges), Elizabeth Hand, Jack M. Haringa, Peter Straub, PaulTremblay
(advisors).

Sunday 1:00 PM, VT: Reading (60 min.)

from The Ammonite Violin & Others* (collection; Subterranean Press, June 2010).

Sunday 2:00 PM, Salon F: Panel

It Is, It Is, It Really Is Fiction: Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary F&SF. Caitlin
R. Kiernan, K. A. Laity (L), Shariann Lewitt, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Catherynne M. Valente.

*Actually, because of the delay at the printer, I'll will, instead, be reading "The Sea Troll's Daughter."

---

Day before yesterday, or the day before that, I came across a somewhat interesting (and generally very flattering) blog post about Silk and The Red Tree and my writing in general. I'll quote a short bit:

Caitlin Kiernan’s novels give abundant evidence of the author’s impressive research and learning. Within a single chapter, the reader may find references to sources as varied as Seneca, Nina Simone, Thoreau, Tom Waits, Joseph Campbell and H. P. Lovecraft. Kiernan often wields her impressive learning like a bludgeon and seems to take considerable satisfaction in doing so. The reader may feel both taunted and intimidated by this amazing author who frequently makes extravagant displays of learning. However, discerning readers will probably forgive this author for her occasional outbursts of unabashed arrogance and vulgarity (which reminds me of Harlan Ellison's tendency to chastise his readers for their ignorance). I'm sorry Caitlin. I'll try to do better.

This made me smile, even as it sort of grated on my nerves. But then, how often do I try to grate on the nerves even as I try to evoke a smile? I do think the post paints me more as the person I was in the mid nineties than the person I am now, fifteen years later, but whatever. Anyway, what's important is that bit at the end. That last line. Because that's all I've ever really asked from anyone (including myself): Try to do better, because hardly any of us ever do try to do better. Also, I'll remind you of a quote attributed to Bertolt Brecht. "Art is a hammer." Which is to say, sometimes I use the hammer to drive nails, and sometimes I use it to pull them out again. Sometimes I use it to prop open a door. And then sometimes, yeah, it's time to fucking bludgeon.
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Wow. Hot as hell in the House, and I am not awake, even though I slept until eleven frakking thirty. I think the temperature inside the apartment reached 86F yesterday. Or maybe that was day before yesterday. I'm too hot to remember. It may be worse today.

And yes, today is Spooky's 4x10 birthday. She said I can call it that. Yes, I asked permission. Everyone better be good to her today.

Yesterday, I wrote a rather staggering 1,744 words in only five hours, and found THE END of "Tidal Forces." The ending is odd, at least for me. For one of my stories. And this has to be the strangest tale about Azathoth ever told. And I realized, about halfway through this story, it's the third time I've gone at the same story I first tried to tell with "The Bone's Prayer" (Sirenia Digest #39, February 2009; reprinted in The Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2010; Prime Books; forthcoming), and then had another go at with "Sanderlings" (the chapbook that accompanies the limited edition of The Ammonite Violin). With "Sanderlings," it took me several months to realize I'd rewritten "The Bone's Prayer." This time, writing "Tidal Forces," I realized a couple of days in. I honestly have no idea why I've done this. I don't think the story's get progressively better. It must just be something I've been trying to get out of my system, like Angela Carter retelling "Little Red Riding Hood" over and over again.

Got the editorial letter for "The Maltese Unicorn" this morning, but I'm going to set that aside until after the Great Old Spooky One's birthday.

Speaking of which...in recognition of her 4x10 birthday, Spooky is having a sale on all the paintings in her Dreaming Squid Dollworks Etsy shop until midnight tonight (EDT). Take heed and tremble.

Have I mentioned I now command a battalion of mothmen? No? I suppose it slipped my mind. I figure a battalion of mothmen at my fingertips ought to give me some sort of damn advantage (though I've yet to figure out exactly what that might be).
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So...Sunday we went to Boston. This was the trip to Boston that had been delayed since May 26th, the delayed birthday trip to Boston. Simple plan. Spend a few hours at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, then meet up with Greer ([livejournal.com profile] nineweaving), Sonya ([livejournal.com profile] sovay), Geoffrey ([livejournal.com profile] readingthedark), and Chris for Thai food at 9 Tastes. It started off...well, not perfect, but okay. We got to Boston a little late (and there was an emergency pee stop at MIT, which is a pretty cool place to have an emergency pee stop), but mostly things were fine. At the Museum, Spooky sketched birds and mammals, and I sketched and photographed Permian fish, sharks, amphibians, reptiles, and synapsids.

