Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Packing (9.23.14)

Today I started digging into the packing up of All The Things. (There was a little panic involved. Because reasons. Actually, because there are only seven days left in the month and any negotiation about our current living situation has been curtailed.)

Some of the things I started packing was my small collection of books. And looking at the things I have held onto made me think about what an impact those books have had on me. Books that make me sigh or smile or ache when I find them in the big tubby in the closet. (I grew up in a house with a shit-ton of books, but current living situation doesn't allow me to collect without limits and even those I can keep are in storage conditions.)

There was/is a meme going around about the 10 books you've read that stuck with you.
This is not that.
Because reasons. (Ahem. No one tagged me and I don't know how many books are going to be on this list or even if I can tell you why.)

But here are some of what I have chosen to keep. In no particular order.

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. I actually have three Bradbury books - Something Wicked, From the Dust Returned and Somewhere A Band is Playing. I've read a lot more of his short stories and novels, but these are the three I love so much that they have to stay in my collection.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. It is an amazing book in which everything and absolutely nothing happens in the space of 24 hours. 

The Trial Begins by Abram Tertz/Andrei Sinyavsky. I do not remember exactly how I found this book, but the short novel that makes up the first half is lovely and surreal. 

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. Classic. I love the style of it. It's also the only one of his novels I've actually read. 

Norstrilia by Cordwainer Smith/Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger. Another book I love for the style of the words on the page. 

Julius Ceaser by William Shakespeare. Because Shakespeare. 

Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney. It's pretty fantastic. I read Heaney in college for a class. Also read some other translations of Beowulf before, but this one is just fantastic. 

The Children of Men by P.D. James. This one makes me hurt to read it, but I love it anyway. 

There are others, but these are the ones that I dust off before putting them in a new box and promise myself I'll read them again soon. Soon. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Nerves (9.21.14)

I have an old neck injury that sometimes causes problems. What with RL stress this year, it's been flaring up with a vengeance. The past few weeks I've had pinched-nerve headaches every day. (Not always all day, but for several hours out of every day and some days the pain never stopped.) This morning it got really bad - nausea, tingling on the left side of my face, sparkles in my vision - it wasn't fun. Fortunately, because I know more or less where the problem is, I was able to do some careful stretching and take some aspirin (because I have heavier stuff, but it knocks me on my ass) and eventually get to a point where I could move around without feeling like I would puke all over everything.

Now, feeling a little wobbly and exhausted, I'm trying to catch up on All The Things.

This week I've been working on a super-secret project. AKA: Something written under a different pen name. There are reasons. The primary one being a higher percentage of scenes in which the characters get naked than in what I've written before.

I don't censor myself much so the stories I write which have sex (or violence or swearing or trolls or housecats, etc) can be no-holds barred. This doesn't mean that every novel I write will have rampant sex (or violence or swearing or trolls or housecats, etc). I write what's necessary for the story. Sometimes that's a character winding up partially paralyzed. Sometimes it's a pair of characters getting naked repeatedly.

Anyway. I got a fair chunk written on this super-secret thing and I really like it. It's not likely to be a novel, but should be a solid little novella by the time I get the last 5-6 scenes written.

But, the really interesting thing, is finding that disassociating myself from the content a little does seem to let my imagination run a little further. I am not second-guessing the plot nearly as much as usual. Maybe it's just a better plot. (It involves zombies. Out west. I doubt it's a better plot, but you never know.) I suspect, that knowing that my "real name" won't be on the cover has let me write with less criticism.

And that's interesting. Because, like I said before, I don't censor much. I do maintain a general awareness of the marketability of a story. When in doubt I might ask for second opinions on whether it's going too far. (When I was writing "Legacy" for the upcoming The Beast Within 4: Gears and Growls I emailed the editor to say "Hey. I think one of my characters is going to eat a piece of one of the other characters. Is that going to be too much?") But I try not to cut my creativity off at the knees by deciding ahead of time that I shouldn't write something.

I mean, within reason. A splatter-punk book featuring all the people in my life I feel have done wrong by me is a bad idea.

And it's safe to say I've written a few bad stories. Ideas that just didn't work on the page or wound up being some sort of message-driven wankery. (You know we all get that way sometimes, but those stories are best shelved, trunked or burned with fire.) But I try really hard to put everything down on the paper and then decide where the bones of a story lie and what's just fat.

But I still worry about certain things. I hesitate to confirm choices I know are right for the character. (Does anyone really need to know this character is gay? Is this character really that desperate?) I gloss over flaws or emotionally wrenching scenes because deep down I worry that it will be too much. And also because I worry that my word skillz (yes, with a zee) are just not up to the task.

Removing myself a step from the equation seems to have alleviated some of that fear. It could be temporary. Or a side-effect of the stress. Or maybe it's just the beginning of a growth spurt wherein I realize that I'm not writing for people who will judge me for what I choose to put down on the page, but for those who will appreciate the grit that comes with the territory of telling a story that feels real. And more naked scenes.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Newly Available! (9.15.14)

Things have been busy around here. I've been working on two different projects for the other pen name and gearing up to start releasing my previously published work in ebook format.

The Collections Agent is available now from Kobo. (You can also purchase it from Inktera, iBooks or Nook.com. Or read it via Scribd.) If you like it (or if you hate it) you can always rate it or leave a review over at Goodreads.

In the Cool of the Day will be available tomorrow from Kobo. (It will also be available from Inktera, iBooks or Nook.com, and Scribd, once the files are approved.) 

You can look for individual editions of Insomnia and Happy After All to be released in a month or so. I am planning a single volume collection (that would also include things too short to make good individual ebooks and possibly a few unpublished things), but I have no specific timeline on that release.

In the meantime, I'm writing writing writing in between being busybusybusy. As usual.

Happy Monday!