greygirlbeast: (Default)
Well, yesterday failed to measure up to the poopiness of its promise, though it was hardly conducive to the sort of work I'm supposed to be doing. You know...writing? Still, the anger subsided, and the day got better as it went on – a little better – and I have learned there's at least one person who thinks "awesome" is as overused (and inappropriately used) as do I, and who's willing to speak up. And that's pretty bow tie.

I managed to edit about one-third of Alabaster #3 before my agent called. It's fairly easy editing, as my editor at Dark Horse was very happy with this script, as was I. Hopefully, readers will also be happy with it.

My agent and I talked about Blood Oranges, mostly, and the fact that I'm planning two sequels (the second would be called Fay Grimmer; I don't yet have a title for book three). I'm morally opposed to any trilogy not written by Tolkien or Herbert or William Gibson or Holly Black.'s not really a trilogy-type trilogy. My story is more like one long (funny) story divided into three parts. It just works better that way. Also, the trilogy format allows me to write it over three years, instead of all at once. Many options are being explored. I am finally learning about options (after seventeen years in publishing). I'm fucking stubborn like that. Anyway, we also talked about the revamp of the website, and how not finished it is, and how the market is worse than ever, and how Dark Horse is now my day job, and how I'm turning down pretty much all short-story solicitations, and how to connect readers to booksellers that are not Amazon, and how to promote The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, and how my craziness sometimes impedes my communication with Merrilee and leads to my overreacting and misunderstanding (and stuff). Oh, Merrilee Heifetz is my bow-tie agent (has been since 1997) at Writers House. And no, I will not tell her your book is an incredible work of literature, the greatest thing since sliced halva, and how she should represent you. So, don't even think I might.

Yesterday, I renewed my membership to The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (I've been a member since I was nominated to the society in 1984).


Fuck all, but this is a fucking perfect sentence (from Gibson's Neuromancer): The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.


Late in the day, I was treated to pencils for Greg Ruth's cover for Albaster #3, and like the fist two covers, it's goddamn beautiful. Greg Ruth rocks. Which is to say, kittens, he is most bow tie.

Okay, now I go to finish with the editing of #3. I also have to speak to my editor at Dark Horse later today, and write synopses for the two books that will follow Blood Oranges (and, fuck all, but I hate writing synopses). However, my diligence will be rewarded with a visit from [ profile] readingthedark this evening. We're gonna talk about stuff.

Slightly Improved & a Tad Manic,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (twilek1)
Skimp on one journal entry, everything piles up. Outside it's very cold. Well, very cold if you're me. 43˚F, and the low tonight will be 22˚F (-5.5 C). This might come out all higgledy piggledy (double dactyl!), but at least it will be a higgledy-piggledy list.

[One-hour pause to install iTunes 10.5.1, which should have been easy, but wasn't.]

1. Yesterday we saw Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Marvelous. If Ritchie's making Holmes purists uncomfortable, more power to him. A Game of Shadows was at least as smart, and funny, and as fine a box of eye candy as Sherlock Holmes (2009). Oh, and lots of deftly inserted (cough, cough) gay innuendo, so booya. Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law, I love you. Great chess, too. Eight tentacles up.

2. Last night, late, I finished with Stephen Jones' A Book of Horrors. All I had left to go was Robert Shearman's very good Machenesque "A Child's Problem," Dennis Etchinson's pleasantly odd and wistful piece "Tell Me I'll See You Again," and Richard Christian Mathenson's somewhat delightfully sadistic "Last Words." The latter might have served as a fitting bit for Sirenia Digest. I don't read much contemporary horror, but A Book of Horrors is a solid volume (plus, you get my piece, "Charcloth, Firesteel and Flint").

3. Thursday evening was cold, windy, and the sky spat rain. That would have been the first day of the vacation, yes? This day is the third. But I sort of did some work during the day, unless I misremember...which is always a possibility. Later, we visited the RISD Art Gallery (and got our nephew, Miles, a very bow-tie book for Solstice), then went out to get supplies (for both Spooky and me) at Jerry's Artarama*, then stopped near Brown and got delicious food from Mama Kim's Korean BBQ for dinner. It was worth huddling under my umbrella for.

4. Yesterday, UPS brought my copy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, and I recreated my Twi'lek Sith inquisitor Herazade and began leveling again. Made it to nine. I really am loving this game. Utterly bow tie, despite my initial predictions and impressions. However, a caveat: Why can game designers not rid us of the ubiquitous MMORPG silly hop? Have they never noted how humanoids jump? Generally, pushing off and up with the ball/toe of one foot, then landing with their opposite/s. Simple anatomy. Hopping up and down with bowed legs looks idiotic, and it's everywhere, except in console games, where a better knowledge of functional anatomy seems to prevail. The standing jump, of course, would be an exception, but, in most situations, standing jumps are rare, and may not serve here as an explanation or excuse.

5. Tonight, we see Brown Bird play at the Met in Pawtucket, and our Honourary Gentleman Caller, [ profile] readingthedark, will be joining us for the musical shenanigans. Gonna rock.

6. Since we'd let our credits back up, I downloaded three books the other day: first, Harlan reading his own Edgeworks Volume 1 – which is a delight – William Gibson's Neuromancer; and Paolo Bacigalupi The Wind-Up Girl. The last is the only I've not read, but I have great hopes. Of course, I'm not reading here, but listening, which is a distinctly different experience. Since I was a very, very small child I have savoured having stories and novels read to me. Unlike ebooks, audiobooks are bow tie.

