greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
Because, you see, Ceiling Cat doesn't actually live in the ceiling. "Ceiling" is merely a metaphor meant to impress upon us his constant nearness and watchfulness. Ceiling Cat actually lives in the upper troposphere, which is a bit lower than one usually finds, say, the Flying Spaghetti Monster noodling about (deities must segregate, elsewise – a word LJ can't spell – we get Kaiju Big Battel and shit like that. Airplanes get eaten. Bad cellphone reception. Blood falls from the sky.). Hubero told me to explain all of this to you, so blame his bald pink ass, not mine.

I think the problem here is that I got less than six hours of sleep this morning. Thank you, Monsieur Insomnia.

It's snowing. A lot. The whole world is white, which makes it all vastly easier on my winter-shy eyes and nerves. Smooth away the bleak, ugly, sharp edges.

Not entirely sure where all of yesterday went. There was work, though no writing. Mostly answering email, questions about proofreading and copy-edited manuscripts, and stuff like that. A burning desire to clean my office (which might be constructive, only there's no longer room to move in here). I'm pretty sure there was nothing exciting. Today, among other things, I need to proofread "Tidal Forces," which is about to be reprinted know, that information is probably not fit for public consumption yet. I will say, whatever editors out there might think to the contrary, "The Maltese Unicorn" (from Ellen Datlow's Supernatural Noir) was lightyears (yes, LJ; lightyear is one word) better than anything else I wrote last year, or the year before that...and that it hasn't received more attention baffles me. I think it must be that dildos embarrass people. I don't get that at all.

Also, this diet sucks. Sugar-free, low-fat instant cocoa. Sugar-free Red Bull. Shoot me now. (Also, please, no dieting advice.)

As it happens, Alabaster #1 will be published with two covers. That is, the official cover is by Greg Ruth, and that's the one everybody has seen. But there's also an alternate cover that will be harder to find, painted by Michael Oeming. Here it is:

If you want this cover, you'll probably need to put an order in now with your Local Comic Shop. Or wait for eBay.


Okay, so...I had it in my head I was going to write some long and insightful, Pulitzer fucking Prize-winning essay explaining my take on the SOPA/PIPA mess and the problem of internet piracy. And then I decided, fuck that. I don't have time. I'm not so disposed. Whatever. So, instead, I'll put it plainly, and make it brief. It's not like other people haven't already said everything I'm about to say. And said it better.

No, you may not have my books for free. No, I do not believe – based on anecdotal evidence – that if I let you have five books for free, you'll buy the sixth. Bring me some very hard empirical evidence that can be reproduced, and I might think about the ramifications. Me, I want to see BitTorrent and the like die a quick, messy death. I do not appreciate being stolen from. And no, information "doesn't want to be free." That's cock-eyed bullshit. How about, my rent and healthcare and utilities want to be free? I say these things because, people need to know, whether you believe it or not, the mounting theft of ebooks is leading – on my end – to lower and lower advances from publishers. Another couple of years at this rate, it will no longer be feasible for me to continue writing novels. No, really. That's not hyperbole. Want a book for free? Go to the motherfucking library. Or download the ebook free from a library (yeah, you can do that). Stop being so goddamn lazy and unimaginative and divest yourself of that bullsit privileged, entitled I-deserve-to-get-it-free-RIGHT-NOW attitude. Who put that stuff in your heads? Well, learn this: There are options that do not ass-rape the authors. I did the work, and I deserve to be fairly paid, and not to have my copyright violated by douchebags.

But SOPA/PIPA are not the solution. As I said before, you do not burn down a house to kill a termite. You don't risk wrecking the entire internet to stop internet crime. You move slowly and with great care. You address the actual problems. You don't allow the megacorps to crush "fair use" and the like and pervert copyright law (the US was doing this well before the internet). You create the least inclusive legislation possible, not the most. Even having said what I said above, to paraphrase Elizabeth Bear, my books are being pirated on the net every single day, and that's endangering the future of my career, but I'm more comfortable with the devil I know than with SOPA/PIPA. I'm willing to wait for a better solution.

So there. I think that gets the point across.

Oh, hey! Heidi Klum and Seal are getting a divorce! Cool! Who's gonna get custody of the litter?

Cheap, But Not For Free,
Aunt Beast
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.

Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
It isn't bad enough that the few corners of the internet that I love are withering and/or drawing in upon themselves like a startled sea anemone, but the tempo as a whole – that is, the tempo of the internet – is accelerating. And the rate of acceleration appears exponential. So, that which is faster grows increasingly rapid. Attention spans decrease accordingly. Twitter and Facebook replace blogging. News stories become ever less informative. The sound byte (sound bite) is victorious. Analysis shrivels. Thought is compressed. Or, to me, so it seems. But I have a slow, slow and extremely analytical brain. My mind picks and sorts and rehashes and researches and is, above all, patient. I may require months to read a novel, but when I have read it, I can almost recite it. This requires patience. And patience is suffering a mass extinction on the internet.

One hundred and forty characters. Buzz words. Jargon. Texting. The entrenchment of l33t so that it no long signifies elite, and no one using it even recalls how or why it began. Speed. An expectation, beyond the internet, that instant gratification is good and normal and anything less is a failure. I want my ebook and I want it NOW. I want now. Now. Why is my order taking so long? What do you mean "I have to wait"? Waiting is a negative, by definition. Fast food. Overnight delivery. Thirty minutes or you get it free. First in line. Speed and cut me off on the interstate so that, ultimately, your drive is forty-five seconds shorter.

Why so goddamn, fucking fast? You think you'll buy more life, squeeze in a few more moments? Has civilization driven you to the fastest rat race ever? Is it that you believe doing it quicker actually is better than doing it right? Do you think you have no choice in the matter? You can't see the lie? The only thing you're running towards is death.

Slow down, you move to fast.

We used to wait...

And what is the utility of these words? Because the internet is fucking fickle, and, for whatever reasons, even for those few who do still blog, or at least read blogs, LiveJournal has ceased to be the hip place to be seen.


All unexpected anger this morning. The anger rarely comes these day, rarely comes with this intensity. Admittedly, I don't think this is irrational anger, for which I have my meds, but its hit me with that same force and with that same glee in its own existence.


Yesterday, I sat and stared at the iMac's screen, and after about five hours of that a story occurred to me. It's an ugly story and a beautiful story. It's kind and cruel. Gentle and violent. It needs to be written in a language that is just shy of cut up. As I wrote 7 in The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. The language I learned from Joyce, Faulkner, et al. And it needs to be written in two days, as I've got Alabaster #4 due on the 15th, and I have to get Sirenia Digest #73 out before then.

