Monday, May 31, 2004
Addendum: Wow. I'd entirely forgotten "Mercury." That is, I'd forgotten the story, and, more alarmingly, I'd forgotten how very personal this particular story is. This is further evidence that I've been writing more than I should be writing, and that I need a long, long break that isn't coming. I wrote "Mercury" back in October, immediately after having finished Murder of Angels. In a lot of ways, "Mercury" was an escape from all the difficulties of the composition of MoA. Anyway, I think I really love this story, and it makes me a little angry that it had slipped from my mind after a mere seven months. As we read through it, at times it was almost as though I'd never read this story, much less written it. It'll be released as a chapbook by Subterranean Press, free with every copy of the subpress edition of Low Red Moon. We found lots and lots of typos and mistakes, which is also indicative of how frazzled I was when I sent the "finished" ms. to Bill Schafer.
And it was also a bit odd to be reading "Mercury" today, and remembering it, this story about a very young Deacon Silvey's brief, clumsy affair with a transsexual woman, because fifteen years ago today, with the prick of a needle, I began HRT. I was a mere babe of twenty-five. Wow. That afternoon seems, simultaneously, like something that happened at least a hundred years ago and just yesterday. And I've now used "wow" twice in one entry, which is surely a record for me.
I actually slept last night. With my eyes closed and everything. Daresay, I almost feel refreshed. Pile up enough exhasution, energy-drink abuse, stress, insomnia, pills, and fluffy, soft cushions, and, sooner or later, it happens to the best of us.
The early morning rain helped, I suspect. The thunder woke me, but then the hard rain put me to sleep again (as Amanda Palmer says, "Funny what they give you when you just learn how to ask.").
But enough about sleep...
While the rest of the country takes a holiday, I go back to work. Today, I shall proofread "Mercury" and do whatever it is I'm going to do to the frelling Murder of Angels galleys, so both can go into the post tomorrow. I have unshelved Bears of the World (GRRRRARRRRR), and I'm ready to switch into proofreading mode. Someone e-mailed wanting me to include a picture of BotW (sorry, I have forgotten just who), so I refer you to the photo below, taken by the Spookinator this very morning:
There are also a few e-mails to answer, and I think that's all the work-type work I'll have to do today. But I also need to read through everything that's been written on "Fell Home" (more than 7,000 words at this point), the collaborative fic I'm doing with Leh'agvoi, Mella, and Sa'jathan for Nebari.net (I'm in a hyperlink kind of mood today). If you're a Farscape fan and give a dren about such things, this story is set just after "A Clockwork Nebari," and reveals much about Chiana's parentage and about the Nebari themselves. It's an interesting experiment for me, having previously collaborated only with Poppy and Christa, and never have I collaborated on a shared-world story (that's what professional writers who get paid for their efforts call fan fic) I wasn't getting paid to do. It'll be interesting to see how it turns out. I'll let you know as soon as it goes up on Nebari.net.
As for yesterday, Spooky made spaghetti for dinner, and we rented The Cooler, which I'd been wanting to see forever. I adore William H. Macy, whom I must have seen first in Benny and Joon (1993), but who really won me over in Fargo (1996). Alec Baldwin gives one of his best performaces as Shelly Kaplow, the old-school casino boss faced with obsolescence as Vegas goes Disney. Maria Bello (who was new to me) was very nice, and utterly believable in her role. It's a great little film, a sort of fairy tale with just the right touch of fantasy. See this film. After the movie, we PS2ed, then went to bed about 2 a.m. And, speaking of Christa, I read Fritz Leiber's short story, "Coming Attraction" (1950). Imagine a futuristic NYC that's suffered a few nuclear disasters and now exists in a strange film noir haze of purple moonlight, masked wrestlers (male and female), and women who have adopted the wrestlers' mask as their most indespensible fashion accessory, all seen through the eyes of a visiting Brit. It was an unexpectedly peculiar tale and made me think of Christa right off.
And then I dreamt of her, so I'm going to take all this as further prompting that i need to give her a call very, very soon. Okay. I've gone on long enough. Time to hit the bears.
Sunday, May 30, 2004
This evening, the New Exhibitionism afforded by Blogger and LiveJournal is a sweet-tongued demon whispering in my left ear. I could, you see, talk about all these things that really matter, the things that have made the last twenty-four hours a sparkling, shiny, incoherent hell, and I could do it right here. And all those people I do not know, or who I know only in passing, could gaze in voyeuristic whatever at my...what would robyn ma say? My ennui? Yes, my ennui. I'd get my fix. They'd get theirs. We would all be mutually sated.
But I went out to Borders a couple of hours ago, despite the heat and sunshine, and bought a new journal (I finished up the old one on May 27th), so, thankfully, this won't be necessary. Yes, I see the attraction in public confession, but I have my latest little black book of blank pages, thank you, Mr. Blog and Mr. L. J., and I've already coughed up most of the messy clots into the narrow space between its covers.
Maybe next time, though. Maybe someday, when I finally forget myself entirely.
After Borders, Spooky and I had lunch at Whole Foods. I adore their salad bar, and they even have decent sushi, but I shouldn't have tried the turkey sandwich. Bland, dry, and, thanks to some flavourless, gratuitous carrot shreddings, crunchy. After two bites, I noticed that the damned thing had cost me almost six bucks. This is a mistake we shall not repeat, no, no, no. I ate only half the thing, my appetite quickly waning. On the way home, I saw a man in Candler Park with a will-work-for-food sign and almost told Spooky to pull over and let me give him the rest of the sandwich, but then I thought, What has he ever done to me?
A couple of days ago, Bill Schafer called about "Alabaster" and, while we were talking, he said how my blog gave him the impression that I was dangerously close to burning out. I agreed that I am, that I have been for the last two years, but pointed out that there's damn little I can do about it. The next novel has to be written, and it has to be written in the next ten months or so, because a) a deal has been made, b) I now have a deadline, and c) creditors and landlords are less than understanding about protecting one's art from exhaustion. I can't imagine writing another frelling word, not for another six months, or even another year. But I have to begin Daughter of Hounds soon, write at least one short story this summer, and write a novella this fall, regardless. This is what I do, and there's nothing -- nothing at all -- that I could do in its stead. Sherezade, remember? Good. That means you're paying attention.
I wish that it would rain.
Saturday, May 29, 2004
This afternoon, I'm vaguely embarrassed at yesterday's outburst regarding The Day After Tomorrow. Oh, the film's every bit as awful as I said it is, make no mistake, but I might have pointed this out a little less shrilly. I'm not one of those geeks who seems to enjoy disliking things. When I watch a film (or read a book, for that matter), I give it every possible benefit of the doubt. I try as hard as I can to love a film. I figure that's a big part of my half of the filmmaker/audience bargain. I think the thing that happened with The Day After Tomorrow is that I've become much, much choosier the last few years about which films I see at the theatre, even at matinees. I used to see frelling everything, even the things I knew would suck, just because I love movies that much. But then I got better. Now I pick and choose. And I don't think I've been this unhappy with a film I've seen in the theatre since, oh, frell, I don't know...the last Star Wars film. I think the very worst part of the whole experience, even more disheartening than the film itself, was that the audience applauded at the end. I'd like to think the applause was simply because the film was over, but no, it was quite obvious that the applause was appreciative. The film had found its target audience.
Last night, we watched the extended cut of Underworld, and, honestly, it's a much better film with all this missing footage restored (forty-five minutes). It's not so much that missing scenes are put back, as scenes in the original are made longer, and, in the end, the effect is that the whole film has a bit more depth and clarity. If you liked Underworld even a little, you should give this version a shot. After that, we drifted away from our usual Kid Night fare, because FMC was showing Miller's Crossing. Were I to ever be forced to try to compile a list of the 100 Best Movies Ever, Miller's Crossing would definitely be in there somewhere, so, I figured, it should be potent enough to drive the taste of the afternoon's matinee from my mind. And, thankfully, it was.
The galleys for Murder of Angels are sitting here staring at me, wondering when I'm going to pick them up and get started. But I think I've come to see the futility of what I'm expected to do here. There's no point in my pouring over this thing again, wasting my time and fraying my nerves even further, in an attempt to find the comma corrections I want to keep, or the ones I find the most critical. They are all, all 510 of them, exactly equally important and trying to pick and choose would only be arbitrary, and, generally, I loathe that which is arbitrary. A little earlier, I calculated that it would take me, at most, 2.12 hrs. to make these changes on an electronic copy of the ms. (which is what the pm/ce will be doing; the days of movable type are long past). Now I'm trying to figure out why "the budget" would need $1 per change to get this done. Do glorified typists really make $255 an hour? Can it be? I'm beginning to believe that I'm just going to make one more change -- which they can bill me for -- and add to the acknowledgements a note of thanks, recognizing the production manager's invaluable attention to punctuation in Murder of Angels. Then I'll stuff the damned thing back in the envelope and return it to NYC and move on.
I got the page proofs for the "Mercury" chapbook today (Deacon Silvey in 1985, long before even "Anamorphosis"), and will need to read over those early next week.
I've had a headache since last night. But it's really nothing a grapefruit spoon to my right eye wouldn't fix.
Friday, May 28, 2004
Addendum 2: So, having just endured The Day After Tomorrow, and possessed of the certainty that my only possible act of vengeance against the fools who perpetrated the first Worst Film of Summer 2004 is to warn people to stay far, far away, I sit down to say bad, bad things about it. And find myself realizing that will only be allowing Roland Emmerich to steal that much more of my life. I don't know why I did this to myself. Usually, my masochism has a vaguely constructive edge to it. I wouldn't even know where to start with an actual review. The spectacularly bad science? The cynical dashes of patriotism? The ridiculous plot? The bloodless, cartoon violence? Suffice to say, if you've somehow already sat through such sterling turkeys as Independence Day, Armageddon, Volcano, and Twister, there's no reason to suffer this incredibly silly smarm-fest of a flash-frozen turd. The Day After Tomorrow, at best, is no more than various elements of those films patched together, with a whole lot of CGI snow dumped on top in the hope that maybe no one will notice. No, I'm not kidding. It's that bad. At least, and then some.
At least we have Kid Night. Spooky and I rented the unrated, extended cut of Underworld for our Kid Night movie. No, it's not great cinema, but at least it's honest.
Addendum: Chapter Seven of the Nar'eth manga is now online. Just click here for alien smut. I assume we're all over 18 here, yes? No silly warnings necessary? Good. Thank you, Leh'agvoi. I am now a soft-core online pornographer. Another notch in my peculiar resume.
If you want to start of the beginning of the manga, click here.
That out of the way, Spooky and I are off the catch a matinee showing of The Day After Tomorrow. I know it won't be the film I'm wishing it will be, and I really thought Armageddon was a piece of dren, put I'm a sucker for SFX and apocalypse, especially apocalypse humanity brings upon itself.
I'm not really typing this. In reality (what an arrogant thing to say), I'm in bed, asleep and dreaming that I'm typing this. That's how Not Awake I am right now. So, it's only a dream. I can't be blamed. My consciousness assumes not responsibility for the things my unconscious mind might say.
Last night was the next-to-the-last hurrah of this frelling birthday. I cooked a big pot of chili, made guacamole, and Jim and Jennifer (it gets really confusing, that we have two Jennifers) came over. Spooky made me a yummy German chocolate cake for my birthday cake. She also made margaritas, which is a part of why I feel like dren this morning. There's a picture below, and yes, I'm smiling, but remember, I was kind of drunk:
Yesterday...it's in here somewhere...just a second. Oh, there it is. Yesterday, I polished "Alabaster," and now I'm 99% pleased with it. Then I sent the ms. off the Bill Schafer and Ted Naifeh. I attended to e-mails. I finally opened the Big White Envelope containing the returned galleys for Murder of Angels. And, late in the day, my editor called to say that my agent had called him about this whole mess, to remind him that there's a clause in my contract that states that if the changes I make to galley pages exceed 10% of the original cost of composition (read typesetting, and remember that production began with an electronic copy I'd sent them, so it's not like they ever had to actually type this in or anything), I'll be billed for everything over that 10%. Apparently, production hadn't bothered to actually calculate this amount, and the whole $1 a comma thing may have been someone's disgruntled whim. My editor told me that, in the end, this probably won't make much of a difference (maybe .90 a comma, instead), but at least we're making them do it by the letter of the contract. Also, my editor was able to extend the deadline on getting the ms. back to NYC to June 3rd, which helps.
