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 I'm out of town this weekend, glad to be with family, wishing I were in DC to help my family there defend the place from its enemies. And I stayed up late worrying and wrote a story about Obed Yringl'phtagn Marsh dealing with the anniversary of the Innsmouth raid and the start of World War II.

This is messy and new and only lightly edited, and offered as a gift to everyone on the front lines today:


***

This wasn’t the reasonable place to be. In the crystalline corridors of Y’ha-nthlei, in vast chambers at the hearts of R’lyeh and Chorzh-athern and Vrai-kad’vlek, councils were convening, warriors and archpriests and scholars and bards of every battle where human blood ever added salt to the sea. Yringl’phtagn was not quite any of these things, but he should have been there offering his half-welcome advice.

Instead, he stood on a dark beach with ruins at his back, gazing at the water. The tide was just turning toward ebb. Only the ghostly edges of the waves reflected the new moon starlight. They whispered across the sandbar, heart’s rhythm of a thousand rituals.

“It’s been a while,” said Khr’jhelkh’ng. He’d joined the crew of Kraken’s Journal shortly before Yringl’phtagn went into the water, shipped on the Arkansas in 1917 as a seasoned sailor, and was listed as lost overboard in early ’18 though his fellows knew more. He’d returned from Vrai-kad’vlek’s patrol only a week ago, asking for his old place amid Yringl’phtagn’s crew.

Jhathl came back from the dunes, claws scuffing sand. She held a scrap of driftwood, weathered and gray in the starlight. A rusted nail protruded; it had been part of a food stall once, or a newspaper stand. Part of Innsmouth. “We should have known months ago,” she said. “Even if the war hasn’t touched this continent, our young would have heard, and told us.”  

For Yringl’phtagn that would have been Keziah or Josias or Tacita, if any of them were still on land, their children otherwise. Cheerful Aphra with her sky-deep eyes, studious little Caleb, the baby that Josias and his mate would have named two days after the attack. He imagined Keziah brandishing a copy of the Free Press: Europe’s broken out into war again. What are we doing about it?

“They wouldn’t have told us everything the patrol found,” said Khr’jelkh’ng. “They wouldn’t know.”

“We have only the universe made visible to us,” said Yringl’phtagn. He tried to shake it off, that sense that the other world of “if we had” and “if they’d known” lay just out of reach, over those dunes. Only the jagged board insisted on the reality of a fallen town, dead and empty.

But that was why so few came up from Y’ha-nthlei these days. It was too easy to believe, every time you broke through the waves, that you’d see the beach crowded as it once was. That they’d be waiting. Eleven years now, almost to the day, too short a time for memory to change its habits.

He forced himself to more practical matters. “Khr’jelkh’ng, the patrol’s report would feel incomplete, even if you hadn’t come racing back to the Kraken’s crew as soon as they made it. It’s not your way to leave work unfinished. Tell us: what are they hiding?”

Khr’jelkh’ng pulled himself straight, a hint of airborn soldier’s training, but bared teeth belied the mask, and webbed fingers ground tight around his trident. “They don’t think they’re hiding anything. Everything that matters, we shared.”

“You were working with one of the old bands, weren’t you?” asked Jhathl. Even now there was a trace of envy in her voice, mixed with her usual disdain for the ancient hierarchies.

“Youngest of the lot by a good five thousand years.” An ambitious wave surged over their feet, and Khr’jelkh’ng glared. “Half of what drives airborn politics these days, they’ve no concept of.”

“And the other half the things that don’t change, no matter how the species changes,” said Yringl’phtagn. “What do you think they missed?”

Khr’jelkh’ng hissed, shuffled, and at last sat in the firm wet sand. The others followed suit; Yringl’phtagn grimaced as a shell tried to wedge itself amid his scales.

