Monday, May 23, 2011

3 Reasons I love Twitter--music, peace, and sex

Three reasons I love Twitter:

1. NPR music, of all places, is where I get some great First Listens. This morning, I was stoked to hear My Morning Jacket's new album, Circuital. Especially loved the title track and Wonderful, but overall, it's just a great album. Comes out on the 31st.



And because I have schizophrenic tastes in music, I just got Jeremih's Down On Me, ft. 50 Cent. That is seriously hot. I hear Death Cab for Cutie's new stuff is really good, so I'll give that a listen later.

2. Yoga every morning is great, but taking that state of mind with me throughout the day can be tough. For some reason, the affirmations that show up in my timeline from @earthservant are little moments that pull me back from whatever nonsense I've engaged in right then, and allow me to take a deep breath and remember that it's all supposed to be. Affirmations such as this one:

I know and acknowledge daily that my path is unfolding impeccably with perfect timing.

3. @AviAnswers is a sex shop worker dispensing advice and humor, but mostly, she talks about her day. She says that when she meets someone for the first time, she immediately associates them with a sex toy. I'm dying to know what I am -- I mean, I'm a #14 for sure, right?

Doc Johnson Lucid Dream Ultra Power Multi-Speed, Waterproof G-Spot Vibrator, Twist-bottom Control Purple, batteries included...

And yes, get it in purple. Anyway. Yesterday, Avi tweeted an absolutely beautiful pic, Fat Model Love:


Just gorgeous.




Yes, I'm back online. Life is good. Is this the real life or just Fanta Sea? I'm happy to report that it's Fanta Sea. Don't expect too much -- the time away from the interwebz was refreshing, not painful, and I got a lot done. Ooh, imagine that: lack of interwebz = increased creativity/production.

We've got new neighbors on one side. They are... very friendly. B is standing by the fence last night, smoking a cigar and holding our big boy cat, Gryff, and chatting away. I was outside with the laptop trying to write (I got one in to Lily's this week, if you're keen to try your hand as well), and I hear all this stuff about joining them for their nightly fires and beer. Ugh. Now I'm going to feel as if I can't sit outside every evening that it's nice, just to be outside and have a glass of wine and write. It's what I do in the summer. Now I'll be "unsociable." People! Not everyone wants to chat! Hopefully, B's friendliness and talkativeness will make up for my lack thereof.

What's that? You want more pics of Gryff on my Twitter? You got it!

Have a great day, you little monsters.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Surrealist garden; Serious Confession Time; Social Media's making me shake my head


I have come across the most amazing surrealist garden, and it is in one of my favorite places: Mexico. I just put this on my List of Places I Absolutely Must See.


You can find more pics and info at Lady Lavona's Cabinet of Curiosities (oddly, that's what I call the sex-toy drawer in my nightstand). It reminds me of the movie Labyrinth. And I expect the Great God Pan to come strolling along, grinning, asking me to dance. I would.

*

A Serious Confession: I do not like Neil Gaiman.

There. I've said it. All right, a year or so ago, I was gaga for Gaiman. What happened?

I read The Graveyard Book first, and to say I loved it would be an understatement. And in a whirlwind of sudden, absolute admiration for this marvelous author, I proceeded to read American Gods, Neverwhere, Coraline, and one of the Sandman comics.

And I really, really disliked them all. I wanted to like them. I mean, he wrote The Graveyard Book, which I loved, and besides that... everybody knows that Neil Gaiman is a Genius, First Class, Do Not Pass GO Just Squat On Boardwalk. I mean, everybody knows, right? It's a Universal Fact, right?

I loved Good Omens, but that was co-written with Pratchett. I wonder if what I love about it is due to Pratchett, or Pratchett's influence on Gaiman. Either way, it's only in GO and TGB that I find the characters having depth, and that the writing rises about the mundane.

Also, there was this thing. Twitter.

And here I devolve into a discussion of social media and why I am increasingly disillusioned. Two of the first people I followed on Twitter were Gaiman and Joe Hill. I have unfollowed both since. Because I dislike their writing? No. I unfollowed both because they're pretentious twats who use Twitter as their blog instead of, you know, blogging and tweeting the link. Not to mention, the amount of smugness and self-importance exuded by these two knows no bounds. I may not agree with someone's political views or personal philosophies, and I wouldn't unfollow based solely on that. And perhaps there is some degree here of sexism, and why Men Succeed Where Women Don't -- because of their apparent natural born arrogance, their absolute certainty of their own intensely high worth. Meh. I don't know. They're both fucking annoying, so I hit unfollow and breathed a sigh of relief.

Will I still buy Hill's books? Sure. Gaiman? No. And not because of Twitter, but because I really, really don't like his writing.

Man. I felt totally uncomfortable saying this out loud, but last night, on a whim, I googled, "I don't like Neil Gaiman." Hello, fellow peeps! I had no idea there were so many of you! Including Quentin Crisp. Crisp make a valid argument, and he arrived at it the same way I did, essentially -- through reading, and through a vague, growing disenchantment that turned into outright dislike.