Wishing for the Salvation of Summer,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Better late than never. Well, that's always been a dubious adage, but whatever.

I begin to see a trend. When I was writing The Red Tree I became, in some sense, Sarah Crowe. When I was writing The Drowning Girl, I became India Morgan Phelps. And now that I'm writing Blood Oranges, I find myself becoming Siobahn Quinn. No, this didn't used to happen.

Yesterday, as predicted, was spent pulling the Digest together, writing the prolegomenon etc. Finding the cover image, and the ending for the back page. What the fuck is wrong with LiveJournal that is doesn't fucking know how to fucking spell "prolegomenon"? Anyway, I also took care of some last minute details regarding Two Worlds and In Between, which goes to the printer any day now.

Red Bull and benzodiazepines. Two great tastes that go great together. Oh, look! LiveJournal can't spell "benzodiazepines," either. Ah, the brilliant internet.

Hot Outside, here in Providence. Well, hot for Providence.

Good RP in Rift last night. Thank you, [ profile] stsisyphus. You guys don't know what you're missing. If we're gonna let these computers ruin our lives, and change what it means to be human, we might as well have some fun with it, right?


Just back from a matinée of Jon Favreau's Cowboys and Aliens. And I loved it. Almost unconditionally. You know what I said about how we need B-movies? Well, it's true. But this film unexpectedly transcends a category I expected it to fall within. It's simply a good movie. Maybe not great cinema, but a good movie. And, right now, I'll settle for that. The cast is marvelous, top to bottom: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford (who actually does more than play Harrison Ford), Clancy Brown, Olivia Wilde, Keith Carradine, etc. Someone was mouthing off on IMDb about (Oh, it can spell "IMDb"!) this being the "worst idea for a film ever." It is nothing of the sort. Why assume alien invasions would always come in the present (or, perhaps, the future)? Anyway, as to the central premise, to quote Stephen Hawking:

If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans. We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet.

A point which is touched upon in the film. The Native American bit, I mean. Obviously, the subject of the film is an alien race seeking to exploit the Earth, and willing to commit genocide to do it. Wait. There has to be another word, one for wiping out an entire, particular species to get what you need. Sure, the end result is extinction, but there ought to be a word for the process. Ah. Extermination. That will do.

Anyway, yes. A very, very good, fun, and moving film, working both as a Western and an SF film. I recommend it unconditionally. Unless you're too jaded for the fundamental concept and go into the theatre needing to be convinced. Here we are now, entertain us. If that's your attitude, save the price of admission and stay home. But I give it a solid two thumbs up.


I think Frank the Goat is feeling better. Now if someone would just teach him how to spell.

Up to Here,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
The sun's shining in a too-blue sky, but it's chilly.

Sirenia Digest #64 went out to subscribers last night, and everyone should have it by now.

Apologies for not including a link for The Book Thief yesterday.


If there's any more abominable phrase than "online social networking," I'm unaware of it. It reduces the concepts of friendship and acquaintance to a software-enhanced array of dendritic fingers, desperately probing the void for connections, aggressively seeking to supplant (or act as surrogate to) actual, face-to-face contact between human beings.

Or maybe I'm the only one who sees it that way. Or at least, it may be I'm in the minority. To quote Anaïs Nin, "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.” (Thank you, E. Harrington.) Regardless, there's no place for me on either Facebook or Twitter, and I'm going to write that on a piece of paper in big black letters and tack it to the office wall. Because, apparently, I keep forgetting. I've no interest in "online social networking." I find it as strange and toxic as plastic soda bottles.

I began this journal to record the process of writing, what that process is like for me (which, of course, is not the way it will be for much of anyone else). And, obviously, to promote my work. Then MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter came along, and I allowed myself to be seduced into believing that these sites would be as useful to me as has been LiveJournal, and before that, Blogger. But they're not. I cut MySpace loose a long time ago. As for Twitter, it just seems...harmlessly ephemeral. Too much so to serve any actual purpose I need it to serve. And as for Facebook, I can't take the assholes who think I'm there to be engaged in what they mistake as witty reporté. Not since the Bad Old Days of Usenet have I had to contend with as much rudeness and idiocy on the net as I've had to contend with on Facebook. Yes, granted, the troublemakers are a small fraction of the people who follow me there. But it only takes one or two or three persistently asinine individuals.

Those people are not "my tribe." I had a tribe once, but that was long ago.

No one is entitled to anything, and we all suffer alone, and, if we are honest, we all suffer.

These are bad days and nights, and I'm not well enough to get the writing done that I have to get done, much less banter with people who actually seem to believe there's nobility of purpose in lolspeak.

I need to be writing, and I need to be Outside, and everything else is irrelevant. Or worse.


The greatest compliment I can ever pay a band or musician is to say, "This is my new suicide album." At the moment, my suicide album is Radiohead's The King of Limbs.


People say, "You're so unhappy," and they clearly mean it as an insult. Or they think my unhappiness is an affront to what they believe is their happiness.

Funny thing is, I actually hate coffee.

Adrift in the White Noise,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
I suppose I ought to start a journal entry now, having spent the last half hour instigating fights on Twitter and Facebook (but mostly on Twitter, from which I aspire to be banned for championing the English language, or any language, over that ZOMGWTFLOL shit). No, "lolspeak" isn't The End of the World®, but it does make you look like a moron.

Um...yesterday. Well, I'm still trying to get Sirenia Digest #64 out. By late this evening, for sure.

I wrote and edited, edited and wrote, formatted, wash, rinse, repeat.

There were very many wonderful comments, and I might have blushed a time or two. I think Martians blush, but I've lost the user's manual, so I'm not entirely sure. More wonderful [ profile] kylecassidy photos to come. we are on Tuesday, April 5th in the year 2011, and it's time to announce the next book in Aunt Beast's Book of the Month Club thingy. This month, it's Markus Zusak's The Book Thief (Alfred A. Knopf, 2007). I'm not going to go on about how very good it is. But it is. Even though we're not finished reading it yet. It's a good, and true, and important book, and there are too few of those. So yes, the official selection of the month:



I look at the few wind turbines we have here in Rhode Island, and I can't help but be amazed at how humanity has a sky full of wind and sunlight. But, instead, we drill holes in the ground for hydrocarbons and build nuclear reactors that release isotopes that will still be deadly hundreds or thousands of years from now. Instead, we dam rivers and destroy habitats.


paranormal (par·a·nor·mal): Beyond the range of normal experience or scientific explanation.

paranormal ≠ PR ("paranormal romance"), exclusive of all other applications of the word, no matter what "teh internets" might imply. For example, "reviews" on Amazon declaring that, say, Turn of the Screw isn't paranormal, because it isn't part of the current shitwit PR craze (even though it is, in fact, a novel exploring both paranormal and romantic themes).


