greygirlbeast: (sol)
Here in my office, which is ever so slightly cooler than the kitchen, which is dramatically hotter than the middle parlor where Dr. Muñoz labors so to keep the air cool and can manage only 83˚F. It must be in the nineties in the office. There are three fans running in the office, spinning the swelter round and round. Outside, it's 86˚F, with violent thunderstorms on the way. If I'm going to get any work done today, I'm going to have to try to break my habits and write on a laptop in one of the two cool rooms. It's either that or heatstroke.

Comments would be good today.

My editor at Penguin just sent me the cover mock-up for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, and – I don't believe I'm about to say this – I like it quite a lot. Not only is the image artful and appropriate to the novel, there's even a little (?unintentional) nod back to The Red Tree. So, it has been a morning of sweaty amazement. I've asked for some changes to the cover font and the blurb at the bottom, but I'll post the cover as soon as I can.

Spooky's gone to retrieve the repaired van from the garage.*** The engine had to be replaced, but I probably said that already. Some other post.

Mostly, I'm still trying to collect money owed me by various publishers, trying to be paid here in the Land of the Debt Poor. I am considering a sort of strike. No more words until I see some green. No more corrected page proofs. No more anything. I can't eat promises.

I've been to ill from the heat and from a small "episode" late on Saturday night to think much about Readercon 22. But I think I have arrived at the inescapable conclusion that I'm simply not a con person. They're a necessary evil, and sometimes, I'll admit, there are moments of enjoyment. Mostly, seeing people I hardly get to see otherwise. I confess to a strong dislike for panels, and I virtually never attend a panel unless I'm on it. But my thanks to everyone who listened to my "rehearsal" reading, and who attended my solo panels. Next year, if you're one of those readers who has been wanting to meet for ages, or wanting to hear me read, or...whatever, you'd best find some way to get your ass to Readercon 23 in Burlington, Massachusetts. And if you're a fan of Peter Straub's (and how can you not be), there's all the more reason.

It occurs to me that I'm much to woozy from the heat to have said even as much as I've already said, much less anything more. I'm struggling to stay coherent. So, I leave you with a few photos Spooky took during the con:

16-17 July 2011 )

Aunt Beast

*** Spooky just returned from the garage, without the van. The idiot fucking mechanics put the old spark plugs into the new engine and think maybe that's why it's still running like shit. They've had it two weeks.
greygirlbeast: (white)
Today, the meteorological violence of the past two days is gone. The sky is overcast, and the air is cool, presently only 77F.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,738 words on Chapter Three of Blood Oranges. Now, there's a troll in the book.

Much of the day was spent bracing for a storm that I'm pretty sure actually came the night before. But the weathermen freak out when something gets past them, so they were overcompensating, going so far as to warn people to stock up on food and water and suchlike...for a thunderstorm. Spooky did go out to the market, and there were trees down – some of them quite large – from the storm that hit us early on Wednesday morning. Some buildings in our neighborhood took damage from that storm, from the wind and hail. Anyway, here's how things looked about 5:30 p.m. yesterday:

About 6 p.m., as we were eating dinner, the red band swept over us, and it was a kitten compared with the night before.


Yesterday, something happened that I've been expecting ever since Colgate-Palmolive bought a controlling interest in Tom's of Maine back in 2006 – I opened a box of toothpaste and discovered that the old metal tube had been replaced with a squishy plastic one. And who the hell really knows which is "greener" than the other, metal or plastic. Point is, toothpaste ought come in metal fucking tubes.


I slept last night, at least. About seven and a half hours. But the Good Worker Bee Pills are making me fat, a side effect that is known and common, so it's not as if I wasn't warned.