7. Right now, plans are that the "teaser" trailer for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir will go live at 12 ayem EST (1 ayem CaST) on January 1st, New Year's Day. It will appear at that moment on my LiveJournal, as well as YouTube, Vimeo, etc. I will ask people to repost and embed it and link to it and spread it far and wide. I need the front page of my website redesigned for this book, but presently have no options. If anyone is willing to offer their web-fu for a FREE signed and inscribed copy of the book, email me at greygirlbeast(at)gmail(dot)com and we'll work something out.

And that is all! No more words! Vakayshun!

Aunt Beast

* In The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, Imp works at Jerry's.
greygirlbeast: (white)
No, I'm awake. I promise. I can even see. Almost. I have even managed to survive the severe upbraiding I have received from Spooky for having awakened her at dawn-thirty because I was awakened by Hubero at dawn-thirty. I don't know why I did it! He does crazy shit, okay?! Crazy-ass cat shit, and usually she knows how to scare him in to calming the hell down. Instead, no, I'm in trouble for waking her up – me, the victim.

But that's cool. No more saving her from sasquatches.

And here it is the First of Hallowe'en, which would be fine, if I hadn't lost the first third of summer to rain, and the second third to...a bunch of dumb shit.

Yesterday I wrote a mere 454 words on "Daughter Dear Desmodus." Then I realized, This isn't a vignette. Or even a "sudden" fiction, or a short short, or whatever the beatniks are saying these days. It's not a short story, and I think it's more than a novelette. Or even a novella. Gods fuck me sideways, I think it's the first few pages of a novel about a "bat girl" in a carnival sideshow and how she grows up to unwittingly become the center of a doomsday cult, and fall in love. You know, like Water for Elephants on LSD.* And that's when I typed, THE END, because if I stopped at the conclusion of the paragraph I was writing, the story would have a happy ending. Okay, not happy. But what Spooky pronounced "sweet." Look, I don't know if it's the pills they give me so I don't flop around on the floor and choke on my own spittle to die the ignominious death of Tchaikovsky, or if I'm just getting old...but I find myself, now and again, wanting to let a character with whom I have fallen in love off the hook just a little. IS THAT SO BAD? Anyway, this is the story Vince will be illustrating, instead of the other story.

Spooky's muttering about washing her hair.

Yesterday, the mail (which only works about half the time) brought me my comp copies of Paula Guran's Halloween (Prime Books), a volume with many fine authors (Ray Bradbury, Thomas Ligotti, Lovecraft, Peter Straub, me, and etcetera) that reprints my piece, "On the Reef" (I found two minor typos; my fault). Oddly, I appear only ever to have written two "Hallowe'en stories": "At the Reef" and "A Redress for Andromeda." More proof I'm not a "horror" writer. You know, people still get hung up on that shit, me refusing to be called a "horror" writer. They take it personally. Seriously. For my part, I look at writers I admire, who had a great influence on me growing up. Ray Bradbury (again), for example. Sure, he writes science fiction, and fantasy (sensu stricto and sensu lato), and scary stories, and non-fantastic lit. Italo Calvino? Ambrose Bierce? Or Harlan Ellison, for example. You could not find an author more impossible to categorize (okay, well maybe you could, but that's not the point). He writes...what he wants to write. Same with Shirley Jackson: ghost stories, insightful stories about insanity and the labyrinth of the American family, and she also wrote some very funny shit. And Lovecraft? You really think "The Colour Out of Space" and "At the Mountains of Madness" are "horror" stories? But...William Gibson's "Hinterlands," that's sceince fiction? Pffffft.

You know, there are an awful lot of quotation marks in the last paragraph.

Today I work on pulling Sirenia Digest #70 together, so that I can send it to be PDF'd as soon as I have Vince's illustration, then Spooky can send it out to all the subscribers (and if you are not one of those, it's NEVER too late...unless you die first).

Some really fine RP in Insilico last night. Thank you, Joah. You've helped to complete the building of the perfect beast. And I read Algernon Blackwood's sublime "The Wendigo" for the umpteenth time, but every time it amazes me all the more. know what? I consider myself a connoisseur of fetishes. There are few of them with which I am not acquainted. And there are still fewer that don't get me off. Wait...never mind. This isn't about non-Euclidian geometry and larger and smaller infinities, Georg Cantor and his cardinalities, integers vs. whole numbers. Not that math can't be a fetish. It can. But...what was I saying? Oh! Yes! Every now and then I watch the creation of a new fetish right before my very eyes and I know - with perfect clarity - it was created just for me. To whit, Christina Hendricks and her red accordion. I would show you the clip, but YouTube has disabled embedding by request. You'll have to settle for a link to Christina Hendricks playing her red accordion. And really, it's all I need. I could just...sit...and watch...her and...that red accordion...for hours. Without breathing.

Stopping Before Someone Gets Hurt,
Aunt Beast

*A novel I might be able to write by 2014.
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 2)
(No one's going to read all this...)

Last night, I dreamt of playing the accordion.


Really, beyond seeing Lee Moyer's almost finished cover for Two Worlds and In Between, it was a pretty shitty day. That was the only bright spot. Wait, there was one other. Anyway, for some reason, I recorded the whole crappy day in photos, nineteen of them, below and behind the cut.

I've not spoken for thirty-three hours now, and I'm going for forty-eight, and then, then we'll see.

Much (but by no means all) of what went so wrong about yesterday was thinking I might be ready to finish the final chapter of The Drowning Girl, then discovering another scene that needed to be fitted it. I wrote the new scene, then struggled to insert it without disrupting the chapter's established flow. This is one of those things I can't understand about writers who write shit out of order. I write, I establish flow, and it's pretty much unidirectional. Try to go back and stick in new stuff, it all goes to shit (plus, you're swimming upstream the whole time). But, I wrote the new scene, like I said, then proceeded to the last scene (I only wrote 691 words yesterday). Then decided I needed to hear all of the final chapter, and an earlier part of the book, before wrapping it up. So, I asked Spooky to read it to me.

