ashnistrike: (Default)
Winter Tide comes out on Tuesday, and I should be all over book promotion. But it turns out that having a book coming out in a couple of days is no ward against cramps and fussy toddlers; my motivation has collapsed into a pile of goo.

As a proper market-y person I should remind you that you'll be able to find the book at your favorite local indie store or online megavendor, and that preorders and first-week sales are the lifeblood of debut novels. I should also let you know that I'm launching at East City Books in DC on Wednesday and reading at the Power Plant Barnes and Noble in Baltimore on Saturday, April 8th. I should definitely share a selection of quotes from reviews, or at least tell you about Paul Weimer's lovely piece on the Barnes and Noble site that praises WT's "Lovecraft Family Values."

But what I really want is to do something fun, preferably something that will get my brain into gear and help me warm up for looming edits on Deep Roots. (Having a book coming out in a couple of days is also no ward against deadlines for the next one, alas.) So I'll tell you what: it's time to play Ask My Characters Anything. Rules:

1) You don't have specify which character you're addressing, although you can if you want. No guarantees that if you ask one character a question, another won't answer. 

2) No spoilers except for character name and existence. Characters will be from the Innsmouth Legacy universe but may not actually appear in Winter Tide. (There are some extremely gregarious Outer Ones in Deep Roots, who wish everyone would stop calling them Mi-Go.)

3) Men of the air can only answer questions about the 20th century and their own reasonably accessible history; people who expect a significantly longer lifespan can answer questions well beyond that. Yith can answer questions about anything.

4) This being All Fools Day, answers may not be accurate. Especially if an accurate answer would be a spoiler, or require me to nail down events several million years in the future.



ashnistrike: (lightning)
I'm now a little under halfway through Deep Roots, the sequel to Winter Tide. I'm learning things. For example, that writing around a toddler is harder than writing around a pregnant wife who sleeps a lot. Who knew? And that I need to write something new every day, even when prior-book edits intervene, because the ease of getting started the day after a 50-word day is noticeably better than the ease of getting started the day after a 0-word day.

Publication changes my writing process, both because of the practicalities of the editing cycle, and because I've learned things from writing and editing the first book. Winter Tide isn't my first completed novel--it's my 3rd--but it's the first where I've had to go beyond making a few cosmetic changes based on beta reader feedback. Structural edits have always scared the hell out of me. I couldn't see how to fix a lopsided plot or a lack of foreshadowing, or how to stitch in and rip out entire threads of plot or theme. I could get away with that--right up until a book was accepted for publication. I owe Carl and Cameron endless gratitude for demanding those changes, and then holding my hand through several rounds of them.

The structural changes that Winter Tide needed weren't even major, relative to some I've heard about. The overall plot is still essentially what it was at the beginning. I added a few scenes and changed a few lines, but didn't have to cut any characters or subplots. The climax is the one I wrote originally. But the things I did have to do were scary for me. And having done them, I now know that I can. The end result is that I'm now much more willing to follow the way of the Crappy First Draft. I can take risks I wouldn't have before, when I assumed I'd be stuck with any roads that veered off cliffs. This is probably annoying for my alpha reading wife, who's dealing with in-line notes like <add a better transition here> and <people have faces, describe them> and <have Charlie do something or cut him from this scene entirely> in lieu of semi-polished prose.

Meanwhile, in the galleys, I'm learning that I really like to repeat words. One of the major things we did during line edits was to fix places where I'd enjoyed a piece of vocabulary so much that I used it three times in a paragraph. (Lovecraft never had an editor to catch these, thus the ever-amusing "cyclopean" count.) We must have fixed a couple hundred instances of this problem. Now, going over the galleys... I'm finding even more of these. My only theory is that the Great Old Ones really like repetitive words, and demand them of their scribes as tribute.