Last night, though the air cooled dramatically after the storms, my office was still too stuffy for Rift, so we finished watching the Burroughs documentary (dir. Yony Leyser, 2010). It was very, very well done. Afterwards, though, we watched William Cameron Menzies' The Maze (1953). Menzies is credited with inventing the role of the film production designer and was involved in the creation of many wonderful films. The Maze is not one of them. It didn't help that it was shot for 3-D, during one of those other times Hollywood fell for that gimmick. Very likely one of the dullest films I've ever slept through. Okay, I only slept through about ten minutes, and apparently I didn't miss anything. It was almost worth eduring the whole silly, wretched mess for two lines:

Kitty Murray (played by Veronica Hurst): Look, there's a strand of seaweed!

Edith Murray (played by Katherine Emery): And a bowl of tomatoes (pronounced toe-MAH-toes).

Anyway, then we watched Christopher McQuarrie's The Way of the Gun (2000), which I love, even though it sort of destroyed the man's career. It shouldn't have. Spooky had never seen it. Yeah, that's a lot of watching. I wasn't in the mood for much else.


Rhetorical Question: How am I not to conclude that, in the end, I am, at best, a forgotten experiment and no one is watching?

Same As It Ever Was,
Aunt Beast

* From Wikipedia: "A rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question posed for its persuasive effect without the expectation of a reply. Rhetorical questions encourage the listener to think about what the (often obvious) answer to the question must be. When a speaker states, "How much longer must our people endure this injustice?", no formal answer is expected. Rather, it is a device used by the speaker to assert or deny something. (e.g.: "Why me?") While amusing and often humorous, rhetorical questions are rarely meant for pure, comedic effect. A carefully crafted question can, if delivered well, persuade an audience to believe in the position(s) of the speaker."
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 1)
Today, kittens, would be a fine day for comments.

Spooky and I are on the guest list for the Brenden Perry and Robin Guthrie show at the Paradise in Boston tonight. BUT. There are thunderous hellstorms barreling down on New England. And my feet are swollen (and I might have to stand at the show). And the car's acting goofy. And parking's always dodgy in Boston, which means walking on the swollen feet I might have to stand on for two hours. And I'm waiting on checks that haven't come, so money's tight (and gas is exorbitant). And there's work needs doing. And I already took yesterday off. see? When I was thirty-seven, I'd have said "Fuck it all. We're going." Now, I can't stop chewing over the cons, and the pros shrink away. But Brenden Perry and Robin Guthrie.

Brenden Perry makes this fluttery feeling in my belly.

Anyway, decision made. Staying home and working. Or something of the like.


I awoke yesterday - after that paltry and feverish five hours of sleep - to a barrage of Very Important Email, which halfway thwarted my day off. But only halfway. Spooky and I escaped the sweltering house about three-thirty p.m. There had been plans to head down to Moonstone Beach, but I think we were both just not up to the drive (and back to the cost of gas). Instead, we crossed over to College Hill, and spent about an hour at India Point Park, where the Seekonk River drains into Narragansett Bay. The sun was hot, but there was a cool wind off the bay. I lay in the grass, and thought about Blood Oranges, and found a squirrel femur lying beneath a tree. There are photos below, behind the cut (oh, and one of me from back on May 19th, signing the signature sheets for the limited of Two Worlds and In Between).

Then we had an early dinner at Tortilla Flats on Hope Street (at the same intersection where we threw the hubcap on Monday night). I ordered a margarita, though my meds and drinking are a no-no. I did it, anyway. And delivered unto me was the Mother of All Margaritas. No, seriously. Must have been five shots of tequila in the thing. So, Spooky helped me drink it. Gods, I miss the taste of tequila. And after that, we headed back to the house. So, that was my semi-day off.

Last night was mostly just Rift, which was mostly me and Spooky level grinding in Iron Pine, then very good rp (thank you, T!) at Lantern Hook. Spooky's cleric, Miisya, made 44. By the way, here's an offer to people who might want to try Rift and join our guild, Eyes of the Faceless Man. Do the free trial, and if after those seven days, you decide to stick around, the guild will pay for your first mount (horse or vaiyuu). That 2.5 platinum, which, by the way, is hard as hell to make in the lower levels. The guild is beginning to come together, but the more the better. If you want to take us up on this offer, email Spooky at crkbooks(at)gmail(dot)com, and she'll add you to the list and answer questions and whatever. And remember that we're on the Shadefallen shard, Defiant side.