But I dozed off while she was reading to me, so we have to finish today. After I write the journal entry. Then I have to write another extra scene, once I figure out if it belongs in the ninth or tenth chapter. Maybe Monday and Tuesday I can write the last two scenes. Of course, I also have the deadline for Two Worlds and In Between a mere nine days from now, and there's still so much work left to do on that it boggles the noggin. And there's the work for SuicideGirls that I took on last week.

A nice piece of mail (the real sort, on paper with stamps) from Leeanne O'Sullivan in Lancashire, England. Thank you, Leeanne. You were that other bright spot.


After dinner, I had a hot bath. And a meltdown. A silent meltdown.

Later, when I'd been scooped into a Caitlín-shaped bowl, we watched Abel Ferrara's New Rose Hotel, a pretty faithful 1998 film adaptation of William Gibson's short story of the same name. If nothing else, the movie nails the mood of Gibson's story. Christopher Walken is wonderful. Willem Dafoe is a little on autopilot. And Asia Argento But you already knew that. Yoshitaka Amano (yes, that Yoshitaka Amano) plays the mark, a geneticist named Hiroshi, and there are cool cameos, such as Ryuichi Sakamoto. Definitely recommended, and you can stream it from Netflix.

Laterer, played Rift. Selwyn didn't make Level 19, because I tried to rp instead. And it wasn't bad, but after two attempts at rp in Rift I see that one has to know the canon, and that all the players have to be on the same page in interpreting the canon. Most rpers won't even realize this, of course, but then most rpers suck. Which is why you must rp in tiny groups (4-5 at most).

Latererer, Spooky read me chapters Four and Five of Catching Fire, and I'm relieved to say it gets much better. I think the first three chapters might have been condensed into a paragraph. But I also think, when we're done, I'll be of the opinion it should all have been written as a single book, not a trilogy. We are chained to trilogies. Fuck you, Trilogy Tyrant. Fuck you, Despot of Series. Fuck you.


My thanks to people who commented on the problem of gay protagonists in YA novels. I'm not going to get into all the details, because they are many and some of this is private stuff between me and others. And because there's the ugly issue of money. But, I will say, my first YA protagonist will be a lesbian. The worst that can happen is that I can fail, and I've sort of done that already (if we're talking about financial success and mass appeal, and I am).

Comments on #63? Bueller? Bueller?

Now...the photos:

5 February 2011 )
greygirlbeast: (newest chi)
Here we go with the higgledy-piggledy again. It's a coolish day here in Providence, but sunny. After the anticlimax of Hurricane Earl, summer collapsed like a leaky balloon. Now it's sweater weather again.

I love that William Gibson tweeted "Johnette Napolitano is my Anne Rice. Seriously. Wonderful writer."

Yesterday, I finished writing my story for The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, though it still doesn't have a title. Which, I suppose, means that, technically, it's still not finished. I wrote 1,171 words yesterday. This story has been tedious to write, but I like the end result. It has required the constant consulting of texts, on subjects as diverse as pop culture, bog mummies, Arabian mythology, Irish and French geography, owls, early 20th-Century occultism, X-ray microtomography, the chemical composition of claw sheaths, weird fiction in the 1980s, rogue taxidermy, social constructionism, and Parisian ossuaries.

My new passport came yesterday, so no more worries about photo ID. This new passport is oddly high tech. I know it's being used to track me by satellite. It won't have to be renewed again until I'm fifty-six, and I imagine by then the world will hardly be recognizable.


Still reading Kristin Hersh's memoir, Rat Girl. There's a bit I want to quote. She's writing about writing music, but it applies (for me) equally to writing prose:

Music's making me do things, live stories so I can write them into songs. It pushes my brain and my days around. A parasite that kills its host, it doesn't give a shit about what happens to a little rat girl as long as it gets some song bodies out of it. It's a hungry ghost, desperate for physicality.

I'm not writing songs anymore; they're writing

♋ close your eyes

i'm sliding really fast
my hands are full of snow

i don't understand
i don't understand puzzles

And every time a song is done, you can go aren't needed anymore.
-- Kristin Hersh

I like to lie about writing being like this for me. I've often declared that writing fiction is, for me, nothing like this.


Still reading Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age. And I'm also still thinking about the problem posed by A is for Alien, how it didn't do as well as all my other subpress books (i.e., it hasn't sold out). And between the reading and the pondering, something has occurred to me, and maybe it should have occurred to me before. Stephenson's book is, undoubtedly, marvelous. The worldbuilding is first rate, from the tech to the sociology (even though I think he's slightly too optimistic). And he truly has written a post-cyberpunk pastiche of a Charles Dickens novel. But, I find the book oddly lacking in emotional content and depth. The characters aren't precisely flat. But there's very little insight into how they feel about the world about them or about each other or about themselves. At times, they seem to exist in order to show us the book's technology and history and so forth. They're almost no more than plot and setting delivery devices. I feel like they're all living out a tragedy they're never allowed to recognize as such.

I have often heard it said that science fiction is the literature of ideas. Fair enough. But I don't think it ought to be the literature of ideas to the exclusion of exploring pathos, delight, fear, and so forth. And it certainly didn't used to be. But I haven't read much sf after the cyberpunks of the '80s. So maybe things have changed. Or maybe I'm placing too much weight on a single data point (though that matter of "mundane sf" rears its head). Anyway, my sf is primarily concerned with human emotion, with the characters, and only secondarily concerned with science and technology. Often, the science it is most concerned with is psychology, and I'm just wondering if that's part of what I'm trying to make sense of here. I recognize I may be barking up the wrong tree; but I need to check all of them, all these trees.


