Not Really Admire

Tightrope Oh, the Gulag is alive and well! You can tell Putin’s continuing the grand old Chekist tradition, with only a few nods to modern conditions. One might almost admire that sort of fidelity to premodern institutions.

Almost.

Jeff Sharlet, a reporter I particularly admire, has an article up about MRAs. (I needed a shower after reading it, OMG.) Sharlet also does longform Instagram essays that are well worth a look.

Last night the temperature fell to just around freezing. I’m hoping the hostas made it. The only trouble with warm, clear days is the heat escapes once the sun goes down. In summer you don’t want a cloudy night trapping it all near the ground, in winter, you do. (Or at least, I do.)

*sigh* Today is for more Cal & Trinity, and Blood Call revisions. The interesting thing about Blood Call: it started at a dinner with my writing partner[1]. I had this idea: contract killer gets frantic call from ex-girlfriend, and then, VAMPIRES!

There may have been wine involved. Anyway, I wrote it in a furious scribble between a couple Valentine books and kept tinkering with it afterward, and now it’s sold. (All hail my beautiful, wonderful agent.)

Other than that, I have to take down a lot of fluids to stave off the cold threatening to engulf my immune system. I keep drinking water hoping it will help my body hose off the sidewalks, so to speak. I can’t afford to get sick for at least a couple months.

Onward, upward, inward, as CS Lewis would have it

[1]WHO STILL OWES ME A JOSIAH STORY, DAMMIT. But I can wait. I really can. No, I can. *waits*

Strangely Restful

Gulag I finished Anne Applebaum’s GULAG: A History last night. Right before it I read Kolyma Tales, which means my head is full of history right now, and not very nice history at that. It’s chilling to see how well repression and the simple expedient of giving some slaves slightly better conditions in return for their help in suppression of the others works.

Next up is a translation of Anabasis, and a slightly different slice of Russian history–Russia Against Napoleon. I’ve often thought of reading Caulaincourt‘s account of the Grand Armee’s retreat–it was much referenced during the Eastern Front in the Second World War.

Other than that, there was a great deal of hither-and-yon this weekend, the kids visiting their friends and errands needing to be run. I did manage to get some hostas in the ground, some radishes planted, and also enough piano practice that the polonaise is coming along. I suppose I should practice the left hand with a metronome, but I’m not that ambitious yet. I have begun doing junior Hanon exercises instead of just plain scales to warm up. I might even devote one day of practice a week to just-Hanon. It’s strangely restful.

As for work, I finished the revisions on Rose & Thunder last week, and this week is for long, loooooooong days of producing new wordcount on Cal & Trinity as well as revising Blood Call. There’s the upcoming launch of Kin, the third in my fairytale series, my particular retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. I’m going to be highlighting the Kin launch in the next few weeks, so buckle your seatbelts for that.

And now it’s time to get started on the ten-hour workday. I’ve reference books set handily, tea brewing, and the dogs under my desk.

Over and out.

Begun to Green

piano Hip-deep in revisions. I’d forgotten what it was like to gut a manuscript.

HA HA JUST KIDDING, IT’S BURNED INTO MY CRANIUM, I CAN’T FORGET.

*sigh*

Yeah, it’s revision time again, as if you can’t tell. I thought this book–my retelling of Beauty & the Beast–would hold up fairly well. My goodness, but was I ever wrong. Passive voice, dialogue tags, a million instances of “that,” the most horrid word of all, it’s got a little of everything. And I’m not even a hundred pages in yet.

At least when I’m done, it’ll be much better, and pretty much ready for Saint Skyla to copyedit and begin formatting. I think I’ll put it out in paper first, and only ebook if there’s a call for it. The worst that can happen is that it’ll sink like a stone! Now there’s a cheerful thought!

You’ve guessed it, chickadees: Mama Lili is in that peculiar state of frangible nerves only revision can call forth. Even the garden’s not very soothing, though another couple of roses have gone into the side-yard and the favs are growing like gangbusters. This will be the year that I need a wheelbarrow, too.

What? No, for carting compost, what did you think I’d be carrying in…oh, wait. never mind. A justifiable question, really.

Of course, the reason the garden’s doing so well is February’s unseasonable warmth. I’m hoping there won’t be a cold snap to blight everything that’s begun to green. The crocuses are out, daffodils too, and tulips are showing their bare arms, reaching for the sun. I’m worried over one of the Japanese maples, and I have to have a talk with the birch tree about the recent windstorms and the shed limbs.

All that, however, is for another day. Today is for the revisions, and my timer has just rung, so I must return to the salt mines.

See you later.

Fish Tuesday

Road Onward, ever onward. Cal and Trinity have moved to the forefront, since I’m no longer writing SKIN for publication.That will mean a little extra time for Rose & Thunder, too. Of course, first I have to decide if I’m really going to take C&T to Argentina. It will mean a little more research, but also, tango! It’ll be fun.

I’m suffering one of those periods in the writing life when one looks at the sheer number of people stealing copies of one’s work (otherwise known as e-piracy) and the slowness with which publishers move when it’s time to pay one, and wonders why one isn’t an accountant or something else. Writing is better than working retail, by far, but some days, man. Some effing days.