We left the Museum just before five (closing time), and headed back to the van to find a parking place nearer the restaurant (we were parked on Wendell Street for the MCZ). We found a spot on Holyoke Street (not easy, because the place was crawling in people, despite the crappy weather). And that's when I had the first seizure I've had in more than a month, and the worst one I've had in several months. And, before it was over, I'd smacked my head hard on the plastic seat-belt hanger thing. Which was the end of the second attempt at the Boston birthday gathering. Spooky called everyone she could get on the phone and canceled dinner. And I'm drawing this stupid, sorry tale out more than I'd meant to. We drove back to Providence, and I didn't go to the ER, because I couldn't possibly have afforded it. I went home and rested, fairly certain I probably didn't have a concussion, just a sore skull and a goose egg. And the usual post-seizure yuckiness.

And that was Saturday.

I spent most of yesterday in bed, still weak and recuperating. But I am a lousy convalescent, and I got bored about noon, and spent the next seven or eight hours editing "The Maltese Unicorn," and rewriting parts of it, and adding to it, and tweaking it, and whatnot. I finally stopped sometime after eight o'clock, and Spooky made me have some dinner.

Anyway. For now I'm taking it as easy as I can and still get the work done that needs doing. I'm seeing my doctor on Thursday. I'll be sending "The Maltese Unicorn" off to the anthology's editor today, after a very few last minute nips and tucks.

Oh, and the weather finally improved, which has helped my mood a bit.

---

Thanks to Bill Schafer at subpress for sending me the Publisher's Weekly review of The Ammonite Violin & Others. I'm very pleased with it:

The 20 short, dark tales in Kiernan's third fantastical erotica collection (after Tales from the Woeful Platypus*) are marked by obsessive, often self-destructive behavior; haunting, generally prophetic dreams; and beautiful prose. In the title story, an aging serial killer invites a young violinist to his isolated home on the anniversary of his murder of her cellist sister. In "The Hole with a Girl in Its Heart," an unhappy man makes a deal with a young woman who possesses a freakish understanding of quantum mechanics. In "Bridle," an equally unhappy woman begins to have unnerving dreams about a kelpie trapped in a small pond near her home. In "Ode to Edvard Munch," a man relates his long-term love affair with an urban vampire. These very adult stories will prove deeply pleasing to aficionados of literate, sexually tinged fantasy fiction.

So...that's three for three. Good reviews from Booklist, Library Journal, and Publisher's Weekly, for a book of very, very peculiar stories. Better hurry up and order if you want a copy.

And now, I need to lie down again for a bit. Spooky took these two photos yesterday of me editing from the sick bed:

Bed Editing )


* Strictly speaking, this isn't true. The Ammonite Violin & Others isn't the planned third volume after Frog Toes and Tentacles and Tales from the Woeful Platypus, but a) it's starting to look as though I might never get around to doing that book, and b) there is a strong erotic element to this book, so I can see where confusion originated.
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Yesterday is a vicious blur of words. I did another 1,113 words on "The Maltese Unicorn." I'd hoped I'd be finished by Friday. I'm going to Boston on Sunday (the long-delayed birthday dinner), and I very much wanted to put this puppy to bed beforehand. I fear, however, I won't be finishing until maybe Tuesday. I've already spent twelve days on this story, not counting all the research I did back in May. It is becoming a vast and moody thing, this tale.

My thanks to everyone who bid in the most recent round of eBay auctions. New auctions will begin very soon, maybe as early as this afternoon.

My author's copies of The Ammonite Violin & Others should be along any day now. If you've not yet ordered a copy, I hope you'll do so.

What else to yesterday? It was such a long stretch of writing (as was Monday), I wasn't up for much when it was over. I signed contracts for a reprint of "The Bone's Prayer." I proofed the galleys for the author's note section of the forthcoming The Red Tree mass-market paperback.