We take our little victories, hollow though they may be.
I think that, once this business with the MoA galleys is over and done, I'm not immediately launching into another story. The next one I have to do is for a dark sf anthology, but I have a couple of months. I've been writing non-stop for months, and, on "Albaster," I could feel it. It's time to step back and clear my head. Recharge, as Christa says. And begin reading and making notes for Daughter of Hounds. I am determined that this will be my best book, and that it will expand my readership. But we're supposed to head for New York, Rhode Island, and parts northeast in only a few weeks, and then it'll be time to start writing the novel as soon as we get back. And I don't want to be caught unprepared.
Though I'm not entirely sure what constitutes preapartion (I never have been).
A lot of notes.
And to those who've asked, I have no appearances planned for this New England trip. This is strictly research, and visiting Spooky's parents and packing some of her belongings that have to be shipped back south, and time is at a premium. Maybe next trip up.
I am not even a little bit awake, am I? Ugh.
Apologies that the new Nar'eth manga didn't go up last night, as I'd said it would. I wanted some tweaking to the art, and Leh'agvoi, dear thing that he is, was very agreeable. But by the time I got the new pages last night, well, the margaritas had had their way with me. But I'm getting the new pages up early this afternoon, and then, kiddos, I'm leaving this place for a few hours. I'll deal with Murder of Angels tomorrow. I just can't face it today.
Oh, and the thank-you list for all the wonderful gifts is coming, soon. I'm waiting on the stragglers, as it were.
Thursday, May 27, 2004
Here I am, on the other side of my birthday and many strange dreams that I don't quite remember. And, once again, the world did not come to an end. You'd think she'd learn, this silly girl I'm damned to be. She doesn't, though. Ever.
As birthdays have gone, it was a very good day. Spooky and I went to the Fernbank Museum of Natural History and caught the 2:20 screening of Ghosts of the Abyss on the IMAX. Very neat (an underused word, "neat"), even if Bill Paxton is a big doofus. Then we gawked at the dinosaurs (the same ones who make an appearance in the second chapter of Low Red Moon), and the taximdermied beasts, and fishes, and gems and minerals, and human artefacts, and suchlike. We were going to see Troy, but stayed too long at the museum. There was a very fine Thai dinner, though. I have no significant complaints about yesterday other than that nasty birthday part.
My mother reminded me yesterday that I'm the same age as Sandra Bullock. Well, almost. She's two months my junior.
Today, my grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Ramey, is 90 years old. She was born on May 27th, 1914. I often feel as though I live in an entirely different world than the one I was born into, and I'm sure that's true, but then I think what it must be like for my grandmother. Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated 32 days after she was born, sparking WWI (President Kennedy was assassinated about three months after my own conception). James Joyce published Dubliners that year. The Panama Canal was opened. Shackleton marched into the white madness of Antarctica. Robert Goddard began the rocketry experiments that would, eventually, take us to the moon, five years after I was born. Time, time, time. It makes you sick if you stare at it too long, and I've been staring at it all my life. My grandmother is a more practical woman. I should call her today, but I probably won't, because I'm an ass at heart.
Also, today is Spooky's brother's 26th birthday. But he's in Montana now.
All these Geminis.
And I go back to work today. I have to polish "Alabaster." I have to at least open that awful, giagantic white envelope from NYC, the one bearing the Murder of Angels galleys, which was finally delivered on Tuesday afternoon. The ms. has to be back in New York by June 1st. I have to send yet another editor yet another bio. And there's something I'm forgetting, but it'll probably come to me later. And there are, of course, backed up e-mails.
This evening, I have to get the next chapter of Leh'agvoi's continuing Nar'eth manga online. But be warned, kiddos. This one's rated at least NC-17, and you'll never be able to look at a Nebari quite the same way again. Hot interspecies alien sex. Nebari on Sebacean action. Some Farscape purists, sticking strictly to what we've been told by TPTB, may balk at what they see, but then they'd balk at almost all of Nebari.net. They don't quite grasp the significance of unrealized realities. Anyway, you have been warned. (cue music from an alien porno flick)
That's enough for now. I need a drink.
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Well, it's here. And it's just as weird and scary as I thought it would be. Last night, as the clock ticked towards midnight, I was wishing we were a culture that counted birthdays from conception, so all the shock and awe would have been over and done with nine months ago. (I'll have to ask Nar'eth how the Nebari handle this, laying eggs and all.) But. As I told Spooky last night, just after midnight, my twenties were unrelenting hell, and then my thirties were kind of unexpectedly wonderful (with only a few astounding dashes of hell here and there), and I am determined that this next decade will put the last to shame. All former me's will be pale shadows by comparison! And in place of a dark lord, you will have a queen! Not dark, but beautiful and terrible as the dawn! Treacherous as the sea! Stronger than the foundations of the earth! All shall love me and despair! And then, kiddos...
This morning, Spooky and I cooked a ginormous breakfast: scrambled eggs with sharp chedder, bacon, porta bellas, buttermilk biscuits, sliced tomato, and cherry limeade. A birthday breakfast should be like that. Maybe it will hold me until I can get to Ben and Jerry's.
And then I opened a veritable mountain of gifts, for which I am profoundly grateful. Many people have been generous far above and beyond anything I ever expected, and I thank you all. I understand there are still incoming gifts, so I'm going to wait until all are "present" and accounted before I make my huge list of thank you's. Meanwhile, you get this photo:
So. The day stretches out before me. I think we're headed for a museum, and maybe a movie, and perhaps some very good sushi, and then...well, that's a secret.
As for yesterday, feh. But it ended well enough. We went to bed moderatey early (1 a.m.), and I read Isaac Asimov's "Nightfall" again, then fell asleep almost immediately (as I'd taken kava kava), with Dark City playing on the iBook. Spooky, who'd not taken kava, but who had, in fact, had a bunch of chocolate-covered espresso beans just before bed, read a little from one of the Harry Potter books, then sat up playing Quack-Man on my iBook until about 3:30. She's aboslutely obsessed with that game. It's the worst she's been since Trogdor had her burninating everything in sight.
Anyway. I'm off to have this birthday.
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Addendum: Did anyone else out there know that Stevie Nicks is 55 years old? Or that she'll be 56 tomorrow, because we have the same birthday? I sure as shit didn't know that. Wow. She's pretty much old enough to be my mother. Actually, that would explain an awful lot.
We're still waiting on the delivery dude to dump the galleys for Murder of Angels in our laps again. But we read through "Alabaster," and I like it lots more than I thought I would. I took a hot bath, ate a hot dog, slept forty-five minutes, and I still feel like ass. I need to send a bio to one editor, and a thingy about what inspired "Andromeda Among the Stones" to yet another, and I'm absolutely frelling delerious.
Bill Schafer called to give me more money, which is, I think a Good Thing, and the whole world should follow his sterling example. He also says that we can expect the hardback of Low Red Moon in late June. That is, if his printer doesn't experience a mechanical failure and have to fly in leprechauns from Germany to fix the presses, or something like that. And did you know that there are a lot of tourists in Detroit this time of year? Neither did I, but that's what Bill says. They must go there for the rust. Hey, I'm not making this stuff up. I'm not awake enough to be that creative.
While we're on the subject, Catherine Deneuve is 60, and I dare anyone to say she's an old woman.
Oh, and if'n you don't mind a pdf, here's a cool thing. The cover art's by the amazing Ryan Obermeyer.
I think I'm just going to sit right here in this chair until midnight...
Jesus God (as Hollis Gillespie would say), this is going to be a long frelling entry. But here its is, the day before my -0th birthday, only 12 hours, 37 minutes, and 10 seconds until The Day (cue music from a disaster movie), so I think it's only fair I am permitted a spate of especial longwindedness.
To start with, thanks to a recurrent medical condition (minor, but extremely painful) which I've suffered from, on and off and on and off, since my early twenties, I was awake most of the night. At most, I slept two hours, and that was fitful. A great preface for The Day (cue music from a disaster movie), if you ask me. With luck, I'll have a little nap this afternoon.
Yesterday. Ugh. Well, I did write 1,081 words and finished "Alabaster" (total, 6,355 words). Spooky and Jennifer were both quite pleased with it, but I'm afraid I think it needs more work. Frell this writing from anything remotely resembling a first draft business. Sure, I had a pretty good idea how it was going to turn out in the end, but I felt like I was just filling in blanks the whole time, stretching, expanding on what was already there. I shall not do that ever again, if I can help it. It's not the way this nixar was meant to write. Spooky and I will read over the story today, and I'll make alterations.
And no more Roy Orbison for a while, I think.
But there were Genuinely Annoying things about yesterday, beginning with a call from my editor at Penguin. The production manager/copyeditor balked at my request for 580 comma corrections to the galleys of Murder of Angels, all of which she should have caught to start with. That's what the frell she's paid for. So, I'm informed that she'll make 70 of the changes, because that's all "the budget" will allow, and the rest will cost me $1 each. That means, if I want all the comma mistakes (that, remember, it was her place to catch) corrected in the Roc edition of the novel, it'll cost me $510. Which is patently absurd. I wish someone would pay me $1 for every goddamn character I typed. Were that the case, I'd have gotten an advance of $541,760. on MoA, instead of the significantly smaller advance that I did get. So, my editor (who is absolutely not to blame for this, and who has been extremely apologetic about the whole affair) FedExed the galleys back to Atlanta yesterday (we're waiting for them to arrive now). And I have to look at all the changes I made and decide which 70 of the 580 comma mistakes (which the pm/ce should have caught way back in the winter when she first read the ms.) are the worst. Which is a ridiculous task, as they are all equally bad. But, I promise, I shall now include the production manager's name in the acknowledgements, not because I am vindictive (though I am), but because I strongly believe in giving credit where credit is frelling due, and she deserves full credit for this fiasco. And, of course, probably no one in the world but me will ever really care about this, but every time I look at the book I'll see those uncorrected errors. Still want to be a writer?
I should point out that this problem has arisen, in part, because, beginning with Low Red Moon, I've started using more conventional, less Faulkner-influenced grammar. Last book, I had a fight with this same pm/ce over all sorts of grammatical issues and my reaction to her attempts to rewrite my prose. So, this book, she decides, apparently, to make no effort at correcting actual grammatical errors, since I might decide to ignore some of her marks. This, kiddos, is what comes of listening to your detractors. Not that they are the sole reason for the stylistic shifts in my writing, but they did play a factor (most people have noticed the relevance of Sadie Jasper's comment in the first chapter of LRM).
And then there was this other thing, with that other thing (as Tony Soprano might say). It's really not a big whoop compared to the above comma-related fuckery, but as long as I'm typing, what the frell. Poppy recently wrote in her LiveJournal:
I decided to make the editorial change to "The Devil of Delery Street." It was only a matter of adding a couple of sentences, and while I'm not sure the story needed it, I don't think it hurt anything. Here's hoping it won't jump out at me when I reread the story in ten years, as many of the changes made to Lost Souls at editoral behest do now. Not that I sit around reading Lost Souls if I can help it, but when I had to proof the novel for Gauntlet's tenth-anniversary edition, I was able to pick out a great many bits where my editor had asked me to explain things further. All seemed far too "explainy" to me, and largely unnecessary, though overall I liked working with Jeanne Cavelos. There always seemed to be an underlying belief, not just with her but throughout the genre, that horror readers couldn't understand anything unless it was laboriously spelled out for them. Of course, given some of the responses Caitlin received to the quite clear but non-explainy ending of Silk ("at the end of the story, I was left thinking 'Huh?'" -- an Amazon reader), maybe this isn't so far off the mark. Still, I don't think proponents of the genre do themselves any favors by catering to the lowest common denominator.