Good rp in Insilico last night. And an interesting ooc conversation right before I logged of SL, a conversation with Blair (the person I'm mostly rping with these days) about living vicariously through our roleplay characters. We both acknowledge that's what we're doing. Me, I'm exploring various issues of identity by having an android pass through various incarnations, becoming progressively human. Anyway, it's mostly interesting because I've known a lot of people who are very resistant to the idea that rp involves this sort of therapeutic vicariousness. But I think it's where the true value of rp lies, in allowing us to explore secret parts of ourselves. Now, admittedly, it can also allow us to view the world through alien eyes, through minds not our own, and try to become people we aren't. But the best we can ever manage in those situations it to try, because all our characters will always only be splinters of us.
greygirlbeast: (walter3)
1. Yesterday, I began the second piece for Sirenia Digest #51, and wrote 1,011 words. I think I'm liking it. It was inspired by something I saw at Beavertail on Sunday. Also, Vince is working on an illustration for "The Eighth Veil," so the issue is coming together, and should be out before the end of February.

2. A couple of days back, the check arrived for the editions of Threshold, Low Red Moon, Murder of Angels, Daughter of Hounds, and The Red Tree. The arrival of money is never a bad thing. Anyway, the tentative release date for the audio editions of all five novels is April 27th, 2010, and I'm looking forward to it.

3. Jeff VanderMeer has just posted the Table of Contents for Steampunk Reloaded, and it's a great lineup. The book reprints "The Steam Dancer (1896)." This marks the first time I've been in an anthology that also includes work by William Gibson, and I'm kind of excited about that. Also, I'm pleased that John Coulthart is responsible for the book's interior design.

4. Another rhetorical question: If I have a parting of the ways with a world that's only a simulacrum, do I only have to pretend to mourn?

5. If I ever sink so low as to write a paranormal romance novel titled Succubi Like It Hot, someone please gut me slowly with a dull grapefruit spoon. Thank you.

6. As promised, more photographs from Sunday at Beavertail (warning: I was sort of fixated on seaweed that day). All these were taken on the eastern side of the point. I'm already wishing I could have another day there, and not be cooped up at the desk and keyboard. That's a good sign, Howard Hughes wanting to get out and about in the world. As soon as Sirenia Digest #51 is out, I think Spooky and I will be spending a day in Boston. Anyway, yes, more photographs, and there will be still more tomorrow, and more the day after that, get the picture (so to speak):

21 February 2010, Part 2 )

Give a dog a bone,
He'll eat for the day.
But teach him how to kill...then...
greygirlbeast: (goat girl)
1. Gods, I'm not awake. And to blame we have the Ambien I took at 4:45 a.m., although what we really have to blame is (drum roll, please) THE. BEST. ROLEPLAY. EVER. Which I got in Insilico last night. My thanks to Omika, Abiki, Fifth, Pinbacker...and others. Really, it's like being lodged in the forebrain/motherboard of an early William Gibson novel, this rp. Smart, immersive, simulationist, literate, and exquisitely hard. And to think I spent almost two and half years trying to find a sim that has its shit together, and players on the same wavelength as me, and that I suffered so much lousy rp and silly-ass ooc drama.* Anyway, wow, but I am so painfully not awake. Oh, I'm playing Xiang, a very confused little toaster.

2. Yesterday, I wrote 1,269 words on "Hydrarguros," for Sirenia Digest #50. The story really seemed to find itself yesterday afternoon. And then Jason Statham showed up. On Facebook, I wrote "Gods, I've just realized Jason Statham is narrating my new sf story. That is, the narrator's voice, as I hear it in my head as I write is that of Jason Statham." Sort of Jason Statham as he was in Snatch. Later, also on Facebook, I added, "You have to imagine Jason Statham starring in a film version of David Bowie's Outside, playing Nathan Adler, only it's not a movie about art crimes, but a movie about drugs from Mars." Which isn't precisely right, but somewhere in the neighborhood.

3. Okay, so...I've keep putting off talking about Peter Straub's very wonderful new novel, A Dark Matter (due out February 9th). Mostly, that's because I know enough to know I'm no good at reviewing books (would that more readers knew this of themselves), and I'm not going to do the book justice. I can heap praise upon it, which it deserves, but which is also insufficient. I could, in theory, reduce it to some book-reportish synopsis, but that would be criminal. So, I won't do either. You're just going to have to trust me on this. I've been reading Peter since 1981, and this is one of his very best. There are such moments of surreal, transcendent weird. Worlds bleed together. It is, in a sense, about the price of expanding one's consciousness. In another sense, it's about the charlatans who promise expanded consciousness, and, specifically, about the sorts who peddled those wares in the sixties. More than anything, this is a novel about consequence. In brilliantly inverts many of the readers expectations, turning its plot back upon itself, as we watch its characters struggle to come to terms with an unspeakably bizarre event from their pasts, in order to heal their present lives. You want to read this novel. Spooky read the whole thing aloud to me while I was sick, before she got sick. We expect to read it a second time in a few months. Thank you, Peter. You just shine, man.

4. Last night, we watched Anthony Bourdain in the Philippines (our fondness for this man seems to know no bounds), and then watched Rob Zombies' remake of Halloween 2. I'm still parsing my thoughts on the film. It was, in many ways, a much more ambitious film than his Halloween remake, and it had some fine moments, but, in the end, I don't think it was as good as the first film (and certainly not as good as The Devil's Rejects). Mostly, I think Mr. Zombie needs to a) stop casting the atrocious Sheri Moon Zombie in his films, even if she is his wife, because the woman simply cannot act, and she's holding him back; and 2) I think it's time for him to try something new. We now know he can make very, very good slasher films in the spirit of the '70s and '80s classics. Now, I'd like to see him do something different, because I think he has it in him, and it's time to grow artistically.

