greygirlbeast: (blood)
My head is much better this morning, after being much worse last night, especially after midnight. This morning, though, I'm afraid to move for setting it off again. Today marks Day 9.

Yesterday was, for the most part, another loss. And these are days and days of losses I cannot afford. Yesterday, I signed contracts, answered email, made the last round of corrections to Alabaster #4, and – with Kathryn's help – managed to read the entirety of a truly gargantuan contract, which I then signed. They go back to Writers House today (I hope). There's no way yet to know what will happen today.

The weather is grey and tiresome. I slept until noon. Eight hours sleep, and I'm no less exhausted.

Last night, we made the mistake of watching Álex de la Iglesia's Balada triste de trompeta (2010). Not since House of 1000 Corpses (2003) has a film so made me want to erase all memory of having suffered through it. If there are words to describe the loathsomely, moronic awfulness...oh, never mind. Yeah, it's that bad.

There's a Brown Bird show (with other bands) at the Met tonight, but I'm pretty sure we're gonna set this one out. Which blows.

I'm going to play in the street now.

But every once in a while, it goes the other way too,*
Aunt Beast

* "Wait for the wheel." `~ John Crichton, Farscape
greygirlbeast: (white)
He couldn't make a sentence stand up and be noticed if he put Viagra in the ink.

---

This the the sort of entry people do not like to comment on.

As this journal enters what I expect to be it's final three months as an entity that will be updated daily, my chief regret is that I have always held so much back. And that I have to continue to do so, probably, even now. From the beginning, I wanted this to be a blog where I talked about what it's like for me to be a writer, and, as much as I have been able, I've done that. But there have been many, many times when my hands have been tied by the politics of the industry. That is, I could say something true, true and useful to anyone with thoughts of trying to become a published author. But, as with all other arenas of human endeavor, publishing is ruled by politics, and telling the truth can be detrimental and even suicidal.

All writers lie about writing, and they do it for various reasons. But one reason that writers lie about what it's like to be a writer is their fear of repercussions that could end their career. Same with speaking openly and honestly about the work of other authors. To be able to do this would be immensely useful to anyone with aspirations in entering this shadowy realm. All those naïve wouldbes. But I've never been in a position to do this, to take those risks, and for that I apologize. Looking back, it's among those most valuable insights I could have imparted. I'll have to settle for old, familiar warnings such as Hic sunt dracones or, perhaps more appropriately, Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate.

---

As for my daily activities, writing and not writing and whatnot, the last couple of days that sort of thing has taken a backseat to getting the "teaser" trailer for The Drowning Girl out there. Let me see what I can now recall.

On Wednesday, I wrote 1,018 words on a piece for Sirenia Digest #73 called "Blast the Human Flower." Yeah, a lazy bit of titling, but not an inappropriate bit of titling. It may or may not stay on the finished vignette. I can recall nothing else of significance, or that's especially interesting, about Wednesday. Oh, we finished Season Six of Law and Order: Criminal Intent. How's that?

On Thursday, I awoke to the news that Penguin (Roc/NAL) had made on offer on Blood Oranges, and I spent part of the day discussing that with my agent. Nothing more was written on "Blast the Human Flower." I fucked off and left the house, and Spooky and I ended up at the Trinity Brew Pub, where I indulged in hot wings and beer. I don't often drink alcohol anymore (my meds), but I had a pint of their very excellent Belgian saison, made with a new variety of New Zealand hops. When I do drink beer, I want good beer. Later, Varla – my Sith Assassin – made Level 20.

Yesterday, we went to an early (1 p.m. CaST) matinée of David Fincher's adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and it's very, very good. Truly. And Trent Reznor deserves another Oscar for the soundtrack. The cover of Bryan Ferry's Is Your Love Strong Enough by How to Destroy Angels in exquisite, and, for that matter, the opening title sequence alone is almost worth the price of admission. No writing again yesterday. I don't think I've been slacking off; just too much anger and depression. Okay. Bullshit, no matter how I feel, I've been slacking off, and it ends today. Last night, I didn't get to sleep until after five a.m., sitting up late reading stories by Michael Shea and a very good piece by Kim Newman, "Another Fish Story." I don't usually care for Newman, but I did like this one.

And that, in a nutshell, is the past three days. Oh, except I've been watching documentaries on the Mars Polar Lander, cosmic collisions, and "ancient astronauts" (I'm ashamed to admit that last one, but sometimes we learn a great deal about good science by watching the crackpots who have no clue when it comes to methodology, reproducible results, outlandish claims, anecdotal evidence, and critical thought). There are some photos from Thursday, below, behind the cut. Oh, I did want to mention that in the next day or two, we'll begin a series of auctions on eBay which will include souvenirs from the shoot back in October and also a copy of The Drowning Girl. I'll announce those as soon as they go up.

Okay. Gotta go write.

Hands Tied,
Aunt Beast

5 January 2012 )
greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
A day when you wake up two hours later than planned, well, there's not a lot you can do to salvage a day like that. Funny fucking thing is, yesterday I had a sort of panic & epiphany combo meal, realizing it was idiotic for me to think I could take a vacation from December 15th to January 3rd. That I thought the work would wait, or that I wouldn't be overwhelmed as soon as my playing hookey ended. So, I resolved to scrap the plans we had for this week (which included a trip to Yale and a trip to Marblehead, Mass.) and get back to work today.

And then...I didn't wake up until 1 p.m. (CaST).

