truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (mfu: ik-geek)
Mateusz Skutnik has released Submachine 9. I am beside myself with glee.

(If you want more Submachine, the entire series is here.)

Gandalf checks his email. BEST PHOTO EVAR.

I believe Catzilla turned off the little Cthulhu machine this morning by walking on it. Proof (a) that the people who designed the damn thing have never lived with a cat and (b) that my cat is THE SPAWN OF THE DEVIL.

I had not known about EarlyWord until it was drawn to my attention that The Goblin Emperor got a nice shout-out on their GalleyChat summary for March 4.

There's also a very positive review from Justin Landon at Staffer's Book Review, who admits he went in prepared to hate the book and was won over anyway. I think that's the first time I've pulled that trick off.

(I know if you're reading this blog, you probably don't need to be persuaded to buy the book. Humor me.)

I finally have a day job that is both permanent and part-time (instead of working as a full-time temp, which is what I've been doing the past two and a half years). I am very happy with it; it has taught me that, oddly enough, I enjoy accounting, which is a piece of self-knowledge I wish I'd had in college. It satisfies the same part of my brain that likes Latin and calculus (and Submachine, come to think of it). And I totally get an endorphin cookie when my numbers balance.

Also, if anyone knows any good resources for DIY double-entry bookkeeping, please share! I took a Continuing Education Accounting Intro course, but the textbook, as it turned out, was not very reliable. And my employer is unlikely to be able to spring for accounting software any time soon, so it's just me and Excel.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (lionsmane)
1. Yesterday I posed with a giant inflatable colon to promote colorectal cancer awareness. Most surreal Thursday morning ever.

Yes, a colonoscopy is not the most fun you will ever have, but speaking as a friend of the awesome Jay Lake and as someone who has had a polyp removed from her colon and will be going back for another screening in a couple years, colon cancer needs to be beaten to death with a stick.

2. Liz Bourke has reviewed The Goblin Emperor for As an author, positive reviews are great, but what you really want are good reviews, reviews that understand the book you tried to write and convey it well. This is that kind of review.

3. I am currently undergoing all kinds of adjustments to my . . . I don't even know what to call it. The victory conditions for sleep? They're shipping me a different mask to try with the little Cthulhu machine. It will still look like a disastrous attempt at an elephant costume, but hopefully it will (a) be more comfortable and (b) seal to my face better. Yes, I have seen Aliens. Please don't remind me.

But ALSO, my sleep doctor and I are trying to rejigger my RLS medications, because I'd gotten to the point where it was requiring way too much narcotics to club the damn thing into unconsciousness. The new medication is definitely working, so that's a plus, and I am re-weaning myself off the narcotics. Yes, there has been just a tiny bit of withdrawal. I haven't gone off them entirely yet, but I am working on it because I hate the damn drugs. I am hoping that when I can finally stop taking them, I will be less tired and also that my creativity will come back again.

It did come back in December and January before drying up again in February, and the creepy thing is that I can actually articulate the difference. When everything is working correctly (i.e., what I thought of as "normal" until the clusterfuck began in 2010), there are words in my head. Well, there are always words in my head. I am like Hector Puncheon, who "usually thought articulately, and often, indeed, conversed quite sensibly aloud with his own soul." So maybe it's more accurate to say that the staus quo ante, to which I desire ardently to return, is that there are stories forming, word by word. Because there are words, separate from my internal narration/dialogue. They form themselves into sentences, and the sentences form narratives. When it was working right, I would frequently "get" sentences from Booth out of nowhere.

Now, I can force prose. There are always days when you have to. But it's not the same, at least from my side of the proscenium, and I really didn't realize what I'd lost until I had it back. I didn't realize that there was a wellspring, that I wasn't imagining that writing used to involve joy instead of just grim desperation.

I had it back, and then the RLS went bad, and it was gone again. I knew that bad RLS nights correlated with low or nonexistent creativity, and now I know what it's attacking. I know that there's a thing that should be there that isn't. And I can only hope that it can grow back. Again.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: airship)
ETA: Kirkus gives The Goblin Emperor a starred review. Please add exclamation points to taste.

My splendid editor, [ profile] casacorona, has an equally splendid assistant, who today sent me the dust jacket for The Goblin Emperor.

Fig. 1: My lovely assistant Catzilla* will show it to you:


Fig. 2: What do you mean, that isn't what you wanted?


Fig. 3: For somebody we only keep around for your thumbs, you're AWFULLY picky.


Fig. 4: Is THIS better?


Perfect, Catzilla. Thank you.

