greygirlbeast: (Chiana 6)
Note that I will make a post just after midnight (CaST), probably just a few words, and then this journal will "go black" as a protest against SOPA/PIPA. The blackout will end at midnight (CaST) on the 19th. No, I don't think it will change a thing. The whole internet going black won't change a thing. That's not the point. Sometimes we tilt at windmills because it's the right thing to do. We have also been assured that President Obama will block the legislation, and there's word Congress is already preparing to shelve it. By the way, my book sales are being seriously harmed by internet piracy, and I still oppose SOPA/PIPA. You do not burn down a fucking house to kill a termite.

And, more good news. Believed lost for some 165 years, hundreds of paleobotanical thin sections, once owned by Charles Darwin, have been rediscovered in the archives of the British Geological Survey.

If I do not leave the house today, it will have been eleven days since last I left the house. This is becoming serious. Again. And I have to face it and get out of here.

When we went to bed about 3:30 a.m., there was a very light dusting of snow on the ground, already beginning to melt.

I had a dream, this morning, that one of my molars fell out. This isn't unusual. I frequently have dreams of breaking and shattering teeth. I have bad teeth, and, moreover, many psychoanalysts believe this a sign that someone – whichever dreamer in question - feels they have lost, or are losing control of...well, whatever. In this case, I point to Alabaster #4. As I near the end of the next to last issue of the first series, I am terrified I am making missteps, that I was never cut out to write comics. And I cannot fail in this. Every single word matters, and, in many ways, this is a far, far more difficult undertaking than writing a novel. Yesterday, I wrote three more pages, 16-18 (manuscript pages 27-29, 951 words), which is probably more than I should have written yesterday. Likely, I will finish the three remaining pages today.

Please be reminded of the auction of ARC of the The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. By the way, if you haven't seen Publishers Weekly's STARRED review of the novel, you ought. Sure, too much time is wasted on synopsis, but too many reviewers these days don't know the difference between a review and book report.

Oh, and here's a photograph Spooky took day before yesterday, when I was washing my hair. All my life, I've known I had a birthmark on the back of my neck, just at and under the hairline. This is the first time I've ever seen it (behind the cut).

Birthmark )


After the writing, I curled up on the chaise in the middle parlor, in front of the fire place (it only sounds a tenth as cozy as it actually is), with the iPad and finished watching the National Geographic pterosaur documentary. It only got worse. Aside from Kevin Padian and David Unwin, actual experts on pterosaur paleontology were generally ignored (where was Peter Wellnhofer, for example, or Chris Bennett, or Dave Martill?). The science went from slipshod to fanciful. In short, whoever wrote this thing just started making shit up. Assemblages of animals were shown coexisting in the same environment, even though we know they belonged to different faunas separated by tens of millions of years. At least a third (and maybe half) of the documentary was wasted on an attempt to build a mechanical scale model of a pterosaur that would fly as a pterosaur flew. But it didn't work, even though the designers cheated right and left on the design (adding an elaborate "rudder" to an anhanguerine, for example, a group that all but lacked a tail, and certainly didn't use them for stabilization during flight). No, no, no. Bad science. This is National Geographic? My advice, stay away from this one.

Later, before sleep, I read Bruce Sterling's "Maneki Neko" (1998), a somewhat dull bit of cyberpunk. Near as I could tell, it was hellbent on showing that just as there's truth to the "ugly American" stereotype, there's also the "ugly Japanese." No shock there. The story's most interesting aspect is it's view of what the internet would become, but, in the ensuing fourteen years, has failed to do so.

And it's getting late. And I should scoot.

Scooting,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 1)
On this day, sixty-five years ago, the dismembered body of Elizabeth Short was found in Leimert Park, Los Angeles.

Bitterly cold (but no snow) here in Providence. We had single digits last night, and the temperature Outside is currently 15˚F.

Here's a link to the full text of the starred (!) Publishers Weekly review of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. Also, my thanks to Elizabeth Bear ([livejournal.com profile] matociquala) for the very kind things she said about the novel a couple of days ago.

Yesterday, I realized that I'd done a very peculiar thing Friday while working on Albaster #4. I'd written pages five, six, and seven. But...this is going to sound so stupid...with seven I'd jumped ahead to a spot very near to the end of the book, only a few pages from the end. It was strange, yeah. I always write from "beginning" to "end," in a straight line, so it was a very odd thing for me to have done. Anyway, yesterday, I set that seventh page aside (I'll use it at the appropriate time), and wrote a new page seven, along with eight, nine, and ten (manuscript pages 14-19, 1,403 words). I stopped in the year 1864 – November, to be precise. I'll resume there today. Oh, it'll all make sense, trust me.

After the writing, I used the iPad to stream a rather dubious documentary about the Snowball Earth hypothesis. I don't mean to say that the hypothesis itself, though still somewhat controversial, is dubious. It's just that the Discovery Channel (I can't believe they haven't shortened the station's title to Disco) seems incapable of making coherent, accurate documentaries that don't drag everything down to the level of "Bat Boy" and the Weekly World News (By the way, you know you're old when you remember the days when the Weekly World News took itself seriously.). The documentary almost managed to reduce a respectable (and very likely) scientific model to nothing more than the latest Roland Emmerich blockbuster.

Later, we played SW:toR, forgoing RP in favor of leveling. We both reached Level 28. And then we watched Craig Gillespie's remake of Fright Night (2011). Now, given the fact that I'm an admirer of the original (1988) and the fact that I hate 3D, I will admit I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder going in. But I was quickly won over. Yeah, the 3D is gimmicky as fuck, and annoyingly intrusive at times (Oh! Look! Blood spurting at the film! Scream!). But the film is both a lot of fun and filled with genuine menace. Most of the casting is superb – Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell (I never would have believed it), Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and (drum roll) David Fucking Tennant. The show really belonged to Tenant and Farrell. I do wish a little more care had been taken casting female roles. Imogen Poots? That was supposed to be an in joke, right? And Toni Collette....well, we know she can act, but I guess the fact that she's comatose for the second half of this film meant she didn't have much incentive to try during the first half. I was disappointed that we didn't get some of the wonderful creature effects from the original – the werewolf and the amazingly creepy bat thing – but still, very good and highly recommended. Even with the annoying 3D shots trying to jump out into you lap. Oh, it also scored points for mentioning Farscape.

After the movie, I read Ursula K. Le Guin's "The Silence of the Asonu" (1998), a fine bit of SF anthropology (also collected in Lightspeed: Year One). And then I finally slept.
greygirlbeast: (fry1)
Using my Carolyn Fry (Radha Mitchell) icon today because about 4:15 a.m. I finally fell asleep watching Pitch Black for the umpteenth time. I drifted off not long after the crash of the Hunter-Gratzner. Which means the film worked. My comfort films usually do. Work to put me to sleep, I mean. Fortunately, Pitch Black is streaming from Netflix, so I could get it via the iPad. By the way, that's about the only use for Kermit the iPad that I've found, streaming movies and TV shows from Netflix.

---

I just received word from Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press that The Drowning Girl: A Memoir has earned the coveted starred review in the new Publisher's Weekly. I won't post the full review for a few days, but I will excerpt this line (the rest is mostly synopsis, anyway, the last thing any book review should be concerned with):

Kiernan evokes the gripping and resonant work of Shirley Jackson in a haunting story that’s half a mad artist’s diary and half fairy tale.

I can live with that. Momentarily, I don't feel misunderstood. Though I'm sure that's just illusory and will pass shortly.

And speaking of Subterranean Press, if you've not already preordered your copy of Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart, you might want to do it before much longer. Remember, the limited comes with the FREE hardbound chapbook, The Yellow Book ("The Yellow Alphabet" + a new short story, "Ex Libris").

---

Yesterday, I only managed to write pages 5-7 (ms. pages 10-15, 1,256 words) of Albaster #4. Maybe I can write five today, and make up the difference.

The auction for The Drowning Girl ARC continues.