The idiotic #FuckPlanB thread on Twitter was brought to my attention this morning, and I sort of wish it hadn't been. It goes something like this: "If you have a fallback plan, a Plan B, in case Plan A doesn't pan out, then you're not really trying." And this is utter bullshit, and advising any would-be artist to adopt this philosophy as valid is the height of irresponsibility. The road to oblivion and homelessness is paved with those who could not (or would not) adapt. Hell, I wouldn't even be a writer if I hadn't had a Plan B, as Plan A was vertebrate paleontology! Yeah, life isn't fair, and settling for less than "your bliss" can suck, but it's better than the alternative. Unless you're so privileged (trust fund, whatever) that you can actually afford the sort of failure that derives from not having a Plan B (and C, and D), this attitude is, simply, self-destructive. Consider Sirenia Digest. That was a Plan C. Anyway, this whole thing has made me rather ill. If you want to read a very cogent take on this, read what [ profile] bethofalltrades has to say on the matter in this post.


Also, I'm very pleased to see the return of [ profile] acephalemagic to LJ. He's one of my favorite bloggers and one of My Favorite People I've Not Yet Met.

Now, kittens, I face the storm.

Plan Ahead,
Aunt Beast

31 May 2011 )
greygirlbeast: (Illyria)
Thunderstorms last night. Lightning reflecting off the snow. This morning, the sun's out, it's 41˚F, and the melting seems to have begun in earnest. I feel like we've been locked in a hard freeze for a solid month or longer. Of course, now there's the ugliness of the melt, because humans and snow are a bad mix, and there's the threat of flooding.

Spooky's been down with some sort of crud much of the past week, and yesterday it finally grabbed hold of me. Right now, I feel pretty crappy. But there's work, and I have to try to keep moving.

All of yesterday was spent pulling Sirenia Digest #62 together. It went out to subscribers last night, and hopefully everyone has it who should have it. I'd very much like to hear feedback on the first chapter of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. Also, if you're not a subscriber and would like a sneak preview of the novel in progress, subscribe and you'll get #62.

For some damn reason, I get sick and my head fills with random thoughts. Usually, with random, unpleasant thoughts. It's as if a troll with a bucket of nails has been turned loose in my head. Nails and snot.

For example, never, ever, ever call me "hon." I get this on Second Life constantly, and on WoW, and other places, and it makes me want to wretch. Or, here's another moderately random thing: Yesterday, I read that the average American household includes thirty "always on" appliances. Stuff that never gets shut off. Thirty. Spooky and I sat and counted up our "always on" crap, and we could only come up with eight things*. So, how the hell do people manage thirty "always on" electronic (non-battery operated) appliances? Beats the hell out of me.

When I was done with the digest yesterday, once it had been sent away to be PDFed, I spent some time on Two Worlds and In Between. Mostly, I tried not to think about getting sick, or how it might affect my ability to get all this work done. Later, there was rp in Insilico...which was very good...and comic books, and cookies, and more Krilanovich, the thunderstorm and snuggling with Hubero. And here's a question, while I'm being all random and shit: Why do so many comic-book readers get annoyed at "funny books" when "comic books" means pretty much exactly the same damn thing? I grew up reading funny books, and I usually still think of them as funny books— even after having worked for DC/Vertigo all those years —and I just don't get it.


The platypus says stop here, and I think maybe that's not such a bad idea. Comments welcome, because Sundays suck even when I'm well.

In Phlegm,
Aunt Beast

* fridge, stove, microwave, an alarm clock, coffeemaker, water heater, modem, and router.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
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....
greygirlbeast: (Default)
A rather spectacular thunderstorm this morning. Now it's cloudy, and cooler than it's been lately.