Fortunately I have the dogs and the kids, and a kitchen timer to remind me that life is made up of small daily efforts, even on days when weeping seems the only thing possible.

**time passes**

Weeping or just cocking my head and regarding the world with bemusement, since I found a fish in the backyard this morning. It was in a sad and sorry state, but it was definitely a fish, and the dogs had been at it. I took it away and put it outside the gate where they can’t get to it, and am about to go down and bury it near the roses. A proper burial, but I might not be able to say much in the way of good words for it, since I’m wondering how the fuck a dead fish got into my backyard. The fish is a stranger, so it’ll have to be a generic service. Also, I love how half my Twitter timeline is now Noah’s Ark jokes, and the other half is actively problem-solving how to get a fish in my backyard, and both sides are vocally in favor of a fish funeral.

So this is how Tuesday’s gonna be. All right. *cracks knuckles* I’m off to bury a fish.

photo by: Moyan_Brenn

Who’s Watching Over Boo Radley?

Mockingbird This morning: my 9th fastest tempo run, according to Runkeeper. Performed in the rain, of course, since I waited to see if the soggy was just a squall I could wait out and finally decided fuck it, let’s go. Now that I’m finally dry and settled with some tea, the rain’s stopped. Miss B doesn’t care–she’s wash and wear, having an amazing Aussie coat that shrugs off dirt and water with astonishing ease. She is currently a little damp and just a tad fluffy, and supremely happy with the world since she had bacon grease with brekkie and a run with Mum.

The news broke this morning about a “new” Harper Lee novel. At first my response was “RING ALL THE BELLS, HOLY HELL, THIS SOUNDS GREAT! PREORDER IT NOW NOW NOW!”

And then…I started thinking, and I arrived very much where this Jezebel writer did.

“The existence of ‘Go Set a Watchman’ was unknown until recently, and its discovery is an extraordinary gift,” said HarperCollins publisher Jonathan Burnham in a statement.

But was the gift willingly given?

“After much thought and hesitation I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication,” Lee said in a statement of her own. “I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years.”

That might seem like confirmation of Lee’s willing involvement in Go Set a Watchman’s publication, except for the fact that we know about Lee’s messy relationship with her attorney (who, again, often gets her to sign things that she doesn’t understand) and Lee’s own publicity-shy character. (Jezebel)

What emerges after a little digging (try this Vulture piece first, then go see what else you can find) is a situation that sounds incredibly sketchy. Harper Lee lost her sister, the lawyer Alice Lee, who Harper called her “Atticus in a skirt,” and since then, things have gotten shadier and shadier, culminating in this “mystery” find of a Mockingbird prequel and its sale.

Now I’m torn over whether or not I want to buy it. On the one hand, To Kill A Mockingbird is transcendent, and I’d gladly read other things Ms Lee wrote–if I was sure she wanted them read. On the other hand, an almost-century-old woman is in assisted living, signing papers or statements she may or may not understand, may or may not be pressured to sign, and the things she valued all her life–her privacy and her decision to let the one book stand alone–are being broken. I dread the thought of a frail Lee being milked as a cash cow, I loathe the thought of being part of such a milking. It doesn’t seem ethical.

I haven’t decided yet; it bears some more thinking. But I have to say, right now I’m leaning towards the idea that it would be an insult to Lee to participate in this frenzy.

photo by:

Preorders Ahoy!

Midian Unmade News! And lots of it. I got this in the mail yesterday–an advance uncorrected proof of Midian Unmade, which yours truly has a story in. It was lovely to hear from Joseph Nassise that the anthology had gotten off the ground, and the story, Bait and Switch, is one that had been knocking around inside my head ever since he told me there was a chance at a Nightbreed anthology. It was loads of fun to take Barker’s universe for a spin. It comes out in August, but you can get your preorder on now.

kin Also upcoming is the last Tale of Beauty & Madness (which was not my idea for a series title, I preferred Human Tales): Kin. It’s due out in the very beginning of March, and should you feel so inclined, you can preorder it as well. Preorders are very helpful to authors, they make for good arguments when contract time comes back around, so if you’ve been waiting for another book from me, might I suggest Ruby’s story? It’s the last in the trilogy, and my last YA offering for a while. I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to writing young adult stuff.

Trailer Park Fae Last but not least, there’s Trailer Park Fae. (Again, not my idea.) It’s due out near the end of June, and again, preorders are very helpful to authors.

I’m also working on self-pubbing a retelling of my favorite fairy tale of all–Beauty and the Beast. That process is moving ahead smoothly, and I should have more news about it soon. I’m playing with the idea of releasing it in paper first, ebook later, but we’ll see. I’m also offering editing packages again.

Thus concludes my not-very-frequent shilling of my creative wares. One of the things about publishing is that it’s a waiting game, a book takes a while to move through any quality-control process, and I can’t imagine just throwing a manuscript out unedited as some people seem to be doing nowadays. I am, however, considering posting a trunk novel on Wattpad under another name, just so you can see what unedited raw stuff looks like. We’ll see.

For now, though, I’ve two virus-soaked superspies to get into trouble, and some recovery from yesterday’s frantic rushing around to attend to.

See you in a bit, dear ones.