I read a paper in the new JVP, "A new basal hadrosauroid (Dinosauria, Ornithopoda) from the Turonian of New Mexico." After dinner, Spooky and I watched an episode from Season Five of Deadliest Catch (because I'm a crab-fishing nerd), and then she trimmed my hair, which was very badly in need of a trim. Then we played four hours of WoW, and Gnomenclature and Klausgnomi both reached Level 26. I think when they reach 30, we'll be switching back to our blood elves, Shaharrazad and Suraa, to finish up Lich King. Then we'll likely spend the summer on our space goats...um, I mean our Draenei...before switching back to our blood elves in the autumn. It's good to have these things planned out, I think. Later, when I tried to go to sleep, all I could think about was work, and I had my first bout of insomnia in a couple weeks. I finally had to take an Ambien, which i am increasingly loathe to do. I read Patton Oswalt and Patric Reynolds' Serenity: Float Out, a nice one-off from Dark Horse. And finally, about four, I got to sleep (only to be awakened before ten by construction noise).

Last night, someone wrote to thank me for my part in the documentary Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown (2008). But he also brought up the fact that I was the only woman interviewed in the film, and the way that, in general, women are scarce when it comes to Lovecraft criticism and Lovecraftian anthologies. There's no way to not agree with this. The problem is readily apparent, and, in fact, I was a little uncomfortable watching the final cut of the documentary, the absence of female commentators is so conspicuous. This is one reason I was very pleased with [livejournal.com profile] ellen_datlow's Lovecraft Unbound. There are stories by twenty-two authors, and eight of the authors are female, which is far more than average for an anthology of Lovecraft-inspired stories. Consider, The Song of Cthulhu (Chaosium, 2001): twenty authors, one woman (me). Or Weird Shadows Over Innsmouth (Fedogan and Bremer, 2005): twelve authors, only one woman (me). Or The Children of Cthulhu (Del Rey, 2002): twenty-three authors, three women (including me). Or Cthulhu 2000 (Arkham House, 2000): eighteen authors, but only three are women. Or Black Wings: Tales of Lovecratian Horror (PS Publishing, 2010): twenty-one authors, two women (myself included). I could go on, but I'll wait until another time. This is a very complex subject, and one I should return to some day when I can do it justice. However, yes, I do see a definite gender bias at work here.

The platypus is eager, so...I should get to it.
greygirlbeast: (querulpous cephalopod)
Louise Bourgeois has died. She was 98.

Yesterday evening, a little after five p.m., I began to smell smoke. The window in my office was open, and soon the smell getting in was strong enough to sting my nostrils. Then Spooky came in (she'd walked over to a neighborhood store) and told me the city was blanketed by a cloud of smoke. Turns out, it was smoke from wildfires in Quebec that had drifted across most of New England. I wanted to get a few photos, so we drove over to College Hill. The smoke and the near-total absence of traffic (I suppose everyone was in South County for Memorial Day) lent an oddly apocalyptic feel to the city. This morning, the smoke is gone, and the temperature is in the high seventies.

31 May 2010 )


---

Yesterday, I only managed 536 words on "The Maltese Unicorn," which was something of a disappointment after Sunday's word count. But, as I've said, the writing of this story is so different for me, in a number of ways, compared with my usual process. Sure, I've written noir before, usually as science fiction (see "Riding the White Bull," "Bradbury Weather," and "Hydrarguros," for example). But "The Maltese Unicorn" is essentially an homage to Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, and film noir of the thirties and forties. And the tongue-in-cheek tone I'd expected it to have has pretty much fallen away. I'm mostly playing it straight (despite the lesbian characters). So, not only is it a constant struggle to get the period right, down to the smallest detail, and to do all the things I must do with any story, but there's the added difficulty of keeping the voice just so.

And here's another remainder about The Ammonite Violin & Others, to be released later this month by Subterranean Press. There are still copies of the trade hardback available for preorder.

Also, yesterday, I finished editing "The Bone's Prayer" (from Sirenia Digest #39) for reprint in The Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2010 (Prime Books). Odd thing is, I started work on this in early April, then apparently set it aside and forgot about it. The editor wrote a couple of days ago to ask for a .doc file of the story, and I discovered that I'd never finished the line edits. Anyway, it's done now.

