greygirlbeast: (Default)
Well, the results of my experiment were interesting, though not especially dramatic. I was up until sometime just after five. The sky was swiftly brightening, the way it does here. Almost like someone throws a switch. And just after five, I finally lay down. I hadn't expected to fall asleep. I was lying in bed, listening to Brendan Perry, and drifted off. Partly, I suspect this was the result of my overwhelming exhaustion, partly the result of my efforts not to get anxious about sunrise, and partly because I spent half an hour reading cosmology.

Regardless, I slept. Until 10 ayem, when a very noisy landscaper, turning green space next door into a vast field of gravel, awoke me with a cacophony of ungodsly scrapey and drilly sounds. Spooky had already yelled out the window at the guy, "Get off your damn cellphone," or something of the sort. So, she was up. I grumped about a bit and returned to bed, where I managed to sleep until almost noon. I'm guessing a total of 6.5 hours. Not bad at all, and no nasty hangover. Too bad it won't last, but then nothing ever does.

---

They will write of her, "She was one of the last great voices on LiveJournal."

---

Yesterday, despite the fact I was too strung out to get anything done, I proceeded to answer Two Important Emails. Then I did line edits on "Fake Plastic Trees" for [livejournal.com profile] ellen_datlow (and Terri Windling). And then, kittens, I wrote 1,443 words on "Figurehead" for Sirenia Digest #67. Oh, and then I sent enough of the piece to Vince that he could go ahead and get to work on an illustration before I actually finish the story (which it has become, as it clearly had no desire to be a vignette). I have proven zombies can be productive writers. Whoosh!

After that, um...wait. I'll remember. Oh, yeah. Spooky made chili while I had a half hour nap. After dinner, we told Rift it could live without us One Damn Night. So, we watched James Cameron's Terminator (1984) and the director's cut of Terminator 2 (1991). The former holds up well, despite all the ridiculous eighties clothing and hair and some laughable animatronics. It's sort of funny seeing a baby Bill Paxton right at the beginning (he shows up in the credits as "Punk Leader"). Anyway, seeing the two films back to back set me to thinking about how my favorite Cameron films almost always have director's cuts, which I usually like better than the theatrical releases: Aliens, Terminator 2, and Avatar. Admittedly, these are long films made longer, but like the director's cuts of Jackson's LotR films, the editing and pacing in the director's cuts is always vastly smoother and more logical.

And that was yesterday.

The month is almost over, and it's almost time to announce the next book in Aunt Beast's Book of the Month Club. I hope at least some of you have read and appreciated Kathe Koja's Under the Poppy. In a perfect world, I'd send out merit badges for each book completed.

It's warm here in Providence. Beginning to get hot here in the house. I need to go to the shore. But not this weekend. Memorial Day and Brown Graduation and all. A shame we were not able to make a few good trips down before tourist season began, but until about four days ago it was still winter.

Pretty Much Awake,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Finally, finally April is here. At the end of May. Temperatures in the high and mid '70s F. The windows are open. The birds are tweeting. The squirrels are fucking. This makes everything better.

Okay, kittens. I haven't actually seen any squirrels fucking. That's an inference, I admit.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,392 words on Blood Oranges. I have never before written anything so funny that Spooky couldn't read it aloud, or that had me laughing so hard I was in tears. So that was strange. Oh, and if you buy into that old adage that it's bad to be the sort of person who laughs at her own jokes, you're a moron. Or at least deluded. If it doesn't make me laugh, how can I expect it to make anyone else laugh? I have about 3,500 words to go to finish Chapter Two, which is maybe two days worth of hard writing, a big push. Then, Sirenia Digest #67! Whoosh!

Just learned that we'll be seeing Brendan Perry and Robyn Guthrie in Boston next week! Woosh!

I must tell you, also, that Spooky is having a CRK's Birthday Sale on her jewelry and one doll (Cassandra) at her Dreaming Squid and Sundries Etsy shop, and shipping is FREE, and everything selling fast, so have a look. You really need to see her new Alice's Adventures in Wonderland glass-vial pendants. There's a coupon code you'll need to use at checkout: CRKBIRTHDAY

Last night's dinner (at India on Hope Street) went very, very well. Joshi and his girlfriend, Mary, along with Johnathan Thomas, and Brian Evenson. Oh, and me and Spooky, of course. Much delicious food was eaten, and there was marvelous conversation while a Bollywood film played in the background. I think I'll have a photo to post eventually. Mary took it, so I have to wait for her and S. T. to get back to Seattle.

And then there's tomorrow. The 47th birthday. The day on which I am to be 47 years and 9 months old (I always force myself to include those 9 months, and no, that doesn't change my pro-choice stance). As Jada said to me recently, "Who'd have ever thought we'd make it this long?" Which is pretty much my sentiment. It wasn't supposed to go this way, but this way it has gone.

I really am beginning to think I might have broken my left big toe while we were in Manhattan. A sane, not impoverished, well-insured person would go to the doctor for X-rays and whatnot and incur a thousand dollar bill to learn nothing can really be done. Not I, said the Little Red Hen*. Me, I just take Tylenol and marvel at how much a toe can hurt.

Last night, after we got home, we Rifted (new verb) and Selwyn and Miisya, with the help of [livejournal.com profile] stsisyphus's rogue, Celinn, quested in the beautiful wilds of Ironpine Peak. The most amazingly realized region I've seen in Rift (or any other game). Miisya reached Level 42. I took some screencaps I'll post in a day or two. Also, hey, WE HAVE A GUILD and YOU COULD BE PLAYING WITH US. No fooling. I don't believe for a New-York minute that there are not many gamers among my readers. And if you're not sure Rift is your thing, there is now a FREE trial. Oh, last night at dinner I learned that Brian Evenson is also an MMORPG geek, so I felt not so alone and nerdy.

Okay. Gotta make the doughnuts.

Laconically,
Aunt Beast

* Yeah, yeah. Poetic license.
greygirlbeast: (white)
Passed out last night as soon as Spooky stopped reading, which must have been about 3:15, or maybe 3:30. So, lots of sleep, and I'm sort of disoriented. We tried a new schedule last night, Rift then movie, instead of the other way round, with reading remaining as the thing that's done just before sleep. I doubt that had anything to do with me crashing like that. I'm just exhausted. But the new arrangement did seem to get us into bed earlier, and I was more awake while we played. Selwyn and Miisya are both Level 41 now.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,720 words on Blood Oranges. Also, [livejournal.com profile] sovay read Chapter One and approved.