Which sort of shredded my plans for today good and proper, and which is why it's 2:29 p.m. (CaST), and I'm only just starting my blog entry. I was going to get back to work on "The Lost Language of Mollusca and Crustacea," but now I'm thinking, instead, I'll be lucky to deal with a bunch of email (one of the things I did yesterday, post-epiphany), then sign the signature sheets for the limited edition of A Book of Horrors (to be released by P.S. Publishing). But, in case you're curious (casually or otherwise), below is a list of what I have to have done between now and the end of January, and it ought to be enough to convince you of the folly of the "much-deserved vacation":

1. Produce Sirenia Digest #73, which means finishing "The Lost Language of Mollusca and Crustacea" and writing another and as-yet-untitled science-fiction tale.
2. Editing Alabaster #3, as soon as I have my editor's notes.
3. Writing Alabaster #4
4. Keep track of the pages for Alabaster #2 as they're drawn and inked and colored.
5. Finishing making corrections to the mss. of Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart and The Yellow Book (about three weeks overdue, at this point).
6. Travel to Philadelphia sometime in the second half of January to finish up filming the trailer for The Drowning Girl.
7. Get the front page of my website revamped for the release of The Drowning Girl, and get it done ASAP.
8. Compile a list of suggested panels and other assorted programming for Readercon 23 for Rose Fox.

I mean...what the fuck was I thinking! That I was tired? Sure I'm fucking tired, but that's no excuse. Last week, my psychiatrist was trying to convince me to "drop something" to reduce my workload, and I think I did a pretty unconvincing job of explaining why I can't drop anything, not without...

It's like this. Lots of people have a lot of trouble understanding what it's like to be a "famous writer" who is only just managing to squeak by financially. In this economic climate, you'd think it would be an easy enough matter to understand. But yes, the vacation is over, and I just have to hope there wasn't too much time frittered away.

As for yesterday, there was prune hamantashan, a trip to our storage unit in Pawtucket, a clove cigarette (actually, these days they're clove cigars, technically), short fiction by Norman Partridge, William Browning Spencer, and Michael Marshall Smith. Partridge's "Lesser Demons" is an interesting new take on the tiresome zombie trope, and Smith's story, "Fair Exchange" is just about the funniest Innsmouth story I've ever read. Normally, I don't like funny in my Lovecraft. Normally, I'm violently opposed to it, in fact. But if you read this story, and hear the narrator's voice as Jason Statham, from the days of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, it's a fucking hilarious story. Yesterday, the cold sky over Providence was so blue it was murderous – that wide carnivorous sky of which I've been speaking of for years.

Carnivorous,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (walkenVNV)
0. Not gonna write about SW:toR today. There's too much else. I'll come back to it tomorrow. But, in short, it's the best MMORPG I've ever played, though I will temper that estimation with some minor caveats.

1. I haven't had to mark any days L for a long time (thank you, meds), but yesterday was a lost day. There was very little in me but anger. I managed only a flury of email before having Spooky drive me to the Athenaeum. It was peaceful downstairs in the reading room. The comforting, soothing smell of old, old books. Ghosts beyond counting. I am only sorry I committed a blasphemy by using my iPad amid those shelves (I'm not being sarcastic). I proofed the pencils for Alabaster #1, pages 17 through 25, but they were almost perfect, so it wasn't much work.

2. Today is the third anniversary of the day I first saw wintry precipitation in New England. Today, though, it's 52˚F, sunny and windy.

3.* Gonna talk shop. The business of publishing that is. Frequently, people ask me for writing advice, and, almost without fail, I refuse to offer it. But here's something. If a magazine, especially a fairly prominent online science-fiction zine, isn't willing to pay more than 0.003¢/word for a reprint in return for (and I quote from the contract) "digital media rights," which said contract defines as "...all non-physical forms including but not limited to html, Kindle, iTune apps, Mobi, ePub, and others" (id est, everything imaginable) then you need to stay far, far away from these sorts of publishers. They have nothing to offer you. No, not even "visibility." But, though I ought to know better, I just signed such a contract, because I have mountains of stories available for reprint, and when I agreed to the arrangement – several months ago – I had no idea what comprehensive electronic rights were expected in return for the paltry $25 I'd agreed to as an advance. I only saw the contract on November 21st (this is for their December issue), though the reprint request was made by them two months earlier. In between, I had to stop them from rewriting portions of the story. Anyway, point being, I don't care what the online publication is, you and your "digital media rights" are worth more than 0.003¢/word. Last I checked, pro rates were still hovering between 3-5¢/word. And, by the way, this emphatically was not Subterranean Magazine or Clarkesworld, both of whom have always paid me very well for online rights. I feel like, more and more, we're working – all of us, not just authors – in an environment that aggressively discourages dissent, then punishes dissenters, those who aren't so happy to get any work that they'll work under any conditions and for any price.