Road map:

    Structural edits = Foreshadow this ending; make this threat scarier, turn up the volume on on your themes
    Line edits = Make this paragraph comprehensible, cut half your cyclopeans, did you mean this dialogue to sound like flirting
    Copyedits = Did you mean discrete or discreet, argue about hyphens, I don't care whether or not you capitalize Archpriest but be consistent
    Galleys = Oh Great Cthulhu how did I miss that

...with a sprinkling of "fix this anachronism" throughout, because historical fantasy is hard and 1949 is a strange country.
ashnistrike: (lightning)
What Bear said.

And while it's a bit less impressive coming from me, I'll make the same pledge: I have not in the past and I will not in the future participate in any popular award voting slate, public or private. I will not vote for any story or person or institution that is nominated for a popular award after agreeing to be on such a slate. Actually, I won't vote for any story or person or institution that is nominated from a slate, whether or not they wanted to be there--I believe that slates are more toxic than one person failing to get an award they deserve, even though the latter sucks quite a bit.

I believe without reservation that fandom is better off without any party system other than the one that results in late-night snacks and drinks and good conversation. There's no law that can prevent one from developing if people are determined to game the system; there are, however, customs that can make them useless.

Also, to repeat what I said earlier on Twitter:

You don't need to read anything that likely includes abuse towards you in order ot have the "right" to vote. You don't need to read anything that insults you or hits your triggers--you get to dislike that stuff without "giving it a chance." Hell, if you've never liked urban fantasy and one's on the ballot, you don't have to read it to vote. You're allowed to know your own tastes.

What I didn't say on Twitter: I've got a friend who's just getting out of an abusive relationship. Insignificant Other keeps whining about how if my friend were being fair, they'd let him prove himself without taking his earlier actions into consideration. Because trust. Because rules. Because if they aren't "fair" according to his exact definition, he knows he can't win.

People who don't play fair don't get to define fairness, and don't get to demand anyone's time or headspace. If you want to take the time to give VD a full read, feel free, but don't let anyone tell you it's your duty.

Personally, I'm currently filling my must-read pile than I can actually read it.  My entire "reading bigots" quota is given over to Lovecraft blogging. Lovecraft has many advantages in this domain: 1) his work is entertaining more often than it's upsetting, 2) he's dead, 3) for all his unchained adjectives, he writes better or at least more amusingly than most modern bigots, 4) by all accounts he was actually pretty polite to the people he was prejudiced against when actually talking to them, 5) he never tried to game any damn awards, 6) he never claimed that he had a right to reader's time and attention, 7) he's in the public domain and I can get awesome story ideas out of reading him.

In a hundred years, I hope the puppies are a nearly-forgotten footnote, the Hugos are strong and healthy, and whoever's doing the Hugo Reread braincast gets some really entertaining snark out of this whole business.
ashnistrike: (lightning)
Good: The rest of the Aphra novel is basically outlined, and I know most of what happens...

Bad: ...except for the climax, currently listed as "and then they do a thing."

Good: I like writing by the seat of my pants, and if I thought I knew what the climax looked like I'd be wrong anyhow.

Good: I've finished writing the annoying-but-necessary transitional bit before sh*t hits f*n for the rest of the book.  (Annoying to me, hopefully not annoying to readers.)

Bad: I've looked over how long scenes have taken on average, so far, and have counted up remaining scenes, and that's a longer book than I thought.  Which means either busier writing nights, or a busier editing season--because Baby M's birth date is not going to be affected by whether I've finished my other big projects.

Good: I find deadlines very motivating.

Fingers crossed.
ashnistrike: (lightning)
To Tor.com, and due out early next year.  Aliens, AIs, and academic politics.