5. Email this morning from the woman who'll be reading both Low Red Moon and Threshold for the adaptations. They start recording tomorrow, and need correct pronunciations for trilobite names. So, I think all the audiobooks are now in production, which is just amazing.

6. I'm now going to go drink what's left of my coffee and try to wake the fuck up. Excuse me.

*Within a few weeks, Insilico proved itself almost as bad, or worse, than the rest of Second Life, and I had to start eating my words.
greygirlbeast: (sol)
Right now, it's a chilly 85F in the House, and rising. We call this gallows humour.

Yesterday, despite the heat and the sweat and something approaching a fevered delirium, as the mercury climbed towards 89F (with a heat index hovering around 100F), I wrote 1.037 words on "Werewolf Smile," which is being written as a single paragraph. I asked Spooky, last night, as we were going to bed, if she thought people would murder me if I wrote the next novel as a single paragraph not broken into chapters. She said, without a moment's hesitation, yes, they would. Regardless, in some ways, the vignette, "Werewolf Smile," is the beginning of a "dry run" for the next novel, the one with the working title Blood Oranges.

Much of the past three days, when I wasn't too hot and sweaty to think, has been spent pondering some of the inconceivably stupid myths about Elizabeth Short that have been handed down across the decades. Was the thing not strange and terrible enough to start with, without all that conspiracy theory and tabloid silliness? And no, Blood Oranges is not a novel about the Black Dahlia murder, though there is some common ground.

Yesterday, while I wrote, Spooky took her ailing laptop into the guys at Geek Squad. They immediately deduced that the motherboard had gone belly up. Remember, she just had the hd replaced about three weeks ago. So, now she has to wait 2-3 weeks for the motherboard to be replaced. Which slows things down around here a bit. For one, it'll mean that the book trailer/short film thingy likely won't be ready until next month, as she was doing much of that work on her laptop. She's working on my old (2001) iBook, but it's pretty limited. There'll be no WoW for either of us until her machine comes home (but think of the bonus we'll have accrued).

I'm seeing some nice reviews of The Red Tree. I don't think I've seen but one or two that have made me wince or cringe, which is sort of a new experience. I will say, please read the prologue before you begin Chapter One. This is very important. Don't skip it. It's there at the start for a reason. I will also say that I think it's very strange when people complain about unreliable narrators, since, by definition, all first-person narrations are unreliable, to one degree or another. I am especially confused by those who claim to be fond of reader-response theory, but have disdain for unreliable narrators, since unreliable narrators force the reader to play a more active role in interpreting and shaping the narrative.

If you've not already, please have a look at the current eBay auctions.

Last night, we read from Gibson's Spook Country, until we could no longer stand the stagnant heat of the House. We went to Thayer Street, to the Avon, and saw the 10:45 p.m. screening of Duncan Jones' Moon. A brilliant, disturbing, and beautiful film, expertly paced and written. It's rare to get two very good, very smart sf films in a single year. I think it last happened in 2006, when we got Children of Men and The Fountain. This year, we get District 9 and Moon. In a lot of ways, Moon harks back to the better sf films of the 70s, and I especially appreciated that. Oh, and a score by Clint Mansell, which is always a good thing. If you can see it, do. It's hard not to get the feeling that, somehow, this film was an inevitability, if we begin with "Space Oddity."

Leaving the theatre (and beforehand, for that matter), Spooky groused about how Thayer Street has changed since the '80s, how the funky little shops and restaurants have all been replaced by chain stores and cookie-cutter people. What William Gibson would probably call avatar people. Mostly Brown students, I'm guessing, and none of them are too tall or too short, too thin or too fat. They stand out in no way at all, as though suffering from some fear of being distinguishable one from the other. They are neither pretty nor ugly. There is the male model, attired in the male-model uniform, available in several interchangeable ethnic variants. Same with the girls. Terrifyingly bland, really. Mall culture. I think I've decided that it's not that we see people who look like Second Life avatars, but that Second Life avatars actually look like these cookie-cutter people.

And now, the platypus says it's time to get back to the story. And I will obey, as it's too hot to weather those venomous spurs.
greygirlbeast: (fisting)
I'm dying of a headache, but still, this is brilliant:

Across the Border to Spook Country: An Interview with William Gibson
Courtesy of : Speaking of virtual multiplayer worlds, have you visited Second Life at all? I know that you're doing some promotions for the book there.

Gibson: I'm going to do something there, and it'll pretty much be the first time I've been there since I did go and check it out last winter. It was a strange experience. : Did they treat you as a god there?

Gibson: Well, I didn't go as myself. I went as the guy that I cooked up when signed up, so nobody knew it was me. And actually it was like a cross between being in some suburban shopping mall on the outskirts of Edmonton in the middle of winter and the worst day you ever spent in high school. [laughter] : Yeah, I have to say I've visited the outskirts and it frightens me.

Gibson: It's deserted. It seems like functionally it has to be deserted. If it's not deserted it crashes. So there's all this empty, empty architecture. There's whole cities where there's only one other person and they don't even want to get close to you. And when you do succeed in finding a group of other avatars, people aren't very nice. : They're meaner than they are--it's like people are in their cars.

Gibson: Yeah, they're meaner than they are in the real world. There may be other places that I haven't seen... : If you had said who you were, you would have been one of the popular kids, I imagine.

Gibson: Yeah, but then you don't get to find out what it is. But who would have believed me? [laughter] And who could have know that, because a part of my frosty reception was that I set all of the avatar's sliders in the opposite direction than I assumed most people would do. So I wound up being this grotesquely overweight, bright blue smurf. In a tutu. Nobody thought that was cool. You know what really worried me about Second Life? Is that after I'd spent maybe like four or five hours checking it out last December, I was walking around in the Christmas shopping crowds here, and every so often I would see somebody from Second Life walking down the street. There are people, always well under 30, who look like they've escaped from Second Life. : They dress like an avatar.