Just the fact that people seem to be getting dumber and dumber. You know, I mean we have all this amazing technology and yet computers have turned into basically four-figure wank machines. The internet was supposed to set us free, democratize us, but all it’s really given us is Howard Dean’s aborted candidacy and 24-hour-a-day access to kiddie porn. People…they don’t write anymore - they blog. Instead of talking, they text, no punctuation, no grammar: LOL this and LMFAO that. You know, it just seems to me it’s just a bunch of stupid people pseudo-communicating with a bunch of other stupid people in a proto-language that resembles more what cavemen used to speak than the King’s English.
— Hank Moody

Sad thing is, not many even blog anymore. Blogging takes too much time and energy, so there's Facebook and Twitter. You know, for kids.

Yeah, well. As Quentin Crisp said, "It'll get worse." And it has. And it will again.

Think Only Happy Thoughts,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Eli1)
No, there's been no writing. And what the fuck point is there in making an entry about how there's been no writing since I finished "The Eighth Veil," way back on the ninth? Not a whole lot. At least I have moved beyond lying in bed, and have actually spent the last two days at the keyboard not writing. Somehow, that entails slightly less guilt than not writing from bed. Less guilt, more frustration. My masochistic "soul" probably figures the pain incurred staring at the blank MS Word "page" earns me less guilt. It's not writing, but at least it's another sort of suffering, so I'm cut some slack.

I will try again today. Today, I will try harder than I tried yesterday.

The snow hasn't all melted away, but it's going fast.

I admit I have paused in my not writing to gaze in horror at the internet kerfuffle surrounding Evelyn Evelyn. I know people are stupid, but sometimes I forget just how stupid people can be, especially on the goddamn internet. I've really had enough of the good soldiers of the web, fighting their ignorant, petty wars for truth, light, and squeamish political correctness. Spooky came into the office, night before last, to try and tell me about the people flaming Amanda over the Evelyn Evelyn backstory. And it's not often I'm rendered speechless, but speechless was I rendered. Finally, I was able to sputter something like, "These fuckwits know Ziggy Stardust was really David Bowie, right?" Yeah, it's that stupid. There are people who live to be offended, to disapprove. And no, I'm not linking to the stupid. If you want to see, use Google.

Life's to goddamn short for this nonsense. To quote Jeffrey Goines, "Fuck the bozos!"

Well, at least I do have these photographs, the railroad bridge photos I promised day before yesterday. I will refer you to Daughter of Hounds. If you have the trade paperback, you may turn to page 238. If you have the paperback, it's page 205. If you have the trade paperback and the paperback, I love you.

15 February 2010, Pt. 2 )
greygirlbeast: (Vulcans)
I didn't think so, but it never hurts to ask. Wait, yes it does. It often hurts to ask.


So, we're still at Code Yellow. Yesterday, I wrote a rather surprising 1,357 words on "Romeo and Juliet Go to Mars," and there was some brief debate about standing down to Code Green. But I have no idea if what I wrote yesterday will lead to another thousand or so words today, or if it was any good, or we're holding at Yellow.

More good comments yesterday. I thought this one from [ profile] sovay hit the proverbial nail on its proverbial head:

For me, it all keeps coming down to entitlement—to be allowed glimpses of someone's life is to be invited to participate in it is to be authorized to change it, and heaven forfend if you do not wish your life to be changed. You asked me in, didn't you? We're all the same sort of people.

I don't think it's anything new; expectations of privacy have been eroding for years. But the internet promotes the illusion of intimacy where nothing more than the exchange of pixels exists, and it seems to be felt by many of its—practitioners?—as a compulsion rather than a choice. I mean, we are not all the same sort of people, but we're all supposed to be...

Yes. Nail. Head of Nail. All of that. But something else. The arrogance required of someone to believe that hesheit has the ability to change my life, or even my mood, via the goddamn internet. Oh, it could happen. An email from my agent informing me that The Red Tree was just optioned for a fat six figures by [insert dream director here], and I can stop writing and spend the next ten years on the next novel...that would definitely change my mood. But when I post " I would love to write a story or novel and not think, every single day I work on it, 'If I kill myself, I won't have to finish this.' Just once..." to Facebook, and twenty people reply with assorted "Oh, buck up, little buckaroo" That only makes it worse. Though, I suppose, by making it worse, those people have changed my life.

That's fucking brilliant!


Last night, we watched Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009). And at least it was better than the second Underworld film. I mean, I didn't nod off, as I did during Underworld: Evolution (2006). It didn't put me to sleep. That's a compliment, right? Also, I watched it in the comfort of my own home, and didn't have to pay to see it, and those things probably also prejudiced me in its favor.

By the way, if you're interested in Spooky's Halloween figurines, be warned that they are only available through Halloween. Come November 1st, everything Halloween will be removed from her Etsy shop until next October. So, consider yourselves notified.
greygirlbeast: (Mars from Earth)
The sun's come back to Providence today, and I, for one, am pleased with that. Hopefully, it'll pull up a chair and stay a while.

We're not yet going to Code Orange, which is not to say that I wrote yesterday, because I didn't. But I did talk to the editor of the book for which the Mars YA story is being written. One of the (numerous) things that's been hanging me up is a fear that my subject matter might be too "mature" for the intended audience. So, I laid it all out for my editor: my Mars, bereft of men a century after a biowar that destroyed the male population and left the planet quarantined. The female colonists have adapted. We have a society where lesbianism is the normative state, and where heterosexuality dooms one to a life of loneliness and stigma. Women breed via frozen-sperm deliveries from Earth, and also by a complicated parthenogenic process. And this story is about a young girl who is heterosexual. It's just the way she is, despite all the careful social conditioning to insure there will be no straight women, despite genetic engineering, whatever. She's into men, even though she's only ever seen photos and read of them. And, so, what's it like for her? Much to my relief, my editor approved the story concept, so long as I steer clear of any explicit sexual content (which I'd assured him I would).

So...yesterday, I began tearing "XX" apart and rebuilding it another way. It won't be precisely the story I set out to write, because I discovered the narrative structure simply wasn't working. And I've retitled the new incarnation "Romeo and Juliet Go to Mars." Today, I have to make Substantial Progress towards THE END. If I can do that today and for a week thereafter, we can probably avert a Code Orange.