More gaming last night. More amazement at what a beautiful game Heavenly Sword is (though I have some problems with the controls). And we leveled Gnomenclature and Klausgnomi to 20, so now they have mounts. I need to set the gaming aside and get back to reading, and there's also a painting I'd like to start. It's just so much easier, at the end of the day, to switch my brain off and let myself be passively entertained.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Another sunny day in Providence, but the temperature's only 73F. It'll be cooler than yesterday. The window's open, and I can smell a hint of the sea.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,140 words on "The Maltese Unicorn." I'm very nervous about this one, because, in numerous ways, it's something I haven't done before. Spooky says it's coming along nicely, and she's usually right. I think my main concern right now is length. I realized yesterday that I'd plotted something that could very easily be a novella, and that I'm going to have to work to stay within my word limit. Which is sort of like editing a film, deciding what winds up on the "cutting-room floor" and what goes into that final cut that people get to see. Yesterday, I kept having to snip out pieces of dialogue, not because they were bad. They were, in fact, rather good (if I do say so myself, and I did). Dialogue may end up being one of the best things about this story.

This would be a very, very good day to preorder your copy of The Ammonite Violin & Others. So far, it's gotten nothing but rave reviews, which is a huge relief.

I'd very much like to go to the sea today— to the sound of the waves, the gulls, the wind, the peace —but it's Memorial day, and the beaches will be crawling with noisy, drunken tourists celebrating nothing in particular except a day off and legal alcohol. So...maybe later in the week.

---

A quick, but important, note to readers, and I do wish it were not necessary to write this. I understand that by keeping this journal, and being on Facebook and Twitter, I am "putting myself out there." In this age, many artists are more accessible than at any other time in history, yes. However, that doesn't mean there are not still boundaries, or that the boundaries don't vary between one artist and another, or that you've been given full access to their lives. In this case, my life. I love getting email from readers, and comments to the journal, and responses on Facebook and Twitter, and I often reply. However, some people do not seem to grasp the necessity of boundaries, or the rights to privacy that I still claim. I'm speaking to a very small minority here. As in, if you've sent me a dozen emails in the past month, please don't write me a thirteenth sounding all hangdog because I've only answered one or two. Do not expect me to hold your hand as you read my books and stories. Do not think that my having "friended" you on Facebook or LJ means we're, you know, actual real-life friends. Do not expect me to follow you on Twitter. I should think these things would be common sense, but a few rather vocal people don't seem to get it. So, please, think before asking more of me than I freely give. And sure, it might only take me a second or two to reply to any given question or request, but those seconds add up. And, more importantly, I simply may not feel like replying, and there's nothing wrong with my feeling that way.

---

Last night I was too tired from all the writing to read. Well, except for a paper in the latest Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, "A new baenid turtle from the Upper Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) Hell Creek Formation of North Dakota and preliminary taxonomic review of the Cretaceous Baenidae." The new taxon is named Gamerabaena, and the authors note, under etymology, "'Gamera refers to the fictional, firebreathing turtle from the 1965 movie Gamera, in allusion to his fire-breathing capabilities and the Hell Creek Formation..."

Spooky's birthday present, a PS3— made possible by donations from incredibly, marvelously generous readers —arrived early. We ordered it early, to be sure it arrived on time, and it arrived much sooner than expected. So, we've been downloading demos, and I've been playing Heavenly Sword (2007). I gotta say, Heavenly Sword is, hands down, the most beautiful videogame I've ever seen. I think it actually manages to beat Shadow of the Colossus (2005). And it doesn't hurt in the least that you get Andy Serkis and Anna Torv. Later in the evening, we went on something of a WoW binge, which I've not done in a while. We got Gnomnclature and Klausgnomi to Level 19. Soon now, they'll not have to run everywhere they go.

Anyway...time to make the words.
greygirlbeast: (Barker)
Another gloomy day here in Providence. Sure, it's May 18th, but the forecast high is a measly 58F (currently 56F).

One week remaining now until birthday -06, and I feel sort of ill and dizzy every time I think too hard or too long about that.

---

If all goes well, Sirenia Digest subscribers should be getting #54 sometime this evening. Early for once.

Not too late to pre-order your copy of the trade hardcover of The Ammonite Violin & Others.