She actually said something about this to me when she was here on the 12th, about her growing leariness about adding "explainy" bits at the request of editors. Well, as she knows, I've always resisted a) any impulse of my own to overtly explain anything to the reader and b) any attempt by editors to have me do the same. Silk ends the way Silk ends, and I think what's meant to be clear is very clear, and what's meant to be unclear is exactly that. Same for everything else I've ever published. What's the point of conjuring up all that mystery and sense of the unknown, only to dispell it with a lot of gratuitous explanation? I might as well shoot myself in the foot. And this really does have something to do with yesterday, really. I'm getting there. My aversion to expository passages is fairly well-known among the editors whom I work with, and it's been a long time since any of them asked me to clarify anything. We're talking years. But yesterday I got an e-mail from an editor (whom I admire, I should add), regarding a story which I recently wrote for her and her co-editor, asking for clarification at the end of the story, as they felt it was unclear exactly what was happening. I read the e-mail a couple of times, then read it to Spooky, then read over the ending of the story, then waited several hours, and finally e-mailed the editor back and told her no, I didn't want to change the end, as I felt everything that was meant to be clear was clear. Fortunately, she was understanding. I really try hard not to be difficult to work with, and I value the opinion of editors who value my work enough to publish it. But I don't always agree with them.
I suppose I could stop now, and write another entry later.
Happy birthday to Poppy. Did you ever think we'd live so frelling long? And a belated happy birthday to Mella, known to mere hoomans as "Robin." I'm a doofus for having forgotten (and for very many other reasons).
I was thinking, yesterday, of making a list of women over -0 who I think are very cool and not the least bit elderly (not that there's anything wrong with being elderly, but...). But there was no time for anything but work yesterday. But here's a few, quickly. To start with, there's Isabella Rossellini, who's 52, and Siouxsie Sioux, who will be 47 this Thursday. Kate Bush is 45, almost 46. Annie Lennox is 49 (born on Xmas day). Sigourney Weaver is 54. Daryl Hannah is 43, and Virginia Hey will be 45 in June. Grace Jones is 56, and Iman is 53. Suddenly, I feel much better.
There's probably something horribly sexist/ageist about this, but right now, I just don't give a dren.
Anyway, there's not much else to note about yesterday. I went to the post office. I had pizza at Fellini's in Candler Park. I started cleaning the bedroom. I watched Pitch Black for the hundreth-and-something time, in preparation for The Chronicles of Riddick. I lay awake all night. What more could anyone ask for?
If you're in the mood to spend some dough, check out my current eBay auctions, which include copies of Low Red Moon, In the Garden of Poisonous Flowers (signed by me and Dame Darcy), and a rarity ? a copy of Aberrations #27, which includes my first published short story, "Persephone," with its original ending.
Now, I'm gonna go bite someone...
Monday, May 24, 2004
Yesterday, I negotiated with stone giants, fought gargoyles, and slew a shadow dragon. Wow. That looks ever so much more interesting than, "Yesterday, I wrote 1,043 words on blah, blah, fuckedy blah."
Though, I must hasten to add, there are few things as pathetic as a roomful of thirty-something gaming (a pause here while I opened a package that turned out to be my birthday present from Bill Schafer @ Subterranean Press, a copy of War of the Monsters for PS2; kewl) geeks all trying desperately to find the next day on which they're all simultaneously free to game. It's not like when we were seventeen, or even twenty-five. There are all those frelling responsibilities, those inconvenient lives...
I came home last night to find Spooky with one of her increasingly infrequent migraines. We went to bed early, and I read her Adelaide Holl's Moon Mouse (illustrated by Cyndy Szerkeres. And I think last night was to first reasonably good night's sleep I've had in weeks, a whopping 9 hours, whereas I rarely get more than 5 or 6. The manical redneck housepainter's only awakened us once.
My congratulations to the winner of the first Murder of Angels ARC. Thank you very, very much. Look for a couple of freebies packed in with your ARC. The second auction has now begun. Also, a few other books will be going up today.
There's a new review of Low Red Moon at Strange Horizons. I was especially pleased with the reviewers comment, "Learning of Narcissa's strange and troubling childhood does not lessen her fearsome presence, but makes her current unfathomable ways all the more disturbing and foreign, even as somewhere in the craziness we realize she is trying oh-so-hard to find her place."
Also a reminder that the Species of One LiveJournal Community is up and running, and you are all invited. Don't be shy. And thanks to Sissy (for many things, but also) for fixing the image map on the front page of my website, so that the links to my online phorum once again work.
A glance at Llar'en's clock shows that there's only 1 day, 10 hours, 17 minutres, and 48 seconds remaining until The Day (cue music for a disaster film). I'd give another little toe to be one of those people who just doesn't care about these things, who shrugs off time and its implications with hardly any effort, with hardly a backwards glance. Of course, then I would not be the person I am. Then again, that might not be such a bad thing.
Now I have to go finish "Alabaster." Dancy's calling...
Sunday, May 23, 2004
Yesterday, I wrote 1,272 words on "Alabaster," bringing the total to 5,265 words. I shall definitely make a finish of this story on Monday afternoon, as there's only one scene left to write. I'd finish it today, but today is D&D. I think that writing this story, my experience of writing this story, might closely approximate what authors who write "drafts" must go through. First it was that 1,000-word chapette, and then a scene from an unfinished screenplay, and now a short story. So, in effect, three drafts, whereas I never, ever do more than one. Each draft has dramatically increased the depth and focus of the story. It's never been like this for me before, and I doubt it will be again (at least not any time soon).
I woke up this morning feeling hungover, for no particular reason. My stomach's better, after a bowl of Campbell's vegetable soup and some cherry Kool-Aid (a typical Caitl?n breakfast), and I took two Tylenol for my head, and it's somewhat better, too. If there were dreams last night, I don't recall them (which is unusual).
Last night, we watched the last ep of Season Four of The Sopranos. Fortunately, Season Two of Six Feet Under will be out on DVD (finally!) soon. In the interim, we have lots of costume work that needs doing. And, gods, there are those quaint things called books; I forget about those. Oh, we also watched Journey to the Seventh Planet (1962) last night. We'll, I did. Spooky dozed off after about fifteen minutes. I think I'm developing an obsession with movies directed by Sid Pink and written by Ib Melchoir (Reptilicus is another one). They're just so very strangely cheesy, and they try so hard and fail so completely, and yet they're still fun. Besides, I find passionate failure fascinating.
Let's see. There's really not much else. But Spooky's been snapping photos left and right with the new Canon, so I think I'll include a few more. The first two are me in my office (my natural habitat) and the last one is the aforementioned "dead duck," whom I have named Horace:
I'm invisible in this one. Note the autographed photo of Gigi Edgley as Chiana. Dork.
Whoops. I'm visible again. Madam Oblivia with her headphones. And that's Pandora, my old Color Classic on the left.
Horace. Grrrrrr! Quack! Grrrrrr!
Okay. Enough silliness. I'm off to Maerimydra.
Saturday, May 22, 2004
Addendum: I got so caught up in all that dren about being about of shape, that I forgot stuff I'd intended to mention this morning. For example, a post by borggirl reminded me of a dream I had this morning, just before I awoke. I don't have many pleasant dreams, at least not that I recall (and I seem to recall most of my dreams, so I suspect I don't have many pleasant dreams), but this one was very wonderful. I was an android, but not a human android. I was a Nebari android with silver skin. I was walking through a vast garden, and there were a number of life-sized stone rhinoceri in amongst the greenery. They were very detailed scupltures, and the stone was something yellow-white and very hard and smooth. All of the rhinos were leaning slightly to the left (their left, not mine).
Also, Spooky bought me a "dead duck" yesterday. It's like a conventional rubber duck, but black with a green beak and X's for eyes. Its very red tongue is hanging out of its mouth. It's adorable and squeaks when I squeeze it.
For them what care, the Murder of Angels ARC auction is now in its final hours.
And I wanted to say that Jim Shimkus, who DMs for our gaming group and was one of the people who came over for the last ep of Angel last week, ordered one of the Low Red Moon shirts from the Species of One Shop and reports that it looks great. It's kind of inspired me and Spooky to put a little more energy into cafepress. I think my argument that T-shirts for authors make as much sense as T-shirts for bands still holds. Check it out.
Yesterday (the word which begins these entries more than any other word), I wrote 1,022 words on "Alabaster," bringing the total word count to 3,981. I'm guessing, which is all I can ever do, that this story's going to run about 6,000 words, so I can expect to finish it Monday evening. It's proving suprisingly taxing, emotionally. In "Waycross," we saw Dancy at a crossroads, so to speak, the point where she was shown the truth about monsters, and, by extension, the truth about herself (even if she didn't listen), and that should have been harder for me than this. But it wasn't. This is Dancy just beginning to see how long the road in front of her will be, how she's alone, how she's started down a terrible path she won't ever be allowed to stop walking, and she's not so happy about being a hitman for a Seraph. This is the anger and weariness before self-doubt. This is spite and the beginnings of despair, and, in the end, I have to be sure she does the things she's "meant" to do. There are times I just want to let a character off the hook — Dancy especially inspires this feeling in me — tell her she's done a good job, and she can stop now. No more could be fairly expected of anyone, I want to say. But that would be denying the absolute authority and tyranny and greed of Plot. So I drive her on, towards this version of The End.
I sound like a lunatic. I am a lunatic. I think a lot of writers are lunatics.
I'm a really out-of-shape lunatic. And, of course, most writers are out of shape. It's an occupational hazard. I spend six or seven hours a day in this chair, slumped over this keyboard, only getting up to piss. I have the muscle tone of a raw oyster. My wrists are shot. My eyes look like I lose fights on a regular basis. My sight (I'm blind in the left eye to begin with) is going from staring at computer screens everyday for the past twelve years. My hearing's shot from the headphones I've worn everyday for the same period of time, because I have to have loud music to block out the distractions (remember those?). There's the pinched nerve in my right shoulder (another repetitive stress injury) that gets funky if I have several days of very intense writing. There are the pills (I mentioned those yesterday) and caffeine and, occassionally, alcohol, there to keep me focused. There's the depression that would come with the territory, even if I hadn't had it to start with. Etc. & etc. And my body isn't bouncing back the way it used to. There was a time, just a few years back, I could see I was getting soft and beat myself back into shape with only a couple of week's worth of concerted effort.
But now I'm about to turn -0, and I think it really is some sort of frelling magic number. I've been trying to get myself back in shape since January and making damned little headway. At the end of a day of writing, the absolute last thing I can bring myself to do is exercise. I just want to lay somewhere soft and quiet and let myself drool, until I have to get up and do it all again. And again. And again.
It doesn't help that there's only this one way that I can write. I recall Kevin Anderson talking about dictating prose into a tape recorder, and how he often "writes" while hiking on volcanoes in Hawaii and mesas in Arizona and dren like that. I can't even imagine such a thing. I can't even move to a different damned room. I have to be in the room with all my books and my fringey lamp and my Peabody Museum of Natural Museum mug full of pens and pencils and my stapler and file cabinet. That's where I write. Not climbing volcanoes. And it sucks.
And makes me soft. I'm about to begin the latest effort to get back in shape, if only because I have to if I'm going to be Nar'eth at Dragon*Con in September. But it's not an enterprise I begin with any optimism. If only exercise weren't so frelling boring. I'll never understand those people who get off on it, who go on and on about the "endorphin rush" and bulldren like that. People who get off on exercise make lousy goddamn writers, nine times out of ten. I'd bet folding money on it.