My thanks to everyone who commented yesterday. They were good comments. And I spent much of yesterday mulling over my decision to withdraw from Facebook and Twitter, and I know it was the right decision for me. And very late last night, I was able to put my finger on exactly why neither was working for me (this most applies to Facebook). Thanks to technology that didn't exist only a decade or so ago, you get to watch how it is that I do this thing that I do. You get to watch, and discover what it is like for me. Day after day. You even get to watch for free. And questions are nice, and comments are okay. But I am not blogging to trigger some "meaningful dialogue" with my readers, and I sure as hell don't want (or have time for) arguments. I've been blogging since November 2001, and it's never been about that. And you don't get to try and cheer me up when I'm down, and you don't get to wax ironic or glib if I come across like a mopey old sock. You do not get to try and change the thing you've been allowed to watch. I am glad to have you here, but you're not a part of the process. Those who read this blog are readers, or, if you prefer, observers. And the best observers do not interfere. Think of it as a Prime Directive. This seemed especially difficult for people at Facebook, where I was barraged with constant attempts to "make me feel better," or, worse, people criticizing me for feeling down, for having a hard time with the words, for the fact that I'm not the sort of writer who loves to write, and so forth. Most of those comments were deleted.

I'd post, "No words today. No words at all." And someone would shoot back, "IDK I count seven LOL." Or something even less helpful (though more articulate), like "...if writing's such a painful burden, walk away and find something else to do." Um, yeah. Anyway, this is the sort of shit makes me want to torture soccer moms and cheerleaders with rusty 19th-Century surgical instruments (oh, okay; I always want to do that, regardless). So,, but don't try to redirect the flow to match the way you think things ought to be going, and don't try to make a happy camper of me. I have invited you here to watch, not to change me. Very, very simple equation.


Last night, we watched Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet (1996), and I discovered it's a much, much better film than I gave it credit for being when I saw it in the theater. I think, the first time I saw it, I simply didn't know how to watch it. Falling in love with Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! seems to have changed that. Anyway, it was sort of research for my Mars story. I may also mark yesterday as the day that I started smoking again. This happens every now and then, and it rarely lasts for very long. I have the apparently freakish ability to quit with no difficulty whatsoever. But the stress of the last few months made it pretty inevitable. Very late, we watched an episode of No Reservations, in which Anthony Bourdain made me want to eat all of New York City.

And here's something I thought I'd try. Deskscapes. Photos I took this morning of my workspace. This is pretty much what it looks like at the beginning of every day (a little dustier than usual):

11 October 2009 )
greygirlbeast: (white)
Only slightly late, Sirenia Digest #46 just went out to subscribers. My great thanks to Vince, Spooky, and Gordon. I do hope that everyone enjoys "Charcloth, Firesteel, and Flint" and "Shipwrecks Above." If you are a subscriber, #46 should be in your in-box. If you're not a subscriber, that's easy to fix.

Not much to say about yesterday, as it was mostly spent getting #46 together. Lots of work, just not very exciting. I wrote the prolegomena, proofed and corrected both stories, laid the issue out, etc. Oh, that reminds me. We're trying a slightly different format this month, to allow vertically oriented images to appear on the cover page. Hope you like it.


Near as I can tell, there are actually people who think that artists (writers, musicians, painters, etc.) somehow manage to subsist without relying on money. Yes, money. Mammon, that "dirty" word no one seems to want to think about in connection with art. Or, they only want to think about it on some indirect, subconscious level. Recently, Amanda Palmer has drawn a lot of flack for her very aggressive, somewhat guerilla approach to making ends meet. Here's an excerpt from a recent blog entry, which she titled, "Why I Am Not Afraid To Take Your Money":

Listen. Artists need to make money to eat and to continue to make art. Artists used to rely on middlemen to collect their money on their behalf, thereby rendering themselves innocent of cash-handling in the public eye. Artists will now be coming straight to you (yes YOU, you who want their music, their films, their books) for their paychecks. Please welcome them. Please help them. Please do not make them feel badly about asking you directly for money. Dead serious: this is the way shit is going to work from now on and it will work best if we all embrace it and don’t fight it.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve surely noticed that artists ALL over the place are reaching out directly to their fans for money. How you do it is a different matter. Maybe I should be more tasteful. Maybe I should not stop my concerts and auction off art. I do not claim to have figured out the perfect system, not by a long shot. BUT…I’d rather get the system right gradually and learn from the mistakes and break new ground (with the help of an incredibly responsive and positive fanbase) for other artists who I assume are going to cautiously follow in our footsteps. We are creating the protocol, people, right here and now. I don’t care if we fuck up. I care THAT we’re doing it.


Now, to bring the whole matter a little closer to home, that is closer to the issue of literature and publishing (as Amanda is a musician and performance artist), here's a second excerpt from "The Reality of a Times Bestseller" by Lynn Viehl (I may not care for what she writes, but that does not invalidate her points):

Here is the first royalty statement for Twilight Fall, on which I’ve only blanked out Penguin Group’s address. Everything else is exactly as I’ve listed it. To give you a condensed version of what all those figures mean, for the sale period of July through November 30, 2008. my publisher reports sales of 64,925 books, for which my royalties were $40,484.00. I didn’t get credit for all those sales, as 21,140 book credits were held back as a reserve against possible future returns, for which they subtracted $13,512.69 (these are not lost sales; I’m simply not given credit for them until the publisher decides to release them, which takes anywhere from one to three years.)

My net earnings on this statement was $27,721.31, which was deducted from my advance. My actual earnings from this statement was $0.

My advance for
Twilight Fall was $50,000.00, a third of which I did not get paid until the book physically hit the shelf — this is now a common practice by publishers, to withhold a portion of the advance until date of publication. Of that $50K, my agent received $7,500.00 as her 15% (which she earns, believe me) the government received roughly $15,000.00, and $1594.27 went to cover my expenses (office supplies, blog giveaways, shipping, promotion, etc.) After expenses and everyone else was paid, I netted about $26K of my $50K advance for this book, which is believe it or not very good — most authors are lucky if they can make 10% profit on any book. This should also shut up everyone who says all bestselling authors make millions — most of us don’t.

This is pretty close to my own experience with my books from Penguin (though my advances are significantly less hefty, and I fall into that not-making-a-profit category). And the reason I'm posting this, getting into all this unsightly money talk, is because it is becoming evident to me, largely watching some of the negative reaction to Amanda's efforts, that an awful lot of those who partake of an artist's work have very little, if any, idea regarding the realities of our financial situations. They are bleak. Even when lots and lots and lots of people read or listen or whatever, they're usually still bleak, those situations. And I'm not even getting into problems like health and life insurance, self-employment tax, and so forth.