I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about how this book began (as a joke in the blog) and what it is now. And about comedy. And parody. And such. See, I maintain that it's very hard to do comedy at length. Usually, comedy (in the funny hah-hah, not the Greek dramatic sense) can only be maintained for a short time, after which it simply ceases to be...funny. Example: Back in the late '70s and early '80s, during the Golden Age of Saturday Night Live, I never missed an episode. But, they often had this problem where a skit was fucking hilarious for, say, ten minutes, but it went on for twenty. As though they'd begun a really good joke, but had no idea where the punchline lay. So, that's one reason I fear comedy. Timing is everything. And – if you ask me – comedy should pretty much never be used for "relief," as it often is. Here's an example, from Alien: Resurrection. Number 8 has just torched the lab where deformed Number 7 lay in unimaginable agony. Big, horrific, emotional scene. Then:

Johner (Ron Perlman) looks in at the burning lab.

JOHNER

What's the big deal? Fucking waste of ammo.

CHRISTIE (Gary Dourdan)

Let's go.

JOHNER

Must be a chick thing.


Now, this is exactly what you never do with comedy – or almost never. There aren't hard and fast guidelines, because this is art, not craft. But you do not use it to sabotage a scene this way, to pull the reader/audience back from the precipice of...oh, I don't know...feeling something genuine that might make them uncomfortable? Joss Whedon (whom I generally adore) can be especially bad about this. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series) is a study in using the funny to trip yourself up as a storyteller. Comedy has a place, but it's place isn't everywhere all the time, and it's place isn't as an upper in the middle of a downer. Levity should not always be injected. Dilution is not mandatory. Tension may be allowed to build (and often should be), until it is all but unendurable. In a very dark film, comedy should only be injected in very rare, case-by-case situations. As it is, the relationship between horror and comedy is so intimate that they both become, at times, almost indistinguishable – without intentionally shoving one into the other.

All this is relevant because, like "The Maltese Unicorn," Blood Oranges began life as one thing, a one-line joke, and it's sort of becoming another thing. I don't precisely know the word for that something. A lot of it's funny, but I never force it to be funny, and at times it's very grim. It constantly takes jabs at the genre, but is very much working inside that same genre. It's not a spoof, a satire, or a parody (even if that was the original idea). It's more like what Tarantino is doing with, say, Kill Bill. Which gets complicated when you try to explain it, but looks easy as hell on the screen.

Can you imagine a 100-k word one-liner?

I'll come back to this.

Anyway....

Saw Brad Anderson's Transsiberian (2008) last night. A very taut thriller. Which, by the way, didn't constantly pause to shoot itself in the foot with comedic relief. I think it's the best thing I've seen Ben Kingsley do, the best performance I've seen him deliver, since Sexy Beast (2000).

Sunny and essentially warmish today.

Now, I should go. We're having dinner tonight with S. T. Joshi. And there are words in my way.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Cloudy, cold. Green. Green Spring, but not spring. Not spring sensu familiari. Sonya, please correct my Latin if it's too atrocious. Or my English, for that matter. I'm only a poor juggler of words. I squeeze them, and various sounds are released: melodious, hideous, alluring, repulsive, alarming, discordant, anti-harmonic, mucosal, beatific, soothing, ad infinitum, ad nauseum, and so forth, and on and on and on. Meow.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,392 words on Chapter One of Blood Oranges and found the chapter's end. Which should not be mistaken for THE END. Today, Kathryn and I will read back over the whole of it, I'll do a quick polish, then send it to my agent. That's a complete chapter in a mere six days. 9,546 words. Immediately after finishing "The Carnival is Dead and Gone" and getting Sirenia Digest #65 out to subscribers, which I did immediately after finishing "Fake Plastic Trees," which I wrote immediately after the story for Dark Horse, which happened almost right after getting Sirenia Digest #64 out, which came on the heels of the Great Four-Day Editing Marathon of 2011 (involving both The Drowning Girl: A Memoir and Two Worlds and In Between), which happened almost as soon as I'd finished writing The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. Which takes me back to...Monday, March 7th. Yes, after today, I think that I should take a few days off. Of course, I'll likely spend them cleaning, because when all I do is work – and Spooky, too – the place becomes all shamblefied. Well, it ought to be a word.

The "Question @ Hand" poll is now closed. There were 39 "yes" votes (88.6%), and only 5 (11.4%) "no" votes. So, I suppose I'll give it another shot. This is a very small sampling of the subscribers, and the results are in no way "scientific." But, there you go. I'll probably pose the next Question @ Hand in July, I'm thinking. Beforehand, I may ask for suggestions.

Yesterday, I read one article from the January JVP – "Three-dimensional pelvis and limb anatomy of the Cenomanian hind-limbed snake Epodophis descouensi (Squamata, Ophidia) revealed by synchrotron-radiation computed laminography."

The cat from downstairs came calling, unexpectedly, last night. Hubero is only just recovering.

Last night, we watched Pieter Van Hees' Linkeroever (Left Bank, 2008). It's a film that had tremendous potential. It has moments – entire scenes – that rank up there with, say, Låt den rätte komma in or Sauna. And, as someone mentioned, there's some undeniable overlap with The Red Tree. Ultimately, though, it falls apart, largely in the last few minutes. I can forgive the paganophobic crutch, the one that was so commonly employed during in the 1970s (think The Wicker Man or Harvest Home), but the Linkeroever's last scene – the childbirth scene – makes literal what should have remain implied. All mystery is destroyed. Explanation undoes the inexplicable. Truthfully, if the film had chosen to eschew the scary pagans trope, and if we'd only been left with the problem of an apartment building with a secret history and a Very Bad Place for a cellar, the film might have been brilliant. There was some remarkably disturbing imagery, some of it subtle, some of it not so subtle, but all of it struggling against the rather silly nonsense about the archery lodge and ancient Celtic blood sacrifices, and then all of it shot in the head by that ridiculous final scene. I do recommend you watch this film, but I also recommend you switch off the DVD as Marie is struggling to escape the cavern, as she screams and the light seems to be taking her apart. Stop it. Right there.