---

There was some good RP in SW:toR last night, and I read two stories, Tanith Lee's "Black Fire" (2011) and Julie E. Czerneda's "The Passenger" (1999). Both were quite excellent, but I was especially taken with the Tanith Lee piece*. These are collected, by the way, in John Joseph Adams' Lightspeed: Year One. I have a story in there, too. I just wish Orson Scott Card's name wasn't splashed across the cover of the book. I feel like I should wear gloves when I handle it.

Seven days have passed without my leaving the house (and I won't today, so make that eight), and its beginning to bother me again. I blame the weather. That sky. Getting to bed too late, waking too late. Having only five hours of daylight (or thereabouts), and needing three of them to wake up. This is my first (of four) profoundly shitty New England winters, and the workload isn't helping.

Snowed Under Without Snow,
Aunt Beast

* Though it's the Czerneda story that ends with this exquisite sentence: For like that precious bird, kept until death in a glass cage for all to see, wasn't he the last passenger of Earth?
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Okay, let's get this over and done with, and then we may proceed to your regularly scheduled blog entry. I expect it will be less painful that way. Well, less painful for me at least, and I know I'll be loads less distracted:

Booya! )


That said...or shown, or both, whatever...you know the lousy thing about incredible shit happening yesterday? The lousy thing about incredible shit having happened yesterday is that it's not happening today. Nonetheless, today I can lift up the blackness enough to peer out (though I do squint something fierce).

But, still, comment, kittens. And thank you for yesterday's comments.

Yesterday, we read chapters One and Two of Blood Oranges, and I can say, with great relief, that I still like this book a lot. It's about as far from The Red Tree and The Drowning Girl: A Memoir as you can get, but that's not a bad thing. I think I'd reached a point where I had to write something just for fucking fun. And Blood Oranges is fun. And it's even funny. I never fucking knew I had all this fucking funny in me. It's like discovering a strange boil behind your ear, and someone lances it, and out comes humor. I mean "ha ha" humor, not aqueous humour – though lancing a boil behind your ear and getting aqueous humour would be interesting. Anyway, with luck, the manuscript will be proofread and corrected and in Manhattan on Monday morning. I've dragged my feet on getting it to my publisher and editor. Well, no, I haven't. I've been too busy with my work for No Such Agency, and with Sirenia Digest, and with the trailer/still-photo project for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir that Blood Oranges just...sort of got lost in the shuffle. But now it's unlost. Today, we do chapters Three and Four, which will put us halfway through the novel.

I think I've decided to keep Kermit the iPad. He proved himself very useful editing yesterday. And so I'm rethinking this whole thing. But thank you, Cliff Miller. Thank you all the same.

Also, I saw a rough cut of the teaser for the trailer for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir yesterday, and it's all I can do not to link to it here. Imagine the lovechild of Terrance Malick and David Lynch, and you're in the neighborhood. Thank you, Brian and Kyle. This is going to be so fucking wonderful. I also spoke with [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy and [livejournal.com profile] kambriel yesterday about shooting additional footage this winter in Philadelphia, and it seems like it'll happen. We'll be holding eBay auctions, props and such (a large moonstone signed by the whole cast & crew, etc.) from the first shoot, to fund that, and I'll keep you posted. Thing is, to quote Imp:

“I’m going to write a ghost story now,” she typed.
“A ghost story with a mermaid and a wolf,” she also typed.
I also typed.


Well, we have tons of mermaid/water footage, the Saltonstall stuff, but the wolf part has been sorely neglected, and for that we need winter, and snow, and a big wolf-like dog for the Perrault stuff, and we can make these things happen this winter in Philadelphia. So, yeah. Another shoot lies ahead. Which fills me not in the least with dread. It pleases me.

Last night, we proved that one meatloaf can be stretched out over four dinners and one midnight sandwich. Spooky has some mean Loaf Fu. We played some Rift. I'm obsessed with getting Selwynn glorified with the Icewatch in Iron Pine Peak, so...lots of dailies. Or, in my case, nightlies. Later, I read aloud to Spooky from John Steinbeck's The Log From the Sea of Cortez. Despite my love for Steinbeck and his Cannery Row books, I've never read this book, but found an old copy at Spooky's parents and borrowed it on Sunday (a copy that sold new in trade paperback for $1.45 in 1962). It begins with Steinbeck's "About Ed Ricketts" essay/eulogy, and, so far, I've managed not to cry. In another life, I might have been someone as good and useful to the world as Ed Ricketts. I like to think that.

It occurs to me, apropos of nothing in particular, that there's no point whatsoever in having a cake if you can't eat it, too.

Wanting Cake, Black Forest,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (white)
So, yeah. Yesterday evening, after the blog entry, I was alerted to the fact that Two Worlds and In Between and I were being spoken of reverently in the pages of The New York Times. To whit:

There’s also no shortfall of ghosts, revenants and otherness in Ms. Kiernan’s Two Worlds and In Between. What’s most satisfying, though, in this retrospective — more than 200,000 words covering 1993 to 2004 — is watching Ms. Kiernan progress from competence and promise to become one of our essential writers of dark fiction...Ms. Kiernan is a cartographer of lost worlds..."

(byline, Dana Jennings)

Follow this link to read the full review.

Yeah, it brightened my mood a tiny bit. I think this is the first time I've ever been mentioned in The New York Times. Sure, the whole world can see my name and my prose every day just by going online. But today, from Manhattan to Tokyo, from Munich to Bombay, people will read my name and prose in print. And, especially in this day and age, that makes me smile. Sure, tomorrow, those same papers will be used to wrap fish and line bird cages. But today...damn. I want to buy copies, cut out the review, and make sure it's read by every one of those assholes who swore I'd "never amount to anything." Alas, many of them are mercifully dead now. As my life unfurls and winds down, I understand it's not enough to outlive your detractors. You also have to do something worthwhile during that whole outliving them thing. Anyway, yes, I am allowed to slip out from beneath the black cowl, feel some vague sense of accomplishment, and gloat for a few hours. I'll duck back into the shadows afterwards, don't worry. Truthfully, it didn't feel real until this morning. Spooky's gone out to find copies of the paper (page C4). Seeing it printed with ink on actual paper will make it feel much more real, I'm sure.

The morale of our story? Simple: If you manage not to die long enough, someone will notice. Maybe.

And if you're looking to bring me down today, over this or anything else, take a number. The line starts over there. Don't call me, I'll call you.

Oh, and having reviewed Apple's return policies, I'm fairly certain the iPad will be returned. I just don't need the thing as badly as I need many other things. And I do need what it could take away. I might change my mind. The jelly-bean shiny may carry the day. Nobody's perfect. We'll see. I'm encountering this phenomenon referred to as "buyer's remorse."

Great new episode of Fringe last night ("Subject 9").

Ah, Spooky's back. Must go see. But first this comment [livejournal.com profile] opalblack made to last night's entry:

Do you know there are actually people out there who envy us that tearing, bottomless darkness? Mostly nooage middle-class-white types who run around campfires waving dead things on sticks and calling it shamanism. I would like to slap them. For a lot of things, really.

Oh, I know those people...and antidotes.

Look upon me! I'll show you the life of the mind! I'll show you the life of the mind! — Charlie Meadows, Barton Fink

Surprised,
Aunt beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Spooky says, [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy has tweeted "Rhode Island. It's not an island. Not even close. I have discovered this." He is a wise man. Oh, and he also just tweeted, "They really should change the name of that to A-Squid-Neck Island*. In honor of Lovecraft. Obviously. Fo shizzle." I think he's high.

Today, Hubero's name is Bill Murray. Just until midnight. This began when Spooky posted the following to Facebook: It's that kind of morning... discussing how funny it would be to change Hubero's name to Bill Murray. "Get down off that counter Bill Murary!" "Dust bunnies will kill you, Bill Murray!" Yeah, that one was for the Jim Jarmusch aficionados. Shit. Hold on. Bill Murray is eating coffee grounds out of the garbage.