A point that Viehl does not address, but which I shall, pertains to royalties. In all my thirteen years of writing books for Penguin, I have received exactly one royalty check. One. And it wasn't for very much. I hear from many readers who want to know how they should purchase books in order to maximize my cut from each copy. And I have to tell them, again and again, it doesn't matter, because, in truth, I get 0% of each copy sold. Sure, in theory those sales go to work off the "debt" of my advances, and if those "debts" ever are worked off, I might see tiny, little, baby checks. But it won't ever be worked off, and I know that. This means, my advances are, essentially, all I ever get from my novel sales to Penguin. So, it doesn't matter how you buy the book, hard copy or electronic, online or brick-and-mortar shop, it's all the same. Also, keep in mind, when Penguin gives me that advance, it includes electronic rights, audio, and British rights. I do not own those, for any of the novels.

And it can get even worse. When I did the Beowulf novelization for Harper in 2007, it was, essentially, "work for hire" (as was all my work for DC/Vertigo, by the way). That is, I got the advance, with no hope of ever seeing any sort of royalties. And the rights will never revert back to me if the book goes out of print (as they may someday with Penguin). But the worst part of the Beowulf deal was the fact that I was forced to include all foreign-language translation rights in the package they got for their advance money. Now, by forced I do not mean someone drove from NYC to Atlanta and held a fucking gun to my head. I mean that, after I'd written the book, my agent was told this, and we were given a "take it or leave it" option. Give up translation rights or all those months of work were wasted and I'd get zip. Beowulf was, of course, translated into about a dozen languages, selling well overseas, but I saw not one penny from any of those deals. Harper was nice enough to send me complimentary copies of the foreign editions.

Personally, I spent many, many years resisting a rebellion against "business as usual." I'd grown up with the Old Way, pre-internet, and was willing to give it a shot. But. By late 2004, the Old Way had left me all but bankrupt, and I found it necessary to join those who are trying to reinvent the wheel. I started Sirenia Digest, and thanks to the amazingly loyal readership that the digest has found, I keep my head just above water, most of the time.

I'm not exactly sure how to wrap this up. Inevitably, I have left many questions unanswered, and opened the door to very many questions that have not even occurred to me. Or that have only just occurred to me, such as, "Is it different working with Subterranean Press?" Quick answer, yes, and I do much better with subpress, but I think that's also part of reinventing the wheel. Anyway, that's another subject, for another time.

Mostly, I am appalled at the people ragging on Amanda for trying to make a living via inventive, new marketing strategies. The worst of these detractors are just trolls, attracted by the brouhaha. Some are simply ignorant of the facts. Some are laboring under outdated, romantic notions that no longer work (if they ever did). And I felt I should say something.
greygirlbeast: (Kraken)
The Great Sticky Glumness has returned to Providence. The clouds, the humidity, the weird temperatures. It isn't summer, but it isn't spring anymore, either. It's a season for which I know no name, and it comes too near to approximating how I usually feel. It's as though the weather has taken on the countenance of my mind. We're past Solstice, and I've hardly left the house all "summer" long. I look out the window, and any desire to leave my hole vanishes.

Yesterday, I wrote a rather surprising 1,514 words on "The Sea Troll's Daughter." Today, I have to set it aside long enough to get Sirenia Digest #43 together and out to readers, but I'll be coming back to the story tomorrow.

Only thirty-six days remaining until the release of The Red Tree, and I can only hope the pre-orders are good. And the reviews. And the first six weeks of sales. And so on and so forth.

One of my sf stories has sold for dramatization via a podcast, and I'll give you more details as soon as the contracts are signed.

Not much else to yesterday. I wrote and wrote, and then lay down on the bed to read and, instead, slept for an hour, until supper. I woke to the sun coming in through the bedroom window, so that was nice. Late last night, we watched an absolutely awful sf movie, made for Fox, something called Virtuality*. Not only was it was a piece of dog shit, but it managed to rip off almost every good sf film of the last twenty years. Poor Clea DuVall. I do like her, and I wish she could get better roles.

I want to unplug, please. I want to walk away from the internet and never look back. In the last couple of months, I've become more "connected" than ever, out of necessity, out of desperation. But I'm sick of it all. I want to spend a month without email, or blogging, without any of it. I'm sick of sitting in this chair, staring at this screen. I'm sick of trying, in vain, to seduce the masses. Maybe I'm just sick. I want to unplug.

Instead, I'll remind you that today's micro-excerpt of The Red Tree will be up at greygirlbeast as soon as I finish with this.

* Turns out, it was a pilot for a series. I had no idea, as I saw it via Hulu. Not that this changes my opinion of the thing....
greygirlbeast: (Kraken)
Gods, I did not sleep enough, and I don't even know why. I could have slept late. Latish, at least. No writing today, because there's an appointment to have my hair colored smack in the middle of the afternoon, but I got up anyway. As Spooky would say (no, really; I have heard her say this), "The bags under my eyes have carry-on luggage."

And speaking of eyes, last night I rubbed Tobasco sauce in my left (blind) eye. That was some fun. Boy, howdy.

Ever wondered what it would be like to see a Jack Chick pamphlet written by Lovecraft? Okay, truth be told, atheist or not, HPL never would have done this. He was far too couth. But it's still so true, and funny as hell. I have to print it out, then staple it together, so I can have an actual hard copy.

Er...writing. Yesterday, I only wrote 701 words on "The Sea Troll's Daughter," but that brought me to the end of Part One (there are two halves to this story), and I had to stop and ponder. Plus, I was very excited about The Ammonite Violin & Others, and that kind of slowed me down. Plus, I had a headache. And a note from Spooky.

Um...auctions. eBay. Books you need, even if you already own them. Here. You guys know the drill.

The jury's still out on Twitter (where I am, of course, greygirlbeast). I am enjoying twats from William Gibson and Moby. And I've made it to 441 followers, which means I only have 559 more to go before July 31st. Anyway, I'll post the 7th micro=excerpt from The Red Tree as soon as I finish this rather meandersome entry. Anyway, I'm sticking with Twitter for the time being, and I abandon MySpace in a few days.

Gotta get some more coffee. And find out why the platypus is wearing a lampshade on hisitsher head.

Hey...who the hell let the sun out?

And that post on Spooky's birthday left me needing more Concrete Blonde:

greygirlbeast: (Doc10-2)
No writing yesterday. No, that's not true. I began one story, wrote about 400 words, then realized it was not the right story. So I stopped and began another story, which I hope will be the right story. "The Sea Troll's Daughter," and I wrote more than 500 words on it. But I'm pretty sure it was a false start. So, you figure it out. I have most of the story in my head, the characters, the tone, the plot...and that very rarely ever is the case at the outset. Now, I only have to locate the words. could it have taken me half an hour to realize that this is not 1931? The iPod should have been a dead giveaway, but there are so many temporal shifts lately, it's hard to keep track.

Still cloudy. Still raining. Still not summer.