 “You know we went after U-boats on the Arkansas, though we never saw one up close for sure. The air folk had almost a superstition of the subs; they’d never put it that way, but anything that can hide so long below the surface seemed unnatural to them.” Jhathl snickered, and Khr’jelkh’ng went on. “We did meet Germans in person after the Armistice, getting their fleet locked up in Scapa Flow. I was under the boat by then, but I listened enough, came up sometimes in a slicker when the weather got bad. They seemed like decent fellows for all they’d been on the wrong side of things.

“Our patrol found one of the things sunk, just as you heard, and recently. They’re ghostly things broken, like the last of a whale fall. It had a hole blown in its side. The bodies were nearly down to skeletons, but they had records kept waterproof, enough to hunt down their living cousins.”

“And you found one,” said Yringl’phtagn impatiently. “That much we heard.”

Jhathl cuffed him lightly. “If you want to hear the story they didn’t tell, don’t keep telling us the story we already heard.”

A trace of humor crept into Khr’jelkh’ng’s expression. “If I couldn’t tell the captain a story while he was trying to get ahead of me, I’d never have given him so much as the watch change.”

Yringl’phtagn sighed. “I shall be as silent as the Sleeping God.”

“Whose dreams drive men to frenzies of art and rebellion?” Khr’jelkh’ng turned serious again. “It might be no bad thing. Indeed, we found a living U-boat, by their own expedient of stalking one of the great merchant fleets above. The subs swam together in a pack, but we drew one away simply by letting the crew catch glimpses of us. They gave chase, and we led them to the surface and pulled them from their shell.”

And suffered wounds in the process—Yringl’phtagn had seen that much in the puckered scales of some of the other band members, still healing. He’d dodged gunfire himself, both in scraps with pirates aboard Kraken’s Journal, and the ambush when they’d tried to track Innsmouth’s lost children. The band had been lucky.

“They weren’t like the fellows we met in Scotland, beyond the way men are calmed by surrender or fired by a hunt. They understood that we were—” He grimaced. “—that we were things that could talk. But that meant nothing to them. Men of the air often see us as monsters. These did too, but it seemed… a common experience for them. They compared us to every airborn enemy they hated: we were in league with Jews, with communists, with weak-minded men who thought like women and… don’t look at me like that, Jhathl, I promise someone cut his throat for you. It seemed clear to me that their world was full of monsters, with a scant tribe of true men deserving life at all. It wasn’t one of those crews shaped by a tyrant captain, either; he was no better or worse than the rest, if more in command of his tongue.”

The band’s reports had been full of the war itself; from this interrogation they’d shared only numbers and ambitions. It had seemed complete enough, to most of those listening. “The rest of the band didn’t think that unusual.”

“Not shocking, at least. Perhaps when we fought with stone knives, and scrapped over watering holes—but no, I don’t think that sort of talk was more common, then. It was something making them so dismissive. I don’t think they grasped the scale—what it means to hate that way, in a world that men can circle in a few weeks. These people can fly over Europe, and see all the cities below, and more men in each than existed when some of our patrol went into the water—and still hate them to their faces. All things must fall, but they were eager for it. As if burning most of mankind would lift them up.”

Jhathl spit, and tossed her driftwood into the retreating waters. “Show men of the air a glimpse of infinity, and they’ll retreat into destruction. It’s what happened here.”

Yringl’phtagn considered. “That’s near enough what they’re saying below: We’ve always fought in the wars of the air, until they destroyed our spawning grounds. We’ve no stake in their fights now; dive deep and let them burn.”

Khr’jelkh’ng laid his trident down on the sand. His gaze shifted between dune and wave, lingered at last on his comrades. “Maybe it’s that I’ve already fought those wars, but I still see something to choose between. I have to think there’s still something worth saving up here.”

“Even if there’s a difference between the sides,” asked Jhathl, “is it enough? You didn’t pull anyone off the British ships, to test the flavor of their fear. How do you know they don’t embrace extinction as well?”

Yringl’phtagn thought of Keziah—delusion to think she might merely be imprisoned somewhere, that some airborn soldier hadn’t painted himself in his daughter’s blood. But she would have asked, would have assumed: What are we doing about it?