4. Today, I will do my very best to finish Alabaster. That's just five pages of script.

5. Please don't forget Question @ Hand #5!

6. I lay awake night before last, in the arms of Monsieur Insomnia, and watched George P. Cosmatos' Leviathan (1989) for the third or fourth time. What sort of film do you get when you splice Ridley Scott's Alien to John Carpenter's The Thing, then set it at the bottom of the sea? Well, you get Leviathan, a film which shamelessly steals from both those other films in almost every way possible. When I first saw it in theatres, I was furious. Later, on video, it just sort of bored me. But Monday night, watching it, I thought, Well, if I give Alien and The Thing each an A+ for Astounding, then I ought to give Leviathan a C for Could Have Been Worse, or Competent, or maybe for Cause I'm Only Half Awake. As the film has aged, it's easier to forgive the blatant plagiarism. Leviathan has taken on a questionable charm all its own. Peter Weller is truly fun to watch as he swaggers and scowls and uses the performance to bemoan the state of his career as it swirls round and round the drain. I actually love Peter Weller, and here he seems to be giving Cosmatos a well-deserved middle finger. And, too, Meg Foster autopilots her way through the role of the Tri-Oceanic Ice Queen rep giving the crew the shaft. It's those blue-white eyes of hers. But the rest of the cast is boring as dusty zwieback, though the monster/s is/are pretty cool. The whole thing with the sunken Russian ship and the blurry photos from its infirmary, that's nice, too. The tech is amusingly quaint (but not a tenth as convincing as the "used futures" seen in Alien and Blade Runner). As for the ending, it's clear neither the director nor the screenwriters were even trying to make sense. Still. Watch it if you can't sleep.

7. Tomorrow, I'll post the final cover for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. (It's not the one up at Amazon).

8. Here are photos from a spectacular sunset on Monday:

28 November 2011 )


Counting Fractions of Fractions of Pennies,
Aunt Beast

* Postscript (4:47 p.m.): The editor of the unnamed magazine has contacted me and withdrawn his offer to reprint the story for 0.003¢/word. This is really the best outcome. I would have withdrawn it myself, but didn't want them left in a lurch (though they'd hardly treated me with similar considerateness), what with the December issue looming. Now, I only wonder who told them about my post, as I'm pretty damn sure he doesn't read my blog. And I wonder how far the news of my evil treachery will flow through the grapevine, and if I'll be blacklisted by others of this caliber. We take responsibility for the outcome of our actions, if we choose to act.
greygirlbeast: (cullom)
0. Comments would be very welcome today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twiddling Her Thumbs,
Aunt Beast

* Looks as though there's only a single species of Anchiceratops, A. ornatus, and that Alamosaurus is a valid taxon.
greygirlbeast: (Eli1)
COMMENT!

Well, our Indian Summer draws to a close. And I spent most of it sitting in this chair, and word from the front never came. As it were.

But, at least none of you have to remember President Humphrey K. Ludwig, or the mess that Irwin Allen made of Dr. Zhivago, or (and especially) about the science-fiction convention in Los Vegas (CONsino) during which a splinter cell of angry, disenfranchised furries detonated a twenty-kiloton nuclear device...all that, at least, has been set straight. The past is the past once more. Well...except that thing with Menudo, and the McRib. Sorry. Those, I couldn't fix.

Oh, and that thing with Frank Black yesterday? Of course I meant Frank Booth. But you never sacrifice a wonderful run-on, run-out, not-quite free-association tirade over anything so tiresome as fact. Frank Booth would never have gotten me to Frank Black (née Black Francis), or Frank Black (sensu Millennium), or even the guy in the creepy rabbit mask.

Honestly? I have no idea what I'm supposed to be writing about, that's why?

There's not much to report from yesterday, not that I can report. Kathryn and I continue trying to pull everything together for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir book-trailer shoot this coming weekend. Yesterday, I spoke with Nicola (our Imp) and Dani (our Abalyn), as well as with Brian (our cinematographer). And this past weekend would have been dead-on fucking perfect for the shoot, and next weekend is looking maybe a little doubtful. But there's no way we could have known, and we'll have to take what we can get. There's no time left for rain dates. This should have been shot in July, but work and scheduling conflicts and whatnot continually pushed the date back. And, so, this is it. We are fortunate in that New England is having a lousy autumn, in terms of the trees changing colors, so it still looks fairly summery up here.

Have you ordered Two Worlds and In Between? Have you clicked "like" on the absurdly early Amazon.com preorder page for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir? Have you subscribed to Sirenia Digest? Well, why the hell not? Wait. Don't tell me.

A good bit of RP (including a bizarrely Fringe-like moment...think Olivia/Fauxlivia) in Insilico RP last night with [livejournal.com profile] readingthedark. Last night also marked the first time I've ever RPed two characters in SL at once (on two machines, with two open viewers). It was weird, and while it wasn't easy, it wasn't as hard as I'd thought it would be. And we watched three more episodes of Mad Men (Season Four). And I read, from Halloween, a pretty good story by William F. Nolan, "The Halloween Man." And then I slept, and had unspeakable dreams. Unspeakable at least in the sense that they are now so fragmented that I could not reconstruct them well enough to speak of them. And that, kittens, was yesterday.

Today looks...indefinite. But I leave you with these. Back to that something Spooky and I did night before last that I only mentioned in passing yesterday. I think these two shots are work safe. All the others weren't. And there will be future sessions (after I've lost that Hubero) that will produce very not work-safe images. But these are pretty vanilla. Unless you work for, I don't know, Pat fucking Roberson (or did he die?). Spooky was in the mood to paint, and I was in the mood to be a canvas:

8 October 2011 )


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

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

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

Anyway...

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

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

Um...and...what?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exactly.

I've gotten distracted.

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

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

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

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

Anyway, now I must go attend to those ripples.

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

Comments would be very helpful today.