I fear I have become addicted to Twitter. In one week, I went from detesting it on general principle, to addiction. Which is pretty much how I do things. Ah, well. Beats the crap out of backsliding into Second Life (It's been two months now, so yay me!). I will say that there are two things about Twitter that have pleased me greatly. First, none of this misuse of the word friend. On Twitter, one has followers, and one follows others, which, in all ways, makes much more sense, without linguistic perversions. Several times now, I've had people (from LJ, SL, Facebook) pull that "But you're my FRIEND" shit on me, and I have to point out that no, I'm not, that we've never even met, and so on, and so forth. Drama ensues. And, of course, the misuse of friend has led to the neologism friending, when there was already befriend to function as an accompanying verb, and it would have worked just fine. "But, you friended me!" No, I befriended you. And, in this qualified sense of the word, that only makes us sort of vaguely acquainted, at best. Anyway, that's one thing.

Another thing that pleases me about Twitter is that, at least among the people who are following me thus far (362), and those I'm following (57), there's been, in more than three days, almost no l33t or lolspeak or emoticons. Which surprises me, as we're limited to 140 characters per message, and yet, all of these people stop and think of a way to make themselves understood without resorting to idiotic acronyms. I have not seen "lol" even once (but maybe that's because I'm not following Eliza Dushku). I am told this would change were I to descend into the realm of "people who do real-time conversation," but I'm not even sure what that is——I mean, how it would differ from what I've seen so far, since it all seems rather "real time"——so I shall simply avoid it. Anyway, I'm greygirlbeast.

Yesterday, I tweeted the first part of The Red Tree micro-sneak-peek experiment. Today, I'll repost yesterday's bit, then add Pt. 2.

My thanks to everyone who's bid in the current round of eBay auctions. I will remind you that the clothbound copy of The Merewife up now is probably the only one I will ever auction, as I received but four copies, back in 2005. Among my hard-to-find publications, it's surely one of the hardest to find. And, yes, all proceeds from these auctions will go to help offset the expense of my attending ReaderCon in July. So, thank you again, if you've bid or already won an auction.

Yesterday, Serena Valentino ([ profile] serenavalentino) wrote to relate to me a dream she'd had, a dream in which I appeared, and a dream which delighted me, when I heard of it. She's given me permission to include her description of the dream in this entry:

I had an interesting dream about you, even more interesting by virtue of rarely remembering my dreams. You were dressed in an Edwardian era outfit, a hybrid of a lady's outfit, but with long riding breeches under your skirt. I know this not because I got under your skirt, mind (it wasn't that sort of dream) your skirt was split in the front, revealing the breeches. Your long coat was also rather masculine, but tailored for a woman. It was very fetching. We were sitting near each other during a performance of some kind (candles illuminated the foot of the stage) and you commented on the performance, it was a very witty sort of comment, one would expect from Oscar Wilde, or yourself for that matter. I remember laughing a little too loudly for the people sitting near us, and that made us laugh even harder.

I only wish I could remember any of this.

Anything else? No, not really. Oh, except one thing. I'm pretty sure that very few people under the age of thirty-five remember what the word angst actually means, or know that "angsting" isn't a word, or that feeling and expressing angst is not a sign of weakness or something to be loathed and mocked. We'll talk about "emo" later. How can a nation be simultaneously so overwrought and emotionally constipated? Anyway, class dismissed. I need to see a lady about a platypus.
greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
Barely four hours sleep last night. I woke just before 7 a.m., took another half Ambien, but to no avail. Anyone planning to attend ReaderCon should be forewarned: The stress and insomnia and seizures and winter have all taken a toll. You may or may not recognize me.

No writing yesterday, but that was planned. What wasn't planned was that the day would spin insanely out of control, devolving into an utter shitstorm of wasted time and frayed nerves. So, yesterday gets a big fat "L" in the day planner. Less than nothing was accomplished.

And yeah, I'm still twatting (tweeting, whatever). There I am, @greygirlbeat. As of this moment, I have 281 people following the...what do you call a stream of tweets? A tweetstream? A feed? No idea, but anyway, that's not bad for the first 24+ hours. I'm hoping to reach 1,000 by the end of July. It's a sort of goal I've set for myself. To determine whether or not Rachael is merely an experiment, and nothing more. And here I am now, on Blogger, LiveJournal, Myspace, Facebook, Dreamwidth, and, now, Twitter. Which makes me incalculably more connected than I would be, were there not this necessity for promotion. Were I only Thomas Ligotti or Thomas Pynchon, or if the blasted books would sell themselves.

One thing that worries me —— and I cannot say this is new, as it has worried me for years, since I started the blog over at Blogger (and probably Usenet before that, back to '94), probably: All of this networking and reporting on the ups and downs on my day-to-day life, the ongoing, ceaseless catalog of profundities and the mundane, it changes that which it records. For so long now, I have been aware that I'll do a thing, go to a museum or a concert, a movie or the sea, and all the while I'm thinking, in some part of my mind, won't this make a good blog entry (or conversely, too bad this won't...). And how could I make it an even better blog entry. It's a bit like the old problem of wave-particle duality, or the trouble any anthropologist will encounter, attempting not to change the thing she observes. How different would each of these experiences be, if I were not aware that I would be reporting them to the world? I can't know, of course. X = the change wrought by my foreknowledge that I am living a life others will watch, even if only in a highly edited form, online. It worries me, and I'd be a liar if I said otherwise.

But it seems to have become inescapable, especially for those of us who are authors, or musicians, or painters, or some other art that needs the Word to Get Out There. If we ignore these technologies, our art may suffer, though we can never know that how or by how much. We can call that part of the equation N. The value of uncertainty. And, of course, just as awareness of the blogs and tweets to come will perforce alter various experiences, so to will they alter the things we write and paint and photograph and compose and so forth. Call that unknown value Y.

Just thoughts I cannot help but think. And yeah, this problem existed before the internet, but the last fifteen years or so (and especially in the last five or six, as these communication technologies accelerate towards...whatever) it has worsened dramatically.

A book I need to find and read: The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage (1998), on 19th-Century information overload.

Today, though I am not awake, we will go forth and seek the tree that will stand in for the eponymous red tree, and which will appear in the trailer for The Red Tree. Or, I may say fuck it all and go visit with Louis Agassiz' cabinet of wonders at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology. That's not such a long drive, and perhaps my tree is somewhere in Boston.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. And, again, I ask that you might pay especial attention to the hardback copy of The Merewife (Subterranean Press, 2005), as you are not likely to ever see me auction another. There's also a PC copy of the leather-bound and numbered state of Tales from the Woeful Platypus up now. Bid if you are so able, and so disposed. All proceeds go to my attending ReaderCon next month. Thank you.