“If we dive deep,” he said, “we’ll never know. If we tear open a few more shells, well, we might get the chance to learn more of the other side. If they haven’t earned our aid, at least it will be recorded in the Archives that we fought.”

Jhathl snorted. “Only if someone tells them. Are you about to dive back down to Y’ha-nthlei and say that whatever they decide, the Kraken’s crew is heading east to hunt submarines?”

Yringl’phtagn bared sharp teeth. “It depends whether they ask where we’re going.”

Khr’jelkh’ng laughed and showed his own teeth. “I do remember how this works. I’ve missed it.”

Jhathl sighed. “I’m not sure I’ll ever care for the surface after this, but yes. For the sake of having fought.” And her own fangs glinted in starlight.

They retrieved their weapons, and ran, and dove. Then Innsmouth’s beach lay empty, silent save for the ancient whisper of the waves.

***
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I'll be at Arisia, in Boston on Martin Luther King Day weekend!

SFF of Resistance - Friday 8:30PM - Gillian Daniels, T.X. Watson, Ruthanna Emrys, Meredith Schwartz, Eric in the Elevator

In a time of rising authoritarianism around the world, many of us turn to stories as an escape from the grim parade of daily news. But there is more than escape in SFF, there are strategies, inspiration, and hope for a better, freer future. In this panel we will look at the stories that prepare us to face power, and show us the ways we might proceed. 


Fantasy That Speculates - Saturday 5:30PM - James Hailer, Victoria Sandbrook, Ruthanna Emrys, V.E. Schwab, Debra Doyle

Fantasy lands such as Westeros or Stillness, with their dramatic variations in climate or seismic activity, provide a fertile ground for speculation within the story. The Stillness plans ahead and takes these factors into account; Westeros does not. Why? This panel will discuss speculation in fantasy, which stories are more speculative, and how fantasy can extrapolate from its premise.


Down With Grimdark, Up With... - Sunday 2:30PM - Sarah Weintraub, T.X. Watson, Ruthanna Emrys, Alexander Rowland, Terri Ash

Grimdark stories, ones that focus on darkness and angst, have been prevalent throughout SFF recently. However, many people are pushing for change, with suggestions such as Solarpunk, Genderpunk, and Hopepunk, ones that focus on a bright future. Solarpunk is focused on green energy and sustainability, whereas Hopepunk is about people choosing love over hate, and fighting for that possible bright future. Will these new genres will gain a foothold? What other "punks" do you see emerging in SFF?


SFF, Homage, and Transformation - Sunday 4PM - Ken Shneyer, Ruthanna Emrys, V.E. Schwab, Greer Gilman, Will "SciFantasy" Frank

A vast majority of literature has homages to previous works - familiar tropes and nods to existing tales. Some stories, however, seem to be nothing other than things you’ve seen before. Our panelists will discuss the art of homage and transformation, and the ways in which the familiar can be remade into the startling.


Reading: Social Themes in SF&F
- Monday 1PM - Ruthanna Emrys, Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, Leo d'Entremont

Authors will be reading their own original works which science fiction and fantasy which tackle contemporary social themes.

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For reasons having to do with my great hunger for deadlines, and for small writing prompts to get my brain in gear--and now that they seem to have sworn off idiocy for a while--I'm thinking about starting a Patreon. My schedule being what it is, I'm also thinking about cool things I could share that would be less time-consuming and more fun--something that will let me play around a little even when I'm ocean-deep in novel-writing, without actually causing me to miss novel-related deadlines. So rewards might include:

- Flash fiction and "cut scenes" for the Innsmouth Legacy and Tikanu settings.
- Custom sonnets
- Worldbuilding recipes
- Opportunities to provide prompts for all of the above

So... is this something folks would be interested in? Are there other rewards that would be more/additionally enticing? 
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I've just finished the proof edits on Deep Roots, so we should be on track for July publication. The release date is currently set to July 9th.  This is more appropriate than Winter Tide's April release date, since the story takes place during a muggy New York June. These are very seasonal books. I kind of wanted to have the first one come out in time for its titular holiday, but apparently December releases lose more sales to people not buying for themselves than they gain from holiday gift purchases.* The Science of Publishing!