Um...back now.

Yesterday, I worked. On, you know, The Secret.

And then I went to the Apple Store and bought an iPad. Yes, this may well mean the end of Western Civilization, and I am ashamed to the core of my being, and I apologize. But I'm going to need it for work soon, and it's tax deductible. Now, time was, writers didn't need Star Trek gadgetry to...write. They needed fingers and ink and paper and a quill. Later shit got fancy with pens and typewriters. Luxuries? Those were whiskey and cigarettes. This was the life of the writer, and they roamed the plains in vast and wordy herds. But now, writers must have gadgets. Yes, they must! Or the other writers make fun of them. Gonna have to get an iPhone soon, too...but that's gonna wait a few more months. Meanwhile, I will endure the peer pressure and limp along with my sad little 2009 cellphone. Anyway, yes. An iPad. And man, you wanna know how Sirenia Digest was meant to be seen? Look at #70 on an iPad. I had no bloody idea! Anyway, lest anyone gets too worried, no. I WILL NOT READ EBOOKS ON MY iPAD. Except magazines and newspapers and comics, because that's different. Why? Because I say so. Also, my basement is filled with cardboard boxes of National Geographic that a) weigh a ton, b) will never again be opened in my lifetime, and c) I can't bear to throw out.

My iPad's name is Kermit. First time I have ever given a computer a male name.

My thanks to Josh Cruz ([livejournal.com profile] subtlesttrap) for sending me the new Ladytron album, Gravity the Seducer. And to Melissa, for reminding me that I've fallen in love with St. Vincent. Sometimes, I forget my nouveaux amoureux (and that I don't actually speak French).

Anything else? Bill Murray, you are not helping.

Oh! I know. Since when did publishing start thinking that anyone who has a blog, seems to be able to read, and can write halfway coherent sentences qualifies as an actual "book reviewer"? You know, those people who write "book reviews." Once, we had real book reviewers, who wrote actual book reviews for newspapers and magazines. In fact, we still do. Not as many as we used to, and, sure, few of the reviewers can match the Golden Days of Reviewers, the likes of Dorothy Parker's "Constant Reader" in the pages of The Atlantic. But, every goofball with a WordPress or TypePad account? Really? Fine, call me arrogant. I don't care. Call me meritocratic. I can live with that just fine. I can't live with BookVoreLady's "review" of The Red Tree being quoted by my publisher (I made up "BookVoreLady," but you get the idea), and I diligently have those "reviews" removed when they turn up in the opening, promotional pages of my books. Maybe this is the wave of the future, an age when merely being able to read and write automatically grants one the status of being a bona-fide book reviewer. But I don't have to like it or go along with it. Reviews have always been a questionable affair, but at least when the reviewer has a name and a face and you know their educational and professional pedigree, intelligent decisions based upon their opinions can be made. I may disagree vociferously with reviewers, but I do at least tend to respect the opinions of the learn'd and experienced.**

But what do I know? I bought an iPad and named it Kermit.

So, without further ado, eight more "making of" photos (chosen at random!) from the past weekend's shoot for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir book trailer. These were taken by Ryan Anas, who was Kyle's PA for those three days. Ryan rocks the casbah, by the way. I'm not labeling any of these photos. You can all make a grand parlour game of guessing their provenance. Or not. Your call. Speaking of calls, Ryan took these with his phone, which sort of looked like an elephant had stepped on it, so he gets extra points for moxie. And speaking of moxie...

Hey! Bill Murray! Get away from the microwave! (This is why we can't have nice things.)

Ryan's Behind the Scenes, Part One )


*Aquidneck Island

** No, this is not–most emphatically not–any sort of condemnation of those of us (as I am included) who write about books, perhaps in great detail, in our blogs or what have you. But I've never yet written anything in my blog I'd dare have the hubris to call an actual review. The world, I think, needs a hubris extractor.
greygirlbeast: (Barker)
Thanks for yesterday's comments. Let's see if we can do that again. I like to see Frank the Goat all smiling and happy.

Sunny, and warm (high of 84˚F forecast) here in Providence, and I should go to the sea. Instead, I'll write.

So, after I propose a book as the month's selection, and after I discover it's a steaming pile of pink giraffe dung, then people step forward to tell me that it was a baffling choice. Better yet, that my choice of Ryan's book led them to doubt my sanity and the very fabric of time and space. Helpful lot, you are. Anyway, so I officially decry The Forest of Hands and Teeth as the waste of a wonderful title and a lot of paper, and move along. Yes, you heard me. I am breaking with my neurosis and not even finishing it. And there will be no other choice for the "book club" this month. Me, I'm reading The Stand (the original 1978 text) for the first time since the 1980s. And this be a lesson to you all. Even aliens fuck up sometimes.

Seriously, how does someone get to be an adult-type person and have such a dopey, sugary view of the world as Carrie Ryan? How is it that their ideas of human relationships remain so firmly rooted in the ninth grade?

---

Yesterday, I wrote 1,349 words on Chapter Seven of Blood Oranges. Yes, I finished Chapter Six on Monday without having realized that I'd done so. I am approaching the book's climax. It's a very, very peculiar book. It's me taking a vacation. But, regardless, I can assure you that – whatever it might be – it's at least 1,000% better written than The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

---

I was very pleased to see this bit in John Clute's review (at Strange Horizons) of Ellen Datlow's Naked City:

And Caitlin R Kiernan's "The Colliers' Venus (1893)" (in a steampunk Denver here called Cherry Creek) is an engrossingly indirect narrative at the climax of which the eponymous figure—who is Gaia in bondage—turns to holy ash, which is coal dust that fills the lungs, which is to say she imprints us with our fate.

But the entire review should be read, as it speaks to the sad mess that has been made of the once respectable and promising label "urban fantasy." Seriously, if you value my fiction, or my opinion of fiction in general (the Carrie Ryan gaffe notwithstanding), you should read this whole review. But I will quote two passages:

"If it's the same story wherever it happens to be set," I wrote, "it isn't Urban Fantasy."

– and –

The best stories in both anthologies, being about our world, do not pretend to tell us that all will be well, that all things will be well if we listen, down to the last sweet-tooth detail, to the child inside. Paranormal romances told by sweeties no longer feed us joy or terror, not any more. They are yesterday's newspaper. If it is our fate to breathe dust, then let it be the dust of the world we live in.

Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes. Where have all our John Clute's gone?

---

So, as I was saying, casting about for something reliable to read last night, we settled on the original text of The Stand (1978). The 1990 revision/extension/updating, in my opinion, was mostly nonsensical and all but ruined the novel.* I'd actually wanted to read Shirley Jackson's The Sundial (1958), but couldn't find my copy anywhere (and fear it was lost on a move [dash] book purge). So, yes. The Stand. I was afraid we'd start, and this book I'd loved so much during my teens and early twenties that I read it pretty much once a year would have lost everything that made it dear to me. Kathryn and I re-read King's 'Salem's Lot back in 2004, and, frankly, I found it embarrassing. That is, I was embarrassed I'd ever admired that novel. Anyway...

Last night I was very pleasantly surprised to find that The Stand is still, to me, an enthralling, well-written book. Which means King's writing improved considerably between 'Salem's Lot and The Stand, between about 1973 and 1977 (approximate composition dates, not publication dates). I entirely stopped reading him after '89 and '90's supremely disappointing The Dark Half and the reworked edition of The Stand. For me, the high point had been Pet Sematary (1983), and I knew the party was ending when I read the atrociously bloated and silly It (1986). I've drifted off the point. So far, after the first five chapters and the first fifty pages, The Stand is what I remember it being. I'm just glad that I have a copy of the original text, and not the later, longer, and lesser edition.

And I should go. There's an impatient platypus.