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

---

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

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

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

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

---

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

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

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

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

---

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

---

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

In Utter Fucking Bafflement,
Aunt Beast

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

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


(Arcade Fire)

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

Postscript (6:19 p.m.): Okay, I will. It was Threshold. And also the novel I ghost wrote.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
A very, very bad day yesterday. A day that should have been a Day Off, that, instead, became a Lost Day. I did leave the house, but it went very badly. Probably the worst day since this summer. The sky was too blue, too wide, and whatever it is that slams me did so. Fuck, it sounds silly writing about being freaked out by the sky. I know we live in the confessional, transparent age, and we wear our neuroses and infirmities on our sleeves, but I don't think I'll ever do such things with comfort and without shame.

More snow last night.

Today, I go back to work on The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. I have to try to get Chapter 5 written by the 24th, so I'll have time to switch over and get the digest written. More and more, I feel as if this will be the last book I write for an "adult" audience. Well, the last book I write for me in hopes that it will be read by an "adult" audience. It would be better, I know, to do the best I am permitted to do with the current novel (deadlines and finances permitting), then switch over to novels for young adults. I know now that I can do it. I've found the voice. And, now that I'm reading a fair amount of YA, I suspect that younger readers are more open readers. I am almost ready to say they seem like smarter readers. I'm starting to think that I would encounter less stress writing YA, which is what matters most here. Less stress without sacrificing income.

I would not wish the life of a working writer on my worst enemy.

Okay, that's a lie. I have a vicious streak, and most certainly would wish the life of a working writer on my worst enemy. It's on the list, right after "festering boils."

A razor-sharp crap-shoot affair...

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions.

You know...I just don't think there's any dignified way to end this entry that doesn't involve getting it over with as soon as possible. So, anything else interesting about yesterday? We had takeout from the Palestinian place— lamb, chicken shawarma, baba ghanoush, and the best baklava I've ever tasted (which is to say the only baklava I've ever actually liked). We streamed an unexpectedly good film, Michael J. Bassett's Deathwatch (2002). The title is a little unfortunate, but so is the cover of The Red Tree. Deathwatch is a weird tale set in the trenches of WWI that succeeds by both subtlety and brute force. Definitely recommended. Later WoW, and Shah and Suraa reached Level 84. Liking Deepholm. It's like what Outland might have been, if Outland had been well designed. Later still, reading. I got to sleep sometime after four ayem.

I have one photo from yesterday's abbreviated outing, Ladd Observatory in the snow:

17 January 2011 )
greygirlbeast: (Default)
There's cold air on the way, but this early afternoon it's 74F and sunny, and my office window is open.

The comments from yesterday's post were a little overwhelming, and I didn't reply to all the ones I ought to have replied to, I know. The kind words are appreciated, but I was left feeling as though I were fishing for compliments...or something. Which isn't at all what I was doing. Anyway, whatever. Thank you. I think my favorite comment came from [livejournal.com profile] catconley, who asked, "Does the tweeter also think that Stephen Hawking is a computer?" Brava.

Seeing there was no hope of working yesterday, I left the House, and we went to What Cheer (Wayland Square) and the Curious Mermaid (Wickenden Street), looking for the things that will be making up the Dancy box. The things we aren't making. Little religious tchotchkes, a black plastic dog, an old postcard. This started out as just something extra to offer with a lettered copy of Alabaster (letter X). But now it's grown into a piece of art in its own right. Spooky's cousin Ben is sending us the perfect cigar box from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. It was a warm, drizzly day Outside, and I spent most of it sorting through postcards from the forties and fifties and sixties.

Jada sent us voodoo dolls for Halloween.

---

Mixed feelings about last night's episode of Glee. On the one hand, it was neat. The Rocky Horror Picture Show was a huge part of my life long ago. Somewhere there are photos of me as Magenta. Oh, here they are (thank you Spooky):




"The Time Warp"



"Touch-a Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me"



Anyway, I'm perplexed at the word "transsexual" having been replaced with "sensational." And they somehow managed to do the whole thing without cross-dressing, which is sort of like doing Doctor Zhivago without Russians. Maybe I'm not perplexed. Maybe I'm only disappointed. Oh, and saw the new Caprica, but I did so immediately after getting the news that "SyFy" has canceled the show, and that the final five episodes won't air until early 2011. May I call this SyFyail? The show was too smart, and too off-beat, and the money can be better spent making shitty movies and reality shows, I'm sure. Caprica will go down after only a single season.

---

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Thanks.

Sometimes, my heart's just not in an entry. Like now.

Mabon 2010

Sep. 22nd, 2010 12:46 pm
greygirlbeast: (Neytiri)
Yesterday imploded. Or exploded. Doesn't really matter, because when the colloid of airborne solid and liquid particulates and gases had cleared, well, there was little left of the day to salvage. Nothing was written. Which makes yesterday a Lost Day. With only eight days remaining until we leave for the HPLFF, there's no time for days like that.

I forgot to mention that, night before last, I heard a coyote very near the house. I heard it several times, an oddly eerie sound. I'm still trying to get used to the idea of urban coyotes.

Today is Mabon.

The brightest spot to yesterday, the most silver lining (there were few of either) was the arrival of my author's copies of Haunted Legends, edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas. It contains my story "As Red As Red," which I wrote in March and April of 2009. The anthology was released simultaneously in three formats: trade paperback, hardback, and a Kindle edition (though how anyone can read anything on a Kindle is beyond me*). This is a story I'm very happy with— sort of a footnote to The Red Tree —and I hope you'll pick up the collection, which includes a bevy of fine authors.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. They end today and tonight. Still no bid on The Wrong Things (2001), my collaborative collection with [livejournal.com profile] docbrite. These have become very rare, and I have only a handful of copies.