---

Yesterday, we saw Ridley Scott's Robin Hood. I hear it's not getting good reviews. Regardless, I enjoyed it. While it's true that this is not Scott's best film, it's also by no means his worst. Comparisons with the much-superior Gladiator are inevitable, and Robin Hood is no where near as well written or well paced as Gladiator. But I still enjoyed it. I was pleased with the cast, and with their performances. I can never get enough Cate Blanchett, and I think Mark Strong is becoming my favorite actor who gets typecast as the ruthless (yet sexy) villain.

Geoffrey ([livejournal.com profile] readingthedark) came by last night, and we talked and talked and talked. I think it was almost four a.m. before he left.

Not much of an entry, no. But all I have today.
greygirlbeast: (Early Permian)
Running late today. The dreams are getting bad again, and that may be one or another of the new meds, and it may not be. But at least there's no dreamsickness. They fade almost as soon as I'm awake, and there's only the sense of an interrupted reality, replaced by this reality, which is no more or less convincing than those lost realities. A sunny, warm day here in Providence. I almost wrote "morning," then realized that it's already after noon.

There's a really marvelous review of The Ammonite Violin & Others in the new Booklist (review by Regina Schroeder):

Kiernan’s stories clearly descend from archetypal tales, though she adds a depth and a clarity of vision all her own. From “The Ammonite Violin,” in which a collector achieves the pinnacle of his obsession, and a musician discovers the true power of her craft, to the story of a girl who loves the rat king and holds in her care the whistle the rats used to create the world, her stories give us a side of timeless scenarios that have usually been left unspoken. There are always costs to being a part of these stories, and they aren’t always gladly paid by those peripheral to the heroes, as the narrators often are. In “For One Who Has Lost Herself,” the price is the awful truth that comes after the end of a story we already pretty much knew; that is, what happens to the selkie after the young man who stole her sealskin has vanished. Brilliantly crafted, tightly woven, and memorable, the worlds of Kiernan’s imagination are odd places, quite fascinating to poke around in.

I feel like, with The Red Tree, Sirenia Digest, A is for Alien, and now The Ammonite Violin & Others, I'm finally getting close to what I've been trying to do since the start. After so much frustration and so many wrong turns, I'm finally telling the stories I need to tell, the way that I need to tell them. The language is finally working for me. I don't know if I'll still feel this way in five or ten years, looking back. But that's how it feels right now.

---

Yesterday, we left Providence and spent the day on Conanicut Island, at Beavertail. The day was dazzling, brilliant, the blue sky hung with just enough clouds so as not to be disconcerting. We parked on the western side of the point, which we've not explored as well as the eastern side. Largely, this is because the eastern side is sheltered from the wind, and even on warm days, the wind off Narragansett Bay can be uncomfortably cold. Yesterday, we didn't let that dissuade us. We climbed over the craggy outcrops of Cambro-Ordovician age Fort Burnside Formation and Jamestown Formation, crazily tilted beds of phyllite and slate and siltstone and stark white veins of calcite. We started about a quarter mile northwest of the lighthouse, and worked our way southeast. The tide was out, and so we could reach some of the pebbly beaches. We spent a couple of hours searching for sea glass while the cormorants and gulls wheeled overhead and the bell buoy clanged. I've been feeling bad about never using the Canon PowerShot A75, so I'd brought it along. I've decided that this summer I'll use it, while Spooky uses the newer Powershot A1100IS. So I took photos yesterday with the older camera. We sat and watched the sea. The wind had a bite, especially when the sun would slip behind the clouds. Still, we sat and listened to the sea. There were rabbits and red-winged blackbirds and the dog roses have begun to bloom, pink and white. We saw the ospreys nesting just north of Great Creek.

Here are my photos from yesterday. I'll post some of Spooky's tomorrow:

16 May 2010 )


Last night, we finished reading Patti Smith's Just Kids, which, if you don't know, focuses on her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe. I read the entire book aloud to Kathryn. And I've been dreading the ending, and had promised my self I'd get through it without crying. It was a stupid promise. It seemed like it took me an hour to read the last few pages, and we were both crying. But it's a beautiful, beautiful book. And later this week, we'll be seeing Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe at the RISD museum.

---

I'm going to try to get Sirenia Digest #54 out sometime in the next couple of days, early, so that I can focus all my attention on starting "The Maltese Unicorn."
greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
Yesterday, I wrote a very respectable 1,414 words on the Frazetta-inspired "Tempest Witch," and found THE END. I have some concern that the story may be a bit rough about the edges, but, all in all, I'm pleased with it. Today will be a day off, and then, tomorrow I'll be getting back to work on "The Maltese Unicorn." Likely, there will be several days of reading and research before I can begin the actual writing part of writing the story.