Things that can be found in this book:
  • The looming gentrification of Innsmouth
  • Other-dimensional vistas of cosmic wonder and fear, and their nasty side effects
  • Awkward relatives
  • Terrifying relatives
  • The looming threat of human extinction
  • Aliens worried about the looming threat of human extinction, and eager to do something about it
  • Bagels and lox
I've started on the first couple of chapters of Book 3, but don't yet have a contract. While I wait, I've been playing around with "What if the ancient language that drives men mad... was an area of academic study like any other?" If the woes of the world don't completely distract me, it'll be a novelette draft by the time I have official deadlines again.


*Winter Tide does, in fact, make a great Winter Tide gift--and it's also appropriate for other portions of the Great North American Festival to Combat SAD.



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I have too much stuff going on to post about what's going on, so here, have my Baltimore Book Festival schedule:

Saturday 9/23

- 3PM: Signing with Sarah Pinsker

- 4PM: Turning Old Monsters Into New

Still scared of the Boogie Man? Our panel resurrects the monsters you grew up with,  talks about all the monsters you grew up with, from fairy tales to urban fantasy to myths and legends and the thing underneath your bed, discuss how modern fiction is reinterpreting them. 
Authors: Scott Edelman, Ruthanna Emrys, Craig Laurance Gidney, Vivian Shaw, Ruth Vincent. Moderator: Scott H. Andrews

- 5PM: Beyond Stew and Replicators: Food in Science Fiction & Fantasy

Sensory details are the hallmark of great science fiction and fantasy, and nothing brings that home quite like the food! Join our panelists as they discuss what goes right and wrong with  food in their favorite books. We guarantee you'll leave hungry—unless they start talking about soylent green.
Authors: Lara Elena Donnelly, Scott Edelman, Ruthanna Emrys, Lawrence M. Schoen, Fran Wilde. Moderator Denise Clemons.

Sunday 9/24

- 12PM: Politics, Resistance, & Speculative Fiction

Science fiction and fantasy have always been political, and have always used genre trappings to explore the here and now through the past and future. What does that look like in the current political climate? 
Authors: Lara Elena Donnelly, Ruthanna Emrys, Craig Laurance Gidney, Addison Gunn, Malka Older. Moderator: Scott H. Andrews
 
- 2PM: Fantasy: It's Epic, it's Historic, it's Dark or Weird or High or Low or Urban

How are all of the categories of fantasy even the same genre? From dungeons to dragons to vampires in our midst, our panel will discuss what they love, what they write, and what you should be reading.
Authors: DH AIie, Ruthanna Emrys, Craig Laurance Gidney, Jeremy M. Gottwig, Ilana C. Myer, Ruth Vincent. Moderator: Jon Skovron
 

All this takes place at the SFWA tent, and the full schedule is available here. The full line-up looks amazing.


Things going on, briefly: 

- Anne and I posted our Necronomicon con report on Tor.com. 
- Deep Roots has been sent off to production, which means I can finally switch from Editing mode to  New Words mode. Tentative title for Book 3: Seas Rise Wild.
- Dear gods, there are a lot of small mammals in the Mysterious Manor House.
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I'll be at the OutWrite DC queer literature festival this coming Saturday. I'm on:

Love and Other Monsters: A Speculative Fiction Reading - 12 PM - Craig Gidney, Steve Berman, Rahul Kanakia, and Ruthanna Emrys

Beyond Gender in Speculative Fiction - 4 PM - Don Sakers, Craig Gidney, Rahul Kanakia, Michael M. Jones, Ruthanna Emrys, Lemur Rowlands, and Akiva Wolberg

The whole thing is free and takes place at the DC LGBT Center. In addition to the festival itself, I'll be joining the Outwrite Author's Corner panel at the Ask Rayceen Show, Wednesday night 8/2 (so probably tonight, by the time most of you read this), at the Human Rights Campaign. (I am definitely there even though not confirmed before the Facebook post went up. I checked.) In addition to geeky authors, there will also be a poetry slam and burlesque, making for a truly variable variety show.