*No, Catzilla isn't his real name. It's his internet handle.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (sock elephant)
So anyway, in my THIRD POST TODAY:

1. Publishers Weekly reviews The Goblin Emperor

2. Goodreads & Tor are apparently conducting a sweepstakes for The Goblin Emperor, which I know about because I know how to use Google.

3. My beloved friends Lynne and Michael's daughter Caitlin has Aicardi Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that causes all sorts of problems, including potentially life-threatening scoliosis (spine gets too far out of whack, lungs can't work properly). Caitlin just had surgery on her spine, in which she nearly died, and one of her Aicardi sisters, Annie, is now fighting one of the worst possible outcomes this surgery can have. Please keep both Caitlin and Annie, and their parents, in your thoughts.

4. I have started watching The Magnificent Seven TV series on Hulu. I will probably make a post about it when I've finished, but for now I will just say that every single episode I have watched would be improved by MOAR EZRA.

5. Via @UrsulaV, a picture of baby Eastern Screech Owls and from @EmergencyKittens this really quite remarkable Persian in midair plus some kittens. (Because when in doubt, add pictures of (a) baby animals, (b) cats, (c) both.)

5 things

Dec. 18th, 2011 08:57 am
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. I'm seeing a sleep therapist now, because I would like to get off the potentially addictive hypnotic that is currently holding my insomnia down. She told me what I really already knew, that I need to get on a fixed schedule of going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning. Which means getting up at 6:30 on weekends. I HATE THIS. I have always been a night owl, and mornings are my favorite time to sleep. But I am determined to give this fixed schedule a fair shot, so here I am, awake and fed and medicated and dressed at 8:30 on a Sunday morning. (Nobody says I have to move fast on weekends, just that I have to get up.)

The fixed schedule idea also means that I have to go to bed--as in, in bed, lights out, eyes shut, at 10:15. And ideally I need to try to decrease my computer usage in the late evenings, because of light issues (photosensitivity plus glow of monitor equals confused circadian rhythms). Which means I have even less time to get computer things done, and I am still trying to finish this goddamn book. Ergo, as little as I have been an online presence in recent months, I'm going to be even less of one, at least for a while. Which is Teh Suck, but I have to find a way to keep the insomnia chained in the basement, and long-term drug usage is just not the way I want to go.

2. So, when I was making my whirlwind trip to Boston, I discovered that O'Hare has a Field Museum store. This is a brilliantly terrible idea on the Field Museum's part, but it did mean I could take [ profile] matociquala meerkat socks as a hostess gift (because seriously--meerkat socks). And I bought for myself a pair of tiny Sue earrings. They have become my favorite earrings--for the one set of holes I don't just leave rings in all the time--for days I don't have to dress like an adult.

3. Two really nice capsule reviews of The Bone Key: (1) and (2). And Somewhere Beneath Those Waves got a starred review from Library Journal (here if you're interested) and a very kind mention from Lesley Hall over at Aqueduct Press's blog.

4. These fossa pups, Ingrid, Heidi, and Gretchen, show that Madagascar really knows how to work the charismatic predator* angle.

5. Have a picture of Milo and me:

(Stepping Stones Studio 2011)
*[ profile] ursulav came up with that useful designation.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. The Jellicle Ninja is doing much better. Thank you for all your kind wishes!
2. Brit Mandelo has reviewed Somewhere Beneath Those Waves for
3. Apex Magazine will be reprinting "The Yellow Dressing Gown" in their 31st issue.
4. I still like my job as a database thrall.
5. The horse continues to be a good horse. A goofy, exasperating horse, but a good horse nonetheless.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: actw)
1. The Plushie Ninja passed her annual physical with flying colors.

2. Today is my thirteenth wedding anniversary. I still feel lucky every day that I'm married to [ profile] mirrorthaw, so I'd say that's working out well.

3. Publishers Weekly both liked and understood The Tempering of Men, and give it a great review.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (porpentine: pleased)
io9 has a really nice review of Breaking Waves, the anthology put together by Tiffany Trent to benefit the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Relief Fund. At the end of the review, Josh Wimmer says:
In my humble opinion, Randy Tatano's story "Backtiming" (deceptively simple, but keying into a fantasy I think a lot of us have entertained at some point), "Terra Incognita" by Camille Alexa (set in a deteriorating Antarctica in a dystopic near-future that is all too plausible), and Sarah Monette's "After the Dragon" are worth the price of admission alone. Vonda McIntyre personally recommended that last one when she told me about the anthology in October, and she was dead on. Strangely, of all the pieces, it probably has the least connection to Breaking Waves' general themes. But for sheer heart-grabbing-ness, vividness, and trueness, it is quite a feat.