The rumours are true. The 2010 H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival is the last HPLFF, at least for the foreseeable future, as the director, Andrew Migliore, is retiring. You can't blame him; he's been doing this for fifteen years. Aaron Vanek has started a satellite festival in LA, so there will be that. So, yeah. Alas. The end is, indeed, nigh.

Last night, I watched the moon and Jupiter again.

To try to scrape something good from yesterday, late in the afternoon we drove to Warwick and got the new Swans CD, My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky, at Newbury Comics. This is the Swans minus Jarboe, but still. And we went to the market. And coming back home the sun was starting to set, and the clouds were on fire, and I wished I'd brought the camera.

The day ended when I took a Seroquel, that tiny reddish drab of numb, and fell asleep watching Avatar. It's becoming one of my comfort films, because it's beautiful, and it's heart is always in the right place— even when it stumbles —and in the end the humans lose and have to go back to their dying world. A bedtime story for panenatheists (I think I just made that word up).

---

The whole money thing is wearing me ragged again. Of course, at this point, I imagine it's wearing almost everyone ragged. The lifeboat is overcrowded, and we have the teabaggers wanting to punch a hole in the hull. Day before yesterday, I found this animated map— "The Decline: The Geography of a Recession" —based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (and other local unemployment statistics). It chronicles unemployment in the US from January 2007 (4.6%) to June 2010 (9.7%). It's sort of horrifying.

Anyway, yeah. I've reached the point where I'm considering asking my agent if she can get me another novelization deal. Frankly, I'd rather eat dog shit than go through that special hell again, but the money was good. Of course, there's no guarantee the money would be good again, and it would derail my actual, for-real, trying-not-to-suck writing.

Now, I need to make an end to this entry, then go find THE END to "John Four."

* Nothing personal, Kindle. I hate all "eReaders" and "ebooks" equally on principle.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Yesterday was wretched. Not much point watering down the truth. My head wasn't right, and my guts were worse. I spent a good bit of the day in bed. No writing was done. I didn't go Outside. Nothing was accomplished.

We shall see what today will be.

There were a few "slits of light" to yesterday. Peter sent me a copy of The Juniper Tree And Other Blue Rose Stories (Subterranean Press). The mail brought a very small royalty check from Steve Jones in London, for The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror.

Then last night, after trying to sit up awhile, I went back to bed. Spooky and I watched the newest episode of Project Runway (I really, really love Mondo). We watched two episodes of some exceptionally ridiculous Animal Plant cryptozoology series. The first imagined a plesiosaur in Monterey Bay; the second was about the "Oklahoma Octopus." Gotta say, if I were younger, I'd start a punk band called Oklahoma Octopus. Anyway, then we watched J.T. Petty's The Burrowers (2008), which, quite unexpectedly, turned out to be marvelous. It belongs to that all too neglected genre, the Weird Western. There are a few missed notes: the start is a little slow, and I could have done without the final shot, which was unnecessary. But, all in all, well acted, well filmed, and creepy as hell. It's one of those rare dark films where things start out very bad and just keep getting worse, spiraling down to a place no one and nothing can ever escape. The Burrowers can be streamed free from Netflix. Check it out.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Thanks.

---

A comment from [livejournal.com profile] dragau, from day before yesterday (or the day before that), back to the subject of the lack of characterization in Neal Stephenson's novels:

Often when I read Stephenson, I feel the omission you describe, that his characters are indifferent toward their mindless drudgery of existence, and they follow their paths as pawns lacking anything better to do, their lives predestined. For the Baroque Cycle, I was hoping for a novel on par with Gary Jennings. Instead, we got an extended soap opera like War and Peace with its cookie-cutter characterization. After my disappointment with Anathema, I will be waiting to buy used paperbacks of his future novels.

As a measure of comparison, I think Stephenson serves better in contrast with your own stories. Many of your own characters also experience the drudgery and recognize the futility of fighting their fates, but you seize that oppression and wring from it every emotion and metaphor. You mop the floor with the tears and self-pity of those who surrender. Meanwhile, your strong characters rally themselves with the adage "I can fuck plenty with the future," and then they act, win or lose.

Conversely, Stephenson's protagonists are often mere witnesses to great events or they are catalysts. When they do perform a climactic act, their achievement really is being in the right place at the right time. This is progressively more so in his later novels, whereas you got the manipulative plot tropes worked out of your system early, and now for example, although the reader may know your main character will commit suicide, the paths leading to that eventuality will have many branches of uncertainty.


The only point with which I would disagree is that I don't make a distinction between strong and weak characters in my stories. Sometimes, surrender requires more resolve and greater courage than does fighting.

---

Come here, pretty please.
Can you tell me where I am?
You, won't you say something?
I need to get my bearings.
I'm lost,
And the shadows keep on changing.

And I'm haunted,
By the lives that I have loved
And actions I have hated.
I'm haunted,
By the lives that wove the web
Inside my haunted head
-- Poe, "Haunted"
greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
Yesterday was just shy of a total loss. I was hit hard by the chronic stomach ailment I've had most of my life. I tried to write anyway. I wrote 344 words for of my piece for The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, before I was too sick to think straight enough to write anymore. Then I went back to bed. Later, I made it through dinner and two bottles of Gatorade and almost felt like I wasn't dead. It was a joyous day. And then, when I was trying to go to sleep, there was a small seizure (the first in three weeks), which left me jittery and awake until five ayem.