And we did some rp in Rift, a scene with four players, which is proving that patience and skill can spin good roleplay from the game. So, that was nice. Oh, and now there's a FREE trial (which Trion should have had from the start).

CASSIE: Hey. Good dream? Let me guess. The surface of the sun. Only dream I ever have. Every time I close my eyes, it's always the same.

Off to do the word thing.
greygirlbeast: (CatvonD vamp)
Maybe it was premature of me to say that Providence has made the transition from Cold Spring to Spring Proper. Or, it may be that there needs to be a third and intermediate formal subdivision: Green Spring. That is, May, when it's finally fucking green out there, but people think it's warm when the temperature rises into the high sixties. Like today. Tomorrow, back into the fifties.

At least there's sunlight today.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,662 words on Blood Oranges. I know how the chapter ends now, and should be able to finish it by tomorrow evening.

If you're a Sirenia Digest subscriber and haven't voted in the "Question @ Hand" Poll, please do, and thanks.

I've been trying to manage more reading and less gaming. There's Under the Poppy, and the latest issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. Yesterday, from the latter, I read "Nuralagus rex, gen. et. sp. nov., an endemic insular giant rabbit from the Neogene of Minorca (Balearic Islands, Spain)." Imagine a rabbit ten times the size of modern cottontails, only it doesn't hop and doesn't have long ears. Also, reading Curt Stager's Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth and Jane P. Davidson's A History of Paleontology Illustration. But also gaming. Last night, we neglected Selwyn and Miisya, and played our Guardian high elves. Though the godbothering is fierce, I have in mind a storyline for our guild that involves making contact with a group of Guardians who have grown distrustful of their leaders and who doubt the Vigil, and who suspect they're not being told the truth about a lot of things, including what happened in Scion. So, I need characters of sufficiently high levels to reach areas where interfactional rp can occur.

Yes! Cross-faction rp. Which you can actually do in Rift. It's just a shame the game designers didn't allow for a far more realistic and inevitable scenario involving defections from one side to the other (only on RP servers), and also a loose confederation of the Undeclared, consisting of those who won't take a side. Would have been much more interesting. Anyway, yes, we have a guild, "Eyes of the Faceless Man," Defiant side, on the Shadefallen Shard. We'd love a few more members, and I know some of you game, and you should know Rift as good as it gets in terms of high fantasy/S&S MMORPG. Whatever faults it may have, Rift leaves WoW in the dust.

---

Last night, was apparently devoted to creepy movies from 1987. First, we watched Alan Parker's Angel Heart, which, somehow, I'd never seen. It's a beautifully shot and acted film, but I think the ending gets heavy handed. We didn't need the yellow contact lenses. We also watched Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark, which, of course, I've seen about a hundred times, though in about twenty years. There are still some marvelous moments in the film, and Lance Henriksen is wonderful. But it falls apart as a whole, and I'm starting to think I should stop watching eighties horror films, which rarely ever measure up to my memories of them.

---

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Thanks. Also, Spooky's made a really marvelous new necklace, which is up in her Dreaming Squid Dollworks and Sundries Etsy shop, and which you can see here.

And now, words.
greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
The tree outside my office window is finally greening.

It's Saturday, and I'm locked inside. Please comment.

And this is one of the days when I chafe at the tyranny of my pill bottles and boxes. I'd like to open the window and drop them out. Fuck you, defective brain chemistry. Let the pieces fall where they may, but at least they'd be my pieces. Not a pharmaceutical hybrid always telling me that's my face in the mirror, when I know better.

Fuck you, 47.

---

Yesterday, I wrote 1,599 words on Chapter One of Blood Oranges. My plan is to have the first chapter finished by Wednesday, and then set the book aside until September. Which is, I know, a weird way to write a book, but another book needs to be written in between. And maybe when I come back to Blood Oranges at the end of the summer, I'll have figured out everything that happens after Chapter One.

---

I've made it almost all the way through the latest JVP, articles on Cenomanian squamates in France, the skull of the Early Triassic parareptile Sauropareion, saber-toothed cats from the Pleistocene of Venezuela, the therapsid Promoschorynchus, and a new Lower Carboniferous xenacanthiform shark from Australia.

---

Night before last, we watched Tony Scott's Unstoppable (2010), which is the other movie about trouble with trains he made, immediately after having done the remake of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009). Both, of course, star Denzel Washington. Anyway, Unstoppable is good, and Washington is always a joy to watch. But, Chris Pine is dull as engine sludge, and it's a different sort of film than The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. As much as I enjoyed Unstoppable, I found myself wishing for the electricity that had sparked back and forth between that film's antagonist and protagonist. But the presence of Rosario Dawson (who played Abernathy in Death Proof) helped.

Last night, we watched two "horror" movies. The first was an entirely enjoyable and stupendously ridiculous Joel Schumacher film, Blood Creek (2009). Rednecks in Virginia fight a zombie demon Nazi occultist in a big scary house where time has stood still since 1940. And there's a zombie horse that, honest to fuck, is one of the scariest things I've seen in ages. I expected nothing from this film, and liked it a lot. It's much more artful than it has any right to be. See it.

We also watched Kevin Costner in Luis Berdejo's The New Daughter, which is very remotely based on a short story by John Connolly. All that said, it really isn't very good, which should surprise no one, as Kevin Costner hasn't, to my knowledge, been in a good movie since 1993 (A Perfect World, directed by Clint Eastwood). However, the sad thing is, The New Daughter has a lot of isolated effective moments, and it could have been brilliant. But the pacing's off, the film's about half an hour too long, is filled with actors who can't act, and feels like it wants to be a television mini-series. In fact, the uninspired cinematography absolutely screams old-school network TV mini-series. Essentially, it's a fairytale. More specifically, a changeling story and an animal groom story. But it fails to mine the riches of that fictional territory (if, indeed, the film is even that aware of it's fundamental nature). The archetypes and opportunities are left to die on the vine while Kevin Costner flails about and pouts and fails at being a single helicopter parent. A bright spot, however, is Ivana Baquero (Pan's Labyrinth), who makes the best of a bad situation and rocks the fuck out of what little she's given to work with. The film's final shot might have been brilliant, but it gets mucked up by ham-fisted "horror" clichés. See this one if you're bored, or enjoy picking apart bad films that ought to have been better.