Breaking Waves is a $4.99 ebook; all proceeds go to the GCOSRF.

(Mostly, this post is just an adult way of redirecting what I actually mean, which is, OMG VONDA MCINTYRE LIKED MY STORY!!!!11!1!!!! But also, Breaking Waves is a way to help the oil spill clean-up and get to read a bunch of nifty stuff.)

Go forth and conquer, little anthology.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
Enthusiastic (somewhat spoilery) review of Corambis at Fantasy Book Critic. Interestingly, this reviewer feels that Corambis does work as a standalone novel, so clearly YMMV on that issue.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
Because [ profile] batwrangler is a kind and helpful person, I have seen the Publishers Weekly review of Corambis, which calls it "rambling" and "unsubtle," spoils what I thought was an important plot point, and contains a fairly grievous factual error.

Yeah, my Wednesday's off to a great start. How about you?

ETA: [ profile] cheloya found Harriet's take, which is vintage Harriet and oddly enough makes me feel better.

ETA2: [ profile] britmandelo very kindly shared the Romantic Times review, which is much more gratifying to my ego and (I hope) a better representation of the book.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
The Lone Star Stories Reader will be out soon. (Features my story, "A Night in Electric Squidland.")

So will Fast Ships, Black Sails. (Features the story I co-wrote with the fabulous and talented Elizabeth Bear, "Boojum." Think Lovecraft as written by Tiptree.)

The September-October issue of The Willows features a new Kyle Murchison Booth story, "The Replacement."

Speaking of Booth, here's a story by story review of The Bone Key. I think Ryan Harvey thinks I think a little too well of myself (didja follow that?), which is totally his prerogative. I would like to confess, however, that I have never read Algernon Blackwood--aside from failing to get through "The Willows" (oh the cruel irony! the shame! I weep!)--so the presence of Blackwood that Harvey detects "echo[ing] as strongly" as Lovecraft and James through The Bone Key is illusory. I'm really sorry.

And speaking of Bear, two reviews of A Companion to Wolves, here and here.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. Having just finished The Wee Free Men, I point everyone to Match It For Pratchett.

2. Fourth Street Fantasy Convention is June 20-22. [ profile] matociquala is the Guest of Honor, and I'm going as her date.

3. The last print issue of Subterranean Magazine has a story of mine in it.

4. As does the current issue of Weird Tales.

5. David Berberick is trying to answer the question, Why do people love Tolkien? If you want to help, take his survey.

6. If you've read A Companion to Wolves and noticed a typo, you could do [ profile] matociquala and me a tremendous favor by commenting either on this post or on her post asking for the same favor.

7. L. Timmel Duchamp reviews The Bone Key for Strange Horizons.

8. [ profile] muneraven also reviews it.

9. And from the Department of Head Trips, Alison Sinclair (whom I do not know, but I wish her well) has sold a fantasy trilogy which is described as being "in the tradition of Sarah Monette and Ellen Kushner."


I have a tradition?
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: fennec-working)
[ profile] icetome reviews Mélusine and The Virtu and generally thinks I don't know what I'm doing.

Lighthearted Librarian has some advice about reading The Doctrine of Labyrinths.

[ profile] jess_ka thinks Bear and I together are greater than the sum of our parts (A Companion to Wolves).

[ profile] 2ce also likes the wolf book. (Favorite line from the review: "you need to show up to the party prepared for the viking gang bang.")

I know, I promised to shut up, didn't I? But, see, something happened* this morning, and I need to give it time to settle.

"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards," the Queen remarked.

I've had the experience more than once while writing these books of putting something in, basically because it seemed like a good idea at the time, and only much later, like a book or two later, finding out what it was for. Today that happened with something in the first book. In the first fifty pages of the first book, no less.

Yeah. Three books later, I know why I did that and what it means.

This is a completely unnerving thing to have happen, even while at the same time it is tremendously cool and shiny. Because it gives me the heebie-jeebies. What if I'd taken that thing in book one out? (I almost did take out something in book one that turned out to be incredibly important in book three and is going to come back again in book four. I needed to cut a hell of a lot of words, and my editor said, "This scene doesn't seem to be doing anything." And I stood my ground, even though at the time, she was completely right.) What about all the things I did take out (because they didn't seem to be doing anything)? In other words, this is a part of the creative process that not only does my rational mind not control, it doesn't even know about it except as a fait accompli.