Last night, we watched Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, because, although I saw it in the theatre, Spooky hadn't seen it. I was impressed the first time I saw it and, three years later, I think it holds up nicely. No, this is most emphatically not a perfect movie. The script could have used two or three good rewrites. The plot is rather wobbly. The New-Agey Gaia stuff is a little taxing. And the suicidal General Hein would be an entirely unbelievable villian, if I didn't have George W. Bush and Friends for comparison. But still. It's a beautiful and thoroughly enjoyable film. It's an accomplishment that transcends its failures. I love the alien creature design, and those stretches when, for a handful of seconds, you can't tell it's CGI. Afterwards, Spooky fell asleep early (because we're being systematically deprived of sleep by manical redneck housepainters; more on this later) and I listened to Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea on FMC and read Lewis Padgett's "Mimsy Were the Borogroves" for the umpteenth time. Lewis Padgett is actually a pseudonym for Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore; there's your sf trivia for the day. At any rate, I think "Mimsy Were the Borogroves" is one of the best bits of Golden Age sf. Despite the somewhat Norman Rockwell characters, the dialogue is exceptional, the prose is smart and polished, and the concept is just frelling terrific. If you've never read it, you need to ASAP.
I was going to say something about the manical redneck housepainters, but this thing has gone on waaaaay too long.
Friday, May 21, 2004
Addendum: Here are a couple more pix from the spiffy new camera. Me at bedtime last night (this morning), trying to write in my other journal, and Spooky definitely thinks that when I'm writing is the proper time to take my picture.
Gagh. I think I'm at one of those annoying, disorienting points where the chemicals I consume to help me block out the distractions, that help me focus and get the work done, begin to work against me. And so I have to shorten the leash, for a while.
Okay, just let me take a moment to be ever so slightly indignant. It'll be short, I promise. Yes, it's true. Enterprise has been saved from a well-desvered, long over-due cancellation, but anyone who thinks this salvation it had anything to do with "a massive fan campaign organized on the Internet" (Gods, it annoys me how journalists capitalize "internet") needs to get a clue. This is just some not-so-inexplicable corporate hanky-panky. And it pisses me off (so I guess we've passed "slightly indignant" here) that we've just lost Angel (not great television, but light years superior to Enterprise), and that a genuine massive fan campaign organized on the internet (thank you very goddamn much) couldn't win a fifth season of Farscape, but the Star Trek franchise is rescued for the sole reason that the cancellation would devalue a formerly lucrative franchise that might someday be lucrative again. Of course, now that UPN has dumped the series into its Friday night wasteland (wait; there's no part of UPN that isn't a wasteland), it's pretty much a given we won't see more than another season of Cap'n Archer and his stiffly acted, poorly lit crew. I expect an announcement that the show will be wrapping up this season. That way, there's no stigma of cancellation attached to the franchise, but the network can still dump this turkey. Don't get me wrong. I actually like Star Trek, quite a lot, which is one reason I want to see Enterprise boldly go.
Yesterday, I wrote 1,066 words on "Alabaster." And they're 1,066 words that I really like, though they came with considerable difficulty. It's only a scene in a restroom, where Dancy Flammarion gets an unnerving glimpse of her adult self, but for me, it's sort of a bridge to Daughter of Hounds (which will include Dancy, by the way). The story now stands at 2,958 words. May I do as well today, and earn a good Kid Night.
Let's see. What else. The ARCs for The Dry Salvages are about to go out to reviewers. But mostly, I wrote. Which is good.
Spooky bought a spiffy Canon PowerShot A75, and she's been clicking pix of everything in sight. It's hard to tell which of us is worse when it comes to geeky tech toys. Below is the very first (rather dark) photo she took of me with said camera (sitting in my office, trying not to be distracted, and being distracted anyway):
Do I look happy or what? No doubt, I'll post a few more later today. We mostly got the camera to help me gather background on Providence for Daughter of Hounds, but I'm sure it will serve many other useful purposes.
Last night, we watched two more eps of The Sopranos. And fell asleep to Blade Runner. Woo hoo!
Llar'en kindly added the big ass clock thingy to the top of the blog (you LJ people don't have to look at it; you get that sexy new Illeria icon instead). I know it isn't pretty, and it's messing with the animation on the Farscape banner, but don't worry. It'll be gone in another 4 days, 12 hours, 9 minutes, and 33 seconds.
Thursday, May 20, 2004
Addendum: I forgot to mention that my publicist at Penguin mailed out all the Murder of Angels ARCs (advance reading copies) on Tuesday. For those not in the know, ARCs go out to reviewers at magazines, newspapers, websites, etc., in the hope that reviews will be published and publicity generated prior to the novel's release. In this case, prior to early September. So now I cross my fingers, and my toes, and anything else I can cross, and pray to whatever indifferent gods may be listening that we get lots of good, reasonably high-profile reviews this summer. Also, on the subject of Murder of Angels, Amazon is inexplicably listing it as a hardback release. It's not. It's a trade paperback. I'm working on getting the listing corrected.
Yesterday managed, simultaneously, to be weird, wonderful, and unpleasant. I shall play against type and mostly ignore the unpleasant parts. But I will say that no writing was done. The morning was spent answering e-mail, which I'd allowed to pile up (and the pile-up had been aggravated by the aforementioned dumbassery with .mac) until it threatened to topple over and smother me. And after that, about 2:30 p.m., I decided to let "Alabaster" rest a day. But, fear not, I'll be back on it today. No rest for the wordy, and all that.
I needed the break from Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly, anyway.
We met Byron and Jennifer (Lee, not Caudle - but she was there, too) and Jim for pizza a Fellini's in Candler Park (I shall spare you the Ballad of the Slow Calzones). We ate and talked D&D, and then the six of us adjourned to our place for the final episode of Angel. And I have to say, I was very, very pleased with its end. This is not to say that I'm not sad to see it go. I am. There's now officially nothing left worth watching on television, save SpongeBob SquarePants (and that'll wear thin next week), Monster Garage, X-Play, and Showtime/HBO. I think Whedon and the other creators of the series did an admirable job of bringing it all to a close. My only gripe was that the showdown between Angel and Hamilton was so, so Neo and Agent Smith. But, otherwise, it rocked. Wesley's death and Illeria's efforts to comfort him were handled superbly. Gunn was Gunn again. Lorne's "last job" was perfect. Thankfully, the humour was kept to a minimum, and enough loose ends were allowed to dangle that nothing felt rushed or forced. And the "ending" was a study in the beauty of forestalled resolution. These last few episodes have, like the stillborn Firefly, been Whedon at the top of his form. Too bad Angel's skillful departure reduces television fantasy and sf to the sorry likes of Stargate SG-1, Charmed, and Enterprise.
Neil called later on, to tell me I've been invited to be a Guest of Honor at Fiddler's Green in Minneapolis this November. I accepted, of course. We talked for a while about Teller's monkey room, the rather silly eeeevils of Hollywood, blogging, and suchlike, and then I watched the end of Godzilla and George Pal's The War of the World's on AMC. It was chopped up by commercials and pan-and-scan, but I was sleepy, and it was a good way to transition from consciousness towards the not-awake place.
Only 5 days, 12 hours, 29 minutes, and 32 seconds remaining until my -0th birthday (and apologies to Llar'en for my having not gotten his neat counter-clock thingy up; I'll try to do that this evening). It's all just too frelling weird. I guess I've missed my chance at a tragically young death, pumped full of heroin and absinthe in some Paris shithole. Ah, well. We can't have everything, I suppose. I've just added new stuff to my Amazon wishlist, because most of the original stuff has been (or is being) purchased. I might be old as the hills, but at least I get good dren. I know it's sort of like being sent to the electric chair with a big bag of jelly beans, but we fossils takes what we can gets.
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
This has to be the most intriguing subject line I've ever seen on a piece of spam: The sum of what you are in their blank eyes. I got that this morning. It could almost be the title of my autobiography. Of course, it turned out to be an ad for Viagra.
Some time ago, I declared that the three coolest men on Earth were David Bowie, Johnny Cash, and Roy Orbison. It's still true, even though two of them are dead. But this writing-to-Roy-Orbison thing is starting to freak me out, keeping my head lodged in some ever so slightly off-kilter Lynchian universe where it's simultaneously 1956 and 2035. I can't hear any song without imagining how it would sound if Julee Cruise were singing it. Too many people smile for too many reasons. Which is to say, "Alabaster" is coming along. Dancy Flammarion in 1998, walking along a south Georgia highway, stopping at a Texaco Station that's still firmly lodged in 1935.
If I live to be a hundred
I will never know from where
Came those lovely scarlet ribbons...
Yeah, it's like that.
Was there anything else to yesterday? Anything worth the mentioning? More time was spent of the finer points of the Nebari female reproductive system. Spooky and I passed a ridiculously dorky hour or so putting all the data on my D&D character sheet into my iBook. Tony Randall died. Transsexuals will be allowed to compete in the Olympics. I had some ungodly e-mail problems with .mac, resulting from my not knowing that I have to delete my deleted and sent mail (AOL auto deletes sent and deleted mail) and using 16 of my alloted 15MB. E-mails bounced left and right, up and down. Sophie stalked a careless squirrel. And that's about it.
The Murder of Angels ARC auction is going well, and has only four days and an hour remaining.
Now it's time for me to either write or find some other way to justify the day.
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Yesterday is a mucky sort of smudge, hidden somewhere behind a night of inordinately peculiar dreams. What did I do? "Alabaster," that's what I did. Well, that's not all that I did. I also had to put together a list of potential reviewers for Murder of Angels and get it to my publicist at Penguin. Many thanks to Bill Schafer for help in that regard. I e-mailed "Waycross" to Steve Jones (for The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #15) a second time, because .mac screwed it up up the first time. I wrote a letter to accompany the corrected galleys of Murder of Angels (which Spooky packed up and got to the p.o. mere moments before closing, because she's entirely frelling drad). There was some business with my NYC agent concerning the purchase of copies of Low Red Moon and Threshold (to have on hand for European editors interested in foreign translation rights) that had to be attended to. And other things too varied and minor to mention.
But mostly there was "Alabaster." This is shaping up to be an odd writing experience. This story began last March as a 1,000-word vignette, when Camelot Books asked me to do something for their "chapette" series. Then, a year later, this April, it formed the opening scene for my screenplay, "Alabaster" (presently neglected as I try to catch up on all these other things). Now I'm endeavoring to make a full-fledged, self-contained short story of the poor thing. Oh, and it turns out that there wasn't a copy of the ms. on my machine or on Spooky's. It was the only important casuality of the last time Hinderance (my iBook) burped. All I had was a hardcopy. So, Spooky dictated, and I typed it back in. Then I spent most of the afternoon fleshing out the first few pages, taking some material from the screenplay and converting it into prose form (this is a very Neil way to write, I think). Today, more revision, and tomorrow, more fleshing out of screenplay into prose. This Dancy story's going to feel a little different from the others. It's darker, I think, and Dancy's a lot less happy about having her strings yanked by angels. But the weirdest thing about this story so far is that I've been writing it to Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison. It's doing something marvelously unnerving to the mood of the piece. This one's directed by David Lynch, definitely. "Waycross" was directed by Neil Jordan. "In the Garden of Poisonous Flowers" was directed by Alex Proyas.
What do I say next? I'd pay a dollar to get a peek at the script for my life, just for the next fifteen or twenty minutes. A whole dollar.
Spooky has immersed herself deeply in the details of comparative shopping, as she tries to get the best digital camera for the best price before our long trip to New England in June. Me, I'd just go to CompUSA or Wolf and buy a damn camera and be done with it, which is why she's handling this and I'm not.