I strongly dislike writing about health problems in a public forum. I find the act distasteful. But it all has a direct bearing on the abysmal word counts of late. So, I figure it's part of the story. It's not whining, or a cry for pity. It's just exposition.

At least I have David Bowie. And coffee.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. We're hoping to have a little bit of spending money when we go to Oregon for the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival and CthulhuCon at the end of the month. Thanks.

We've watched two movies over the last week. Between reading, Second Life, and WoW, I've not been watching many movies lately. Anyway, it gives me something to write about this ayem (which is actually early afternoon).

First, we saw Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo's After.Life (2009) on Thursday night. It wasn't a particularly good film, which was frustrating, because it could have been something just shy of great. Instead, it was weighed down by plot, and story, and subplot, and superfluous characters. The film has flashes of brilliance. Liam Neeson is surprisingly creepy as a mortician turned serial killer, and Christina Ricci was a perfect choice for a girl who is slowly being convinced that she is, in fact, a corpse. And that's the story, right there, all the story the movie needed. More than enough to deal with. But no, it kept dragging itself down into horror and slasher flick clichés, and made what might have been a powerful tale of psychological terror a lumpy, uneven mess. I can't even blame the director for fucking up someone else's screenplay, because it was her screenplay. I just wish someone could have told her to turn down the volume, lose the extra baggage, and tighten the focus. The film never should have left the one room in the mortuary.

Last night, we finally watched Louis Leterrier's remake of Clash of the Titans (2010). I saw the original in high school (1981, directed by Desmond Davis), and even at seventeen, I found the film tiresome and hokey. Even though I was a huge fan of Ray Harryhausen. So, what can I say about the remake? Well, it's still dumb as dirt. I'm still annoyed than the sea monster that comes for Andromeda is, inexplicably "the Kraken" (Norse), instead of Cetus. But, all in all, Leterrier's remake is less painful and not so dull. It has its moments (which the original entirely lacked, save moments of unintentional camp and irony). The whole thing was worth sitting through just for Perseus' battle against the gorgon Medusa (played by Natalia Vodianova, and never, ever has Medusa been so hot). The climactic showdown with "the Kraken" was at least a grand spectacle. So what if the monster design was pretty much lifted from Cloverfield. The 1981 Kraken just made me laugh. At least this one was a presence. The cast was unremarkable (more Liam Neeson, because Zeus = Aslan). I always enjoy watching Sam Worthington, though I'm not sure why. Ralph Fiennes made a fine enough Hades, because I could just pretend he was Voldemort. Alexa Davalos made for an entirely yawn-worthy Andromeda. I'm pretty sure Andromeda should inspire something more than a yawn. Who can blame Perseus for choosing Io?

Okay. Now, I see if this body is going to let me work today. Oh, wait. I have five cute photos of Sméagol:

11 September 2010 )
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Rainy yesterday, and rainy again today. Which is a good thing. This is rain that was desperately needed. Providence has been so dry all summer (after the floods back in the spring).

I've had to stop taking Prazosin, because the hypotension wasn't going away, and it was beginning to make me genuinely ill. I look up, and almost the whole summer's gone. And we didn't do much of anything we'd planned to do in June, July, and August, and a lot of that was because the Prazosin was making me feel so bad. Nothing much worse than a lost summer.

On Saturday, I wrote 1,261 words, T-V of "The Yellow Alphabet." Yesterday— well, I don't have the word count on hand, because I didn't write it down, but I did W and X. Today, I do Y and Z, and it'll be done. Then, tomorrow, I have a doctor's appointment, then Geoffrey ([livejournal.com profile] readingthedark) will be visiting tomorrow night.

I need a new keyboard (sticky damn keys) and a new mousepad (I've been using this one since sometime in the late 90s and it's smoother than a baby's backside).

Very good rp the last couple of nights. I've gone and gotten hooked again. Last night, Spooky and I also worked on finishing up the quests in Icecrown (WoW) with Shaharrazad and Suraa. We're at 100 out of 140. Yesterday, I read an article on the evolution of bipealism in hominids, in the July issue of National Geographic. I also began a new painting yesterday. Night before last, we watched more of Season Four of Dexter.

Lately, I feel like all my thrills are either vicarious or virtual.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Thanks.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Cooler and, more importantly, less humid, here in Providence. I actually had to put on a sweater this morning. We had several days of hot, spectacularly humid weather, so this comes as a relief.

Today, I very much need reader comments, if only to help me stay grounded. Thank you.

Not a lot of progress on the book though. On Thursday, I wrote 1,081 words, about normal for me, for any given day. But then yesterday, a combination of self doubt and misbehaving blood pressure (thank you, meds) left me such a mess that I only wrote 14 words (I shit you not). Today, I'll try to do better.

But the truth is, almost a year after conceiving of the story that has, eventually, become The Drowning Girl, and just a couple of months shy of the two-year anniversary of having finished The Red Tree, it isn't going well. It's hardly going at all. Do I know why? I have a bucketful of conjecture, but no, I don't know for sure. I only know it's put me in a truly terrifying place.