Then the weekend of August 18th, I'll be in Providence for Necronomicon! I'm on:

Saturday 8/19, 10:30-11:45AM: LOVECRAFT REVISIONS – Grand Ballroom, Biltmore 17th Floor

They are the Rodney Dangerfields of Lovecraft’s work: the dreaded revisions! Consisting of stories edited and often completely rewritten by Lovecraft, they tend to be overlooked by many readers and scholars. Yet, Lovecraft’s work on his client’s stories elevated many of them from mere hackwork to excellent examples not only of his own prose and ideas but his philosophy as well. Hear why our panelists say that these revisions should not be passed over as ‘minor’ works.

Panelists: Peter Cannon (Moderator), Ruthanna Emrys, S.T. Joshi, Leslie Klinger, Steve Mariconda, Anne Pillsworth


Saturday 8/19, 6-7:15PM: THE KING IN YELLOW & ROBERT CHAMBERS – Omni 1

Thanks to a resurgence of interest via popular culture, this long-forgotten writer is better known than ever before. But what EXACTLY is “The King in Yellow” and why is it important? This panel discusses Chambers’ trail-blazing book, what effect it’s had on Lovecraftiana (if not Lovecraft himself) and weird fiction, and why it is gaining more readers today.

Panelists: Ruthanna Emrys, Alex Houstoun (Moderator), Rick Lai, Joe Pulver


Sunday 8/20, 4:30-5:45: THE FUTURE OF WEIRD FICTION and NECRONOMICON-PVD – Garden Room, Biltmore 2nd Floor

Join our panel of experts as they discuss the most vital Weird Fiction of today and the direction they see it moving towards in the future. The panel concludes with some thoughts on this year’s convention and future plans…

Panelists: s.j. bagley (moderator), Sam Cowan, Ellen Datlow, Ruthanna Emrys, Michael Kelly


John Jude Palencar, who painted the gorgeous cover for Winter Tide, will be the Artist Guest of Honor. No guarantees, but it's just possible there may be a sneak preview of the Deep Roots cover, which I'm not allowed to post yet but is likewise gorgeous.

There are plans for a reading as well--I thought we finally had a time nailed down, but it turned out to require co-location and/or time travel. That would only be possible if I were an ancient eldritch horror with powers beyond mortal ken, which of course I am definitely not.

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 I've been somewhat neglectful here. So, a low-stress post in which I don't try to go into anything in depth, because cramps, and because the summer's round of one-thing-after-another doesn't actually finish up for another month.

1) Readercon was awesome and a thing I want to go back to. I wasn't on program this year, which is something I want to change next year but on the other hand it was really nice to have one of the summer's Things be basically relaxing. I hung out with [personal profile] gaudior and [personal profile] rushthatspeaks and [personal profile] mrissa and Greer, and had a useful lunch with my agent and editor, and picked up a large stack of books, and generally had a great time. And then read at Pandemonium after the con with Fran Wilde and Chris Sharp, and that was also great, and the large stack of books that I had to deconstruct in order to see the audience reduced quite satisfactorily by the end of the event.

2) I have my mostly-final schedules for Necronomicon and the Baltimore Book Festival, which I will post once they're final. I also know what I'm doing at the Outwrite queer literature festival, except that I can't find the time for my panel now, so that will be here later too. But it's in DC on August 5th and promises to be a fun time.