As for my mood, it has improved. I suspect I just needed a day away from the story. I'd been hammering at it for eight days straight. Hopefully, when I go back to it today, things will make more sense. I can only hope that eight days from now, it's finished.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions, if you've not already. Thanks.

So, yes, yesterday we saw Vincenzo Natali's Splice. I'd hoped that it would be an important science-fiction film, something on a par with, say, last year's District 9 or Moon. Certainly, it had that potential, but it's a potential that's never quite realized. Somewhere near the middle, the film is almost brilliant, but the ending devolves into monster-movie antics, which are fine, if all you are hoping for is a scary monster movie. But this is a film that is, at least ostensibly, about the responsibilities of science and scientists, about the blurring the line between research and commerce, about the ethics and perils of creating genetically engineered hybrids, chimeras, and parahumans, and about making contact with a genuinely alien intelligence (even if the "alien" was created on Earth). You stack these issues into a film, and I expect it to be a little bit smarter. Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody do the best they can with the script. Delphine Chanéac is amazing as Dren. The creature effects are superb. Dren is undoubtedly one of the most amazing creatures ever brought to the screen. And the film is, despite its flaws, often very effective. For the most part, it's an interesting retelling of Frankenstein, and one that understands that Victor's greatest sin was not "playing god," but failing to be a good parent. And still, that ending blows the show, and I'm left wondering at the film Splice might have been if it had taken a few more chances. I don't expect it to last long in the theaters. It's too weird to appeal to most, but not quite weird enough to be brilliant. A disappointment, but still a disappointment well worth seeing.

I keep meaning to write about the ongoing horror in the Gulf of Mexico. I feel like I should be using the blog to write about nothing else. But every time I try, I back away. This thing is too big, and I know if I ever do start talking about it, I'm going to piss off pretty much everyone, because none of us is truly innocent of this crime, and I fear that's something no one wants to hear.
greygirlbeast: (white)
I'd certainly not planned not to make entries for the past two days. But there's been damned little to report. We were hit with a sort of micro-heatwave, compounded by outrageous humidity. Which pretty much made working in the House impossible. On top of that, I've been in a worse-than-usual funk, which I suspect is the comedown after last week (book release, filming at the Arboretum, hanging out in Boston, signing at Pandemonium, etc.). Add to that stress over book sales. So, I thought it best I stay away from the journal for a bit. Last night, the rains came, blocking our view of the Perseid meteor shower, but driving away the heat and rendering the House livable again.

But, we got out of here yesterday, and drove down to the public library in Peace Dale (1890-1891), one of my favorite libraries in the state. We'd meant to do this on Monday, and my week thus far might have been more productive if we had. But Monday was Victory Day, and Rhode Island is the last state in the Union that still celebrates it, and all the libraries were closed. Anyway, I sat in the Peace Dale public library, in the glorious AC, and for a while I only listened to an audiobook of Jeremy Irons reading Lolita. That seemed to jog my senses back to life, and I made pages of notes for the novel that I have to write next, beginning in September, now that The Red Tree is out in the wide, wide world. I think I may have found a plot, and I have to report it has nothing much to do with vampires. And though the working title is Blood Oranges, it also has nothing much to do with citrus. Later in the day, when I had no more notes to write, I read part of a biography of Walt Disney, which was fairly surreal after Jeremy Irons and Nabokov. The library closed at six, and we headed back to Providence. The rain caught us just as we made it back into the city. There's a fairly random set of photos below, behind the cut. Oh, I also mailed out three copies of The Red Tree yesterday, to various people to whom copies were owed.

There was a moderate seizure on the way to Peace Dale, and I hate when they happen in the car. But I was wearing my seat belt, and have no bruises or chewed mouth parts to show for it.

We've added a little bit of new content to the website (thank you, Chris), including a new video clip on the front page, and a free downloadable wallpaper based on the accumulated "evidence." (thank you, Nicola). Much more new content is on the way. Spooky's still editing the "trailer." And I very much want to encourage readers to submit potential content, whether it's visual art or additional "evidence" and scholarship related to the "red tree" and other phenomena at or near the old Wight Place. Just send it to me at greygirlbeast(at)gmail(dot)com.