---

You know, I really do love Rift. In terms of a fantasy MMORPG, it's the best there's ever been. It's beautiful to look at, usually fun to play, and all that. It's even queer friendly. But the more I play, and the more the shiny wears off, the more I see how much better and smarter it ought to be. Look, here's the thing. I've said it before. Trion, are you listening?

Writer's work cheap.

Especially fantasy writers. We very often do our best work for a few pennies a word. It's obscene, but true. And it's entirely relevant here, Trion, because you didn't have to do this wrong. The plot holes, almost complete lack of internal logical integrity, faulty world-building, and so on and so forth, all that stuff could have been avoided. And you wouldn't have to be posting what is essentially poorly written fan fic to your website, mucking things up even more. You could have done this right, Trion, and either you were ignorant of that fact, or you just didn't give a shit. But it's not about money. Because, like I said (REPEAT AFTER ME), writers work cheap. And even moderately incompetent hacks who never aspired to write anything more ambitious than a twelve-volume epic – following the adventures of a Drow anti-hero with a name that makes me laugh – can do better.

This is my message to the whole goddamn world right now: You can do better. Yes, you can. And if you know this, and you continue on about your sloppy, lazy, half-assed ways, well...people will love you and shower you with riches and you'll win awards. Because this is the way the world works.

But some days it makes me more nauseous than others.

---

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

Venting Spleen,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (walter3)
Awake until four ayem, and then I slept until noon. Which means enough sleep, more than usual, but I hate waking up this late. At least, though, we are past the part of the year when, even with CaST to help out, the darkness comes so insanely early.

I am choosing not to speak on the subject of Osama bin Laden's death. My thoughts on the matter are complex, and I see no need to burden the internet with them, or to spend an hour writing it all out.

Sunny out there today, sunny and the new leaves glowing brightly under the blue sky.

---

Yesterday, I wrote a very respectable 2,259 words on "The Carnival is Dead and Gone," and thought I'd found THE END. Then, late last night, it occurred to me that I may have sounded entirely the wrong note there at the last. So, the first thing I do today is go back and do a bit of tweaking to the last two or three paragraphs. Also, yesterday, I proofed "The Crimson Alphabet," which will come as a free chapbook with copies of the limited edition of Two Worlds and In Between. I exchanged emails with [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy about the book trailer for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. Oh, and there was email from [livejournal.com profile] blackholly, which was a bright spot in the day.

For our Beltane dinner I made a lamb stew, which came out very, very well (I do say so myself), which we had with chicory stout, a freshly baked loaf of pain de campagne, and honey. Afterward, I did a little ritual work at the altar. Nothing fancy. It was a good Beltane, even without a roaring bonfire and what have you.

Later, we watched the latest episode of Fringe, then the second disc of the latest season of Weeds. Never has a series so literally lost direction and gone off wandering nowhere in particular. Truthfully, Weeds should have ended at the end of Season Three. The end of Season Three would have made very good ending. A very important part of telling stories is knowing when you've reached THE END, and not continuing in just because you're being paid to do so. Any story may be stretched out indefinitely; none should.* Anyway, later there was a tiny bit of Rift, and we read more of Under the Poppy.

---

Please have look at the current eBay auctions! Thanks.

---

And here's the second set of photos from Saturday's trip to the Blackstone River Gorge in Massachusetts:

30 April 2011, Part 2 )


* In large part, this is why The Dreaming was such an awful idea from the get go. The Sandman said almost everything worth saying, and, after that, it was mostly footnotes. I love reading footnotes, and writing them. Few other people do.

Beltane '11

May. 1st, 2011 01:37 pm
greygirlbeast: (Pagan1)
A happy and fine Beltane to all who wish to be wished a happy and fine Beltane. Winter is behind us, and now for blazing fires and blazing days.

Five hours sleep last night. The latest drug regimen has been helping me sleep the last week or so, eight hours a night two or three nights in a row. So, last night it was a surprise. It was just after six ayem when I finally got to sleep. The sky was the lightest shades of daylight. I covered my head, and pretended it was still night, which helped.

Yesterday was a day off, and it was a good day off. We left the house about 2:30 p.m., and headed north, through Woonsocket to Millville to the Blackstone River Gorge. We lingered briefly at Rolling Dam (aka Roaring Dam). The safety line strung with red pontoons had broken free, and there was damage to a portion of the spillway. I'm guessing it happened when the ice broke up. When we visited in February, the river above the dam was frozen. Also, there was a maple in the water that must have only just gone down, as the branches were filled with reddish sprouts. Then we headed out to the Gorge itself, which lies downstream (to the southeast) of the dam. We've never done the hike, though there and back is only a little more than a mile (depending which trail you take). We climbed to the top and gazed down into that dark tannin-stained water thirty or forty feet below, listening to the rapids, stared into the tops of trees beginning to come back to life. When we left Providence, the sky was cloudy, overcast, but the sun came out about the time we reached the dam, and I was able to take off my sweater and scarf.

In a hollow between slabs of Devonian granite, we found a boggy place that proved to be the remains of a very old garbage dump. Late Nineteenth Century or older. Heaps of glass, brick, ceramics, ornate china shards, shattered jugs, lead nails, shreds of hobnailed boots...it would be a fascinating place to dig, but the park forbids it. Not far past the dump, we found a wide sandy place by the river. I spotted something in the water downstream, which I at first mistook for ducks. However, the disturbance turned out to be two otters (Lontra [?=Lutra] canadensis) frolicking in the shallow, slow-flowing river. I'd never before seen otters in the wild. Various other mustelids, yes (skunks, mink, weasels, etc.), but never otters. We sat and watched them for a about half an hour. They were maybe a hundred yards from us, at the most, and we did most of the watching through a 10x42 monocular. They breached and dove, rolled, and swam swiftly, sinuously, along just below the surface. The air was filled with birdsong. And were actually heard a Pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus). It was truly wonderful, and the cumulative effect of yesterday was to lead me to resolve that the stagnant age of sitting at this desk all the time, whether I'm working or not, is over. I'm missing the world, the world I used to live in, the wild.