An Old-School Urban Fantasy,
Aunt Beast

* Much like what Clute says about urban fantasy stories being about the places they're set in, and ceasing to be those stories if moved to a new place...a good novel is about its time, no matter how "timeless" the basic elements may be, and cannot simply be bumped ahead in time to make more money for publishers and authors. Just look at the mess that has been made of Lovecraft on film, because no one understands these are now period stories. Now, from here, The Stand is a story about the world thirty-one years ago (it's set in 1980).
greygirlbeast: (Default)
A rainy day here in Providence. It's nice.

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

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

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

---

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

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

---

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

Giving Genre the Massachusetts State Bird,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
Not much in the mood for an entry today. We'll play a nice game of catch up tomorrow.

My thanks to everyone who has donated mine and [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy's Drowning Girl Kickstarter project. At this point, it's 141% funded, and we still have twenty-eight days to go. And there are some amazing new rewards, soon to be announced. So, it's not too late. Also, people seem shy about those donations between $1-$14, but they ought not. Every bit helps, plus those donations grant access to the project blog.

Today, I am going to the sea.

Try to go seventy-two hours without using "lol," in any context (unless it's part of an actual word, such as lollipop). Maybe future generations won't thank you, them being doomed and all, but I'll sure be grateful.

Oh! One last thing. From Richard Horton's review of Ellen Datlow's Supernatural Noir, in the August issue of Locus:

Finally, Caitlín R. Kiernan’s ‘‘The Maltese Unicorn’’, which is as stylishly noir as any story here, is about a used bookstore owner who is friendly with a mysterious brothel owner, and thus ends up trying to track down a strange object – a dildo – for her, and gets involved, to her distress, with a beautiful and untrustworthy woman mixed up in the whole business. I thought this the best story in the book, and the story that most perfectly, to my taste, matched the theme.

Booya!

Lastly, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] sovay for news of this wondrous fossil, a plesiosaur found with an unborn plesioaur in its abdomen:

greygirlbeast: (sol)
Awoke too early, as of about forty-five minutes ago. Too early, considering that we didn't get to bed until about 4:30 ayem. Yeah, too old for this shit. Spooky and [livejournal.com profile] sovay are still sleeping.

I did, at least, awake to an email from Bill Schafer of Subterranean Press, containing the Library Journal review of Two Worlds and In Between:

A mission to a distant planet goes dreadfully awry in the suspenseful novella "The Dry Salvages." Dinosaurs and immortals interact in a tale ("Giants in the Earth") set in a universe created in Michael Moorcock's Dancers at the End of Time. These stories, along with 24 other pieces of short fiction, including "Night Story 1973" written with Poppy Z. Brite, chronicle the literary progress of one of the genre's most remarkable and exciting voices. Covering the years from 1993 to 2004, these selections, chosen by Kiernan herself, display a unique, iconoclastic vision that celebrates language as well as story. VERDICT Fans of the author and connoisseurs of elegant prose should enjoy these tales.

Not bad.

Yesterday is, presently a bit of a blur. Much more conversation. Spooky had a terrible headache, so we didn't go anywhere, and, besides, it was raining hard most of the day. Which meant yesterday was cool, though the heat will be back today. Sonya and Spooky went out to get dinner about 6 p.m., and I fell victim to a nap that left me disorientated and groggy for hours afterwards. We watched the Criterion version of Michael Powell's Peeping Tom (1960), a fairly bold take on murder and the wages of unfortunate parenting (and, also, a film on voyeurism) with some striking similarities to Hitchcock's Psycho (also 1960). Later, we swore we were going to bed early, but didn't.

Not awake enough anything else just now. Sonya's up, so I'm going to be sociable.

No Rift in two nights. Withdrawal has definitely set in.
greygirlbeast: (The Kiss)
Even if there hasn't yet been a (I).

Today's icon was meant to be yesterday's icon, but better late than never.

My thanks to Benjamin for sending me an excerpt from Strange Horizons and Richard Larson's review of Eclipse Four (ed. by Johnathan Strahan). I think this review is my reward for surviving the coming day, even if the reward's arrived before the actual chore. Dessert before dinner. Anyway, Larson writes:

For example, I think people will be talking about Caitlín R. Kiernan’s "Tidal Forces" for quite a while. The story is a meditation on the tragic inevitability of loss, the willing submission to unexplained forces that govern time and space, being and not being. Emily's lover, Charlotte, has been attacked by a mysterious shadow—"I can sit here all night long, composing a list of what it wasn't, and I'll never come any nearer to what it might have been" (p. 23)—and subsequently develops a steadily growing hole in her abdomen, later understood as "not merely a hole in Charlotte's skin, but a hole in the cosmos" (p. 26). Emily tries to derive a sense of linearity from what is happening by adopting a metaphor of a house of cards,

...held together by nothing more substantial than balance and friction. And the loops I'd rather make than admit to the present. Connecting dot-to-dot, from here to there, from there to here. Here being half an hour before dawn on a Saturday, the sky growing lighter by slow degrees. Here, where I’m on my knees, and Charlotte is standing naked in front of me. Here, now, when the perfectly round hole above her left hip and below her ribcage has grown from a pinprick to the size of the saucers she never uses for her coffee cups. (p. 19)

But she gets lost in the metaphor, lost in the senselessness of imminent loss, left to simply sit on the sidelines and watch Charlotte be consumed by something that might be the "inadvertent avatar of a god, or God, or a pantheon, or something so immeasurably ancient or pervasive that it may as well be divine" (p. 29). Kiernan employs a number of through lines and recurring images which deepen the narrative, opening it up to include the whole world, much as the hole in Charlotte's abdomen comes to include a "preposterous and undeniable blackness" (p. 26). Charlotte’s memory of being shot by a BB gun as a child, for example, connects a trauma from her past with this inexplicably traumatic present. And Emily's vocation as a writer affords an opportunity for her research about the Age of Exploration to comment on the very nature of storytelling: "All those overlooked islands, inaccessible plateaus in South American jungles, the sunken continents and the entrances to a hollow Earth, they were important psychological buffers against progress and certainty" (p. 18-19). The metaphor resonates directly with Emily and Charlotte's present project of explaining the unexplainable, of attaching a narrative to an experience which very well may exist outside of the realm of story, outside of the usual boundaries created by a measurable time and space. But "Tidal Forces" is at its most moving when these confrontations with the unknown are most closely aligned with the human factor, the idea of two people loving each other enough to believe anything for the other—especially if it might save her.


Nothing's gonna come close to beating that today. Anyway, yesterday – made it through two more of the stories in Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart, "Murder Ballad No. 6" and "Lullaby of Partition and Reunion." Hopefully, I'll get through at least two more today, because tomorrow I have to get Sirenia Digest #67 out to subscribers, and on Wednesday, it's back to actual writing.

On this day in 1911 – one hundred years ago – my maternal grandfather, Gordon Monroe Ramey, was born. He died in 1977, when he was 65 and I was 12.

Yesterday morning, I dreamed of being in a vast grocery store shortly after some or another worldwide cataclysm. All was chaos. And there was almost nothing left on the shelves. Spooky and I were taking a few items, and I felt incredibly horrible about not paying for them. Never mind that's very unlike me, or that there was no one to pay, or that paying for stuff at The End of the World makes little or no sense (speaking of Rift, someone needs to tell the vendors at Terminus this very thing). Anyway, I meant to include that bit of dream yesterday, but forgot.

Anyway, today will be tedious and long...and hot. And more I write on this entry, the more I see myself stalling. Just gonna keep trying to smile about that review.

Did I mention it's hot here?

Staring Down the Barrel,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (white2)
I need to try to make this short.

Here in Providence, summer is still February again.

Blood Oranges progresses at an impressive clip. On Sunday, I wrote 2,443 words, and yesterday, I did 2,188 words and finished Chapter 3. I've cleared with my agent that this novel will be, at most, 75,000 words (my novels are usually more that 100k). And, by the way, this isn't YA. At least, not necessarily. I think some people are confusing Blood Oranges with Blue Canary, which will be YA. It is very difficult to explain to people what it is, this book, Blood Oranges. It's sort of to dark fantasy/urban fantasy what The Fifth Element is to science-fiction films. Which means, among other things, you'll either get it or you won't. You love it or you'll hate it. It's also a loud "fuck you" to the "romantic urban fantasy" or ParaRom or what the fuck ever you might call it or have heard that crap called. Blood Oranges is me, taking back the night. Or to paraphrase Ursula K. LeGuin, this is me taking back the language of the night.