That's all. One last thing: someone just tweeted a link to a site that lets you keep track of who unfollowed you on Twitter. Unlike LJ, you don't receive notifications. One day you've got 60, next day 58, and who is gone? Who knows? Well, this site knows. While that's interesting -- and the majority, I find, are spammers who you didn't follow back within a 7-day time frame -- what I disliked was the company's assertion that you can use this to "call out unfollowers!" Dear lord. Are we that juvenile? Yes, actually. I see it all the time on Twitter. I don't get that -- why would you do that? If they weren't spammers, maybe they just decided you no longer interested them. So? Maybe you don't have anything in common with them. Whatever. It's akin to people on LJ posting that they've been de-friended. Get the fuck over it. Are you serious? Since when did following and friending become lifetime committments? And when did unfollowing and de-friending become personal attacks?

Maybe I've just got too much on my plate these days (and I do, and if I don't get some serious time off soon, I'm going to have a meltdown), but in the vast universe of What's Important, this sort of stuff is barely asteroid dust. Let them burn on entry, shooting stars when you look up. And then turn back to your book and your flashlight, snuggle deeper into your sleeping bag, and remember that in the dark, the monsters in the forests come out to snatch away people who are foolish enough to sleep alone in fields at night. ;-)

Hasta la vista, babies. I've got fic to write. But first, some french toast and coffee...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The distraction of the Internet; Book Review: Winterlong by Elizabeth Hand

A Publishers Weekly article on the distraction of the internet. The internet is not to blame for your unfinished novel. You are.

What? I beg to differ! No, honestly, it's a good article about -- Le Gasp -- willpower, and why Shakespeare would tweet sonnets. I think. I lost interest halfway through and went to look at cute baby bunnies cuddling on skate boards.

The non-smart-ass truth? My computer was out for most of the day yesterday, and I had an unexpected day off. I ended up going to the tawdry coffee shop again and sitting at a table next to a Bible discussion group in which the word "masturbation" was overhead twice. The upshot? I finished a chapter of the book and re-wrote the ending to a short story. That ending had been bugging me. Every time I opened the doc, I'd read it and think it was perfectly fine. But I'd walk away and think, "No, no. It's not fine." And it wasn't. Without the doc there on the screen, I just visualized what I wanted and wrote it. Perfection. Now I'm happy.

I wrote until my hand hurt. Yes. If you're not used to writing longhand, it's a bit difficult to write that much. But over four pages later, I'm super pleased. $1.30 for a coffee is a small price to pay for a solid hour of writing.

Do you prefer writing things out in a notebook or typing? Does the thought of not having your computer for the day terrify you? Do you have the interwebz open while writing, just so you can "check"?

*

Book review: "Winterlong" by Elizabeth Hand. Spec fic/SF.

I read the 1997 reprint edition, which has an author's note at the end reflecting on the writing of this, her debut novel. So first, a couple of things: It took Hand approximately twenty years to write this (gorgeous, seriously fucked up but in a beautiful, beautiful way) book, and also, the book is composed of every single thing she loved: sex, punk rock, the theater, Catholic ritual, myth, Pinocchio, talking animals, and a few other things.

It's incredible.

Taking place in a post-apocalyptic Washington, D.C. that has become overrun by feral plague children and been divided into sections where whores and Curators live and work, it's a tale of genetic research and the search for something to follow, a tale of becoming human, a story of sex and myth. Or mutant prostitutes, as Hand's boyfriend disparagingly called it in the 70s.

First appearing in print in 1990, it almost immediately became a cult classic, and Hand's body of work since then (which I shall be reading ALL OF, and SOON) reflects on many of the same themes: the outsider, the search for meaning, and issues of gender identity. Do not read this book if you are easily offended by incest, medical research, or murder.

You won't find a single cliche as you read, switching between the perspectives of long-lost sister and brother, Wendy Wanders and Raphael Miramar. You might need a dictionary. You will find your head blown apart.

If I have a criticism, it's that the ending somewhat disappointed, in that, "Yeah, I guess it had to happen, but..." kind of way. It's a valid choice, and a culmination of everything Hand had previously put forth, so maybe I'm just a kid of the 1980s film scene, and I want a neatly-tied bow, complete with things being blown up.

Throw in romance and a descent into madness, and you've got a compelling read unlike anything else. A stunning book, highly recommended, especially if you don't like your female characters conveniently killed off when it suits the male protagonist.

I think I owe a huge debt to The Rejectionist right now.




Srsly. It's, like, priced from a buck or so, used. GET IT.

Monday, May 9, 2011

I can't tell if I'm part of the problem or the solution

Our job this day is to become part of the answer to the world's immense and protracted suffering rather than continuing our ancient task of being part of the difficulty.

~Hugh Prather

Via -- be warned, there are cute naked gay boys all over that link.