Part of this, of course, is that, thanks to meds and exercise, my Lousy Rotten Feet have improved dramatically over the last year and a half. I don't even really need the stick anymore. I used it during yesterday's hike, because the ground was so uneven and heights were involved, but, usually, I leave it at home now. Anyway, there are a few photos from yesterday behind the cut, below, and I'll post more tomorrow.

---

And this month, the selection for Aunt Beast's Book of the Month Club is Under the Poppy by Kathe Koja (Small Beer Press, 2010). This is such a marvelous book. Koja has become such a very brilliantly polished author, and here she treads territories that have rarely been done justice. There's a faint whiff of Angela Carter. But yes, there's our novel for May.



---

We played far too fucking much Rift last night, mostly questing out of Perspice. The highpoint had to be escorting Kayfax, a talking cat, as it tracked trolls. Kayfax decided that Selwyn and Miisya would make very fine pets, and so we were referred to as "pet." Selwyn made Level 35, and Miisya made 36.

Ah, and by the way. Back at the beginning of March, I vowed to make at least one blog entry every day for four months. I didn't want to jink it by announcing it until I was well in. And now I've made it halfway.

And that's all for now. Have a fine first day of May, kittens.

Springy,
Aunt Beast

30 April 2011, Part 1 )
greygirlbeast: (Default)
I only just got the news of Joanna Russ' death.

I think we're taking the day off, even though today isn't as warm as yesterday, by about ten degrees. So, this entry will be a swift recounting of yesterday. Or at least I mean for it to be that.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,709 words on "The Carnival is Dead and Gone," but it wants to be a short story, not a vignette, so I'm, at best, only two thirds of the way through it. I find it one of my especially disturbing pieces, for various reasons. Also, I exchanged many emails yesterday with [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy regarding the book trailer for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, though conversation also strayed to the Matawan Creek shark attacks of 1916 and Providence's HPL landmarks.

My story "Tidal Forces," which appears in Johnathan Strahan's forthcoming collection, Eclipse 4, has been singled out for the "Good Story Award" over at Locus.com. Thank you, Lois Tilton. (This is not an actual award award, but it made me smile, nonetheless).

If everything stays on track, Sirenia Digest #65 will go out to subscribers on Wednesday. It will include "The Carnival is Dead and Gone," the best replies to the most recent Question @ Hand, and a profile of German surrealist Michael Hutter, featuring examples of his marvelous artwork.

Last night, we watched what was almost a rather serviceable thriller, Jonas Åkerlund's Horsemen (2009). Unfortunately, there's an utterly implausible upbeat ending that blows the whole thing, causing it to veer into after-school special territory at the very last. I strongly suspect the studio forced that ending on the director, but haven't been able to confirm the suspicion. Ziyi Zhang was, by far, the best thing anywhere in the film. Anyway, I also did a little rp, and Spooky and I began reading the novel that will be May's selection for Aunt Beast's Book of the Month Club (TBA).

That, kittens, was yesterday.

Spooky has begun a new round of eBay auctions, so please have a look.
greygirlbeast: (Narcissa)
It's Friday, kittens. Comment, as evidence that LJ isn't about to fade away.

A beautiful, beautiful sunny day out there. But I will be "good," and not run away to the seashore when I ought to be writing. My window's open, and for now that's just going to have to suffice.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,517 words on a new piece, for Sirenia Digest #65, "The Carnival is Dead and Gone." It sort of feels like it's happening in the same near future Manhattan as "A Season of Broken Dolls," and was inspired by all the talk about sideshows and freaks. So, a very good writing day. May there be another today.

---

I was just reading yesterday's [livejournal.com profile] coilhouse report on the assault of transwoman Chrissy Lee Polis and its aftermath. On the one hand, it's heartening to know that "Over 135,000 people have signed a petition demanding that the McDonald’s Corporation holds its employees accountable for the assault." And seeing hundreds of people show up for an anti-hate rally outside the MacDonalds where the attack occurred, that doesn't hurt, either. However, as the [livejournal.com profile] coilhouse article notes:

"Coverage of the story on the web has been as painful to watch as the footage itself. It was awful to witness the first wave of discussion, which appeared almost exclusively on white supremacist blogs, with transphobia piling on top of racism as details about Polis’ identity emerged. It was painful to watch mainstream, high-traffic blogs use the word 'tranny' in their coverage (the best example of this being, if memory serves correctly, Time-Warner-owned blog Smoking Gun, though their posts appear to have now been scrubbed of the slur). And it was painful to watch Polis’ own twin brother continually refer to her as 'my brother' and pointedly use male gender pronouns at her support rally. All around, a damning look at the country’s state of gender awareness, or lack thereof."

Lots of people aren't going to understand that thing about tranny. But just imagine Smoking Gun using words like nigger and faggot in articles reporting violations of African American and gay male rights. Yeah, it's like that. Doesn't mean you won't hear it used by transgender people, but...well, I'm going to assume I don't have to explain how an oppressed minority reclaims or appropriates denigrating language and, in so doing, gains strength from a thing that was meant to cause them harm.

---

Last night, we watched Robert Rodriguez' Machete (2010). We've actually had that particular Netflix envelope, unopened, since early February (!!!). Mostly, I was afraid that what made a very funny 30-second faux movie trailer couldn't be sustained for 105 minutes. But, I was wrong to worry, I'm happy to say. And fuck all, but Michelle Rodriguez just keeps getting hotter and hotter.

Later, Spooky and I finished reading Markus Zusak's The Book Thief. And what a brilliant and beautiful novel it is. Truly and genuinely. I'm lousy commenting on books, because I usually find myself relying on words that come off trite and come nowhere near expressing how I actually feel. Just because someone can write a book doesn't mean she can review or commentate on a book. It took me a while to figure that out. Regardless, yes, if you didn't read this one for the AB Book Club, please get around to it eventually. I struggle every day to achieve such simple, splendid poignancy as Zusak displays in this novel, and I think I've never yet come anywhere close. So, buy a copy or get it from the library. Listen to the audiobook. If you must, read it on your Kindle (shudder). Just read it.
greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
Please do comment; I'll be here all damn day.