We saw a rather excellent thriller last night, a French film, Antoine Blossier's Proie (Prey, 2010). I suppose it could be classed as a "creature feature," an eco-thriller, or something like that. But I'd say, take the parable of Cain and Abel, add a herd of boars driven wild by toxic discharge from a factory, and put four angry men in a forest at night. With guns. That's what the film is, and it goes surprising and unexpected places. I was especially pleased with the ending.

---

I'm going to repost this, because people may not have seen my post last night, and the whole Publisher's Weekly thing is still making me smile (By the way, I NEED A COPY OF THIS ISSUE OF THE MAGAZINE, as nowhere in Rhode Island carries it. IF YOU CAN LAY YOUR HANDS ON A COPY AND SEND IT MY WAY, I WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER):

The Publisher's Weekly review of Two Worlds and in Between has come in. Not only is it starred, it was chosen as the "Pick of the Week," out of all books reviewed this week. PW has never before been so kind to me (and no, this is not the NEWS THAT IS SO GOOD, SO COOL I received last week. Anyway, here's the review:

Two Worlds and in Between: The Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan, Vol. 1
Caitlin R. Kiernan. Subterranean (www.subterraneanpress.com), $38 (576p) ISBN 978-1-59606-391-4

"I wasn't always a storyteller," Kiernan (The Red Tree) claims in her introduction, but you wouldn't know it by the tremendous talent displayed in these 26 stories of life, death, undeath, horror, sorrow, and a peculiar sort of beauty. This retrospective volume, the first of two, contains works published between 1993 and 2004 that show Kiernan's rapid ascent from a journeyman writer bringing a fresh perspective to classic horror themes ("Emptiness Spoke Eloquent," a Dracula "sequel," and the title tale, an exercise in punk nihilism with zombies) to one of the most innovative and imaginative stylists in contemporary dark fantasy. Particularly noteworthy are two award-winning stories: "La Peau Verte," an otherworldly absinthe fantasy, and the horror tour de force "Onion," about a couple haunted by encounters with the supernatural that represent both the most horrifying and the most transcendent moments of their depressingly common lives. All of the selections are distinguished by Kiernan's poetic prose, which conjures a rich, enveloping atmosphere of dread and imparts a surreality to the narratives that supports their weird events. Every story in the book deserves its "best" designation. (Oct.)

So. Yeah. Wow.

Also, the 600-copy limited edition of of the collection is now completely sold out at the publisher. However, the trade edition can still be ordered directly from Subterranean Press.

---

Links to three more Rift screencaps, Selwyn in Iron Pine:

Selwyn and Jude at the frozen Tarn, southwest of the Chancel of Labors.

By moonlight, the high pass at Mage's Mark.

Before the gates of Stillmoor
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Very, very busy today, including a doctor's appointment, but I wanted to get this wonderful (and rather astounding) bit of news out there. The Publisher's Weekly review of Two Worlds and in Between has come in. Not only is it starred, it was chosen as the "Pick of the Week," out of all books reviewed this week. PW has never before been so kind to me (and no, this is not the NEWS THAT IS SO GOOD, SO COOL I received last week. Anyway, here's the review:

Two Worlds and in Between: The Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan, Vol. 1
Caitlin R. Kiernan. Subterranean (www.subterraneanpress.com), $38 (576p) ISBN 978-1-59606-391-4

"I wasn't always a storyteller," Kiernan (The Red Tree) claims in her introduction, but you wouldn't know it by the tremendous talent displayed in these 26 stories of life, death, undeath, horror, sorrow, and a peculiar sort of beauty. This retrospective volume, the first of two, contains works published between 1993 and 2004 that show Kiernan's rapid ascent from a journeyman writer bringing a fresh perspective to classic horror themes ("Emptiness Spoke Eloquent," a Dracula "sequel," and the title tale, an exercise in punk nihilism with zombies) to one of the most innovative and imaginative stylists in contemporary dark fantasy. Particularly noteworthy are two award-winning stories: "La Peau Verte," an otherworldly absinthe fantasy, and the horror tour de force "Onion," about a couple haunted by encounters with the supernatural that represent both the most horrifying and the most transcendent moments of their depressingly common lives. All of the selections are distinguished by Kiernan's poetic prose, which conjures a rich, enveloping atmosphere of dread and imparts a surreality to the narratives that supports their weird events. Every story in the book deserves its "best" designation. (Oct.)

So. Yeah. Wow.

Also, the 600-copy limited edition of of the collection is now completely sold out at the publisher. However, the trade edition can still be ordered directly from Subterranean Press.

Pleased,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Well, we did get a dab of snow, but it all quickly melted. So, no harm done.

1. Yesterday was another day of editing. I thought I was done with the manuscript for Two Worlds and In Between, but then I realized there was, inexplicably, no story for 1998. So...I asked Bill if I could add one, and he kindly consented (all this was in yesterday's entry, I know). So I chose "Salmagundi (New York City, 1981)." Which needed a lot of revision (it was last revised in 2007). And that's what I spent the day doing. Truthfully, it's more complicated than that, but I'll let that stand as my synoptic history, my necessary fiction. Regardless, yesterday was another editing day. But, after dinner, the "final final" ms. went away to subpress, and now it's out of my hands. Cue huge sound of relief.

2. Thanks to the people who donated to the Kickstarter project yesterday! You guys are amazing. One last request regarding "The Tale of Two Ravens" and the birth of Goat Girl Press. We're a mere $35 dollars away from being 200% funded. Anyone want to pony up that last $35? You'd put a big ol' smile on Spooky's face.

3. The Green Man review of "The Steam Dancer (1898)" has been bouncing around in my head. And while it was a very positive review, and I'm grateful for that, something about it began gnawing at me. The reviewer wrote "...I must stress that this tale is depressing..." Only, it's not. Yes, it's set in a world that, I contend, is far more honest and believable than most of those conjured for steampunk. It's a world where the consequences of a reliance on steam power is plainly evident. It's also set in a rough frontier town in the American West. But the story itself, the story of the life of Missouri Banks, is one of triumph and joy. She is raised from squalor and sickness by a man who loves her, who literally puts her back together, and she celebrates her reconstruction in dance. It's not a depressing story. I suspect the more realistic setting - which lacks the deluded shine of so much steampunk - obstructed the reviewers view of the story, though it shouldn't have. Anyway, no...it's emphatically not a depressing story. It's a story (I don't believe I'm about to write this) of the triumph of the human spirit over terrible adversity.

4. Today, I have to find a story for Sirenia Digest #64. I've not had time to think about the digest, between finishing and editing The Drowning Girl: A Memoir and editing Two Worlds and In Between. By the way, everyone who keeps congratulating me on finishing the aforementioned books and saying that now I have breathing room...no. There is no breathing room. There's only writing, if the bills are to be paid and the deadlines are not to be missed. I wish there was breathing room. The air is getting awfully close in here.

5. My great thanks for all the YA suggestions. But I should be clear that, from here on, I've only got time, just now, to read books set in the 20th Century, and, preferably, the first half of the 20th Century. Maybe I can get to the others later.

6. Yesterday morning we read more of Margo Lanagan's superb and brutal Tender Morsels, and last night we read more of Markus Zusak's very wonderful The Book Thief.

And now, kittens, I go forth to whip the word troll into submission...