---

Lots of thoughts yesterday on convention in novels. Conventions in first-person narratives. Such as, how so few readers pause to consider the existence and motivations of the "interauthor." When you're reading a first-person narration, you're reading a story that's being told by a fictional author, and that fictional author— or interauthor —is, essentially, the central character. Their motivations are extremely important to the story. The simple fact that they are telling the story, in some fictional universe, raises questions that I believe have to be addressed by first-person narratives. Why is the interauthor writing all this down? How long is it taking her or him? Do they intend it to be read by others? Is it a confessional? Reflection? A warning? Also (and this is a BIG one), what happens to the interauthor while the story is being written, especially if it's a novel-length work of fiction?

In my case, it takes anywhere from a few months (The Red Tree, Low Red Moon) to years (my other novels) to write a novel. I assume this is the case for most people who sit down to write something that's seventy- to one-hundred-thousand words long. These are not campfire tales. These are major undertakings by their interauthors. So, the narrators stop and start writing the documents over and over and over while it's being written. But rarely are we shown what happens to her or him while the story is being told (Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves is a brilliant exception, and sure there are other exceptions). Some things will almost certainly occur that are important enough that they will intrude upon the narrative.

A first-person narrative occurs in a minimum of two time frames: the present (when the story is being written down) and the past (when the story occurred).

And it baffles me that so few readers or writers pause to consider these facts, and that so few authors address these problems in the text. A first-person narrative is, by definition, an artifact, and should be treated as such. Rarely do I use the word "should" when discussing fiction writing.

The other thing I thought about a lot yesterday was the convention of chapters, especially as it applies to first person and the interauthor. Does the interauthor actually bother dividing her story into chapters, especially if she's only writing for herself? If so, why? It seems patently absurd to me. She might date each section of her manuscript. She might divide sections with hash tags or asterisks. But chapters? No. That's absurd.

If I can ever get The Drowning Girl written, it may have no chapter divisions. To use them would be a ridiculous adherence to convention that makes no sense within the context of the artifact of the story.

One more thing: Most readers do not want to read books that are, to put it bluntly, smarter than they are. Such readers get very pissed, and resentful, and interpret their emotional reactions as a mistake or shortcoming on the part of the author (transference). This phenomenon will never cease to amaze and confound me.

---

Last night, we watched Sam Raimi's Drag Me To Hell (2009). It was appropriate to kid night: over-the-top goofy camp. Not sure if I liked it or not. It was fun, I suppose. Spooky probably liked it better than I did. For me, it was the sort of film I mostly enjoy while I'm watching it, but pretty much forget as soon as it's over. We also watched another episode of Nip/Tuck. We finished Season Two on Thursday night. And I have to say, the last episode of Season Two is one of the best, most-harrowing hours of television I have ever seen. I'm very glad I didn't give up on this show halfway through Season One, as I almost did.

Not much reading. It's almost impossible for me to read fiction while trying to write a novel.

And now...another fucking day...
greygirlbeast: (Default)
The heat is back today.

I woke from angry dreams to the anger of yesterday.

Last night, I swallowed an amazing pill. Amazing. For four hours, there was no anger. In the end, there were hardly any feelings at all. I think maybe the effects of that pill are what sramanic thought means by achieving Nirvāna. People spend their lives searching for it and never come close. But it can be had in a pill.

Yesterday, I wrote 134 words on Chapter One of The Drowning Girl. And then the anger found me, and I was unable to write anything more during the afternoon. I'd hoped to finish Chapter One before moving along to "The Yellow Alphabet" (for Sirenia Digest #56). I'm maybe three thousand words from the end of the chapter. It'll still be there when I come back in a week.

In another entry, I may explain some of the sources on the anger. Or I may not.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
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.
greygirlbeast: (white2)
A sunny day in Providence, and the winds are calm, so it actually feels like 60F. The windows are open and we're airing out the house. Of the few things I acutally miss about the South, the climate is at the very top of the list. I never thought I would be so glad for a sunny day when the temperature is only 60F...but after the dreary, wet, freezing greyness of a Providence winter, this almost seems like summer.

I learned last night that my sf story "Galápagos" (from Eclipse 3, edited by Johnathan Strahan) is one of six works to make the honor list for the James Tiptree Award for 2010. The Tiptree press release says of the story, "...a mysterious space disaster, a terrifying alien reproductivity, a story reminiscent of the work of Octavia Butler. There can be no higher praise." And I say, indeed, and thank you. I'm flattered to be so honored. I am far more pleased, though, to see that one of the two winners of this year's Tiptree Award is Greer Gilman ([livejournal.com profile] nineweaving) for Cloud and Ashes. I don't care what anyone else might say, Cloud and Ashes is far and away the most brilliant work of fantasy from 2009, and it's deserving of much more recognition than its received. By the way, the Tiptree Award is presented to works of of science fiction or fantasy that expand or explore our understanding of gender. To quote the award's website:

The award is named for Alice B. Sheldon, who wrote under the pseudonym James Tiptree, Jr. By her impulsive choice of a masculine pen name, Sheldon helped break down the imaginary barrier between "women’s writing" and "men’s writing." Her fine stories were eagerly accepted by publishers and won many awards in the field. Many years later, after she had written some other work under the female pen name of Raccoona Sheldon, it was discovered that she was female. The discovery led to a great deal of discussion of what aspects of writing, if any, are essentially gendered. The name "Tiptree" was selected to illustrate the complex role of gender in writing and reading.

And that was yesterday's bright spot. Otherwise, the day was a slick black sheen of shit and broken glass, placed just so to punctuate the middle of the month. I'd considered cataloging all the day's foulness, at length and with lots of exposition, but, honestly, I find I just don't care anymore. The good news is that all lives come with an expiration date.