Gibson: Yeah, they dress like an avatar, they're built like an avatar. It's a very spooky thing. And I think somewhere in my file of lines for fiction there's one about a guy, his girlfriend looks like he found her in Second Life.
greygirlbeast: (white2)
Not sure I can make much of an entry today. My mind is too many places at once. But I shall do my best, which is usually what I try to do.

Good writing day yesterday. I had Spooky read back to me everything I'd written on "The Sea Troll's Daughter," and as she read, the ending finally occurred to me. So simple, I don't know how I took so long to see it. But that's how writing works. I wrote 1,373 words. Today, I will finish the story, one day ahead of my deadline.

Yesterday, well, more than anything, there was Palin's stunning resignation. Stunning or stupefying. I hear a lot of people telling me not to celebrate too soon, that this is too fishy, that "Real Americans" love their wolf-murdering, white-trash, Xtian beauty queen too much, that this has to be the start of something big, coming right before the 4th and all. Whatever. I'm sure we've not seen the last of the bitch. She will certainly foment much more atrocity before her dying breath (which cannot come too soon). However, I stand by my belief that a woman cannot resign the office of governor, just because, and expect to be rewarded with any higher office. Not even in America. The enemies of the GOP can spin, too, and no one will ever let that one go. When the heat got too much for her (in Alaska, mind you), she tucked her tail between her legs and ran...or strategically retreated...or what-the-hell ever. I say her days as a serious political contender are done, book deal or no book deal, GOP dominatrix fantasies or no. And that resignation speech, boy howdy. I wonder if she even knows what surreal means? To quote a twat from Adam Sessler, "Palin's resignation speech: It's like if e.e. cummings ran a pep rally...on the moon...which is like a balloon...."

And, please, let's not argue over Palin's political future. I'll just concede I know nothing about politics, and everyone knows it's foolish to debate politics with someone who knows nothing about politics. You'll be stuck with an empty, Pyrrhic victory.

Here in Rhode Island, almost all fireworks are illegal. Even sparklers require a permit. However, this did not stop a group of idiots from trying to blow up Federal Hill last night. It was rather awful, until the police showed up and shut them down. Problem is, people bring in fireworks from Massachusetts and Connecticut. And hey, I love fireworks, but not when they're being shot off beneath my office window. By idiots. Drunken idiots. Drunken idiots with small, flammable children.

Oh, I know something cool about yesterday. I had a Big Nerd Moment. The years have jaded me. I've met most of many of my literary heroes, and become friends with quite a few of them. So, it takes a lot these days to send me into fangirl mode. Something like William Gibson responding to me on Twitter last night. I actually giggled with shameless delight. Spooky found it charming.

A quiet anniversary. We made a big dinner. I did the salad, using the crazy mix of greens and onions we got from Spooky's dad on Thursday, and Spooky made baked portabellas stuffed with onions, garlic, red bell pepper, basil, a mix of parmesan, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese, and bread crumbs. Oh, and she made chicken sausages, made with spinach and feta. Yum. Then we played WoW (my Draenei paladin, Kalií, made Level 23) and read for a bit before bed.

Anyway...I should go. 'Cause the platypus says so, that's why.
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 1)
The insomnia has been bad the last couple of nights, which is to say it has been worse than usual. I didn't get to sleep this morning until the sky was already brightening, sometime after 5 ayem.

Yesterday, we read chapters 4 and 5 from the The Red Tree page proofs, and today we made it through chapters 6 and 7, which means we should be able to finish tomorrow. I am abysmally slow when it comes to proofreading galleys (or any other sort of ms., I suspect). I know many authors are much quicker with these things. I recall, back in May of 2001, I was staying with Peter and Susan Straub in Manhattan, and Peter was going over the galley's for Black House. I seem to remember him doing it in a single day. If I can get through a set of galley pages for a novel in anything less than a week, I consider myself lucky.

I'd love to hear feedback about Sirenia Digest #41.

Last night, I made the extraordinarily unlikely discovery that Species 4: The Awakening (2007) is the most watchable of the series. Not a good movie, no, but a perfectly watchable cheesy monster film (doubling as soft-core porn for those of us with a thing for alien sex). Also, I reread William Gibson's "The Hinterlands" (1982), which never ceases to amaze me. It had an enormous influence on The Dry Salvages, though I don't think I was aware of the influence when I was writing the novella. It certainly is a marvelous expression of the sort of cosmic horror that is so often called "Lovecraftian," though I doubt HPL was a direct inspiration for "The Hinterlands." Then again, without asking Gibson, I can't be sure (and we've never met). If I could ever write a story as perfect as "The Hinterlands," I think I'd finally be satisfied with my work. And no, it's not the search for perfection that keeps me writing. Most times, I feel like, more than anything else, it's force of habit and the need to pay the bills.

There are three photos behind the cut, just some mundane stuff from the last few days:

Days and Days )
greygirlbeast: (white)
It would seem no mass sacrifice of anti-Obama meteorologists will be required, after all. Huzzah! We awoke to cooler air this morning, the thermostat presently at a far more acceptable 82F, and we're looking at cooler weather all week long. At last, maybe we can get started on serious unpacking.

Yesterday, I did 709 words on "The Melusine (1898)," which normally wouldn't impress me, except the writing was done in a 93F sauna. Well, in all fairness, we had the portable coolerator rolled into my office, but still. My brains were a tad heat-addled. It's a miracle there was no micro-thunderstorm spawned in the collision of the air from my office with that in the adjacent kitchen. Oh, I have a name for the coolerator droid — Dr. Muñoz, after the afflicted, ice-craving professor from HPL's "Cool Air." Right now, Dr. Muñoz is cooling the front rooms enough for Spooky to work in there today. My office window is open, and the breeze is marvelous.