In Perplexity,
Aunt Beast

Postscript (4:20 p.m.): I don't usually do this. But. If anyone has an idea, or anything remotely approaching an idea, for a vignette for Sirenia Digest #64, feel free to post it. Think of this as me taking requests. Well, at least considering requests.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Slowly, slowly, spring is coming to Providence. I try not to think how fast it must be coming on in Birmingham, and Atlanta, and Athens. Here, it comes slowly. And I am here, and, in all ways, that's better than my being in Birmingham, or Atlanta, or Athens. But the slow-coming spring, it's still odd and difficult, especially after a winter like the one we just had. The days are averaging 40sF, the nights 30sF or high 20sF, which actually seems warm. We can acclimate to almost anything.

The nice thing about knowing that virtually no one reads this blog is that I don't have to worry about whether or not I'm boring people.

Anyway, yesterday was warm. The official high in Providence was 71˚F, I think. As it was day one of the three-day vacation, we decided to drive to West Cove on Conanicut Island. It was very comfortable when we left the city, but there was a wind advisory, with gusts up to 50 mph. When we got out of the van at West Cove, it felt like the temperature was in the thirties, and I spent the first hour of beach combing shivering and trying to keep my hands from going numb. Then the sun came out, and the afternoon warmed. I was able to remove my gloves and unzip my coat. Yesterday, it will likely go down in the annals of West Cove days as the day I stepped on a dead, rotten, beached skunk. That was surely yesterday's most dramatic moment. I found two specimens of a pelecypod I've never seen in the cove before, Cerastoderma pinnulatum (the Small cockle). I found a few good bird bones, including another cormorant beak. We stayed until late, then headed back to the city.

On the way home, I watched the moon through my Orion 10x42 monocular. Of course, this weekend's moon is Big News, but it really was beautiful. I could identify so many landmarks: mountains, craters, basins, etc., all in reflected silver and shades of grey. We stopped by the market, and were home before dark.

There are photos from yesterday, below the cut (at the end of the entry).

---

I won't write about the post-novel depression, just now, and certainly not the whys of it. It only gets worse when you look directly at it, or speak its name.

There's always an odd sort of embarrassment when I see a review of an anthology, and the reviewer hated most of the book, but really loved my contribution. Case in point, a review of Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded at Green Man Reviews. The book reprints "The Steam Dancer (1896)," and the reviewer writes:

It’s a beautiful achievement, this story, a very human, rather squalid life offered for our perusal in terms that are neither sentimental nor cruel, managing an effect at once intimate and remote. Now there’s so much that’s peddled as artistic today simply because it’s depressing that I must stress that this tale is depressing, in a quiet sort of way… but that’s not what makes it art. What makes it art is the command of voice and personality Kiernan displays, the things she says and the things she leaves unsaid, and the fact that she can deliver this character-driven gem while still conjuring up a whole world of clanking, steam-driven marvels in the background, almost all through hints and allusions. This story lingers. I hope it gets a good deal of attention; it deserves to.

Okay, aside from the snarky, bizarre "so much that’s peddled as artistic today simply because it’s depressing" bit, very nice. I continue to believe "The Steam Dancer (1896)" is, in fact, one of my best stories.

Also, I've seen a review of The Ammonite Violin & Others by ST Joshi that I think will be appearing in Dead Reckonings (I think). Also, very flattering. A short excerpt:

Purely on the level of prose, Kiernan already ranks with the most distinctive stylists of our field—Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, Lord Dunsany, Thomas Ligotti. With Ligotti’s regrettable retreat into fictional silence, hers is now the most recognizable voice in weird fiction. No one is ever likely to mistake a sentence by Caitlín R. Kiernan for a sentence by any other writer.

That ought to cheer me up, right? I know that it should. But...

---

Also, yesterday I read David H. Keller's "The Jelly-Fish" and F. Marion Crawford's "For the Blood is the Life." Neither was very good, but the latter was almost unreadable in its dullness. Also read, from the last JVP, "A new partial skeleton of a cryptocleidoid plesiosaur from the Upper Jurassic Sundance Formation of Wyoming" and "A possible azhdarchid pterosaur from the Lower Cretaceous Qingshan Group of Laiyang, Shandong, China."

Right. I'm not supposed to work today. That's the truth. I just don't know what I'm supposed to do, instead, to busy my restless, fretting mind.

Here are yesterday's photographs:

18 March 2011 )
greygirlbeast: (Mars from Earth)
Sonya and I are reading through The Dry Salvages (Subterranean Press, 2004). It's the last real hurdle in finishing up editing Two Worlds and In Between.

There's a lot of ancient history here.

The Dry Salvages (for those who do not know) is a very short sf novel about the ill-fated exploration of an extrasolar moon — Piros, which orbits a planet named Cecrops. It's dystopian, dark, tense, a bit Lovecraftian, heavily influenced by the cyberpunks and New Wave writers, with a big Stanislaw Lem influence, and pretty much devoid of optimism. I did an enormous amount of work on it, and went to great lengths to get all the science as right as I could get it. The physics, paleontology, robotics, astronomy, geology, biology, engineering, mathematics...everything. I enlisted the aid of people knowledgeable in areas where my own expertise was lacking.

The book meant a lot to me. I was weary of writing dark fantasy and wanted to make a switch to sf. So, I had a lot riding on critical and reader reaction to the book. I likely had somewhat unrealistic expectations. Subterranean Press did wonderful things to promote the novel. It got a grand cover from Ryan Oberymeyer:


The Dry Salvages, Copyright © 2004 by Ryan Obermeyer


The review that meant the most to me, the one I awaited with bated breath, was the Locus review. It finally arrived. And it wasn't exactly glowing. Moreover, it had been written by a reviewer for whom I had (and still have) a good deal of respect. Whether or not I should have been, I was...I still don't know the right word for the way I felt. Confused, mostly. I'd never gotten a bad Locus review. Even The Five of Cups had received a good review. But Locus is, first and foremost, a magazine devoted to sf, and this was sf, and now I was playing in the Big Leagues. And I think the way I felt was that I'd been told to stay in my place. Indeed, the review included a line which I shall paraphrase, as I don't have the actual text on hand (those files are in storage): "This is what happens when horror writers try to write science fiction." I'm sure that's not an exact quote, but I think it's the exact sentiment. To be fair, the reviewer did not think the book was entirely without merit, just not up to the standards of contemporary literary sf.

Though I am absolutely certain it was not the reviewer's intent, the review had an immediate and chilling effect on me. I believed he knew what he was talking about, and so obviously I'd blown it. I resolved to stick to dark fantasy (my agent hadn't wanted me writing sf, anyway, but that's another story).

The Dry Salvages sold well, and there was even a weird bit of business with a Very Big Hollywood Production Company of which nothing ever came. I still wrote sf short stories, many of which appeared in my 2009 sf collection, A is for Alien (which I don't think Locus even reviewed). But I haven't tried to write another piece of sf even half as ambitious as The Dry Salvages. (And no, I do not believe that was the reviewer's desired effect; not at all.)

And now, more than six years after that review, I'm reading The Dry Salvages for the first time since I sent the final manuscript to subpress (I didn't read it after it appeared in print). And I'm reading it with fresh eyes, almost as if it were written by another author. We're halfway through, and I'm delighted with it. Anyone who knows me, or who's read this journal for a while, knows I'm one of my own harshest critics, and that I usually grow unhappy with a story or novel after only a few years. But...I'm enjoying The Dry Salvages.

And this is the perfectly fucking obvious thing that I am concluding: Reviewers whom you respect, whom you very often — but not always — agree with, can be very wrongheaded. For years I believed what that review said about this book, but reading it now, I see that I was mistaken, as was the reviewer. Is it "hard" sf? Well, sort of, but not exactly. It's not space opera, but there's far more emphasis on wonder and awe and the perils of space travel to the human mind than there is on tech. It's also not the recently fashionable "mundane" sf, which eschewed space travel and alien contact. But the science is good, and the writing's some of my best from that period.

And the review was wrongheaded. This doesn't mean the reviewer doesn't often offer valuable insight about books. It just means that, in this instance, a book failed to measure up in their eyes (and, in part, I think that's because there was a strong and mistaken preconception that I was a "horror writer"). But, the only real fault here was my reaction. No review should ever make you waver the way I did in the wake of that review.