I'm not at all a fan of mysticizing creativity--in fact, quite the reverse. I don't think the Romantics did any of us any favors in trying to divorce art from craft, or in suggesting that artists are like geese who lay golden eggs and any attempt on their part to examine what they do or think critically about how they do it will only kill the goose. But, honest to Pete, as far as I'm concerned, my mind has just done a magic trick. I don't know how it works. I don't know what just happened.

But here it is, a golden egg and a very startled goose.

And now that I know what I'm doing, I need to pause and think about how to do it better.

*Events that take place entirely in thought also "happen," even if it feels weird to describe them as such.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
More reviews of A Companion to Wolves: here, here, and here.

On the other hand, redzilla is sick to death of trilogies and wizards and thieves, with [ profile] scott_lynch and myself as exhibits A and B.

Note to self: the maribou is the thing with the feathers; the caribou is the thing with the antlers. You only hurt yourself when you get the two confused.

Demos, John Putnam. Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983.
cut for those who would really rather not )

I have a theory about tip sheets. My theory is that once you start signing them, you enter an infinite loop. Thus the fact that no matter how many you sign, the stack never gets smaller.

I really want to see the Muppets do Tom Waits' song, "Don't Go Into That Barn." I am a little worried about what this says about me as a person.

Around about the twenty-second of this month, I am going to go hole up at [ profile] heresluck's place in a kind of minimalist writer's retreat, and there will be radio silence on this blog until after Minicon, whereupon we will resume with, so help me blue fuzzy thing, a complete draft of Corambis which I am not ashamed to show the world. That, at any rate, is the Plan. I'm not sanguine, exactly, but I admit to some cautious optimism that this may work.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
Via [ profile] oursin, a lovely, thoughtful article on craftsmanship, by Richard Sennett. "Innocent confidence is weak," may need to join "Perfection is death" on my monitor.

The wolf book gets three positive reviews, all of which are thoughtful, and all of which are engaging with different aspects of the novel. That's just . . . nifty.

I don't even know how to explain what I love about Mateusz Skutnik's Submachine games. They're point-and-click flash games, focused on puzzle-solving--not unlike, in their different medium, the Infocom text-adventure games I loved as a teenager. It isn't the Submachine games qua games I find compelling--I inevitably resort to the walkthroughs sooner or later because I am (a.) lazy and (b.) playing Submachine when I should be, oh for instance, writing a novel--nor the story, such as it is. It's the art (I also love the visible learning curve from The Basement to, for example, The Future Loop Foundation), and the way the art builds the world. There's a sort of steampunkish, Rube Goldberg/Heath Robinson ethos to the Submachines, and yet the undertones are not of whimsy, but of fear. There is an intrinsic, pervasive creepiness to this abandoned world, and I think that's what draws me back in with each new installment.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: fennec-working)
Paul Di Filippo reviews A Companion to Wolves (among others) for the Washington Post and thinks it's a soap opera for furries and yaoi readers. On the other hand, the ALA's Reading List Council thinks it's worth a mention.

ETA: [ profile] myalexandria has a very thoughtful post about Isolfr and feminism. To which I can mostly say, yeah, that's what we meant.

[ profile] wild_patience isn't real keen on me, but I can't argue with her raving about Bear.

More commentary on Mélusine from imani.

N.b., I collect links to reviews of my books for several reasons. One is that, as a writer, I'm curious about what people think. Another is that, as a long-time reader and a literary scholar, I'm fascinated by the different ways one book can be read and interpreted and reacted to. Now, I could chart reactions to any book, any author's body of work. But, you know, I've got my experimental sample right here. Also, collecting reviews of somebody else's work seems weird and creepy and even a little stalkerish. Also, although this may sound counter-intuitive, it's easier for me to be impartial about reactions to my work than it would be for me to be impartial to reactions about somebody else's book that I loved (or hated).

But here's the thing. Mélusine was published in 2005. The last time I even looked at it, except for fact-checking for The Virtu and The Mirador and Corambis, was sometime in 2004. Today, in 2008, my head is full of Corambis and, guiltily, the stories I want to write once Corambis is finished. I've moved on, in other words. Which is not to say that I don't still love Mélusine and that I'm not proud of it. Because I do and I am. But, to swerve for a moment into a possibly florid metaphor, my novels (I hope) are like a chambered nautilus marking my growth as a writer and as a person, and Mélusine is a chamber I've grown out of. This is, I think, the way it should be. You shouldn't get stuck on one novel, one moment in your writing life, one chamber of your nautilus. So, for me, Mélusine is a record of who I was and what I was thinking, rendered in fictional form, in the first few years of the new century. Whereas (to pick an example at random from books I read and loved last year) Peter Watts' Blindsight is something I'm thinking about right now. I'm engaged with it in a way I'm not engaged with my own work by the time it gets published. I'm far more likely to be upset with a hypothetical someone saying something wrong-headed about [ profile] matociquala's Dust than I am with a hypothetical someone saying something wrong-headed about The Mirador, because I love Dust in a way you can only love books you didn't write yourself.