3) It's that time of year when we've finally set a date to pick up our new cow--longhorn this year, shared with the same two people I've been splitting cows with for a while now. They each take a quarter of the cow, my large family of mostly carnivores takes a half, and we all enjoy the discount that comes from buying a whole cow. But this means the freezer damn well has to be empty by mid-August, which means in turn that all the weird bits of the last cow, and other odds and ends that have filled the empty space as 500 pounds of meat gets down to the last couple of packages, need to get used up. Thus there's currently heart marinating in the fridge, rump roast in the slow cooker, and a large bag of miscellaneous poultry organs out to thaw. (We also have a lot of vegetables in the house, but they rarely get to the point of freezing. The Mysterious Manor House goes through a weekly CSA box pretty handily. Except for the rutabaga.)

4) Things I have loved lately: 
  • Theodora Goss's The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter, which is about the daughters of Doctor Jekyl and Mister Hyde teaming up with Justine Frankenstein and Catherine Moreau and Beatrice Rappacini - together they fight crime and build a found family. And the whole thing is written up as a novel by Catherine, but everyone else is playing peanut gallery over her shoulder so she transcribes their objections and questions in little asides, and impatiently explains to them the literary conceits that she's using. 
  • Arrival, which I watched on a long plane flight and promptly moved to the top of my Hugo list for Dramatic Presentation Long Form, and I can't believe they actually managed to film that but they did.
  • Jupiter Ascending, which I watched on the same long plane flight and adored in completely different ways: it's as delightful and cracktastic as everyone told you on Tumblr.



5) And now I need to put down Dreamwidth and go fix a small continuity error and an anachronism for the Winter Tide paperback.
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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.



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I'll be at Arisia in two weeks. I'm excited to go--it's my first time since college at one of my favorite cons, and my first time paneling there. I'll be on:


Judaism's Influence on SF/F - Adams    -  Sat 1:00 PM                      

Jewish theology and culture permeates science fiction across all mediums. What effect has Judaism had on the development of SF/F and fandom in general?

Michael A. Burstein (mod), Ruthanna Emrys, A Joseph Ross, Danny Miller, Ariela Housman


How to Be a Fan of Problematic Things – Alcott - Sun 4:00 PM

*Lord of the Rings*. *Stranger in a Strange Land*. *Scott Pilgrim vs. the World*. Many of us like things that are deeply problematic! Liking these works doesn’t (necessarily) make you a jerk. How can we like problematic things and not only be decent people, but good, social justice activists? How does one's background matter? How does one address the problems? This panel will discuss how to own up to the problematic things in the media you like, particularly when you feel strongly about them.

Gwendolyn Grace (mod), Chris Brathwaite, Ruthanna Emrys, Mink Rose, Jared Walske


Grounding Your Audience in a Sensory World – Douglas - Sun 7:00 PM                    

The five senses are appallingly underrepresented in modern fiction. Without sensory information, it's difficult to grab your audience and drag them into your protagonist's body. How do you portray senses other than sight? Can you use it to portray emotion? Where can you scrounge up alternatives for the words see, hear, feel, taste and smell, or 'sixth sense' (psychic intuition)? Come learn how to describe your world in all of its glorious, sensory detail.

Ken Schneyer, Keffy R.M. Kehril, Ruthanna Emrys, Greer Gilman, Sonya Taaffe


Routing Around Cognitive Biases – Alcott - Mon 10:00 AM   

Most of us have a friend who always plays the same lottery numbers, refuses to travel by airplane "because they're not safe," and thinks music was better when they were a kid. Your friend - indeed, most people - suffers from multiple cognitive biases. How do you make people aware of the flaws in their thinking so that they have the critical tools to avoid such biases in the future? What about the more difficult task of identifying your own biases?