I received a marvelous care package yesterday from [ profile] txtriffidranch, which included a copy of Cristiano Dal Sasso's Dinosaurs of Italy, which has been on my Amazon wishlist for about two years. Thank you, Paul.

Yesterday I also read a very, very good review of The Red Tree, one I have already called "extra splendid." I love it all the more because it was not written by a professional book reviewer. Increasingly, pro reviews seem to me like one-paragraph book reports. Anyway, you can read the review here. It is marvelously spoiler free, by the way.

Okay, today I must write. I'm three days behind schedule, at this point. Not much more to say, anyway. We've been watching Space: Above and Beyond, and proofreading The Ammonite Violin & Others, and eating things you don't have to cook.

11 July 2009 )
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 1)
I slept more than eight hours last night. I think I felt too bad to do otherwise. Early this morning, Spooky and I were awakened by a tremendous clap of thunder. A wonderful storm, but I went right back to sleep.

Yesterday was sort of a disaster. I did write, but only 561 words. Two problems prevented me getting any farther. Firstly, I appear to have picked up a cold at the damned doctor's office (one reason I try to avoid doctor's visits). Secondly, I've reached this last third of the story, and suddenly I'm not sure what happens next. "The Sea Troll's Daughter" is a sort of inversion of the storytelling formula derived from Beowulf, but here at the end, I'm lost. I despise trying to be a clever writer, but there's the sense that the ending hinges upon some bit of clever plotting. So...the story's due on Sunday (and this is the very-much-extended deadline), and I'm uncertain how to proceed. It all needs to wrap up in another two or three thousand words.

I spent much of yesterday in bed, listening to Spooky read to me. There just wasn't energy for much else. I feel quite a bit better today. With luck, I'm past the worst of whatever it is I've contracted. I'd really like to stop writing blog entries about illness.

I found something I wrote last year on July 1st, regarding the length of novels, that I thought I'd repost:

This is an old gripe with me, and one that has direct bearing on the writing of The Red Tree. Many of my favourite novels are, in fact, quite short, and certainly far under 100K words. For example, The Haunting of Hill House, Cannery Row, Grendel, The Wasp Factory, The Road, Billy Budd, Turn of the Screw, and Ironweed. The list could go on and on. Great novels, many under 75k, or even 50k, words in length. But I was made to sign a contract that specified a novel that would be 100k words in length. So, rather than allowing the novel to be as long (or, rather, as short) as is needed for the story at hand, I must attempt to push, to pad it, stretch it, or try to convince my publisher to accept a shorter book. And one should never, ever force a story to do anything that is not required of it. There, that's an actual piece of writing advice. I will confess that, being generally disinterested in the ins and outs of publishing, the reasons for this bloating of the American novel escape me. If I had to guess, though, I'd point back to the rise of the blockbuster novel in the 1970s and 1980s. Often, these were thick books. Very thick books. Obscenely, unnecessarily thick books. The example that leaps immediately to mind is Stephen King's It (1986). Could have been half as long, and would have been better for it. But then I still maintain that the original version of The Stand (1978) was far and away better that the longer 1990 publication (which, among other unwise things, "updated" the story from 1980 to 1990). Or look at J.K. Rowling. The books get fatter as the phenom of Harry Potter grows, and that last one is so flabby as to be almost unreadable. Anyway, if I point to the oft-bloated bestsellers as a trend, then maybe I can also suggest that this led to a sort of reader expectation. "Good books are long." Something like that. "I want my money's worth." Along those lines. I can easily imagine many indiscriminate readers buying into (and/or actually creating) this expectation. It becomes, in a consumerist world, a question not of quality, but of quantity. Books have become, in the last twenty or thirty years, unreasonably expensive. So, who wants to spend the same amount of money on a "thin" novel when they can "get their money's worth" with a fat one? Frankly, I think that people thinking of novels the same way they think of pizzas is one of the signs of the Apocalypse.