Last night, I wrote a short bit on the anatomy of the Nebari female reproductive system and genitalia, because my not having previously divulged this information was holding up Leh'agvoi's Nar'eth manga. I think that I can say it was quite possibly the strangest thing I've written in ages, if not ever. I believe I have invented the science of xenovaginoplasty. Anyway, because I am a beast minus shame, I thought I might as well share it with all of you:
Nebari reproductive physiology, and the anatomy of their genitalia, is quite entirely distinct from that of Sebaccoids. Nebari are ovoviviparous, which is to say that the developing embryo, held inside a spherical, leathery egg, is nourished entirely by the yolk of the egg. There is no umbilicus. A few days after fertilization, the egg descends from the vagina, after migrating from the oviduct along the inner wall of the vagina,??and is held inside a thick subclitoral membrane for two months, until it has grown to the point where the membrane ruptures. At this point, the egg is tended outside the mother's body.
Nebari women never produce more than a single egg at once (there are no twins), and egg production is very low. Very few Nebari women become pregnant more than twice in their lives.
How do I begin to describe the female genitalia? Look at an orchid and you'll start to get a good idea. The clitoris is greatly enlarged, to the point that it's many cultures long believed all Nebari to be male, and the species to be hermaphroditic. This fingerlike projection is referred to as the THADA. It's tip is slightly bifurated, for insertion into a deep fold on the dorsal surface of the male's hemipenis, known as the VRIS. So, in Nebari, both species achieve penetration. The thada not only prevents the male from withdrawing prior to ejaculation, it stimulates very sensative tissue located within the vris and is instrumental in bringing the male to orgasm. Between the two short prongs on the end of the THADA, is a hollow "fang" known as the SLAN'HYRA. During intercourse, the female injects a small amount of a mild neurotoxin via the slan'hyra, which insures the male with whom she has just mated will not mate again for almost a cycle. In modern Nebari society, the venom gland is usually removed shortly after hatching, though the slan'hyra itself is left intact. It is not unusual for males to be pricked several times during intercourse by the slan'hyra.
The thada is generally about 2.5" long. The labia majora are very wide and, when aroused, turn a very vivid blue. The labia minora, located beneath and behind the vagina, is also quite large, but does not change colour during arousal, remaining the same dark grey-blue that characterizes the female pubic region (once VEDDA is complete). The external margins of the labia are marked by??low "ruffles,"not unlike the crenulated edges of some orchid petals. These are known as TRESPARS and become erect when the female is aroused, drawing more attention to her genitalia.
Needless to say, Chapter Seven's going to be steamy, and most likely rated NC-17. I wish I had as much fun writing my novels and short stories as I have writing pseudo-slash fic/alien porn. Perhaps, with the next sf novella I do for Subterranean Press, I'll combine the two.
And, just for robyn ma, who seems worried lately about the amount of ennui in my life, let me just say Squee!!! as regards the imminent release of The Chronicles of Riddick. If I were up to such things, and he had nothing better to do and weren't almost certainly gay, I'd have Vin Diesel's bald-headed little baby in a heart beat. Wait. That felt so good I think that I shall do it again. Squee!!!
Gotta run now. I'm out of black micro-glitter and Sanrio stickers...
Monday, May 17, 2004
Addendum: Today, my editor returned from LA, where he attended E3 (drool, drool, drool). And I really hope he won't be annoyed at my quoting from his e-mails, but I just have to share the following:
I thought I was a big gaming geek, and then I saw how rabid and packed and ridiculously huge the convention was, and I realized that there are serious gaming geeks out there, and I am not one of them. A fight broke out near me in the X-Box booth and I had to leave.
Wow. Angry, violent gaming geeks. What could possibly be more drad? Well, besides that, I mean.
(Note: This is one of those times when people will think I'm being sarcastic and I'm not.)
Anyway, I think I'm going to spend a little time on Nebari.net. It languishes.
Yesterday, I completed a spiral-bound notebook that I began sometime around June 1996. I do very little writing in longhand, so my notebooks last virtually forever. This one lasted almost seven years. The one before that, the one I used while writing Silk, only lasted me about four years. Looking back over the seven-year notebook last night, there's tons of notes about The Dreaming, Threshold, Low Red Moon, and Murder of Angels, lots and lots of short stories, to-do-lists for conventions, notes I made in cemeteries in New Orleans and Connecticut and Providence, hundreds of little monster doodles, all sorts of proofreading notes, and so forth. The front and back covers are plastered with stickers, and there are dozens of interior stickers, as well. I wouldn't part with this notebook for a million bucks. Okay. Well, maybe for a million. But, anyway, there's a photo of the front cover below:
I've carried this notebook with me to California, Washington, Illinois, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, and England. I've had it at eight of my ten Dragon*Cons, as well as various World Horror and lesser cons. It survived Death's Little Sister. It has coffee stains. This notebook and I, we go back a ways. So, I have now retired it to a place on the same shelf where reside original typescripts of mss. and such. I figure this new notebook will last me until at least 2009.
I spent most of yesterday tidying up various loose ends, but I did manage to make some notes for "Alabaster," which I hope to begin today.
And, of course, today marks to beginning of legal gay marriages in Massachusetts. I hope George Bush chokes on it (of course, he'll only sputter, squint through those beady eyes, and quack about "the sanctity of marriage" and "family values," but one can always hope).
Sunday, May 16, 2004
Addendum: The Murder of Angels ARC auction has begun! All proceeds go to buy new Nebari eyes for me and Spooky.
Also, I want to take a moment to say thanks to the members of my phorum, who are gifting me with an Xbox for my -0th birthday. You guys are the draddest. Special thanks to Sissy, for instigating and overseeing the whole thing. When I added the Xbox to my Amazon wishlist, it was really just a sort of a joke, and I never, ever dreamt anyone would be so generous. And thanks, also, to everyone else who's selected other items from the list. You will surely all make that day a little less awful.
We didn't get tickets for A Midsummer Night's Dream. Jennifer went to the box office, but they were all gone (the tickets, that is). And it looks as though it's going to rain, anyway (this is relevant, because it's open air theatre, which, in my opinion, is the only way to perform A Midsummer Night's Dream). So, we shall all stay home, and I'll cook chicken stew, instead.
So, I rewrote the relevant portions of pp. 37-38 of Murder of Angels (ms. pp. 60-62). I pared the lyrics down to the two lines permitted by "fair use"? We dream of a ship that sails away / A thousand miles away. It's not better than the original version, but it might be as good. So, all's well that doesn't end with a rabid weasel stuck in your bum, right? Also, the new emphasis on those two lines creates a nice echo with an important scene in Silk (pp. 39-44, 2002 tpb edition). Jennifer is currently checking all of the corrections that Spooky and I made. Tomorrow, it goes back to NYC.
And now it's time to begin "Alabaster" (the short story for Subterranean Press, as opposed to the original Camelot Books "chapette" or the unfinished screenplay). And then it will be time to prepare for the long trip to Providence and New York and Massachusetts, and then, then it will be time to begin Daughter of Hounds. I can see the future, even without my glasses.
No hounds to guide me, no army at my back...
For me, that song will always be wedded to the first night that Spooky and drank absinthe in this apartment. Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula was playing on the iBook, with the sound off, and this song was playing on the other iBook, and it all sort of stuck together. I was very drunk, and the Green Fairy was beginning to do things with the candlelight. Sorry. The mind wanders.
Okay. Something not quite momentous, but something that I've never done before. I shall willingly play host to a meme ('cause William Burroughs was an okay dude). I picked this thing up from billetdoux's LJ (he's an old bud of Spooky's) and figured it was a good way to squander a little piece of Sunday. Here goes:
1. Who did you last get angry with? Spooky.
2. What is your weapon of choice? Words.
3. Would you hit a member of the opposite sex? If he had it coming, or asked nicely.
4. How about of the same sex? If she had it coming, or asked nicely.
5. Who was the last person who got really angry at you? Spooky.
6. What is your pet peeve? Stupidity.
7. Do you keep grudges, or can you let them go easily? Forever do I keep them.
1. What is one thing you're supposed to do daily that you haven't done in a long time? Exercise.
2. What is the latest you've ever woken up? Sometime after sunset.
3. Name a person you've been meaning to contact, but haven't. Jed Cage, a first cousin.
4. What is the last lame excuse you made? I couldn't attend Poppy's signing because crowded bookstores freak me out (true, but still lame).
5. Have you ever watched an infomercial all the way through (one of the long ones...)? Yep.
6. When was the last time you got a good workout in? The last time I was in the field (paleo' work), sometime in the spring of 2002.
7. How many times did you hit the snooze button on your alarm clock today? I do not have an alarm clock.
1. What is your overpriced yuppie beverage of choice? Does Sobe Adrenaline count as "yuppie"? How about a caramel mocha?
2. Meat eaters: white meat or dark meat? dark (Iike my soul)
3. What is the greatest amount of alcohol you've had in one sitting/outing/event? Er. Ummm. Do numbers go that high?
4. Have you ever used a professional diet company? Nope.
5. Do you have an issue with your weight? Nope. But it sure has some issues with me.
6. Do you prefer sweets, salty foods, or spicy foods? Spicy.
7. Have you ever looked at a small house pet or child and thought, "LUNCH!"? Hasn't everyone?
1. How many people have you seen naked (not counting movies/family)? Wait. This is a trick question, isn't it?
2. How many people have seen YOU naked? Not counting family...frell...I have no idea. After that photo on the back of The Five of Cups, a lot more than before.
3. Have you ever caught yourself staring at the chest/crotch of a member of your gender of choice during a normal conversation? Oh, hell yeah.
4. Have you "done it"? Done what?
5. What is your favorite body part on a person of your gender of choice? Nipples.
6. Have you ever been propositioned by a prostitute? Yep.
7. Have you ever had to get tested for an STD or pregnancy? Yep.
1. How many credit cards do you own? Three.
2. What's your guilty pleasure store? Toys-R-Us.
3. If you had $1 million, what would you do with it? Buy a house, make a large donation to the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, and take a trip to France. Wait. I need at least three million...
4. Would you rather be rich, or famous? Rich.
5. Would you accept a boring job if it meant you would make megabucks? Yep.
6. Have you ever stolen anything? You bet.
7. How many MP3s are on your hard drive? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?
1. What one thing have you done that you're most proud of? It's a tie: a) publication of my mosasaur biostratigraphy study, and b) getting my shit together.
2. What one thing have you done that your parents are most proud of? Support myself with my writing.
3. What thing would you like to accomplish in your life? Immortality.
4. Do you get annoyed by coming in second place? I get violent about coming in second place.
5. Have you ever entered a contest of skill, knowing you were of much higher skill than all the other competitors? Yep.
6. Have you ever cheated on something to get a higher score? Yep.
7. What did you do today that you're proud of? It's only twelve-frelling-thirty-one in the afternoon! Hmmmm. I haven't yelled at anyone yet. Does that count?
1. What item (or person) of your friend's would you most want to have for your own? Neil's fame.
2. Who would you want to go on "Trading Spaces"? What the frell does this have to do with envy?
3. If you could be anyone else in the world, who would you be? Milla Jovovich
4. Have you ever been cheated on? Does a satyr shit in the woods?
5. Have you ever wished you had a physical feature different from your own? Oh, yeah.
6. What inborn trait do you see in others that you wish you had for yourself? Tie: greater intelligence/physical beauty
7. Do you wish you'd come up with this survey? No.
8. Finally, what is your favorite deadly sin? Lust. Definitely lust.
Well, that was pointless.
I halfway hope to make it to A Midsummer Night's Dream in Piedmont Park this evening, but things I halfway hope for hardly ever happen...
Saturday, May 15, 2004
Addendum: Happy birthday to Darren. May you live to be as old as me.