If you've not yet pre-ordered The Ammonite Violin & Others, there are still copies of the trade hardback edition left (though the limited edition is sold out).

The 2010 Nebula award winners have been announced, and while I do not usually take note of who does and doesn't win the Nebulas, I was pleased to see Catherynne M. Valente ([livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna) received the Andre Norton Award for The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Congratulations, Cat.

Aside from the writing, there was noting especially remarkable about yesterday. When I'd finished the story, and read it all back to Spooky, I was too tired to do much of anything. Spooky had discovered an odd concoction at Eastside Market's deli, baked macaroni and cheese with pulled pork, and that's what we had for dinner, along with Brussels sprouts and baked beans. And now I know that macaroni and cheese with pulled pork BBQ cooked into it is actually absurdly delicious. After dinner, there was WoW, and Gnomenclature is now most of the way through Level 10, and Shaharrazad is not a happy camper. Later, I read a chunk of Charles Burns' Black Hole (a gift from [livejournal.com profile] corucia) before bed. Oh, I also made it through two articles in the new Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology yesterday, "Generic reassignment of an ichthyosaur from the Queen Elizabeth Islands, Northwest Territories, Canada" and "A remarkable case of a shark-bitten elasmosaurid plesiosaur." The reading makes me feel a little less guilty about squandering so much time leveling a gnome.
greygirlbeast: (sleeps with wolves)
Yesterday, Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press passed along the news that the limited edition of The Ammonite Violin & Others has sold out. There are still copies of the trade hardcover, for now. But I expect the book to sell out prior to publication, so you might want to preorder. My thanks to all who have preordered so far. I'm very excited about this book, as it contains some of my best work to date.

Here in Providence, we're having a wonderful day of thunderstorms and dark skies. The thunder woke me at 10:30 this morning, but I dozed off for another hour, only to be awakened by the thunder a second time.

Yesterday, I dithered and searched for story. And a very strange thing happened. As the day progressed, "The Maltese Unicorn" began to metamorphose from joke to viable story concept. Some of it was a number of interesting comments to yesterday's blog entry. Some of it was just my brain working a problem. By six p.m. or so, it had blossomed into a full-fledged, slightly tongue-in-cheek story involving the aphrodisiac qualities that might be derived from a unicorn's horn, two rival demon brothel's in 1940s Manhattan, an unscrupulous dealer in occult antiquities named Nathaniel Adler (wink, wink), and...well, lots of other stuff. I was sort of excited and appalled, all at once. I emailed the book's editor and ran the story idea past her, fully expecting to be told that I was right to have wanted to punch myself in the face for having thought it up. Instead, I was encouraged to have a go at it...so...I suppose I shall. The next couple of weeks will be weird, indeed.

Spooky has begun a new round of eBay auctions.

Last night, we watched Disney's The Little Mermaid, which I'd not seen in just about forever. It holds up well. It got me to thinking about the first time I saw it, late in 1989, at a midnight showing in Birmingham. Elizabeth was there, and Jada, and another friend, Annie, who was outraged at the happy ending. Annie went on and on..and on...and on...about how Disney had butchered Hans Christian Andersen's story. That night, her annoyance at the retelling amused me (we were stoned), but years later I was thinking of Annie when I wrote "Tears Seven Times Salt" (in 1995), and then, again, when I wrote issue #33 of The Dreaming, "Dream Below" (sometime late in 1998). But I expect I'd not thought about that night at the movies, that night when I was only twenty-five years old, in more than a decade.

Last night, after the movie, we read more of Patti Smith's Just Kids. I had a moment of gleeful, triumphant grammar nerdiness when I came to a passage where Smith speaks of a microphone as a mike. This is, of course, the correct spelling, though many people today insist upon the atrocious misspelling mic. Which is exactly like misspelling bike as bic, or trike as tric.

Thanks for the many comments yesterday. It's always good to be reminded I'm not just talking to myself.

Anyway, here's hoping today will be productive...
greygirlbeast: (Amano)
This question from day before yesterday, asked by [livejournal.com profile] subtlesttrap:

On an unrelated note, Wikipedia has Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart listed as another 2010 short fiction release, please tell me its true we get TWO collections from you this year!