Now, I think I will go find caffeine, or throw up, or just look in a mirror and watch my eyes bleed.
greygirlbeast: (Vulcans)
Yes, the rumors are true. Last night, I signed up for Twitter. I am now twatting. Or tweeting. Or twitting. Or what the fuck ever, as greygirlbeast. Yes, it's really me. For now. Yesterday, I began to wonder if I'd become like all those stabilists, back in the '50s and '60s, who still refused to accept the reality of plate tectonics, even when there was finally loads of hard data to support Alfred Wegner's model of continental drift. Yes, that's the way my mind works. Also, I couldn't get the refrain, "One of us! One of us!" out of my head. So, yes. It's really me. Greygirlbeast. Or @greygirlbeast. Or however one writes out their twat address. Please, don't rub it in. Already, the shame burns like hygiene. Oh, Spooky twats as DreamingSquid, in case you're interested. She's been doing it behind my back for weeks.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,947 words (a very, very productive writing day for me) and finished "The Mermaid of the Concrete Ocean," which will be appearing in Sirenia Digest #43. I sent the story to Vince last night, so that he can begin work on an illustration for the piece.

Today, I'm exhausted, and have declared a semi-day off.

However, it seems that the prime instigator in the recent round of severe insomnia may have been my attempt to finish "The Alchemist's Daughter." After I gave up and shelved it on Saturday, I began to sleep again. Let this be a lesson to you, young lady. Sometimes, you have to let go.

Not much else to yesterday. It rained, and it's still raining today. I'm going to petition city hall to decree that Providence shall henceforth be known as Seattle, RI, until such time as summer begins. So, yeah, it rained yesterday.

Spooky has added a few more items to the current eBay auctions. These include a hardback copy of The Merewife chapbook that was originally released with Subterranean Magazine #2, back in 2005. This is almost certainly one of my most collectible books. The hb printing was very small, and quickly sold out. I received only four comp copies, and this is probably the only one I'll ever auction.

We finished reading Andrea Barrett's The Voyage of the Narwhal last night. It's truly an extraordinary novel, and I strongly recommend it. Especially if you have an interest in 19th-Century naturalists, the development of the theory of evolution, and the history of Arctic exploration. It almost makes a curious sort of preface to Dan Simmons' superb The Terror. There's a passage from the last page that I want to put down here, it pleased me so much: Here are the hinges on which the world turns and the limits of the circuits of the stars.

And now I'm going to have coffee with a reclining platypus and a groggy dodo. I mentioned the twatter thing, right?
greygirlbeast: (stab)
Trent Reznor has decided to leave Twitter. You may read his reasons here. I'm mostly posting this because a) I'm a fan of NIN and b) I've now lost count of the people who've listed him as one of the three or or four people whose "tweets" I absolutely MUST start following or risk death by explosion or some such, and c) it articulates some of my own observations about the failure of social-networking sites.

Kudos for this quote: "Cutter's tip for my friends there: remember to cut along the length of vein, not across. Bigger payoff."

Also: "Anyway, we're in a world where the mainstream social networks want any and all people to boost user numbers for the big selloff and are not concerned with the quality of experience."

And this whole thing got me to thinking again, not so much about Twitter, but about how artists are perceived by fans, whether the artists in question are musicians or writers or whatever. I've reached the point where some people read Silk, which I wrote between 1993 and 1996, and they expect me to still be the person I was back then, still writing in the voice I wrote in back then, and, what's more, to resemble, in real life, various characters from the novel (usually whoever happens to be hisherits favorite). They learn I'm someone else, instead, and they get...weird. Or angry. Or bitter. Because, you know, writers and musicians and painters and dancers and what-the-hell-evers, we're all supposed to be bugs in amber, waiting patiently for someone to find us and identify with us, so that we may validate their existence.

Admittedly, near as I can tell, these folks are in the minority of my readership, thankfully, but they have megaphones.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Some interesting Twitter data has been brought to my attention today. Chiefly, a new study by a researcher at the Harvard Business School (Piskorski, Mikolaj Jan. "Networks as covers: Evidence from an on-line social network.") which used a random sampling of 300,000 Twitter users during May of 2009. Among other things, the study shows that "...the top 10% of prolific Twitter users accounted for over 90% of tweets," and that, in this respect, "...Twitter's resembles more of a one-way, one-to-many publishing service more than a two-way, peer-to-peer communication network." Here's a link to the online report on the study.

Pikorski finds "Twitter's usage patterns are also very different from a typical on-line social network. A typical Twitter user contributes very rarely. Among Twitter users, the median number of lifetime tweets per user is one. This translates into over half of Twitter users tweeting less than once every 74 days." And there's some very intriguing stuff in this article on gender and Twitter.

Also, there's a piece at CNet on the lack of loyalty displayed by Twitter users towards the service, as compared to MySpace and Facebook: "Twitter Quitters Post Roadblock to Long-Term Growth" by David Martin, Vice President, Primary Research, Nielsen Online.

Martin writes, "Currently, more than 60 percent of U.S. Twitter users fail to return the following month, or in other words, Twitter’s audience retention rate, or the percentage of a given month’s users who come back the following month, is currently about 40 percent."

Curious stuff. I also was unaware that Twitter got a 100% boost from an Oprah mention, though the boost doesn't appear to be translating into repeat offenders.
greygirlbeast: (fisting)
There was a seizure last night, but fortunately, I was already lying on the bed when it hit. I bit my lip, but not badly. These damn things have become such a part of my life, they hardly even scare me anymore. Spooky much more so than me. But still, they do have a way of kicking a day or evening in the groin.

Yesterday, I read back over "Fish Bride," and polished it a bit. It was strange, going back to it after having finished "Galápagos," and it's weird in general, given this was a story I started trying to write three years ago. But now it's finished. Also, Vince's illustration for the piece came in, and I love it. Perfect. So, I will spend today assembling the file for Gordon to PDF, and, hopefully, Sirenia Digest #42 will go out to subscribers this evening. Remember, this issue will also includes the very detailed synopsis for mine and Poppy's unwritten X-Files novel, Dead Kids, plus a new poem by Sonya Taaffe. So, it would be a good place for new subscribers to jump onboard. Just click here (and, yeah, the FAQ's a little antiquated).

A lot of yesterday went into planning various bits of promotion I'm going to undertake for The Red Tree, and most of it's new ground for me. Some cool stuff, though, and I'll be able to talk about this a little more in a week or so.