I neglected to mention in the rant about "Spider and I," that I've had one successful attempt to obtain permission to quote song lyrics. The manuscript of The Five of Cups ends with a passage from the Indigo Girls' "Kid Fears." I contacted Amy Ray, who has wisely retained control of her work, and she graciously gave me permisison to include the lyrics in the Subterranean Press edition. But then, because the universe thrives on irony, a communications snafu somewhere in the production process led to the lyrics being included in the ARCs (hence, they're mentioned in one of the Locus reviews), but not in the final, printed book itself.
I just spent half an hour trying to use Jennifer's Gateway laptop to look at some old jpgs. stored on floppies (the constant reader will recall the facts surrounding the violent demise of my floppy drive and my stubborn resolve not to buy another). I finally gave up in frustration. It's unthinkable that most people actually "use" Windows on a day to day basis. I can only pity all the lost millions who've yet to find their way to Apple (or at least Linux).
Yeah, I know that was just the sort of snotty, elitist rhetoric that the Microserfs have come to expect from arrogant Mac addicts like myself, but I have a frelling hangover, and I'm not currently disposed to look kindly on clunky technology.
Anyway, the proofreading/editing work on Murder of Angels is almost done now. All that remains is a little rewriting that has to be done in Chapter One. In the original draft, I included the lyrics to Brian Eno's song, "Spider and I." For those of you who don't have to know these things (count yourselves among the fortunate), copyright law permits "fair use" of two lines from a song. As long as I only use two lines, I don't have to ask permission or pay a liscensing fee. Anything more than that, and the red tape begins to roll. So, in Chapter One, if I'm to have Niki hear all of "Spider and I," and if I'm to include the lyrics, then I have to obtain permission. Which I've been trying to do for months. Usually, I don't fool with this sort of thing, because I've known it's too much trouble since at least 1997, when I tried to get permission to quote part of an R.E.M. song in an issue of The Dreaming. In that instance, Michael Stipe had actually given me permission, but the record company suits were being such dicks that I finally grew weary of jumping through hoops and gave up.
Anyway, this time, because I had no direct contact info. for Brian Eno, and because there was a lot of confusion over exactly who administers the rights for "Spider and I," I began by contacting Customer Services at EnoShop (following Neil's advice). EnoShop instructed me to contact Jane Geerts, director for Opal-Chant Ltd., who then told me that the person I needed to speak with was Briony Jefferies at BMG. Fine. So, I contact Briony Jefferies, who tells me no, I actually need to speak with Steve Phillips in Licensing at BMG's Global Marketing Division. Finally, it seemed I'd found the right person. Mr. Phillips requested a bunch of information on Murder of Angels (description of the story; context of the use of the lyrics [page including the lyrics, and the previous and subsequent page]; territory of release; and so forth). With some help from a number of people at Penguin-Putnam, I supplied the requested information and waited to be told what it would cost me to quote the lyrics. That was way the hell back in March, almost two months ago. I've heard not one word back from BMG, and I've run out of time for hoop jumping. So, today I'll be rewriting the scene at Cafe Alhazred, so that either a) only two lines of "Spider and I" are used, or b) one of Daria Parker's songs is used instead. And, because the ms. has already been typeset, I'll probably have to pay for the cost of making these changes.
Doesn't this sound like all sorts of fun?
Last night, we decided to go Old School again for Kid Night, and watched Forbidden Planet, followed by Earth vs. the Flying Saucers.
I have four ARCs (advance reading copies) of Murder of Angels that I'll be auctioning via eBay, beginning tonight or tomorrow. I'll make an announcement here as soon as the auction begins. Just four copies. Win one of these, or wait until September. Now, if you'll please excuse me, I'm going to go eat a whole bottle of Tylenol...
Friday, May 14, 2004
Addendum: It's done. Come Monday, I'll pack up Murder of Angels and away it will go to NYC, and good riddance. I couldn't have endured another day of proofreading. But I am pleased with this novel. I'm not sure anyone else will be, but I am. And in that fantasy world where writers pretend that it's all about Art, instead of sales figures and advances and bills and so forth, that's all that matters. For the remainder of this afternoon I will live there, and accept willingly the conceit that what I want to write is more important than what a "wider audeince" would like to read.
There's one small bit of editing to be done, which I shall explain tomorrow.
I didn't get to the contact lens rant this morning. I'm too tired for it now. Suffice to say, it's time for me to buy another pair of black contacts for Nar'eth, and Spooky has to get a pair as well. Yesterday, we tried to order two pairs from LensQuest, the company I've always ordered from before, and we were informed that they are now required by the FDA to obtain a verifiable prescription for every pair sold, even for non-prescription SFX lenses. This because some idiot somewhere whined about an eye infection, or some mother got up in arms because her Manson baby slept with his one white contact in and stinking his eye rotted out, or some such foolishness. So, now we both have to go to the added expense and bother of having our eyes measured for contacts. I think we're just going to go ahead and spring for prescription black contacts. At least it means we won't be blind at Dragon*Con this year. But I'm still pissed about the whole FDA thing. It's my goddamn, traitorous body. If I want to risk ruining what's left of it, in ways that ruins no one else's body, that's my business.
But wait. I can't be in an angry, growly mood. I finished the proofreading. I like the book. And it's Kid Night. Oh, I'm so damned conflicted!
I'm not certain exactly how I neglected to mention this yesterday. Anyway, I'll mention it now. The very best thing about Wednesday was that during lunch at the Jamaican place, when I ordered a Bass, the waiter, who looked all of twenty-four, actually carded me.
It ain't much, but what the frell. With only 11 days, 12 hours, 13 minutes, and 39 seconds to go, I'll take whatever I can get.
(An interruption here, because Sissy called about my website, and then Spooky came in with some huge ass piece of furniture that a neighbor was throwing out, and now I have to convince her we should throw it out.)
Yesterday, we only managed to make it through Chapter Eight of Murder of Angels, before I discovered that I just couldn't take any more of the book, that I needed more time away from it. And that means that we have to get the final 79 pp. done today (in the next six hours, to be precise). Gods, I'm frelling sick of proofreading. It's bad enough, having to write a book, but then to be dragged back over it again, and again, and again, in this futile struggle to make it perfect. It will never be perfect. It's filled with flaws and warts and contradictions, and it's maddening to know that that's the best I can do. That this warped child is the best I can spawn. The fruit never falls far from the tree, blah, blah, blah, frelling blah. Maybe the next book will be My Perfect Book, and the whole world will be awed, and I'll never have to write another. Yeah, sure, and maybe Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny will get together and bring me a new cybernetic body, complete with my own temporal displacement field. One's at least as likely as the other.
Actually, no. That's no true. My money's on Santa and the rabbit.
Last night, I started reading William Gibson's Alien 3 screenplay. I love David Fincher's film, but Gibson's screenplay is a fascinating look at a direction the story could have gone instead. Later, I staved off sleep with Kya: Dark Legacy, which is sort like Primal for ten year olds. But it's very, very playable, with an extremely low frustration threshold (all important, at the moment).
It's already 12:28. I have to go face the pages...
Thursday, May 13, 2004
This morning, I was sitting here, checking my e-mail or some shit. I stretch, and my sternum pops, as it sometimes does when I stretch. "What was that?" Spooky asked, and when I told her, she made a disgusted face, like I'd just asked her to eat raw pork or something, and "You're weird," she says. To which I reply, "Hey, you're the one who tells me to whine like a puppy when we're having sex." And she says, "Well, you're the one who actually does the whining."
Good gods. I think I'm channeling Hollis Gillespie.
Okay. Just pretend you never read any of that.
What I meant to say was that today we have to do chapters Eight and Nine of Murder of Angels (and, may I just say, as well, we are both so frelling sick of frelling proofreading). But first, I have to get "Waycross" off to Steve Jones, and I still haven't sent the photo for Authors and Artists for Young Adults, which means a trip to the post office before we can even begin reading. And I'd really like to see A Midsummer Night's Dream in Piedmont Park this evening, but we don't have time to pick up tickets, and it's probably going to rain anyway, so we'll most likely just wait and try to see it on Sunday, instead.
Yesterday, in all the running around, I bought four new eight-sided dice at the Sword of the Phoenix (yes, I am a big dork) and also found a copy of Cemetery Dance #48, which has a very good review of Low Red Moon (And if you haven't already, please, please, please be nice, follow the link, and buy a copy. Blogger and LJ are neat, but they don't pay my bills.).
How can it possibily be Thursday already?
And to top it all off, we just got a notcice from the vet reminding us that Sophie is due for a fecal exam.
Oh, the joy.
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Yesterday — Tuesday — my agent called to say there'd been a new round of film inquiries. It was that sort of a day, as though there wasn't enough stress already.
But we made it through Chapter Seven of Murder of Angels, and through "Waycross," and I attended to all sorts of assorted other things that had to be attended to, those things which I'd listed (and a few others). So I don't feel to bad about getting nothing much at all done today. We picked Poppy up at the airport about 2:30 this afternoon, and had a late lunch at a Jamaican place downtown. I didn't attend her 8 p.m. reading, as gatherings in book stores — even perfectly gay book stores — make me antsy (yeah, go figure), but it was very well attended (about 60 people, she was told), and she was quite pleased with it. Afterwards, Spooky and I met her and Jennifer (who had gone to the reading), and we had a very fabulous dinner at Nickiemoto's, conveniently just across the street from OutWrite Books. I'd been told Nickiemoto's served the best sushi in Atlanta, and now I believe it. The volcano roll was fantastic. Poppy had some mega-enormous sushi platter, and still had room for key lime pie afterwards. I was too full to move. After dinner, Spooky and I took Poppy back to her hotel. We have promised to see each other more frequently. Tomorrow, she finishes up her book tour with a stop in Memphis.
And I go back to work on Murder of Angels, and all those other things.
At OutWrite Books, there's a wall that visiting authors are asked to sign. I signed it when I did a reading there from Silk in May or June 1998 (precision is beyond me at the moment). I saw the signature again tonight. It seems impossible that was almost six years ago that I signed that frelling wall. But there you are. Time has little consideration for my puny mortal sensibilities.
So. It was a good day.
And now I'm going to go watch the next to last episode of Angel with Spooky (we taped it while we were out), and anything else can wait until tomorrow proper.
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
And then there are these points along the continuum, when It All comes tumbling down on me at once. Or, at least, that's the way it seems. I'm literally in the middle of proofreading the galleys for Murder of Angels, and my editor at Roc calls yesterday to tell me the ARCs (advance reading copies) for MoA are in a month early. This means that the list of reviewers I was supposed to have another month to put together needs to be in NYC yesterday. And I also have to go over "Waycross" again (there are always things that can be corrected), and then send it to Steve Jones for The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #15, along with an updated biography and a paragraph about the writing of the story. And I need to contact my publicist about those ARCs and the list of reviewers. And call my NYC agent. And last night I get mock-ups for the cover of The Dry Salvages, and I need to get back to Bill Scahfer with my thoughts on those. And he also needs all the Dancy stories so far, so he can begin to get a feel for that project, the collection of Dancy Flammarion stories. And, really, all of these things need to be dealt with today, when I need to be reading chapters Seven and Eight of Murder of Angels, sans distractions and that nagging sense that I ought to be doing something else instead.
And I'm ever so slightly more depressed than usual, and I think it's the result of rereading Murder of Angels, and all I really want to do is go back to bed and hide in the twists and turns of my ridiculous nightmares.
So, all these things I have to try to do today and tonight. Poppy's coming into town tomorrow, to do a signing at OutWrite Books on Piedmont, and Spooky and I are picking her up at the airport. If I'm lucky, we'll actually have a little time to talk, just to catch up. But I'm not feeling particularly lucky. Regardless, no work will get done tomorrow.
Everything, all at once.
And, on top of that, circumstances beyond my control are conspiring to make it highly desirable (if not actually necessary) to vacate Atlanta for the weekend, so I might lose Saturday and Sunday, as well. I'd planned to finish with MoA on Saturday and then take Sunday off, before beginning "Alabaster" on Monday.