...and that actually basically clears out the short stuff queue, except for the lesbian steampunk mad science epistolary story.  The entire genre should be embarrassed that there aren't more markets that are obvious targets for a 2700-word lesbian steampunk mad science epistolary story.  In any case, I must write more shorts, but not until after I finish the novel.
ashnistrike: (lightning)
1) Lovecraft wrote quite a lot about Miskatonic University, and many of his stories featured professors from the school.  Am I missing a story in which he actually describes the school, or shows classes, or includes academic interactions between professors and students?  Or does it just sit there as an invisible background while people read scary letters from elsewhere?  (And yes, I know that Mount Holyoke gets used in the Whisperer in Darkness film.  I'm trying to figure out if there's anything in the original mythos I need to worry about.)(I'll probably end up using Mount Holyoke too, since Hampshire would be clearly inappropriate. Also since the library is awesome.)

2) Miskatonic is the next thing to an Ivy League.  Given the time period, and also given Lovecraft, it was obviously men-only for quite some time.  Has anyone ever speculated as to its sister school?
ashnistrike: (Default)
I was not going to read Twilight.  I really wasn't.  But [livejournal.com profile] robling_t asked really nicely.  ("I will read this if you write it," is a pretty nice way of asking for something.)

I do wish to point out that Stephenie Meyer gets really excellent covers.  Unfortunately, they are instantly recognizable from across a room.  Or a subway car.  I wanted to carry a sign saying, "Only reading this to make fun of it," but I would have worried about being accosted by the many actual fans doubtless present.  Maybe "My other book is an in-depth exploration of the psychology of human error."  Actually, I'm not sure how much a distinction that is.

Overall Impressions

I had previously read summaries and deconstructions of the book, and had not expected to like it.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it is reasonably well-written.  There's even some genuinely beautiful writing, mostly when Meyer gets into landscapes.  I would happily read a whole book, character-free, in which she contrasts the pacific northwest and the Arizona desert.  This is, of course, not that book. 

This one, however, does start with a rather cool literary conceit, which is that Bella, in the midst of her whining, describes moving to Forks in terms normally used for, well, becoming a vampire.  She is "saying goodbye to the sun forever."  It makes her skin look sallow and unhealthy.  Forks is "literally my personal hell on earth."  There is, in fact, a whole parallel with (better) stories about people with one angelic and one demonic parent, or similar.  Charlie is bound to Forks, and Renee actually left him over it.  I mean, this town is actually the reason for their divorce, and Bella refused to do visitations there, and Charlie wouldn't leave to keep his family together.  There's a whole different urban fantasy romance failing in the back story.

Several people have described Twilight as dreamlike or surreal.  It doesn't feel that way to me.  Poorly thought out, at times, but not deliberately dreamlike.  I am therefore judging it as an actual story in which details and plot elements are meant to be taken as stated.

My biases, let me show you them

I read Luminosity first.  In my head, these are the canonical versions of Bella and Edward and the rules for sparkly vampires.  I can't help making the comparison, and am not particularly going to try.  Luminosity, for those who haven't read it, is part of the relatively small subgenre of rationalist fanfic, along with Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.  Additional recommendations would be very welcome, since Luminosity is complete and MoR has been stalled for months, and there are some moods where I just want to read about characters nitpicking their own worldbuilding details.  In accordance with rationalist fanfic commenting standards, characters from different versions are referred to as rational!Bella and irrational!Bella, etc.

Cut for spoilers, like you haven't heard everything that happens in these books ten times already through cultural osmosis )

I think that my live-blogging notes from the read will go in a separate post.
ashnistrike: (Default)
Things That Annoy Me:

-Cars that overheat when you really need to be at work, and then the mechanic has no idea what the problem is, but will probably charge a lot for it anyway.

-Students who think that "I have no idea what's going on here," with an implied "and I don't feel like looking it up," is a reasonable way to leave off a written argument.

-Students who appear to be convinced that "I have no idea what's going on here" implies "nobody knows what's going on here."

-Students who, in a psychology paper, write that "there is no book that tells us how the mind works." Admittedly it doesn't have the complete answers, but there is one listed on the syllabus.

-Windows Vista

Bonus Thing That Does Not Annoy Me:

-One student actually made an allusion to Frankenstein, accurately describing what happens in the book.

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