I've been spending a lot of time over at deviantART lately (wonderful site), and I'm surprised at how so few of the professional artists there use their actual names for their accounts. Almost none, really. It's one of the peculiarities of Facebook, and something I like about it, that most users do use their names. Then again, I use "greygirlbeast" on both LJ and MySpace. But, than again again, my name is right there alongside the pseudonym. Is that even the right word — pseudonym — in this day and age, when speaking of the internet? Anyway, I just found it odd, but I find most things about the web odd.


Last night, Spooky and I watched Bryan Singer's Valkyrie (2008). Not a great movie, but not a bad movie. Mostly, a movie that should have been much better. A great cast, including Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Terence Stamp, and Eddie Izzard. Tom Cruise was only moderately annoying. Mostly, I was annoyed that hardly anyone but the actor playing Hitler could be bothered with a German accent. Cruise couldn't even be bothered to affect the British accent sported by most of the cast. Is a German Resistance more palatable to American moviegoers if they don't sound like Germans? Newton Thomas Sigel's cinematography was quite good, the best thing about the film.

And we read more of Andrea Barrett's The Voyage of the Narwhal.

And now, it's time to make the doughnuts.
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 2)
No writing again yesterday. But I sat here in this chair, staring at this screen, looking for the words, until about 5 p.m. I did find ideas, which will hopefully lead to words today.

A good deal of yesterday was wasted on the Google Books fiasco. Today, I'll be contacting a lawyer in New York who's working with authors opposed to the "settlement" accepted by the Author's Guild and the Association of American Publishers. We'll see where that leads. It does appear, after all, that the option currently exists to remove your books from the list that Google intends to digitize, display, and sell. And really, that's all I'm asking for here, to be left out of this, to have the choice not to participate. None of my books have yet been displayed, so I'm not interested in recouping damages or lost income.

If anyone out there thinks that I'm being unreasonable about this, just stop and ask yourself how much work you're willing to do for less than minimum wage. Me, I often write for less than minimum wage. Most novelists and short-story writers do. Even a decent advance, when divided by the number of hours required to write, say, a one-hundred thousand word novel, often yields alarmingly low wages. And I'm not talking about the time required to type the ms. I'm talking about all the time required to write it. Mostly, I don't let myself think of it this way, because it only locks me up. Regardless, it's one thing to choose to work in a field where most everyone's underpaid.

It's another thing altogether to agree to the illegal rights grab that Google Books is attempting here. $60 a book, indeed. It took me something like twenty-seven months to write Silk (just as a "for instance"), and I'm actually expected to smile and hand over electronic display and sales rights to these assholes for $60? Not a chance. I'd much prefer to have nothing at all, even in this economy. What Google is attempting threatens to depreciate the value of what authors do, and I strongly urge others to opt out. I'll post more about exactly how you do that when I understand the in and outs a little more. No small part of yesterday was spent reading the absurdly convoluted legal documents associated with this case, and I've only processed about half of what I've read. Which is why I'm contacting said lawyer.

Anyway, enough bellyaching.


More WoW last night than is good for me. I didn't get to sleep until after four a.m. But Shaharrazad and Suraa both nailed the "Five Exalted Reputations" (or whatever it's called) achievement last night. This evening, I can easily become exalted with the Darkspear trolls and claim the title "Ambassador." Then, maybe I'll begin leveling again. And, yes, I really do need to get a life.

Time to make the doughnuts....
greygirlbeast: (Eli2)
I spent yesterday not writing, but searching for the next story to be written. So, I didn't really do much better than I did on Monday, despite the best of intentions.


Don't know how many of you have been following the Google Books fiasco. The Author's Guild and various publishers reached a settlement with Google back in October, under which Google is required to pay out $125 million dollars to the authors who have had (or soon will have) their copyrights infringed by the Google Books project. It's not much of a settlement. $60 per book, and if you don't claim your copyright and go along with the plan, Google will use your work, regardless. To quote Wikipedia, "In return, Google will be able to index the books and display snippets in search results, as well as up to 20% of each book in preview mode. Google will also be able to show ads on these pages and make available for sale digital versions of each book" (italics mine).

I mean, if this is the best the Author's Guild can manage, authors are well and truly screwed.

You can opt out, of course, and choose to file your own lawsuit against Google, but that's not much of an option. I haven't the money, the time, or the legal savvy. Anyway, there's now a website up that allows authors and publishers to "claim" copyright of their books that Google has already digitized. I've found sixteen of my own works listed on the website. Most are still in print. Oh, and I'm not counting those books of mine on the list that were done as "work for hire" (The Dreaming, Beowulf, etc.), as the publisher legally holds those copyrights.

I spoke with my agent on Monday regarding my options, and she replied I should accept the settlement, unless I plan to file my own lawsuit. So, Google Books has become a compulsory enterprise. I do not have the option I want, which is simply to deny Google the rights to display or sell anything I've written. And how this is possible is beyond me. This is my work, and I own the copyrights, and what Google is undertaking is blatantly illegal, and will seriously jeopardize my ability to make a living off my work, but I have no choice. In the end, I have to admit this mess baffles the hell out of me. To simply quote four lines of poetry in a novel, I have to jump through countless legal hoops. But no one is able to stop Google from forcing every living writer to be a part of this scheme. It makes me ill. It makes me want to never write another fucking word.


The last few months, I've had numerous people ask me why I'm not "twittering," or if I plan on "twittering," or will I please start "twittering." Back on February 3rd, I spoke my mind on Twitter, and nothing has changed. I started a blog in 2001 at the advice of my agent and other authors (most notably Neil), who thought it might help to promote my work. And it has. I began mirroring the blog at LiveJournal (originally, I was at Blogger) in April 2003, because, for whatever reason, people seemed to be flocking to LJ. I made a major concession to my lack of interest in the whole social-networking phenomenon a couple of years later by starting a MySpace account. Unlike the blog, whether or not MySpace has had any positive affect on the sales of my work is unclear. And then Facebook came along, and I reluctantly started an account, because, once again, I worried that if I didn't, I'd miss an opportunity to promote my writing. So...Blogger, LJ, MySpace, and Facebook.

And now I'm being told that I need to add Twitter to the list. After all, all the cool kids are doing it. It's the new wave of the future. But I find that I just don't care. Which is to say, no, I will not be joining the Twitter craze. I am already more "connected" than I wish to be, and I can think of nothing more insufferably dull than sending out trivial details of my life, trying to broadcast my every trivial thought (or reading the trivial acts and thoughts of others). I've already come dangerously close to doing this with the Facebook thing, and, for that matter, with the online journal. I have no more time for distraction. No more time for the latest internet fads. If anything, I'm more inclined to begin withdrawing somewhat.

I'm having one of those "Emperor's New Clothes" reactions to Twitter, and I think it's time to trust my instincts, which I too often ignore.

I do not do text. These days, I rarely even use the telephone. I will not "twitter."


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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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