Heather Urbanski (mod), Ruthanna Emrys, David G. Shaw, Stephen R Balzac, Andrea Hairston


Aside from that, I'll be wandering around the con taking advantage of their child care, trying not to spend all my money on dealer's row, and giving away "Lovecraftian Girl Cooties Posse" badge ribbons. And catching up with all my friends who very sensibly live in Boston--who's going to be there?
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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)
The first year of one's child's life is expected to be both exciting and stressful (it was).  One isn't expected to get much done other than take care of the child, and go to one's day job if one has one (I didn't).  In our case, the major reason for not getting much done was that M--while quite good at everything else--totally failed to learn to go to sleep on her own or sleep through the night. So for the past year we've had an unpredictable 1-4-hour intensive process involved in putting the baby to bed, and most nights gotten woken up by her crying 1-3 times. S, bless her, did most of the getting up and getting her back to bed, but it was still no fun for anyone.  At one point we tried the standard ferberization technique that's "supposed to" work for everyone, leaving her alone in her crib and coming in at slightly increasing intervals to check on her, which resulted in her not sleeping and being phobic of her crib for a week.

Also this year, I sold a book. This was awesome, and among other things eventually resulted in the arrival of a book advance. Part of which we spent on a sleep coach. This is possibly the best decision I've ever made short of getting married to my wife.  For the last couple of days M has fallen asleep downstairs in her own space, needing one of us in the room for less than half an hour, and slept for 11-12 hours. And taken a 2-3-hour nap in the afternoon. (Did I mention that she rarely napped, previously?) And we're less than halfway through the process that is supposed to result in a nice, easy bedtime routine and a child who can fall asleep without adult supervision.  All of a sudden, I have back 3-4 hours every evening. I can talk with my wife and read and catch up on chores and correspondence and write or edit, without feeling like every second spent on one of those is stolen from the others.

Probably someone wants to know what a sleep coach does.  About half of it is taking textbook behaviorist stuff that I could lecture on in my sleep, and explaining how to turn it into an on-the-ground intervention that I would not have been able to intuit correctly even without the sleep deprivation. Basically we're doing a variation on habit deconditioning or phobia fading--sitting a little farther away from the crib each night and providing a little less scaffolding for her falling asleep. The other half is family-specific--she talked to us about everything from when M gets fussy during the day to the fact that she may have a predisposition to anxiety, and helped us adapt techniques and figure out when in the day to apply them based on that input. If we'd known the technique, we probably could have figured everything out eventually, but it made the whole process smoother and less stressful for everyone involved.

The other other half is coaching--reassurance and on-cheering and a heads-up on what pitfalls and patterns to expect. After the fubar with the ferberization, it helped tremendously to know that we had expert back-up if something went drastically wrong again.

All of which is to say--if I've barely spoken to you for the past year, or always been rushing off somewhere when we have a moment to talk, or neglected e-mails or posts, I hope and expect that my time and energy will be much less constrained in 2016.  Ditto if I, um, owe you novel edits. Just as a hypothetical example.

But for now, I'm going to go to bed, and very likely stay there for a few hours. Best Christmas present ever!
ashnistrike: (lightning)
David Steffen, of Diabolical Plots, is kickstarting an anthology of the 2014 Hugo long list.  It's already funded at the basic level, covering the short stories, and is a couple hundred away from including the novelettes--including "Litany of Earth" as well as awesome things like Alaya Dawn Johnson's "A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai'i."

In the service of creating a proper Hugo Reading Packet for 2014, I'm offering 3 custom sonnets or sestinas for $50 backers, each coming with both paper and e-versions of the anthology.  At the same level, you could instead get one of Sam Miller's sketches of an animal of your choice working at the occupation of your choice, or you could pay a little more and get story critiques, custom audio books, and spiffy art prints.

David asked me for a reward description.


Not Exactly Shakespeare

It isn’t Shakespeare: I’ll admit as much;
They’re what I write when I’m not up for prose.
The forms of old are comfort food that shows
The tired writer hasn’t lost her touch.

But though these poems are nothing like the sun,
They might give hazy thoughts a form and shape,
Or make you laugh: give sharpness to a jape;
All poems have purpose, else they lie unspun.