It seems that all my family and friends in Birmingham are safe. I know a few people in Tuscaloosa, mostly at the University, and I've heard nothing from that end. But the devastation from yesterday's tornadoes is horrific, and I've had to make myself stop looking at the photographs of familiar places reduced to unfamiliar places. Tornadoes are a part of living in the South that I do not miss.

---

Dream images from last night are mostly lost, and those that remain are faint and almost indistinguishable from the background clutter of my mind. There was a beautiful mastodon skeleton weathering from a river bank. There was frozen Stalingrad during World War II.

All summer they drove us back through the Ukraine.
Smolyensk and Viyasma soon fell.
By autumn, we stood with our backs to the town of Orel.


No, the mastodon skeleton wasn't in Stalingrad.

---

Work was an odd and scatterbrained affair yesterday. Lots of loose ends and such, and today I have to begin a new piece for Sirenia Digest, because I am woefully fucking late getting to it. Oh, by the way, the snazzy new Sirenia Digest website will go live this weekend or early next week.

I mentioned that the ARCs for Two Worlds and In Between arrived on Tuesday. They include Lee Moyer's cover art, but brightness and contrast are way off, rendering the cover muddy and dark. And it's not the actual layout we're going with, so if you happen to see one of the ARCs, this is not what the final book will actually look like. I spent part of yesterday making corrections to the text, because no matter how many times you proofread a thing, or how many people len their eyes to the proofreading, it will still be filled with fucking errors. The manuscript is 210,209 words long, which breaks down to 965,432 individual characters, all of which have to be checked again and again. Also, it seems that the release date on the book has been moved from January 2012 to September 30, 2011. I had no idea.

I spent a goodly portion of yesterday on the cover for "The Crimson Alphabet," the chapbook that will accompany Two Worlds and In Between. I'd already done a cover, but decided I hated it and started over. The end result is very, very simple.

---

[livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy has announced the casting call for two projects related to The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. You can see his announcement here, but I'll also post his entry here in its entirety later. A book trailer and a still photography project. It's all fairly fucking awesome.

---

Last night, I left the house with Spooky, and we drove to College Hill. Spring is now in full bloom, and the temperatures have been warm enough that I am hereby declaring Cold Spring to have ended and Spring Proper to have begun. We stopped by Acme Video (complimentary Atomic Fireballs!), then Eastside Market, then got cheese burgers from Five Guys in Seekonk, Mass. I'm not used to driving out of state for burgers. That's going to take some time (and it's not something we'll make a habit of doing, either).

Back home, we watched Gaspar Noé's Enter the Void (2009). And I honestly wasn't impressed. If nothing else, the film needs at least 45 minutes trimmed away (running time, a whopping 161 minutes). This film manages to belabor pretty much everything it touches upon. In the hands of a skillful editor, it's possible that something worthwhile could be salvaged. If Lars von Trier and David Lynch had never heard of editing, they might make movies like Enter the Void. Also, it doesn't help that Nathaniel Brown, who plays the protagonist, has all the acting ability of a stalk of broccoli. There are plenty of arresting visuals, and some brutal, beautiful scenes, but even I can only watch psychedelic Tokyo sex scenes, shot from an overhead boom and lit with seizure-inducing, flickering shades of red, for just so long before the yawning begins. I hoped I would feel better about the film this morning, but, in fact, I find that I sort of loathe it; I suppose that's something.

---

I have about a hundred other things in my head, wanting to be spoken of in this blog today. Maybe later.

Disoriented,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (walter3)
I'm all awash in randomness. Which is only a bad thing if one has spent to much time suckling at the teat of the illusion of linear progression.

And still...one after the next, the days are turning genuinely warm. The trees are going green. There may yet be an end to this long Cold Spring. So, make of this whatever you will.

They heard me singing and they told me to stop.
Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock.
These days my life, I feel it has no purpose.
But late at night the feelings swim to the surface.

-- Arcade Fire, "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)"

Last call for the latest Question @ Hand. Speak now or, well, you know. Speak now, or don't.

A very mild, very short seizure last night. First since the last, and the last was quite some time back. I was so sick from lack of sleep, it wasn't a surprise. But, I find it so strange, looking back, how these things ruled my life for about three years. How Spooky and I built our lives around their complete unpredictability, around our fears of possible outcomes. Planning for a thing you cannot possibly plan for. Planning anyway. And now it's been almost completely reined in by 250 mg. of a drug I'd never heard of until a year ago. Ah, more intimations of a linear universe.

It's hard – not impossible, but hard – to see beyond one's biopsychological predispositions and imperatives, when there are such selective advantages to viewing the universe a given way, and the difficulty to see otherwise has been selected for down all the aeons. The ability to see things not as we see things, but to comprehend an invisible possibility. Or imagination, if you prefer.

The anger has faded a bit for now. It's no longer rage, only righteous indignation. The wheel goes round and round. Everything's fine, just as long as the wheel moves. Which is not to say that anything anywhere is fine, because it's not. Or that motion is anything but relative.

Last night, we watched the latest Fringe, and this show's wonderfulness seems to know no bounds. Then we watched two episodes of the new season of No Reservations, more or less at random (see above re: randomness). The horrors of Liberia, and then the peace of post-Franco Madrid. Because I've not yet finished my coffee, I'm not going to think about people who can't find Liberia on a map, and who've no idea who Franco was. Anyway, then we played Rift (Level 32, motherfuckers), and then we read more of Markus Zusack's The Book Thief (almost finished), a brilliant, brilliant book.

Did I mention we have a guild in Rift? On the Shadefallen shard? Well, we do. Eyes of the Faceless Man. Have I mentioned we're looking for new members? It's a Defiant guild, obviously. And it helps if you have pointy ears, but that's not an actual requirement. We also accept Eth members. We're the guild the ESRB warned you about. Okay, maybe we're not that fun. But if you wanna come out and play, just say so.

We will do what we must to survive. Some people like to gloss that over with heroic words, but it is, in my mind, as simple as that. -- The Faceless Man

There are many cool things about the Faceless Man, including his understanding of commas. And on that note, I should open the window....
greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
Monsieur Insomnie, va niquer ta mère. S'il vous plaît. Merci.

-- Tante Bête

It was full fucking daylight before I found sleep. Maybe 7 a.m. The specifics are a little hazy.