Which leads me to my further point: I do not post links to reviews so that people will defend my honor. My honor's fine, thanks. I post the links so that I can find them again and because I think they're interesting. Which, you know, is maybe just egocentrism. But hey. My sandbox. I can build my sandcastle any way I want.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
Jeff VanderMeer ambushed me yesterday.

And speaking of Jeff, his and Ann's anthology, The New Weird, in which I participated, got a starred review from Publishers Weekly. w00t!

[ profile] orrin likes The Bone Key, as does Sam over at Whatta Fiasco. (I'm both pleased and amused that no one can agree on what the best/worst stories in the collection are, although, yeah, "Listening to Bone" is the slightest. I could explain what it is I think the story is doing and why I still think it belongs where it is, but, you know, that defeats the purpose of telling the story in the first place.)

[ profile] tangeriner likes The Virtu, [ profile] ethereal_lad gets the nutcase mishmash of genres, and [ profile] schnaucl thinks the series should be longer (an idea which, I have to confess, fills me with terror and ennui in roughly equal measures--I love these guys, but I am done).

Poodlerat has a review of A Companion to Wolves.

I've no idea exactly what this is (oh the wonders of the internet and its daily doses of wtf?), but some of you may know and/or be interested in it.

Shadow Unit will be updating regularly Thursday night and Sunday night; the first full story will be posted in exactly one month (February 18). There's an RSS feed for updates, also a message board, so I'm not going to mention updates here after this, except as the spirit moves me. It's my blog; I can be capricious like that.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
Things are much better this morning. (Another possibility for what was wrong with yesterday is the nightmares I had Monday night about an infestation of things that looked like little beanbags with eyes but were really a cross between the flying leeches that get Patrick Hockstetter in IT and the mold Cherie blogged about the other day. No nightmares last night, thank goodness.) I got through the tricky bit of the rewrite that was giving me spasms earlier and then figured out what's going on with "The Ninth Secret of the Tea Ritual," which has also been giving me spasms, albeit much more quietly. Shyly, even, for the kitsune-narrator is rather self-effacing.

So I'm going to type in the new stuff on Corambis and see where it gets me. (I suspect it gets me to having to rejigger a Sibylline reading, which is the trouble with having the sort of memory which, as the White Queen says disapprovingly, only works backwards.) And then I think maybe I'll see if the kitsune story wants to be written today. Because, as I have said, I need more short stories.

Two reviews of A Companion to Wolves, here and here.

for the kitties )
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
Today's Accomplishment

My December post for Storytellers Unplugged is up.


My S.U. post will also tell you how revisions on Corambis are going.

1001 Uses for an Origami Crane, #679

They make the world's best cat toys. Even if Catzilla does insist on drowning them in his water bowl.

Review Roundup

imani is deeply unimpressed by the beginning of Mélusine. Jenny doesn't like it either.

[ profile] gauroth likes A Companion to Wolves. [ profile] drelmo doesn't.

We've also been nominated for the Romantic Times 2007 Reviewers' Choice Awards, in the Best Fantasy Novel category.

And One More Thing ...

I am so far behind on answering email that if it all fell on me, I would be dead.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (books)
1. the wolf book

Lovely review of A Companion to Wolves here; we also make OF Blog of the Fallen's auxilliary Best of 2007 list.


I got myself a bottle of Titus Andronicus for my birthday, and also, of course, imps.

Thus far, I have tried:
for the kitties! )

3. UBC

Butler, Anne M. Daughters of Joy, Sisters of Misery: Prostitutes in the American West 1865-90. Urbana: Illini-University of Illinois Press, 1987.

My opinion of this book hasn't changed. The pictures are fantastic, the primary source material is fascinating . . . the book itself is deeply flawed and frustrating.

I'm now reading Alexa Albert's Brothel (2001), which makes an interesting pairing.

4. Corambis progress, and there even is some!

I went through the first draft and extracted about half of it, non-consecutively, into a salvage file. Most of the rest of it I was positively grateful to lose. I have 60 connected pages of the second draft, and feel much more confident that I might be doing something right this time.


truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)

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