Originally, that was the plan. However, it was a rough winter, and has, in some ways, become a rougher spring. I've not even really gotten the next novel started (and it's supposedly due in September). I'm only just barely managing to keep up with Sirenia Digest. I have two short stories due soon, one in late May, the other in July (I think). So, likely, Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart will be a 2011 book. At this rate, maybe late 2011. By the way, it will be the third (and probably last) of the small format erotica volumes, and will make a nice little triptych wiith Frog Toes and Tentacles and Tales from the Woeful Platypus. So, someone who does Wikipedia should probably amend that listing.

Day before yesterday, I managed to write only 788 words. Yesterday, a mere 473. However, yesterday's 473 got me to THE END of "Three Months, Three Scenes, With Snow," which will be included in Sirenia Digest #53. It's a quiet piece, a soft-spoken bit of the inexplicable. Also, yesterday I printed out the galley pages for "As Red as Red," which will soon be appearing in Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas' Haunted Legends, which I now need to proofread. I think the day seemed much more productive than it actually was.

And here's a reminder that Subterranean Press is still taking preorders for The Ammonite Violin & Others. Also, Spooky's beach-glass pendants have been selling briskly. You can see them at her Etsy shop, Dreaming Squid Dollworks.

---

Last night, after the new episode of Fringe, we watched Oren Peli's Paranormal Activity (2007). I went into it expecting nothing much at all, and was still disappointed. Yes, it has a few effective moments here and there, but in the end is a bit of a mess with nothing to make up for the general amateurishness of the effort. Neither Katie Featherston nor Micah Sloat have the acting chops required for their parts. Far too much is shown, things that should only be suggested. Indeed, the film's greatest flaw is probably its explicit disclosure, revelations that would have been better left unrevealed. All the lessons this film might have learned from The Blair Witch Project (which I continue to adore) were obviously ignored. So, yeah, I love the concept behind Paranormal Activity, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. The Coen Bros.' A Serious Man is actually a better piece of weird fiction.

---

Rumour has it I will be in Boston tonight, for the Faith and the Muse show.
greygirlbeast: (The Red Tree)
Sunny, but chilly here in Providence. At the moment, it's 64F, with a north wind at 17mph, gusting to 25mph. Rain is on it's way, and another dose of cold air.

It's looking like it may be another day or three before I'll be able to make the promised announcement concerning The Red Tree. Perhaps tomorrow morning. Savor the anticipation. And no, it's not news of a film adaptation.

Yesterday, I typed up all the corrections to the galley pages of the mass-market paperback of The Red Tree, and revised the acknowledgments in the "Author's Note." And sent it all off to Penguin. And I let the subpress design person know which author's photo to use for the dust jacket of The Ammonite Violin & Others. There wasn't much more than that, so far as work is concerned.

We left the House sometime around 2:30 p.m., heading for Moonstone Beach. We'd not been since the autumn. We drove through Wakefield, to window shop at Pow! Science! There was a FEMA trailer set up in the parking lot of the Wakefield Mall. There are reminders of the flood everywhere as you head into South County. Flooded pastures and houses. Matunuck Schoolhouse Road is still closed. I think we made it to Moonstone about four. The sun was amazingly bright, and the air as clear as I've ever seen it. The blue-grey silhouette of Block Island stood out on the southern horizon, ten miles across the sound. The sand was littered with the tiny corpses of dead lady bugs. We tried to look for beach glass, but there was a bitterly cold wind blowing off the sea, and I'd not had the good sense to dress for the cold (it was a comfortable 65F back in Providence).

We didn't stay long on the beach, though we lingered a bit behind the dunes. I sat on the bridge over the culvert connecting Trustom and Card ponds, and listened to doves and gulls, blackbirds and ducks and crows. On the road, Spooky found what appears to be part of a fossilized bone, from some sort of mammal. I scooped up all the fragments and brought them home. I suspect they came from Pleistocene-aged glacial till that was used to pave the road. Anyway, after Moonstone, we headed father west, to Charlestown Beach. The wind wasn't quite as bad there, but it was still too cold to stay very long. Giving up on the beaches, we drove back east to Narragansett and had dinner at our favorite clam shack/chowder house, Iggy's. I think we made it home about seven or seven-thirty p.m.