Yesterday, it was too warm to stay inside. It was too warm and I was too filled with anger, and so we left the house. We drove. The temperature was in the low seventies Fahrenheit, and the sun was bright. In Providence, the trees are bright with sprays of green and yellow and pink and white. The grass is going green. We drove about College Hill and the Eastside (not to be confused with East Providence, sensu stricto). And then we drove south. I think we meant, originally, to stop when we got to Wickford, but we kept going, all the way south to Narragansett and Point Judith. Driving through South County, the trees (native hardwoods) are still mostly barren. It still looks a lot like winter down there. Ugly and grey and bleak.

But we reached the sea. And maybe it was warm back in Providence, but at Point Judith, it was just shy of freezing. The surf was rough, and there were about half a dozen surfers making the best of it. We also visited Harbor of Refuge, where we fed cheese crackers to several species of seagulls. We saw other birds near the sea and the salt marshes: cormorants, swans, mallards, robins, Canadian geese, and what was probably a raven. The sea was loud and violent, rising and shattering itself against the granite jetty. And the roar and the violence were much appreciated. I dozed most of the way back to Providence, and when I woke, whatever bit of soothing the sea had accomplished was gone, and there was only the anger again.

Oh, we did have the cameras with us. But I aggressively resisted any urge to take pictures. There's too much sharing as it is.

Last night, I needed comfort movies, so we watched Fight Club (1999) and then Death Proof (2007). Marla Singer and Zoe Bell always help, even if only just a little bit. We played Rift. Selwyn reached Level 31. And then...I didn't sleep. Which brings us full circle, as we say.

I should go. There's work to do, and I'm 1/10th awake, so maybe I'll do some of it. Comment if you wish, and I'll probably reply. I'm going to sit here, finish my tepid coffee, listen to Brown Bird, and bask in the chilly air coming in my open office window.
greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
Raining now. Raining and likely fifty-something out there. I don't feel like checking the actual, factual temperature. Spring – real Spring – is coming on very slowly, but very certainly. All the little specifics don't matter. Only what they add up to, that's what matters.

Don't mind me. I'm just a crazy lazy sitting in a chair.

Today seems to be looking at me the way an Irish wolfhound eyes a dog biscuit, so comments wouldn't be unappreciated.

Two days here to recount:

1) Thursday: I wrote 1,584 words on "Fake Plastic Trees." We tended to the new piercings, which are doing well. I didn't leave the house, though the possibility was briefly discussed. I was groggy from the new meds. I almost engaged in rp, but didn't because of the aforementioned wooziness. I played a little Rift, but sucked, thanks to the wooziness in question. During the day, much email. We may have chosen the author's photo for Two Worlds and In Between. Not one I expected we'd choose. But it's not yet final. I sent the "final" version of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir to my editor at Penguin, and she says the release date is still March 2012. Which surprises me, as I've been so late delivering the thing. In the evening, Spooky and I watched Jean-Jacques Annaud's very under-appreciated Enemy at the Gates (2001). I'd seen it twice before, but she'd not seen it. In all ways this film is wonderful, except for James Horner's suffocating score. That was Thursday, give or take.

2) Friday: I exchanged what felt like about a hundred emails with [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy, mostly regarding the book trailer for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. I learned my lesson with the aborted trailer for The Red Tree. There are things I cannot do myself, and that's why there are other talented people in the world. I'll say more about it later, but the trailer's looking as if it'll be very cool. We're in the stage of casting about for models (Imp, Abalyn, and Eva), and finding locales, and all that fun stuff. I'll have more to say on this soon. I wrote very little yesterday on "Fake Plastic Trees," only about 400 words. I'm very near THE END, and I find myself shying away from the grimmest ending that may present itself. I wrote 400 words and had to step back, because it was a little too much to look at straight in the eye like that. Wicked little god you are, Aunt Beast, with all those universes clenched in your fists. Anyway, I'll probably finish the story today. I need to, as there's other work waiting. We left the house, and returned to Thayer Street, and I got the boots (thank you again, Jada). So, behind the cut, below, there's boot porn. They make me an inch taller, but what the fuck. I saw a very green willow. After dinner, we watched Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 2 again, since we watched Vol. 1 on Wednesday night. We played Rift, and Selwyn reached Level 30. She's becoming quite the bad-ass necromancer, out there doing the bidding of the Faceless Man. We read more of The Book Thief, and I decided what the book-club book will be next month (but don't ask; it's still a secret).

So, there. Two days, all squished up together. Condensed days.

There's talk of me being in Manhattan on the 17th of May. We'll see how that goes.

And I should decamp this blog for now, make an end to this entry, and face the woebegone day.

Boot Porn )


Implicitly,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
A very bad day, yesterday. Which I saw coming when I made yesterday's entry, though, at that point, I was still trying to make with the stiff upper lip and all. By late afternoon, all pretense was shed. And the day was simply shitty. So far, shitty again today. It doesn't help that here we are at the Vernal Equinox, Ostara...and it doesn't mean anything to me at all. And it doesn't help that spring's at least a month off here in Providence. Genuine, true, warm green spring.

---

No, sorry. This isn't the happy blog entry.

---

The feeling that I need to protect the new novel from the world and everyone in it persists. To the point that I spent part of yesterday – seriously – trying to figure out how to make it financially without allowing the book to be published. At least this should stand as evidence that I mean what I say when I say I only write for myself.

---

Didn't leave the house yesterday, and likely won't today.

I finally finished the mammoth tome that is Suzanna Clarke's Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Still forming first impressions. It is, indeed, a very good book, and quite an achievement. I think I may admire it most for insisting so fervently that it is a book. This novel will never be a movie. It's a book. I've read online that in 2005 Christopher Hampton (Dangerous Liaisons) finished a screenplay, and that the film was supposed to begin production in 2006. But it has no IMDb page, so I'm assuming someone realized the folly of their ways. Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell has some marvelous moments, is often very funny, occasionally moving, but doubtless too long. I have nothing at all against very long books. Moby Dick, Ulysses, and The Lord of the Rings all number among my favorites. I think Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell suffered tremendously from hype. Indeed, that's why it took me three years to buy a copy, and five more years to get around to reading it. But, I very much liked the last few pages.