And now, reading The Dry Salvages again after all these years, I'm reclaiming it. I did a good job. And maybe someday I'll write another sf story like it, of that length and scope.

Regardless, very soon the story will be in print again, and as I read it tonight, I'm glad of that.

No hard feelings.

P.S.: With all due respect, I AM NOT A HORROR WRITER!
greygirlbeast: (white)
Rain again today, washing away yesterday's snow and the snow beneath it. Spring lurches towards New England, a slushy, ugly beast.

In yesterday's entry, I alluded to a small adventure I'd be undertaking. It turned out to be not quite as small as I'd thought it would be, but still, there were no obvious lost tombs or trolls or feats of daring do. The snow, being light, and so much of the old heavy snow having been washed away, finally gave me the chance to visit Rolling Dam in the Blackstone Gorge. Which, of course, is very near the most important locale in The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, but which I'd only seen in autumn and summer. Spooky wasn't happy about making the drive over all the gaping potholes that used to be roads, but I had Hubero hold Charlie Monkey hostage, so she went along with the plan.

We drove through Woonsocket, and stopped at the huge dam at Thundermist Falls. The easternmost spillway was closed for repairs of some sort, which made the view slightly less magnificent, but only slightly less so. They got more snow in Woonsocket, about three or four inches. The sky above was the palest velvety blue-grey, like another shade of snow, and the water coming over the dam and slamming loudly against the granite was an ocher green. All across Woonsocket, the old mills were frosted, and I could almost imagine the city before the decay of its industry.

We continued on to Massachusetts and Millville and to the spot by Rolling Dam where we always park. The snow here was maybe five or six inches (still, nothing at all for this winter). A man was shouldering a heavy backpack to make the hike to the gorge proper. We settled for Rolling Dam. This winter, it's a beauty I didn't grow up with, and it startles, disarms, and delights me. I've always found the still, deep water above the dam ominous, but it was more so than ever yesterday. Just north of the dam, the river was frozen over, back where it gets a bit swampy. I made notes, and we took photos. There were crows everywhere, and Spooky spotted a raptorial bird of some sort perched in the trees across the river.

By the time we made it back to Providence, it was late afternoon, maybe four-thirty p.m., maybe five. I got back to work. We proofed "Rats Live On No Evil Star" for Two Worlds and In Between. It's one of the few stories I wrote in the nineties (it was written in '97) that I still love.

Here are photos from the drive (behind the cut):

27 February 2011 )


---

Today will be Assembly Day for Sirenia Digest #63. My great thanks to everyone who took part in the Question @ Hand challenge.

Here's a rather wonderful piece on The Red Tree, written by Lynda E. Rucker. One of the best I've seen written, actually, as it's no mere review, and doesn't waste words regurgitating the plot: "An Appreciation of Caitlin R. Kiernan's The Red Tree"

As for the Oscars, I was mostly pleased. I was very pleased that awards went to Shaun Tan and to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and to Natalie Portman. I wasn't so happy with Best Director (should have gone to Aronofsky), Actor (should have gone to Jeff Bridges), and Picture (should have gone to Black Swan or True Grit), but everything before that was pretty good. I hear some guy named James Franco made an ass of himself.

Gods, lots more...but it's gonna have to wait until another entry. Time to make the doughnuts.
greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
1) Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. We're in one of those dry spells between checks.

2) Now, before I forget again, the latest StarShipSofa includes a reading of "Galápagos." It's a pretty good reading. Merrick comes off a little too perky for a woman whose been through the hell she's been through, but the reader gets many words in many languages right, and that wins very big points with me.

3) The wind is a wild thing today. The wind is always a wild thing, but today it's throwing a wild rumpus out there. Speeds at 25mph, but gusting to 55mph. The house keeps moving, swaying. These old walls are reinforced with steel bands for protection against hurricanes, and days like this I'm grateful. Much of the snow has melted, though it's cold again, currently 35˚F (but feels like 21˚F). I shall be staying in today, thank you very much.

4) Yesterday, we actually did manage to make it all the way through the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. Go, Spooky! She read all 24,765 words of that aloud, and had to contend with my constantly asking her to stop for this or that line edit. It all holds together much better than I thought, and now I have the confidence, I hope, to proceed with the eighth chapter and then the ninth.

5) I'm reasonably certain that I'll be writing my YA books as Kathleen Tierney. That has mostly been my decision. I'll continue to write short fiction, novellas, etc. as Caitlín R. Kiernan.

6) People do not mean to set me off. Well, at least sometimes it's clear they don't. Case in point: Last night, [livejournal.com profile] chris_walsh posted a link to a review of the Decemberists' The King is Dead (in the comments to my blog), a review written by someone named Ezra Ace Caraeff and published in The Portland Mercury (February 17, 2011). It was not, I know, [livejournal.com profile] chris_walsh's wish to set me off, but the very first paragraph got me so angry I spent much of the night bitching about it (much to Spooky's chagrin). The review begins by slamming The Hazards of Love as a "turgid rock opera." But then it gets really stupid. I quote:

Their determined song cycle put the story before the music, and its confusing plotline (with its forest creatures, fauns, and fairies, Hazards might as well have come pre-packaged with 12-sided dice and a wizard's cloak) distracted from both the band's melodic craft and frontman Colin Meloy's penchant for creating lyrics that have left many a weak-kneed listener and dog-eared thesaurus in their wake.

As kids these days are wont to say, o.0. Or something like that. The Hazards of Love is one of the most amazing musical accomplishments of the last decade, and it pains me to see how little vision there is in the world. Also, when will we learn to stop letting doofus hipsters write indie music reviews? Of course, then no one would write them. Of course...that would be a good thing, right? Yes, The King is Dead is excellent, but it's nowhere near the marvel the band achieved with The Hazards of Love (though, I admit, I love my dodecahedral dice). Regardless, I do not blame you, [livejournal.com profile] chris_walsh.

7) My editor at Penguin wrote me yesterday about the recycled cover fiasco. In the end, it was pretty anticlimactic, as I'd expected it would be. I was told "It’s actually not that uncommon, as we only buy the rights to use the art on our books in the territories we have. The artist owns the work itself. So sometimes artists will sell the same painting or a similar painting to a foreign publisher for a different book, or sell the image for a greeting card or a calendar or something. I know it’s disconcerting to come across, though. I’m double-checking with our art director that the artist sold this legitimately, but I haven’t heard back yet." Of course, Penguin buys just about every territory on earth. But not Romania. By the way, the artist in question is Gene Mollica, and I'm told he has a website out there somewhere, though I have no wish to see it. It's all business as usual, and business as usual is pretty much always a slipshod, disheartening affair. Regardless, I don't blame my editor for this. She didn't make those rules.

8) Last night, after I plowed through all 55 quests in Azshara and started in on Desolace (still determined to get the title Loremaster before leaving WoW), I signed up for the Rift beta, and Spooky gave me a few minutes on her laptop. I rolled a Kelari mage named Selwyn and a Bahmi cleric named Shaharrazad (the name lives on! Arrakis, Azeroth, and now Telara). And I played a couple of levels. And...damn. The game is astounding. Everything I saw about this game is astounding. And beautiful. The best character generator I have ever seen, bar none. It was hard to go back to the candy-colored, cartoon silliness of WoW, with all its poo jokes and puns. But...I'll just soldier on and keep my sights on the spring. Of course, Rift isn't idiot proof. No MMORPG ever will be. For example, there was some Kelari woman named Mayonnaise in the starting area with me last night. I'm sure her typist though she or he was being terribly clever.

9) Yesterday, while we were reading, the door to the front stairwell mysteriously opened. We're pretty sure Hubero used his brain to make it open. And, of course, he was out in a flash, and Spooky had to chase him up and down the stairs. I came out and pulled the door shut behind me. And it locked. Fortunately, the guy downstairs is good at picking locks, so we were back inside in only about five minutes. Screw you, Houdini cat!