---

Last night, we watched Pearry Reginald Teo's The Gene Generation (2007; based on Dennis Greenhill's graphic novel, The DNA Hacker Chronicles). It wasn't a good film, but it was almost not a bad film. There was promise, but the absence of a decent script and better production values held it back. Among the pluses, Ronan Harris (VNV Nation) and a number of other futurepop folks were responsible for the music. Also, there was Bai Ling, and tentacles, and lots of Gigeresque set design...so at least there was eye candy, even if the "story" was a mess. It felt a bit like someone had spliced together all the cut scenes from a videogame. And yet, it did keep our interest for 96 minutes.

---

There are a dozen photos from yesterday...

14 April 2010 )
greygirlbeast: (white2)
A bright morning here in Providence. The sun came back yesterday afternoon, and today it's much warmer. A high of 67F is forecast. Hubero is camped out on my desk watching birds.

The first part of yesterday was spent searching for the photograph I'd planned to use on the dust jacket of The Ammonite Violin & Others (please preorder!). That meant pulling out the HUGE BOX O' PHOTOS and combing through the decades. But the print was missing. We found the negative, but not the print. So, I began to consider whether to go with this image— which would meaning having a new print made, which would mean driving to Greenwich (pronounced "Gren-itch," not Green-witch," please) —or just picking a different photo. Finally I settled for the latter option. And I chose an image subpress' design person already has on file, which made everything much simpler.

I exchanged emails with an editorial assistant at Penguin, regarding corrections to the mass-market paperback of The Red Tree. Oh, by the way, tomorrow I'll be announcing the "wonderful bit of news" regarding The Red Tree that I mentioned back on the 8th. Anyway, I answered various other emails.

And then, later in the day, Spooky and I headed to the post office in Olneyville (getting the signature sheets for Swords and Dark Magic back in the mail, two short story contracts, etc.), then back to Benefit Street and the Athenaeum. She finished up with the galley pages for The Red Tree while I lurked amongst the shelves (and bumped my head twice on the same low-hung lampshade). I was especially pleased to come across a first edition of William Beebe's Half Mile Down (1934; Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York), which I noted was entered into the Athenaeum's catalog on November 11, 1934. On the way out, I had the pleasure to meet [livejournal.com profile] aliceoddcabinet, the circulation clerk responsible for getting The Red Tree into the Athenaeum. The library was soothing, and Benefit Street seemed even greener than it did on Monday.

My thanks to everyone for kind words and reassurances regarding my decision to shelve The Wolf Who Cried Girl. Right now, my plan is to get through Sirenia Digest #s 53-55 (April, May, June) and write two short stories that have spring and early summer delivery dates, and then come back to the book near the beginning of July.

---

I have resolved— for the thirtieth or so time, surely —that I'm truly done with Second Life roleplay, except for a few one-on-one scenes now and then with people who've proven themselves very good at rp. Last night in Insilico, I did an excellent scene (thank you, Blair). But that somehow led into a group scene, which was anything but excellent. It was, instead, messy, confused, and, for the most part, silly. I used to disdain rp classes, thinking surely this is something that everyone can do, something we learn to do as children, and that the proper rp etiquette is pretty much a given. Nope. I was wrong. I am finally admitting I was wrong. Because people can't stay in character, and they can't avoid wrecking scenes with out-of-character chatter and jokes (which are still disruptive, even if you put them in parentheses). Some of it I write off to ignorance of good rp, but there's also a sense that people cannot bear any sort of suspense, and that they fear (or are uncomfortable with) being taken seriously, so must constantly sabotage a scene. Or they think it makes them look cool, breaking character. I don't know. In the end, it really doesn't matter why these things happen, only that they do. And that they are disrespectful of other players and destroy interactive, collaborative storytelling. At least for me they do. And given that rp is the only thing I've ever wanted from SL...well, there you go. I cannot continue to expend so much energy for such meager returns. I've been going back to SL, seeking rp, for almost three years now (since May 2007), and things have only gotten steadily worse. It's hard to give up on something that has so much potential (which is why I've gone back so many times), but there comes a point. I think I have reached that point. I hope I have reached that point.

---

I have some photographs from yesterday in the Athenaeum:

13 April 2010 )

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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