I do believe, strongly, in the above quote. And I try my darndest, every day, to be part of the solution. I realize that, on occasion, I fall down in this area. But I'm trying. And so I will today.

*

Agent Rachelle Gardner answers a question from "A Conscientious Writer" regarding asking a published author to read your un-published work. Her answer is entirely graceful, and I'll remember this later on.

Of course, I'm so shy, I never ask anyone but good friends to read my stuff first. However, a lot of people overcome their own shyness, or maybe they're just far bolder than I any day. I used to write fanfic, and as a ff author of some popularity, I would get asked to read and beta work on the average of once a week. This quickly became too much for me, as even reading a short story and making thoughtful comments on the work could take up to an hour of my time, sometimes more. My response automatically became this: Thank you for asking. I'm glad you enjoy my work so much. Unfortunately, I don't have the time right now. Here are some places where you can go to ask for help/critique/beta readers: (insert list, complete with links). Good luck with your story!

Here is where I attempt to fold the world of fandom with that of traditional publishing. If I asked an author for their opinion of my ms and they told me they didn't have time, I would not A. Not reply to this at all, B. Beg them to reconsider, or C. Berate/threaten them.

A simple, "Thanks, anyway!" goes a long way. A was most common, but there was a lot of B. And C usually went along the lines of, "I have been a long-time reader and reviewer of your work but now I am never going to read anything of yours again!"

Some right now are thinking, "Well, that's fandom. They're all nuckin' futs." However, having been around the blogosphere for a couple of years now... There's some pretty, shall we say, quirky folks out there. I'm actually wondering how often this happens to published writers. We've all read the rejection letters they've received, and their general writing tips to other writers, and the stories of how they finally found an agent, but what about what happens when they reach that stage of popularity where requests to read ms's are rolling in? LOL. I would like to read some of that.

*

Good news: Two acceptances recently. One is a reprint of a story which is a favorite of mine, and I'm thrilled that it will find a new audience to tease and seduce. The other is an unpublished short story which will appear in an anthology this fall. There's a lot to say about that one, but I'm holding off for now until more pieces are in place. There's dragons.

Sadly, I have suddenly fallen into a place of regret regarding the lost work on the destroyed USB. I can't help thinking of four short stories which I absolutely loved, and I had worked on them in bits over the course of a year. I must let go, I know!

Time for a bit of yoga before work.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pics of Free Comic Book Day! And then self-pimpage

Today is Free Comic Book Day. If you've got a shop near you and it's still open, go! Go, my friend, like the wind in Superman's underpants! For they have free comic books for you! Yes, it's a national thing. Trust me.

Our particular shop, voted Best in Detroit multiple times, is Green Brain in Dearborn. I usually go once a month on a Wednesday, when the new The Walking Dead comes out. And if you are a TWD comic fan and would like to discuss it, contact me. Ahem. Today at the Green Brain, they had a thumpin' dj first. I likey the techno, I must admit. They also had raffles every hour, which I did not win (guess I'll just have to buy that GB t-shirt now), four comic book artists who I do not know but who apparently are big news, and free sketches for kids. The free comics were stacked in two long rows, and you could pick any three. Three! Plus, if you brought in canned food for the Gleaners, you got three more, and if you brought in old cell phones for the military, you got three more. Did not know. Because I wanted more than three, I should tell you. Tried to talk B into getting three that I wanted, but he picked three of his own liking.

The scene initially:


It got quite a bit more crowded after this. Such a diverse crowd, too. Loved seeing the little ones there, picking out their comics! For free comics, they had a selection from young children's comics to more mature ones.

Me with my bag of free comics:


I got: Mouse Guard, Joe Hill's Locke and Key (which I've heard a lot about, and you all know I'm a huge JH fan, so I've got high hopes with this one), and The Darkness Confession (which, if you see the cover, you will know immediately why I had to have it). Oh, okay, here's the cover:


Yeah. Ehm. Uh-huh. I hope he takes his clothes off. Anyway!

B got, in case you were wondering, Lady Death (which looks awesome), Spontaneous and Civil War Adventure.

Last pic: After the dj, they had the Found Object Orchestra playing live. This guy had his trombone (TROMBONE!) hooked up to this homemade thingamajig that made his trombone sound like... other things. This is a terrible description. Suffice to say, it was a lot of fun.


They had a euphonium, too. Who the hell plays the euphonium? Like I said, lots of fun.

Self-pimpage time! In addition to my winning entry over at Lily's place, Girls Club, I wrote an additional piece titled Fingerprint. Both 100 words.

And I've found time, finally, to get back into the novel I've barely touched for the past month since starting my new job. As expected, things are *finally* settling down, and I can get back to work doing what I love best. I'm also working on a short story about the Plague, or rather, a Plague. It's strange and scary -- to me -- so I think I must be doing something right. I wish I had time for more challenges and to write for more anthologies, but we'll see. Right now, I've got a lot on my plate.

Thanks for stopping by! And if you went to your local comic book store for FCBD, what did you get????