And now....doughnuts. Comments!
greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
I should make this short and quick, but I probably won't make it either one. [livejournal.com profile] readingthedark is coming to visit this evening, and I have things to get done beforehand. This will be the first company and the first face-to-face contact with someone, other than Spooky, that I've had since the first week of October, I think. I don't do this on purpose, the reclusive thing. Mostly, it just happens. Usually, I don't notice until after its happened.

Yesterday, work for Dark Horse (details TBA), and more work on Two Worlds and In Between. Tying up lose ends. Tomorrow or Sunday, I'll be going back to work on The Drowning Girl. I'll be going into "novel hiding." Significant progress will be made in December.

The Dancy Box auction continues to amaze me and make me grateful. Thank you, bidders. Not only will the income be greatly appreciate, but Spooky and I both put a lot into the project, and it's good to see it so well received.

---

Yesterday, I stumbled across a review of The Ammonite Violin & Others, at SFRevu, that I'd not seen before. It is, generally, a very, very positive review, and I should note that up front. However, it contains one very odd bit that I've been mulling over ever since I read it. Mario Guslandi (I'm pretty sure this isn't the first time he's baffled me with a review) writes: "Some stories are simply beautiful, others tedious and smug to such an extent to make it irritating and almost unbearable to read them."

I'll ignore "irritating," though it's certainly vague, and Guslandi makes no attempt to explain himself. But "smug"? Really? Smug as in "Exhibiting or feeling great or offensive satisfaction with oneself or with one's situation; self-righteously complacent"? Does he mean that the author comes across as smug, or that the stories in question do? Or the characters in those stories? I admit I am utterly perplexed at the comment. If anyone out there can point me to a smug story in The Ammonite Violin & Others, I'd be thankful.

Oh, wait. I knew that name was familiar (thank you, Google). Guslandi's the same guy who reviewed To Charles Fort, With Love and declared, "One can seldom find an author capable of either delighting or boring her readers with the same ease as Catlin Kiernan..."

Smug. Smug stories. I admit, it's an interesting concept, whatever it might mean.

---

Last night, we watched Jamin Winans' Ink (2009). The dvd was a gift from Jennifer Szczublewski. At least, I think it was. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Anyway, wow. What a superb, beautiful, disarming film. A triumph of indie fantasy film making. Winans wrote the screenplay, directed and edited the film, composed its original score (especially stunning), and co-produced Ink with his wife, Kiowa K. Winans, and an assistant producer, Laura Wright –all on a shoestring budget. The acting is a little wobbly here and there, but I really have no other complaint, and that one pales in comparison to the whole. This is a fairy tale. A children's story told for adults, a thing that has always fascinated me. It's filled with moments of pure magic, and some genuinely terrifying imagery. You need to see this film. I note that you can currently stream it from Netflix for free. Do so. Ink is no end of marvelous.

Later, we played WoW, leveling our orcs, Gárona and Margdah, to 29.5 or so. And after that, Spooky read to me from [livejournal.com profile] blackholly's The Poison Eaters and Other Stories. We made it through three of the tales— "The Coldest Girl in Cold Town," "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," and the title story. "The Coldest Girl in Cold Town" is one of those very rare things, a vampire story that actually has emotional depth and something to say. Loved it, and almost wish it had been Chapter One of a novel. And "The Poison Eaters" manages an exquisite marriage of beauty, revenge, murder, and the grotesque.

---

I took a lot of random photos yesterday. I carried one of the cameras around with me, and just took a photo whenever the mood struck me. I got the idea from "A Day in the Life". Anyway, here are the results (there's a whole lot of grainy, because I didn't want to use the flash):

2 December 2010 )
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Yes, a new name for the blog. Names come and names go. They can have no more permanence than may faces. Yesterday, I was seized by the need for a change, so thank you, Elvis Costello. Also, I think I won't much longer feel like "greygirlbeast." I think, in my older years, I may simply become "Aunt Beast" (thank you, Madeleine L'Engle and also Joah). If the shoe fits...but sadly, I don't think I can ever change the name of this account.*

There's a rather marvelous review at Zone-SF.com, one of the best I've read of The Red Tree. I have only one quibble, and it's that the reviewer veers off course near the end by assuming knowledge of authorial intent. I do not see The Red Tree as a book meant to go "raising those hairs on the back of the neck." If it does that for you, fine. But do not expect that effect. I'm not the one who labels me "horror" (or whatever). And yeah, this does matter. If a reader perceives a text as existing within a given genre, then they burden it with the expectations of that genre, shoeboxing it and expecting it to deliver X or Y or Z, when it's very likely the author was going for Q or G. Any book may only fail or succeed on its own merits, not relative to any other book, or based on how well it works when perceived as any given genre.

Still, a really good review. And I hope I don't sound ungrateful, because I don't mean to. But the Constant Reader will recall what a sore spot this is for me.

---

Now, the Mars story. It would seem that I was asking one too many stories of myself this autumn. And the story wasn't coming...again. Even after I reshelved "Romeo and Juliet Go to Mars" and began "On a Lee Shore." I lost a week staring at the screen, and staring, and not writing. Fortunately, the anthology's editor (both TBA) has accepted "Tidal Forces" in lieu of a Mars story. So, all's well that ends well (even though I did lose that week). Now, I just have to get Sirenia Digest written, and get back to work on The Drowning Girl. Oh, and pull together the ms. for Two Worlds and In Between for subpress. That's not so much...

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Bid if you are able and so inclined. Still recovering from the joys of income taxes. Thanks.

---

So...Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The highlights. Well, on Friday, I tried to write a Mars story, but I've covered that already. I also got a really big box of Mike Mignola books from Rachel Edidin at Dark Horse Comics, who it seems may soon be my editor. I've already devoured the first two "library editions" of Hellboy. "Pancakes" is sheer brilliance. The books were the best bit of Friday. Reading the comics, I'd swear Mignola wrote the character with Ron Perlman in mind.

On Saturday, it became obvious to me the Mars story wasn't happening any time soon, and I contacted the aforementioned editor. Also, we watched the latest episode of Fringe, which was especially good.

Yesterday, we left the House. I'd not been out since the 9th, and the weather was good (today, it's not). We just wandered about town, east of the river. There were antique shops on Wickenden Street, and another trip to What Cheer at Wayland Square. There was an exquisitely embellished old car. There was an Indian grocery on Hope Street. We saw a sad clown driving a car. There were late splashes of autumn. There were two wonderful toy shops. We were good kids, and bought nothing. So, a good day, despite my agoraphobia, despite my ouranophobia. I kept my eyes on the ground, and all was well. Okay, not the entire time. I had to look up the three times Spooky spotted sundogs. But sundogs do not inspire dread or unease. It was a good day.

Back home, there were deli sandwiches, and I spent most of the evening with City of Heroes and Villains (while Spooky played LOTR Online; it's weird, us playing two different MMORPGs). My thanks to [livejournal.com profile] stsisyphus for giving me a lot of help last night actually learning how to play the game. Verily, he has the patience of a glacier. And thanks to "Sekhmet" and "Enth'lye" for very good rp later on. Lizbeth, who is Erzébetta from the future, is regaining her glamour, even as she realizes she's not from the same timeline as this Erzébetta. Mistakes were made, which is why you should never try this at home, that whole fiddling with time thing. You never know which of the multiverses you'll land in...or create. Oh, very good rp on Saturday night, which was mostly Erzébetta and Sekhmet reliving the horror (yes, here the word applies) of a long ago night at Castle Csejte (near Trencín, Hungary), what really happened.

I will not thank Monsieur Insomnia, who kept me awake until after 5 ayem (CaST).

Sincerely Yours, By Any Other Name,
Aunt Beast

...I am a goat girl.
Thinking goatish thoughts, dreaming goatish dreams,
Digging up tin cans, and chewing on your sleeve.
—— Tanya Donelly

14 November 2010 )


* I see that "auntbeast" is taken, but "aunt_beast" is not.

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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