Sirenia Digest now has an arts correspondent — Mr. Geoffrey H. Goodwin ([ profile] readingthedark) — and now we will feature, each month, a new article/interview with a different visual artist (painters, sculptors, filmmakers, photographers, make-up artists, etc.). I am very excited about this new addition to the Digest. Speaking of which, the June '08 issue (#31) will include two new pieces by me ("Unter den Augen des Mondes" and "The Melusine (1898)" — caged werewolves and steampunk sideshows, respectively), Geoffrey's article (subject to be announced), and a new illustration by Vince Locke, for "The Melusine (1898)." Which means this is a very, very good time to subsribe. Just click here. Easy as pie. Expect #31 on or near June 25th.

It was so hot that yesterday I got very little unpacking done. Mostly, I sorted though books that were up for discard. I so hate getting rid of books, but this office is so small, and, truthfully, all comes down to an old paperback of Jane Eyre. Not a nice hardback. A paperback. Now, this is 2008 and Jane Eyre is online. Any time I need it, I can go to the full text online. So, it went into the box of books we're donating to the Kingston Free Library for their upcoming book sale (donations accepted through June 21st). So far, I have three big boxes of well-loved books for them.

Quickly, some interesting writing/publishing related links: First, this, on the problem of preserving quality when driven by publishers to produce a novel a year. I love Patricia Cornwell's comment, "It's no problem, as long as you don't have a life." Myself, I still haven't figured out how to do a novel a year and am loathe to try. Also, the American manga craze may be a bust, if the recent actions of Tokyo Pop are any indication. And, finally, a new interview with William Gibson, "William Gibson Talks to io9 About Canada, Draft Dodging, and Godzilla" (thanks, Cliff).

To escape the heat yesterday, about 6:30 pm, we headed south again, this time to Moonstone Beach, at the southeastern corner of Trustom Pond (with Cards Pond just a little farther east). It's an utterly beautiful spot, just below the Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge. The beach itself, named for the "moonstones" (a plagioclase feldspar) commonly found washed up on on the sand, is a protected nesting area for the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus). We weren't there for serious birding, though I couldn't help but notice a number of Eastern Kingbirds (Tyrannus tyrannus). We walked about on the cool sand as the sun set, picking up a few moonstones, a fish vertebra, a shell or two. Finally, I lay down and stared up at the waxing moon, trying to clear my mind of everything but the sounds of the sea, thinking only of Panthalassa. And the thoughts that came, again and again, were that I was hearing the world (Ur) breathing, there in the advance and retreat of the waves. And that I know so little, and have come to this whole affair much too late in life — witchcraft, I mean. That last part is surely true, but I have to not allow it to lead me to despair. Humility, but not despair. I do what I can do. Anyway, it was a beautiful evening. Perfect. We got our feet wet in the icy waters of Block Island Sound. Near dark, as we were heading back to the car, I spotted a Fowler's toad (Bufo fowleri), and soon we'd spotted five or six of them, all adults. A little farther down the road, we heard the call of a Northern green frog (Rana clamitans melanota) from the salt marshes. We sat in the car a few minutes, just listening to the frogs and birds. There are photos behind the cut, by the way.

On the way home, we stopped for dinner at Iggys, then drove through Wickford on the way back to Providence. Back home, we watched Anthony Hopkins' rather Lynchian Slipstream (2007), with Hopkins, Christian Slater, John Turturro, Lana Antonova, and many, many others. A rather fine film, and the only way I can hope to try to describe it is to ask you to imagine Lost Highway crossed with Dark City crossed with The Sixth Sense. And then there was bed, and sweat, but that's okay, because we awoke to this cooler weather.

Moonstone Beach )

And before I forget (again), Spooky's birthday is coming up fast (24th of June), and here's the button thingy for her Amazon wish list, should anyone be so inclined.

My Wish List
greygirlbeast: (Bowie1)
Spooky is all a twitter this afternoon, because our copy of the last Harry Potter book is set to arrive sometime today. She keeps checking the tracking number on the UPS website (or something). The coming of Potter the Last is slightly problematic, as we began a new Lemony Snicket last night, The Vile Village. Likely, it will be set aside, poor Baudelaires. And it was no end of reassuring, just now, to "google" the name Baudelaire and see all the top hits come up for Charles, not Violet, Klaus, or Sunny.

Yesterday was the slow sort of writing day. I did 526 words on The Dinosaurs of Mars, getting myself back into the story after a ten-day absence during which other things were written and attended to. And much of my afternoon was spent researching the geology of the southern part of Elysium Planitia, and the area just south of Apollinaris Patera. I will not say it was a bad writing day, as low word counts do not equal bad writing days. Bad writing days are days when you mean to write and can't, or are interrupted so frequently that nothing gets done. I'm disheartened at how often I see the blogs of aspiring writers bemoaning how slowly a book or story is coming along. They have somehow gotten it in their heads that writing is a thing done quickly, efficiently, like an assembly line with lots of shiny robotic workers. The truth, of course, is that writing is usually slow, and inefficient, and more like trying to find a cube of brown Jello that someone's carelessly dropped into a pig sty. Five hundred words in a day is good. So is a thousand. Or fifteen hundred. A good writing day is a day when one has written well, and the word counts be damned. Finishing is not the goal. Doing the job well is the goal. And I say that as someone with no means of financial support but her writing, as someone who is woefully underpaid for her writing, and as someone with so many deadlines breathing down her neck that she can no longer tell one breather from the other. Sometimes, I forget this, that daily word counts are irrelevant, that writing is not a race to the finish line. One need only write well if one wishes to be a writer. A day when one does not do her best merely so that more may be written, that's a bad writing day.