I could compare your love to summer nights,
Abstract your dissertation so it scans,
Or villainous, declaim your cunning plans:
I’ll write an ode to whatever delights.

Still, I reserve the right to add my spin,
So trolls beware: the bard will always win.
ashnistrike: (lightning)
M woke up crying at 6 AM Sunday morning. After I finally got her back to sleep, I checked my phone and discovered rather more Twitter mentions than usually appear in the midnight to 6 AM window, or indeed in a single day.  I had some trouble getting back to sleep!

Many thanks to everyone who nominated "Litany of Earth" for a Hugo, and everyone else who said they would have voted for it given the opportunity.  It would have been part of a pretty sweet ballot, and I would have thoroughly enjoyed losing to Seanan McGuire's "Each to Each" or Kay Ashante Wilson's "The Devil in America."  (I still need to read Crosshill's story, and shall.)

New plan: Support E Pluribus Hugo, and write even more kick-ass, rocket-worthy stuff in the future.
ashnistrike: (lightning)
I'm delighted to announce that I'll have an original story in The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu: New Lovecraftian Fiction, which will be coming out in June 2016 in the US and April 2016 in the UK.

No Deep Ones in this story, but it does consider carefully the proper Library of Congress heading for forbidden tomes.

I'll be in excellent company:

THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF CTHULHU: NEW LOVECRAFTIAN FICTION
Paula Guran, Editor

CONTENTS

      • Laird Barron - “A Clutch”
      • Nadia Bulkin - “I Believe That We Will Win”
      • Amanda Downum - “The Sea Inside”
      • Ruthanna Emrys - “Those Who Watch”
      • Richard Gavin  - “Deep Eden”
      • Lois H. Gresh - “In the Sacred Cave”
      • Lisa L. Hannett - “In Syllables of Elder Seas”
      • Brian Hodge - “It’s All the Same Road In the End”
      • Caitlín R. Kiernan - “The Peddler’s Tale, or, Isobel’s Revenge”
      • John Langan – “Outside the House, Watching for the Crows
      • Yoon Ha Lee - “Falcon-and-Sparrows”
      • Usman T. Malik - “In the Ruins of Mohenjo-Daro”
      • Sandra McDonald - “The Cthulhu Navy Wife”
      • Helen Marshall - “Caro in Carno”
      • Silvia Moreno - Garcia - “Legacy of Salt”
      • Norman Partridge - “Backbite”
      • W. H. Pugmire - “A Shadow of Thine Own Design”
      • Veronica Schanoes - “Variations on Lovecraftian Themes”
      • Michael Shea - “An Open Letter to Mr. Edgar Allan Poe, from a Fervent Admirer”
      • John Shirley - “Just Beyond the Trailer Park”
      • Simon Strantzas - “Alexandra Lost”
      • Damien Angelica Walters - “Umbilicus”
      • Don Webb - “The Future Eats Everything”
      • Michael Wehunt - “I Do Not Count the Hours”
      • A.C. Wise - “I Dress My Lover in Yellow”
ashnistrike: (lightning)
I'm delighted to announce that I, and Winter Tide, and any other books I manage to turn out, are now represented by Cameron McClure of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.
ashnistrike: (lightning)
Story due December 1st has finally come unstuck, and now has plot and character that actually go together.  Also mysterious libraries, carnivorous books, and a sprinkling of my housemate's horror stories from rural Louisiana.
ashnistrike: (lightning)
It's 5 AM, and that's a draft.

Mr. Earbrass is also conscious of the fact that he has let his inbox get kind of out of hand during the last couple of weeks.
ashnistrike: (lightning)
Okay, it's time to do a pass for smoking, and for the minefield that is women's choices of hats (or no hats) in 1949.

Does anyone know:

...whether smoking would have been permitted in a library--in this case an ivy league academic library?

...in bookstores?

My instinct is what the hell are you thinking, but I can only just remember what it was like to have everyone smoking inside in the first place?  (It sucked, that's what I remember.  But people mostly got used to it.)
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.

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