And there hasn't been time to work on updates for Nebari.net or to put Llar'en's neat birthday-clock thingy up on my website or anything of that sort. Or, if there has been the time, there's been no energy or motivation to spare after the hours and hours of reading MoA. I managed to lie on the floor and watch television last night, when I'd have preferred to have been doing something slightly more constructive. I watched Monster Garage and three episodes of The Sopranos.
Blah, blah, blah.
These are not your problems.
I thought that my ruminations on blogs and privacy, or, rather, on blogs and exhibitionism/voyeurism, would provoke more commentary over at the greygirlbeast annex. We always want to believe that our insights are insightful, and that our eurekas aren't old news, even when they are. Or is that only me?
Time to put this thing to bed (too bad I can't go with it), and get on with this trainwreck of a day.
Monday, May 10, 2004
Thanks to Llar'en, for designing this (take the blue pill) nifty little countdown-to-my-happy-frelling-birthday thingy. It's hypnotic. There goes the future, one second at a time.
Blogger has a new look this morning. I think it's finally going to try and compete with LiveJournal. Nice, but it has me just a little disoriented here. After 894 entries, they go and change things on me.
As predicted, we got through chapters Three and Four yesterday, so today will be Five and Six. It's a hard book to read again. I'm tempted to say that I've never written anything even half so personal or half so autobiographical as Murder of Angels, but that wouldn't be true. Still, there's something here, some new directness, that's deeply unsettling. Because I know what I'm really saying. I know what I'm really writing about. When I say "Niki" and "Daria," I know that, this time, I'm really just talking about splintered bits of me. That's always true of my characters, to some extent or another, but in this novel I seem to have made very little effort to hide Me from Myself.
There were storms all around us yesterday, but we saw not a drop of rain. Just thunder and clouds. But we're promised a week of thunderstorms.
Last night, we discovered that a fat green caterpillar was devouring the basil plant.
I'm feeling peculiarly mundane this morning. It'll pass. Enjoy it while I can. What was I saying? Yesterday. After all the reading, we made dinner (fettucini with pesto and sauteed porta bella mushrooms, broiled asparagus, salad). Spooky worked on a vest for her Nebari costume, and I watched silly crap on television.
I'm beginning to suspect that, despite all my earlier claims of propriety and prudery, I am becoming quite envious of, and intrigued by, acquaintances and friends who talk openly of very private matters in their blogs and ljs. At first glance (and, for me, second, third, and fourth), it seems an extraordinary violation of the most fundamental concept of The Journal, putting all the gory details of one's sex life, mental and physical health, relationships, finances, etc., up where all the world (or at least a few chosen friends) can read them. Me and exhibitionism, we go way, way back, but I think I still have one foot very solidly planted in the generation before such things were done, before the internet gave Andy Warhol's too-too-often-repeated comment about fame and fifteen minutes a whole new anti-meaning. It's taken me quite some time to begin to understand these new species of vouyeurism and self-display. We have moved, at light speed, well beyond priests and psychotherapy. The whole world is becoming a confessional. But I'm drifting. I was saying, I'm beginning to envy those who have the luxury of talking so freely (at their own risk, of course), about very personal matters. And that envy calls into question the validity of the privacy and manner which I preached for the past several years. My stodgy Neo-Victorianism is rapidly dissolving in a seductive flood of phosphor unconfidences. And yet, I also see that I am not free to speak so openly, to follow these examples, because there are people who would frown and shake their heads, and probably rightly so. There are opportunities which might not present themselves (they might not anyway), were I ever to become so candid myself.
But. I am beginning to comprehend, slowly, and to retract some earlier judgements.
I think, sometimes, that what all this really amounts to is the unconscious construction of a vast databank on the human psyche for some as yet unbirthed AI. Millions of minds, bleeding themselves into the aether daily, providing templates and primers and step-by-step instructions to the mind/s that we'll construct, intentionally or unintentionally, a little later on.
There. That nasty mundane feeling has passed.
Sunday, May 09, 2004
Do I have anything to say right now? That post last night took care of most if of, I think. I've thrown my schedule off.
Today we do chapters Three and Four of Murder of Angels. And tonight I may try to work on the long overdue third chapter of The Girl Who Sold the World. I haven't written anything since I finished "Faces in Revolving Souls" last week , and I'm getting antsy. Isn't that to die for? I bitch and bitch and bitch about how much I wish I never had to write so much as another single, frelling word as long as I live, and then a few days without writing leaves me eager to get back to it again.
The air is filled with pollen, and Atlanta had an orange ozone alert the last two days. My allergies are on the warpath.
In seventeen days (counting today), I turn -0. I keep thinking that I should find code for a sort of clock to put at the top of my website, counting off the seconds to 12:00 a.m. May 26th. It's a shame Amazon doesn't carry liquor (they carry everything else); I'd add a few bottles of something extraordinarily strong to my wishlist.
Caught the trailer for the new Catwoman movie yesterday. As much as I appreciate Halle Berry, this one looks like something to avoid. It reminded me of those awful '70s made-for-television superhero movies. Why couldn't DC (or whoever) have followed up on what it started in Batman Returns? But the trailer for the remake of The Stepford Wives looks priceless. I suspect it will rock.
Saturday, May 08, 2004
In preparation for Van Helsing, Spooky and I devoted Kid Night last night to Hammer films — The Curse of Frankenstein and Dracula: Prince of Darkness (probably my fave two Hammer films). There was some other stuff as well — SpongeBob (a new fixation for me; Jerry Lewis on acid) and a couple of eps of Beavis and Butthead.
And speaking of Van Helsing, we saw it this afternoon, and it's was, I think, everything it set out to be. I wasn't impressed with either The Mummy or The Mummy Returns, so this is the first time I can say that I almost unconditionally enjoyed a Stephen Sommers movie. Actually, come to think of it, Deep Rising was sort of fun, but Van Helsing is far better. It's just an utterly fun, joyfully campy, unrepentantly goofy, video game of a movie. That's what I went in expecting, and that's what I got. Not a lot of actual jokes, which is a good thing, but the tongue never leaves the cheek. When Dracula launches in a monologue of Bad Goth Poetry, I thought Spooky and I were going to end up in the aisle ("I am hollow!"). The sfx are just shy of top-notch, and my only real complaint is that I suspect the film errs in its choice of an ending. Or rather, in the tone of the ending it chose. But it was breathless, non-stop fun. I want more.
Yesterday, we made it through Chapter One of Murder of Angels, despite a significant number of interruptions. We're going to try to make it through chapters Three and Four tomorrow. I'm truly annoyed at the slipshod copy editing this time out, in a different way than copy editors usually annoy me.
Daughter of Hounds is starting to take shape in my head, building momentum, and I have to keep reminding it that the "Alabaster" chapbook comes first.
And I think that's it for now. Perhaps, I shall imbibe tonight...
Friday, May 07, 2004
So, I ask you, what does it say about Western culture that a moronic yellow poriferan working in the service industry has become one of our most beloved icons?
Last night, we watched a month's worth of The Sopranos in four hours. As soon as we're through Season Four, Spooky and I are curtailing our television binges, at least until Season Two of Six Feet Under is released on DVD. We have costumes to work on. Though, I have noticed that watching television (or movies) for hours at a time leaves me disoriented and foggy exactly the same way that reading for hours at a time does. I think it's an inevitable by-product of the prolonged suspension of disbelief and immersion in fictional worlds. Good television is no more likely to make you stupid than good prose fiction, though it's certainly a hell of a lot more difficult to come by.
Of course, the other "bad habit" that's been eating up spare time is LiveJournal. I must have spent two hours yesterday reading freinds' ljs and frelling around with the settings for my greygirlbeast account. I like the new look, though.
Something cool: "Waycross" has been selected for The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #15. I just got the news this morning. It's a nice little bit of encouragement as I ready myself to begin the next Dancy Flammarion story, "Alabaster." The latter, like "Waycross," will be illustrated by Ted Naifeh, by the way. I'll keep you posted on when Subterranean Press will begin taking preorders. I suspect this is one you'll want to reserve, as "Waycross" sold out prior to publication.
Yesterday, we read the prologue and first chapter of Murder of Angels; today, we do Chapter Two. I'm annoyed at the huge number of errors involving commas still present in the galleys. The copyeditor should have caught these. But I think I like this novel more with each reading, as I gain more emotional distance from the chore of writing it.
Also, it's official, I'll be a guest at Bride of Spookycon in San Francisco this Halloween. On the one hand, I hate doing cons on Halloween (which is why I haven't been to a World Fantasy Convention since 1996), but on the other hand, it means we'll be in San Francisco for Halloween, and it'll give me a chance to see people I haven't seen in ages.
It just so happens, Chapter Two of Murder of Angels is set in San Francisco...
Thursday, May 06, 2004
A few books I never read still manage to earn their keep. Best example, Bears of the World by Terry Domico (Facts on File, 1988). I've had this book since just about the time it was first published. I'm sure I must have read it cover to cover when it was new (bears rock), but what will spare it in the coming book purge shall be its utility as a lap desk. The 9.5"x12" format makes it perfect for the task. Why waste money on a lap desk when I have Bears of the World? I have proofed the galleys of all my books on Bears of the World. So, it gets to stay. Besides, there's a grizzly on the front cover and a polar bear on the back.
This morning's entry seemed so brief and dry I thought I should tack a little something on. I don't wish to be perceived as brief and dry. I'd rather be perceived as damp and long-winded.
I'm trying hard to make reading-for-pleasure time, but Jak II keeps getting in the way. I did read a good bit of the latest Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology yesterday, including two papers on sauropod dinosaurs — "An articulated specimen of the titanosaurian (Dinosauria: Sauropoda) Epachthosaurus sciuttoi from the early Late Cretaceous Bajo Barreal Formation of Chubut Province, Argentina" and "The skull of Rapetosaurus krausei (Sauropoda: Titanosauria) from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar." Then, when we finally dragged our sorry asses off to bed, Spooky read me the prologue to Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes (perfect prose poetry), as well as Dr. Seuss' The Lorax (who speaks for the trees).
I'm sitting here, staring at the veritable mesa of pages, the Murder of Angels CEM and galleys, that have to be read in the next week or so. Typeset, Murder of Angels comes out just slightly longer than Low Red Moon (340 pp. vs. 338 pp.). We're going to get through the prologue and Chapter One ("Dark in Day") this afternoon. We have to do at least a chapter a day to make the May 20th deadline. Fortunately, it's a flexible deadline.
Bill Schafer (Subterranean Press) called yesterday afternoon to congratulate me on the sale of Daughter of Hounds, and we talked about various upcoming projects — To Charles Fort, With Love; the "Alabaster" chapbook; the sf novella I'm writing for him this fall and the possibility of a short sf novel next year; the Dancy Flammarion collection. A lot of stuff. More than it seemed like yesterday. I have all of that in the next year, plus short stories I've agreed to do (and will agree to do), plus The Daughter of Hounds. It's a good thing I'm getting all the work on Murder of Angels out of the way this spring.
Last night (11:32 p.m.), I made a LiveJournal post that I neglected to cc to the blog. That's a habit I really don't want to get into, because I want both journals to be as complete as possible. So, I'm pasting it in below:
Just found out about Paula Guran's review of Low Red Moon in Cemetery Dance #48. If you don't have access to the magazine, you can check it out on her website. It cheered me up a bit.
Also, thanks to Roel Ramos for catching "Faces in Revolving Doors" this morning, when I was too asleep to breathe.
And I don't suppose there's any point in me continuing to pretend that in twenty-one days I won't be turning -0 (you can fill in the blank for yourselves; an unsightly combination of vanity and sheer horror prevents me from typing the first numeral). As Spooky's already mentioned in her LJ, I have a wish list up on Amazon. True to my paradoxical nature, though I really don't want to be reminded of this whole thing, I wouldn't object to goodies. Only a fool objects to goodies, no matter how frelling old she might be.