And on the subject of books, we're almost done with Mockingjay, and, at this point, I think if anyone were to ask me about this trilogy, I think I'd say, read The Hunger Games and skip the rest. Which is to say I'm underwhelmed. I suspect the films may actually improve upon the second and third books (this was the case with some of Rowling's books). I suspect there should only have been two books, at most, and that Mockingjay should have been the second. But even this solution doesn't address all the problems. More when I'm completely finished.

See? It's assholes like me that books need protecting from.

--

The moon, the trumpeted perigee-syzygy, was beautiful last night, even through the light pollution of Providence.
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: (Default)
The weather here in Providence has turned chilly, rainy, grey. The high today is forecast at 61F. June has become March. Well, no. For Rhode Island, June has become early May. I'm still acclimating to this very different climate. A few days ago, it was too hot to be in the house. Now it's sweater weather again.

Yesterday, I did 1,205 words on "The Maltese Unicorn." It moves towards a climax. But there's still no way I'll finish by Friday evening, or even Saturday afternoon. Maybe if I could write 2,000 words a day, a feat of which I am rarely capable. Maybe then.

A new round of eBay auctions began yesterday. Please have a look.

I ought to count yesterday as a very productive day. I pitched three projects, and sold two of them. But I'm in a murky place. I think it's this shitty weather. I want the sun back, please.

Last night, we were both too tired for much of anything, neither of us having slept well the night before. I read a little of Jenny Clack's book on the evolution of early tetrapods. We watched the season finale of Glee, which was very, very good and made up for last week's mess of an episode. Then we watched a couple of episodes from Season Five of Deadliest Catch. Then we tried to play WoW, but were both too tired to do anything but spaz off. So we watched a third episode of Deadliest Catch and went to bed at the amazingly early hour of 1:30 a.m. I slept more than eight hours, and feel much better this morning, despite vivid dreams of whoring and corporate espionage.

Comments are not unwelcomed. The platypus likes comments. The dodo concurs.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
This needs to be short. A cloudy day here in Providence, the threat of storms all about us. The temperature is only 78F at the moment, but 82F in the house.

Yesterday, I only managed to write 758 words on "The Maltese Unicorn," but I did make a new beginning that is much better suited to the needs of the story than the original beginning (which would have worked great for a 30k-word novella, but not a 10k-word short story). Today, I work on the first few paragraphs of the next section, rewriting, trying to infuse the preexisting text with something more in the way of set up for the story. When I'm done with that, if I'm not too tired, I'll got back to where I left off on Thursday, that place where the story actually moves forward towards the end. Yesterday, Spooky remarked how very strange it is to see me working this way, the rewriting, and I said yeah, it feels strange.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. There are copies of two chapbooks, The Worm in My Mind's Eye (2004) and False Starts (2005). There's also a mobile kit that DC/Vertigo used to promote The Dreaming. These are very rare, and this one is in mint condition, unassembled, still in it's original wrapping. I think it was produced in 1996. I was given several of them in 1997. Anyway, yes, please do have a look. Most of the proceeds from the current (and next round) of auctions will be going to offset the expenses I'm going to incur attending Readercon 21 next month. Thanks.

After the writing yesterday, I read a couple of the essays in Testament: The Life and Work of Frank Frazetta. After dinner, we watched two very good films, Michael Haneke's La pianiste (2001) and Nikolai Müllerschön's Der rote Baron (2008).

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

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

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

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

---

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

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

16 May 2010 )


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

---

I'm going to try to get Sirenia Digest #54 out sometime in the next couple of days, early, so that I can focus all my attention on starting "The Maltese Unicorn."
greygirlbeast: (Barker)
Sunny today, though not precisely warm. I opened my office window for about five minutes, then shut it again. But it'll be warmer tomorrow, and the tree outside my office window has tiny green shoots.

Nothing was written yesterday. Most of the day was spent trying to find a vignette. Still not sure whether or not I did. Also, I tried to work on the interview for Clarkesworld. You'll recall (or you won't) that back in the autumn I declared a moratorium on interviews, after having done a dozen or so relating to the release of The Red Tree. I thought that perhaps I was ready to begin giving interviews again. I may have been wrong. I answered the first question yesterday, and began the second...and suddenly it all sounded like bullshit, everything I'd said. The more I write, the older I get, the less interest I have in writing about how and why I write. The stories should speak for themselves. I do intend to finish this interview, but it will likely be my last for some time to come.

I slept almost eight hours again last night. I assume it's one of the new meds.

And I have this question, via email from Ron St. Pierre: "I know you do not write horror, but your stories give me a chill at times. I was re-reading my draft, and it gave me a chill. Is that how you know a story is working, when it really scares yourself?"

No. I can only think of a two or three times that I've written stories that frightened me. "Rats Live on No Evil Star," that one did. Perhaps also "La Peau Verte." But it's a very, very rare thing, when that happens. Which is hardly surprising, as I'm not trying to write stories that "scare" people (which is one of several reasons I say I'm not a "horror" writer). And even if a story were to frighten me, given the inherent subjectivity of fear, scaring myself would be no guarantee than anyone else would have the same reaction. Sometimes, when I am writing, there is a sort of frission, a certain intensity. When I feel that, I usually suspect that "a story is working." Well, for me, at least. There is never, ever any way to know that a story that works just fine for me will work for anyone else. No matter how desperately a writer may strive for mass appeal, or even appeal beyond him- or herself, the enterprise is too personal, too introverted, too subjective to ever know such a thing a priori. If others like it, you have on your hands a fortunate accident and nothing more. And there I was more articulate than my attempts to answer interview questions yesterday.

---

Last night, we watched the Coen Brothers' A Serious Man. Wow. An amazing, unnerving film. At least, we found it so. I expect many people watched the film and were simply baffled. I loved the prologue, it's encounter with a dybbuk on a snowy night. The remainder of the film builds towards a peculiar crescendo that interweaves the utterly inexplicable nature of the universe (or, if you prefer, "God"), Jewish American culture in the late 1960s/early 1970s, the story of Job, a sort of anti-nostalgia, the inscrutability of mankind, and an almost Fortean spite for anything like comprehension. The final shot...which I won't reveal...gave me chills. And the film is also quite funny, though, in the end, the laughs seem to add up to a very, very cruel joke. Very highly recommended.

And now, the day.

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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