Regardless, I'm looking at where I am at this stage of
The Red Tree, and I'm guessing that it's a 75k-word novel, maybe. I've written a little more than 20k words at this point, which means I'm getting a feel for its length. Which leaves me with difficult decisions ahead of me. And, I should say, I am not inherently opposed to long novels. Not at all. If they need to be long. Moby Dick, The Lord of the Rings, Watership Down, Dune. It's just that I am opposed to the idea that novels must be long. Bigger is not, we are beginning to see, better. All-you-can-eat-buffets, Hummers and SUVs, those grotesquely vast McMansions, the human population, and the bloated novel...all these things rely on the lie that more is, by definition, better, when, in fact, many times, it's disastrous.

As it turned out, for better or worse, The Red Tree eventually ran to 100,860 words.

Okay, need to try to go get some work done now, says Herr Platypus. But please have a look at the eBay auctions. Thanks!
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 1)
A far better writing day yesterday, which was an enormous relief. I wrote 1,521 words on "The Bone's Prayer," which will appear in Sirenia Digest #39. Which I hope will go out to subscribers at the beginning of next week, only a few days late. On the upside, this means you'll be getting two issues in March. I think this story is going to come out a bit more Lovecraftian, in the "Mythos" sense, than I'd originally intended. I also rewrote my biography for Ellen Datlow's forthcoming Lovecraft Unbound anthology yesterday. That book will be out in October and reprints "Houses Under the Sea.

I got an email yesterday from Singapore, from an acquaintance who's there on business:

The weather is decidedly Asian tropical jungle. I have stood in the office watching the most incredible electrical storms I have ever had the pleasure to see roll in. Great wide expanses of dark rain clouds roll in on a fairly strict timetable, scattering forked lightning across the buildings beneath, and booming out like nothing I have heard before. The sound is like a metallic echo, something akin to the sound I imagine would be made by a large empty shipping container being dropped on the roof above.

Thank you, Beq. I love that imagery.

My editor wrote to say that she's very happy with the revised manuscript for The Red Tree. So there's another relief, and it looks as though everything's still on schedule for the August release date. Soon, I have to begin thinking about promoting it, about getting with my publicist, and I have to start thinking harder about the next novel. Not a lot of breathing room right now.

I've not left the house since February 18th. Which is really neither here nor there.

Train Horn

Created by Train Horn

greygirlbeast: (nomi)
First, the fact that there is Good News should be acknowledged. My lit agent (Merrilee) and I received this e-mail late yesterday from Liz, my editor at Penguin:

Good news for you - the print order just came through and we're printing a very respectable 7,000 copies of Daughter of Hounds. (Your pre-order campaign worked beautifully, Caitlín!)

Which is to say thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered the novel. See, you can make a difference. My "street team" is the draddest. And if you haven't already pre-ordered, this is to ask you to please consider doing so soon. The initial print order is an important battle won, but just a battle, not the war, which still yawns before me.

Anyway, good news aside, yesterday was a somewhat awful and excruciating day, having begun with an earlier e-mail from Liz, telling me that we couldn't use the four Emily Dickinson quotes in Daughter of Hounds because, even though Dickinson died in 1886, they're under copyright. She asked if I wanted to replace them with something else. No, I said. I want to use those quotes, which I was very, very certain were not actually under copyright. And this all gets quite muddled and complicated. Let me see if I can perchance explain (and any Emily Dickinson scholars reading this will be excused for skipping ahead):

Upon her death in 1886, Emily Dickinson had published very few of her poems. Something like ten. After she died, however, two friends — Mabel Loomis Todd and literary critic Thomas Wentworth Higginson — published three volumes of her poetry between 1890 and 1896. Then, early in the 20th Century, Dickinson's niece, Martha Dickinson Bianchi, produced further collections, reprinting much of the Todd-Higginson books, as well as previously unpublished material, in The Single Hound (1915), The Life and Letters of Emily Dickinson and The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (1924), and Further Poems of Emily Dickinson (1929).