Wednesday, May 05, 2004
This entry will stand as proof that I can write while asleep. My mornings are rarely good, but, the way I feel, you'd think I'd spent the night drinking Everclear and shooting rat poison into my veins instead of playing Jak II. Blegh. I've been up since 9:30, trying to force myself not to do the sane, merciful thing and go the frell back to bed.
What day is this? Wednesday? Already?
Turns out we weren't waiting on the FedEx dude yesterday. We were waiting on the UPS dude (we have a very agreeable UPS dude). Sometime late in the afternoon, the page proofs for Murder of Angels arrived, along with a copy of the CEM (which made for an extraordinarily huge package). The layout looks good. Spooky and I will begin reading over it today or tomorrow. No matter how much I might love this book, I'm dreading the read. I don't think anyone can be expected to read any novel three times in five months and not get a little weary of it. Especially if you happen to be the author of the novel.
But the big news from yesterday is that we've reached an agreement with Penguin regarding Daughter of Hounds. They're buying the book. And I'm relieved, as nothing is ever a foregone conclusion.
I was thinking about "Faces in Revolving Souls" last night, and I believe I may have detected, belatedly, an interesting trend in my short fiction. At some point, I'm guessing aroung 1999 or so, about the time I finished with the stories that make up Tales of Pain and Wonder, my short fiction became far less likely to involve groups of characters, and more likely to focus very stritcly on a single individual. Contrast, for example, "The Road of Pins, " "Spindleshanks (New Orleans, 1956)," "Riding the White Bull," and "Waycross," with such stories as "The Last Child of Lir," "Glass Coffin," "Breakfast in the House of the Rising Sun," "Postcards from the King of Tides," "Bela's Plot," and "San Andreas" (though, one might argue that Lark and Crispin function as two halves of a single organism). Of course, in my earlier work there are numerous stories pertaining primarily to the situation of a single character — "Tears Seven Times Salt," "Lafayette," and "Salammbô" are good examples. But the newer stories, almost without exception, have adopted a claustrophobic attention to the lone (and loner) protagonist. I'm not sure what to make of this, except that the late '90s transition point corresponds closely with my having left Athens and returned to Birmingham, where the whole recluse thing started. In Athens, I actually socialized (and spent a good deal of time traveling to visit friends). I went to shows. And bars. I was in a band. Jump to Birmingham, and I hardly ever left my apartment. The parallel is probably significant.
There hasn't been a corresponding shift in my novels. Those are still ensemble affairs. I don't think I could bring myself to write 145K words about any single person.
I'm still not awake. With luck, I'll wake up momentarily and discover that the whole thing with the writing has only been a particularly unsavory nightmare and I am, in fact, Angelina Jolie. Or Uma Thurman. Either way, I'm cool with it.
Because I've spent far too little time talking politics of late (she said, suicidally,) I'll close by including this link (courtesy Robyn) to an article concerning Michael Moore's new documentary, Fahrenheit 911. Of course, we already knew The Mouse was tight with The Shrub, but...
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
There wasn't much to yesterday, aside from finishing up with "Faces in Revolving Souls." We did the read-through. Spooky likes it a lot. And I'm happy with it, but I also know it should have been twice as long as it is. Someday, I expect I'll expand it to about 10K words. Maybe. That's the sort of thing I mean to do and it never gets done. Like finishing "Emptiness Spoke Eloquent." Good intentions.
Also, I learned from my editor at Penguin that the 58th volume of Authors and Artists for Young Adults will include an essay on my work. I have to send them a photo today, which means I have to find one of me that I like (one I like wherein I'm not in Nebari mode).
This morning, we're expecting the first-pass page proofs for Murder of Angels. Spooky and I have to finish with them and get them back to NYC by May 20th. Tequila should render the effort almost painless.
I think my comments yesterday morning about ridding myself of a sizable portion of my books elicited more response than anything I've written in this blog since I was wasting so much time mouthing of about Baby Bush's search for non-existent WOMDs in Iraq. Really, trust me, I'm not going to be throwing the books out. That's not what I meant. I wouldn't do that. They'll all be passed along to various friends and acquaintances, with a few going to used bookstores, and whatever's left going to Goodwill/Salvation Army/local public libraries. I do not throw books away. Also, while I very much appreciate the offers I've received from people willing to take them, the logistics of mailing so many books to so many people in so many different places would be far too time-consuming and expensive. But thank you, anyway. Now you can all stop worrying about my exiled books.
We finished with Season Three of The Sopranos last night. The show is brilliant, but, ultimately, I'm afraid it only serves to demonstrate how the medium of television, which really can deliver first-rate fiction, is generally wasted on the most purile crap. We'll watch Season Four next, and hopefully by the time we're done with that, Season Two of Six Feet Under will be available on DVD. After The Sopranos, I played Jak II until almost 3:30, having finally bested that frelling tank in the Baron's ammo dump and moved along to bigger things.
I got a very funny e-mail from my mother yesterday afternoon (yes, I really do have a mother), which I thought I'd pass along:
We made it back from Louisville yesterday afternoon. The only good thing I can say about the Kentucky Derby is that I picked the right horse to win. I bet $5 on Smarty Jones to win--and he did. I won $36. I was the only one in our group to bet on him.
The weather was horrible. I got caught in a press of people trying to get inside out of a thunderstorm and was almost squooshed and drowned. By the time I finally made it inside, the storm was over. Vann had gone to get a hot dog and was not so caught. There were 140,00 people there, I think. And 139,000 of them were drunk or crazy. There were people in all stages of dress and undress. The cops were filling paddy wagons as fast as they could bring them in. It was fun seeing all the different hats (women wear hats to Derby), but I'm not sure it was worth the physical stress to see them. Rating the experience, I'd have to say that I'd much prefer being bound hand and foot and staked to a fire-ant bed. I expected something much more sophisticated, I guess. What I got was a NASCAR crowd on mint juleps. I was sooooo happy to get home.
Monday, May 03, 2004
The story is done. "Faces in Revolving Souls" (and I'm probably going to keep that title) finished up at 4,978 words, the last 682 of which were written yesterday afternoon. It's the shortest short story that I've written since "Apokatastasis," way back in August 2001. And the shortest story that I'm likely to write for some time to come, I think. I'm not yet entirely sure how I feel about this one. It turned out darker than I'd originally intended (foolish me, coming to a short story with any intention at all). Spooky and I are going to read through the whole thing this afternoon, and then I'll e-mail it to the anthology's editors.
This morning, where one might imagine there would be a sense of accomplishment or, at the least, relief, there's only the emptiness which I almost always feel after having finished a story. I suppose I could liken it to postpartum depression, but that's something I've never experienced (and likely never will), so it'd be an unreliable analogy, at best. Some of my worst days immediately follow the completion of a short story or novel. Sometimes, I think that my stories have become longer simply because I'm trying to outrun the crush that inevitably follows completion. If I never had to type THE END, then I'd never have to feel this way. No, that's not true. I'd only never have to feel this way for that particular reason.
Next up (because there will be no time alloted for recovery or reflection) is a chapbook for Subterranean Press. It's going to be another Dancy Flammarion story. I'm taking the fragment of prose I wrote for the Camelot Books "mini" chapbook "Alabaster," as well as some of the bits from the beginning of my screenplay Alabaster, and combining them for a full-length short story, which will be titled, naturally, "Alabaster." For those interested in the Dancy chronology, this story takes place a few days before "Waycross." Maybe it will do me good to get back to a familiar character.
I need to get out of here and do anything other than write. I've left the apartment only once since we returned from Birimingham on April 25th.
Yesterday, I looked around me at the mountains of books in my office and resolved to at least consider getting rid of 50-75% of them. I'm sick of hauling them about every time I move, and there's no reason for me to own a small library. Most of these books I'll never even open again, and when I die they'll mostly be tossed out, anyway. If I can find the courage for this purge, I'll keep the reference books, most of the short story collections (I actually read short stories again and again), all of my paleontology books, a tiny handful of novels, and the art/picture books. The rest will go (including, definitely, most of the comics). I figure that would mean ditching at least 1,500 books. And then there are the boxes and boxes and boxes of books in storage in Birmingham...
While I'm at, maybe I'll ditch 90% of the vinyl I'll never play again.
Anyway, whether I like it or not, the day has started, and I'm going to have to hurry to catch up.
Sunday, May 02, 2004
Yesterday, I wrote 648 words on "Faces in Revolving Souls." Two short scenes that left me within easy distance of the story's ending. But I wanted my head to be very clear for the last 800 or so words. It's been a very long time since I've had to work within a 5,000-word limit, and I think the enforced economy has been good for me. Frustration can be constructive.
Though, I have to admit, I actually had just a little too much frustration with Jak II last night. I'd reached the level where Jak and Daxter have to sabotage the Baron's ammo dump, and after about forty tries (at least forty), and each time either being shot or falling to my death, I threw down the controller in a fit of — you guessed it — frustration. Have I finally met a video game that surpasses my stunted multi-tasking skills? Remember, when I was a little kid, Rock'em Sock'em Robots and Battleship were high tech gaming. I didn't discover video games until Pong came along (I think I was in junior high). Gak, I'm frelling old. Anyway, I'll have another go at the ammo dump tonight. I am invincible. My thumbs refuse to admit defeat.
As for the rest of last night, I think Spooky covered it nicely in her three a.m. LJ entry.
I think I may have told this story once already, in some previous entry, but please indulge me. Years ago, when I was mired in The Dreaming and finally beginning to face the fact that it was never going to be even half as popular as The Sandman, I called Neil late one afternoon to vent, well, my frustration. He very patiently listened while I whined and sulked and felt sorry for myself, while I hurled curses at the ungrateful philistines who refused to recognize my obvious genius, while I lamented my thwarted popularity amongst the funny-book reading masses. He listened. And then he said (and I must paraphrase, because I can't recall his exact words), "Caitlín, you need to remember that — in the end, when we're dead — the only thing that will matter is the work. In the end, that's all there is. The work. What we write. That's all." And I was so stunned, I shut the hell up. Some truths are like that. They hit you like a slap in the face. Lately, I've been slapping myself in the face an awful lot.
In the end, the work is all that matters.
Not the popularity contests I did and did not win. Not the good and bad and indifferent reviews. Not the ruthless politics and whims of "the industry." Not the readers I'll never reach. Not the lucky breaks and injustices. Not the sales figures and returns. Not the money. Not the lives I might have lived instead. Not the coveted awards I receieved or never won. Not the bitterness and insecurity and doubt that was with me every step of the way.
In the end, the work is all that matters.
Now, I have to finish this story...
And this ain't me
hold my self down with a knife to my throat
And this ain't me
standing alone as the drugs starts to work
Saturday, May 01, 2004
Yesterday, yesterday, yesterday. Um, yeah. Yesterday, I wrote 1,285 words on "Faces in Revolving Souls," in about four and half hours. It wasn't the worst sort of writing day, but it sure as frell wasn't the best sort, either. A good, solid word count, but every word kicking and screaming as it was hauled from the damp recesses of my pysche and onto the hd of my iBook (Once I would have said, "As it was hauled from the damp recesses of my psyche and onto the page," but, you mustn't ever forget, we live in The Future.). It's an odd story, this one. It's coming out in a very direct, not-the-least-bit baroque voice. Someone will like that. Someone else will hate it. Anyway, the total word count now stands at 3,667, and I expect to finish the story tomorrow afternoon. (Jennifer just finished reading what I've done so far, and she likes it. That's a start.)
Spooky just returned from her walk. She got rained on, but seems no worse for the wear.
She has hunger in her belly, though.
And my fingers smell like Play-Doh.