I do very much want to thank [livejournal.com profile] aliceoddcabinet, having learned that she is the clerk at the Providence Athenaeum who is responsible for getting that copy of The Red Tree onto the shelves. Which is the only other thing, besides the Tiptree nod, that I've really had to smile about in the last couple of weeks.

Well, sure, Shaharrazad made Level 79 last night, but seeking solace and/or any sense of achievement in WoW (or Second Life, et al.), I'm aware that's pretty fucking pathetic.
greygirlbeast: (The Red Tree)
We have sun again this morning, after many sunless days. It helps, though it would help more if warmth had come with the sun. The wind is gusting to 29mph, so it feels quite a bit cooler than it is. We are promised tomorrow will be better. The rivers are still cresting.

I have a "doctor's" appointment today at three p.m., which means we have to leave at 2:30 p.m., which, considering I didn't wake up until 11 a.m., rather screws any chance for a productive day. Of course, I had all of yesterday at my disposal and managed not to be very productive. Despite the "eureka" of Sunday, doubts remained. I sat and stared at the words that were not getting written. I reread Bruno Bettelheim's essay (1975) on "Little Red Riding Hood" (which doesn't hold nearly as much water with me as it once did). Spooky and I talked through various aspects of The Wolf Who Cried Girl. I discovered a perfect epigraph, which is about as close as I came to actually writing.

Here's the piece on The Red Tree I mentioned on the 14th, courtesy Rob Suggs (I'm pretty sure this is a different Rob Suggs than the guy who writes all those creepy Xtian books for children, by the way):

My mother used to tell us about wonderful books she saw when she was growing up in the thirties. They were mysteries whose final solution could only be seen by working a jigsaw puzzle that came with the book. I’ve never been attracted to the sterile neatness of straightforward mysteries, but I do like the idea of having lots of thinking and fitting to do after a book is complete. The Red Tree gives me that.

Many readers, of course, want to do anything but think—before, during and after their reading. All should be neatly wrapped up, as with the multiple weddings at the end of an early Dickens. But I’ve always loved Aickman. The best ghost novel ever written, for my money, is
The Haunting of Hill House; I see The Red Tree as a Hill House for these times (realizing, of course, that there are many other inspirational texts; they’re obvious throughout, and even cataloged in the afterword). This is Algernon Blackwood’s great-granddaughter describing what happened in the forest behind Hill House, perhaps.

At the end, we know that Eleanor has had more than a homecoming; she doesn’t simply belong at Hill House, but it is who she is. The yawning corridors are the compartments of her psyche. Or, as a shade told Jack in
The Shining, “You have always been the caretaker.” So it is with Sarah Crowe, a name so reminiscent of A Little Princess of Frances Hodgson Burnett; what irony there. (The Red Tree is more like a twisted Secret Garden, which also contains Freudian landscaping).

Sarah, like Jack and Eleanor, has come home forever, without knowing it. Her identity merges with the little house in the big woods, and isn’t that what really happens when we’re deeply depressed? We dig into some dark hovel, hating it even as we find sanctuary there. The Wight house is the architecture of clinical depression. There is the main floor, where Sarah lives out her conscious, day to day existence, sitting at a kitchen table, gazing out at a strangely frightening world that should be a beautiful one, and not working. In the elevated place above her, we find the artist. The artist is a younger, more physically beautiful spirit who comes down occasionally to converse with the conscious Sarah; to love, to quarrel, to walk together. The artist’s version of a ghost story (in a book of many kinds) is notably neat, uplifting, symmetrical to the point of ringing false. Constance tells it in the 1901 “Steps” tale. We’re never certain whether to believe it; real terror, as Sarah knows on the main floor, is never so tidy.

And then, at the bottom of it all, is of course the cellar. It is the place where Sarah is least comfortable. The artist is youth and beauty and hope, but at the foundation is something much the opposite: shocking age, rank decay, and despair. Abandon hope all ye who enter here: to explore is to become lost. It is truly this event which begins the ending for the doomed heroine of the novel. As we come to the final chapters, the puzzle pieces begin to assemble themselves, and Sarah faces truths she cannot live with. To leave the house would be an irrelevant action, because what is inside her cannot be thrown off like an old skin; and the artist has made its last showing and vanished. The attic is not only a place of dust again, but Sarah believes it to have been one all along.

The readers, of course, know better. They have been tipped off from the very beginning that it is Constance who is a real, living person and Sarah who now belongs to the ages. Here is the sadness: our suspicion that Sarah is a far better artist than she knows, and has allowed herself to be consumed by her own depression.

Much more, of course, can be said about The Red Tree, particularly in its traditional elements of terror and the supernatural. Like all fine books, there are multiple layers here. I hope many more volumes along these lines will follow.


This is, by the way, the very first reader, to my knowledge to hit upon the origin of the protagonist's name, that I borrowed it (albeit in a slightly altered form) from Frances Hodgson Burnett.

---

If you've not already, you should have a look at Spooky's most recent doll, which you may see at her Etsy shop, Dreaming Squid Dollworks.

As for last night...a bath, and I washed my hair. I did a couple of short scenes in Insilico. Played a little WoW. When I finally crawled off to bed, Spooky read me Robert McCloskey's Burt Dow, Deep-Water Man (1963). As we were trying to go to sleep, we played a sadistic game that consisted of lodging the theme songs of television sitcoms in one another's heads.

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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