Now, here's the deal. Dickinson poems published prior to 1923 are in public domain and may be quoted without infringing upon anyone's valid copyright. And, in truth, most of her poems were published after her death, but well before 1923.

However, here's where things get confusing and sticky — in 1955, Thomas H. Johnson published The Poems of Emily Dickinson, which presented new transcriptions of the poems first published by Todd, Loomis, and Bianchi. Todd and Loomis had made changes in Dickinson's punctuation, standardizing it and sometimes misinterpreting it. Johnson corrected the texts, and his The Poems of Emily Dickinson has been adopted as the standard for Dickinson scholarship. A division of
Harvard licenses the Johnson copyright from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst (or maybe it's Amherst College, I'm not entirely sure which). And they have a reputation for suing anyone who reprints Johnson's versions of the poems without permission. I cannot claim to say exactly how this works, since Johnson merely reprinted Dickinson's work, and I cannot even begin to see how that makes it his own, but there you go. US copyright law says it's so, so it is so.

However, as I pointed out to Liz early yesterday, I'd not quoted from Johnson, but thrice from the Loomis and Todd texts and once from one of the Bianchi books. And since the Bianchi book was The Single Hound (1915), I was in the clear on copyright. But legal wanted proof, in the form of photocopies from those original editions demonstrating that my quotations had not drawn upon the Johnson text. So, this meant I had to go back to Emory University, back to the Woodruff Library, for the second time in as many days (having finally gone on Tuesday), and show my ID to the security guy, etc. & etc. Which I did, though it ate up the entirety of a day which should have been spent either writing or preparing to write. I'd chosen those four quotes carefully, and I wasn't going to give up on using them without a struggle. To my great fortune, the Woodruff Library has copies of both The Single Hound and the first of the Todd and Loomis volumes (1915, Poems). Between these two books, I had all four of the poems I'd quoted. The texts as they were printed pre-Johnson, pre-1955, pre-1923. Today, Spooky will photocopy the pages and send them to Penguin, and the four Dickinson quotes will appear in Daughter of Hounds as per my original intent. No copyrights, however dubious, will have been violated. Only a day lost. And I even took photos of the adventure, just so I could share the splendid tedium with my readers. They are not exciting photos. They are behind the cut:

A Day in the Library )

After Emory, we got some hot and spicy Thai for dinner, then headed home just as a wonderful thunderstorm stuck Atlanta. We've been needing the rain. There's not much to the rest of the evening — I played more Drakengard 2 (the world has ended, but the end was only the beginning), watched Project Runway (and I am sick and disgusted at this whole mess with Jeffery), and read and read and read. I have this habit of reading many books at once, mostly non-fiction because I mostly read nonfiction. Currently, I am reading, simultaneously, the following:

Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski
Visions of Mars by Olivier de Goursac
The Monuments of Mars: A City of the Edge of Forever by Richard C. Hoagland (the less said about this awful book, the better; research for The Dinosaurs of Mars)
Cauldron of Hell: Tunguska by Jack Stoneley
The Amber Forest by George Poinar, Jr. and Roberta Poinar
The Geology of Mars edited by a bunch of folks
Mars: A Tour of the Human Imagination by Eric S. Rabkin
Tyrannosaurus SUE by Steve Fiffer
Magnificent Mars by Ken Croswell
The Spiral Dance by Starhawk (20th anniv. ed.)

Danielewski, planetology, palaeontology, pop culture, and Wicca — all at once, and I can still walk a straight line.

Okay. Must go attend to busyness, e-mail, and maybe even some actual writing. Oh, wait. The platypus says sheheit will be looking for comments today (and perhaps answering them), because I'm boring herhimit sideways, so, yeah. Surely there's comment fodder here somewhere. Don't be shy.


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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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