Oh, and my thanks to Anne Sowards, my editor at Penguin, for sending me the cover for the new edition of Murder of Angels, due out next April (behind the cut, unless you're reading this via MySpace):

Niki, many years later )

I've reached that stage in the cycling of my insomnia where I'm actually sleeping (at least eight hours last night), but not until late (after 3 a.m.), and then I find it impossible to wake up and spend the day in a haze. Not as bad as dreamsickness, but aggravating. My grogginess laughs at coffee beans and Red Bull.

Maybe it's time the platypus gave me a good shot of adrenaline, straight to the heart...

Postscript (1:43 p.m.): I just ran across a new interview with William Gibson at (sigh), and I feel the need to post this excerpt, regarding book proposals and not knowing the end of a story when one begins writing it. I feel not so alone now. Anyway, it's behind the cut:

William Gibson )
greygirlbeast: (Default)
The comments to the last entry were much appreciated. Though I think the idea for that novel first occurred only as an angry, vengeful rant, by the time I crawled away to bed last night (4 a.m. CaST), I'd started looking at it much more seriously. If nothing else, it is a safe place where I can pour all my frustration and anger and spite for humanity. Better than going postal with a pointy stick or turning the violence inwards upon myself (my usual strategy).

I started thinking, the story will likely begin a few centuries after the aliens have completed their clensing of the planet. The central character would be an unsuspecting human girl, a teenager who has been befriended by one of the aliens. The aliens would be something completely non-humanoid. insectile, perhaps. This girl lives on the African preserve where humans have been allowed to survive, co-existing with other wildlife and getting by with only the most rudimentary sort of tech (stone tools, at best). All memories of the World Before have been lost. It would seem to the reader, at first, as though we are looking at the Earth in the latest Pleistocene, not the Holocene. These would seem like pre-agricultural humans, hunter-gatherers surrounded by elephants and giraffes and zebra and so forth, who have been visited by an alien civilization. But then this girl is befriended, and the alien teaches her things, and she begins to learn about the purge. She is eventually given access to historical records. This way, it becomes more a novel about the consequences and cultural evolution and conflicts than a space opera about alien invasion. These are, of course, only the most initial ideas. All is yet in flux, back there in my head where stories slowly, slowly take shape. My agent will tell me that there's no money to be made these days in publishing "literary sf" (she's told me that before), but I might just write it, anyway. I feel like it's a book that I need to write, and these days I feel that need all too infrequently.

Today was my first productive day since Tuesday. It has been a black and futile week. An ugly week. The deep trough between the towering waves which bear we forward. Here I cannot afford to lose even a single day, and this morning I had to sit down and mark three full days L. I do not know for sure what dragged me down this time. I never do know for sure. I strongly suspect that proofing Low Red Moon — rearranging those deck chairs — played a role. But it "had" to be done, or I'd have just had to deal with all that nasty regret. Now, at least I know the book that comes out in August will be better than the version released in 2003. And I suspect the nightmares and insomnia played a large role, as well. On Monday, I go back on the damned Ambien. Anyway, I've already canceled plans to see my family in Alabama on the 23rd-24th, to help make up for those three lost days.

The most productive thing about yesterday was an hour or so I spent tinkering with Second Life. I couldn't get very far in my investigations, however, as my iBook's OS is too antiquated to run the requisite software. Once a certain publisher sees fit to finally pay me, there will be a new Mac in Casa de Kiernan y Pollnac, and I won't be limping along on OS 10.2.6 any longer. I can play with the big kids again. Anyway, the thing with Second Life, it's actually research for the piece I started writing today for Sirenia Digest 13 (December), an sf story called "The Path of Silence." Though I'm intrigued by these attempts at creating cyber-environments, I am appalled that they are all so goddamned obsessed with commerce. Linden dollars and the buying of virtual land, the paying of taxes on that virtual land. Shopping in virtual malls, even. What the frell? Isn't there enough tedium in the real world? Is this the best humans can do in their fantasies? Shop? Spend pretend money? Are the masses really that imagination deprived? I'm sure there's more to Second Life than that, but the commercial/capitalist aspect seems awfully front and goddamned center. That shit interests me about as much as fantasy football. Leave the mundane behind, people. It'll still be there when you have to come back.

I believe that the Immaculate Order of the Falling Sky is adopting -H as it logo, in opposition of the singularitarian, transhumanist use of >H and H+.

I wrote 1,101 words this afternoon on "The Path of Silence." Spooky and I had a walk, as it was very warm and sunny, and I'd not set foot outside this dismal house since Wednesday. I read William Gibson's "The Winter Market," which is one of my very favourite sf stories.

All 274 copies of the numbered state of Tales from the Woeful Platypus have, at this point, sold out at Subterranean Press. But there are still copies of the cloth-bound trade hardcover ($20) available.

Also, please have a look at the eBay auctions. These are genuinely unique items. I know Xmas is not the best time to be eBaying (actually, Poppy says it's an excellent time for eBay), but I already explained about the belated check, etc. I really want to see the green-haired boy go to a good home. I'm going to try to list some other items tomorrow, once the writing's done.

As all the gloom began to lift last night, I did get in a couple hours of Final Fantasy XII. Fran, Penello, Ashe, and Co. made their way through the Stilshrine, found the lair of the beautiful Mateus the Corrupter, and kicked her butt. We'll, since she's sort of mermaid-like, maybe it would be more accurate to say we kicked her tail. Either way, we prevailed. Sure beats virtual shopping and paying virtual land taxes.


greygirlbeast: (Default)
Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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