lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( May. 5th, 2010 10:45 am)

Just had a surprise visit from a very nice young man from the cable company. He found the source of the persistent problem I’ve been having, and fixed it in under twenty minutes. That was nice. Between that and the absolutely fantastic run I had this morning, today is apparently going to be lucky. Maybe I should buy a lotto ticket. *snort* Nah, I’ll just settle for getting my wordcount and errands all done in today.

Here, have a link: Ilona Andrews explains further about ebook pricing and distribution.

I have to admit I was naughty yesterday after I finished wordcount. I watched Dracula 2000 again–mostly because my hairdresser friend texted me about Gerard Butler and once I started thinking about it I was helpless and HAD to watch that movie. They don’t let him talk much, which is a good thing. He’s so pretty and brooding. Then I actually picked up smoke and reread it. I don’t do that often, and of course I see glaring errors in the book and Rose irritates me almost to tears, and I want to absolutely strangle Michael every time. But I think it’s time for me to schedule in some work on avatar.

So, yes, naughty. But I got my wordcount in, and it felt good to relax a little bit. I am slowly relearning the skill of actual relaxation. I haven’t had much call to practice it in the last twenty-eight years or so, and my fumbling attempts at taking a chill or two are probably hilarious to watch. That’s okay. At least I do it at home, where looking ridiculous is sort of expected.

That being said, I’ve got more words and appointments today. So it’s back into the fray, dear ones, where I shall harvest what luck I may. Catch you later.

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Dawn came up, dancing in rose and orange veils. She seemed pretty happy, and just nodded at me while I shambled about getting my coffee and getting everyone ready for the day. I told the Princess the dawn was colorful today, and she was briefly surprised. “It’s that early? Wow. Well, mine is not to question solar activity.”

Kids are funny. We had a whole conversation about Charge of the Light Brigade last night. Mine is not to question why. That was the hallmark phrase all last night, while my friend Red watched Terminator 4 with us.

Man, even a sweaty, dirty Christian Bale couldn’t save that movie. (TJ Tradekraft says it follows some of the books pretty closely, I’ve never read them so I don’t know.) I just kept flashing back to American Psycho and sniggering, “Watch out! He’s got a coathanger!”

Today I’m going to go do something that I haven’t done in a long time. Alone. I’ve been doing a lot of things alone in the last six months. This one will actually be pleasant. I’ll report on it later.

Alone’s not so bad. And in any case, who am I to question the solar activity?

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First, the links: I did the Page 69 Test for Flesh Circus. Here’s James Scott Bell on What, Writers Worry? and Nathan Bransford on how to respond to an editorial letter. The inimitable Gillian Spraggs has more on the Google Books Settlement and Monica Valentinelli on Plagiarism and Too Much Free. I’ve been saving some of those links for a bit, things are crazy.

I was on the treadmill this morning (big surprise, I’m up to six days a week on that damn thing and wishing I could do more) and Van Morrison came on in my headphones. Singing The Philosopher’s Stone.

Even my best friends, even my best friends they don’t know
That my job is turning lead into gold
When you hear that engine, when you hear that engine drone
I’m on the road again and I’m searching for the Philosopher’s Stone.

This particular version is from the Wonder Boys soundtrack, which I happen to like a great deal. (The Bob Dylan track that opens the album is Rose’s theme song in smoke, as a matter of fact.) The movie itself, based on a Chabon book, is about a writer who’s kept hammering at a manuscript to follow up his award-winning first novel…but that’s like saying Seven Samurai is about loyalty. There’s a lot more involved.

Anyway. So there I am on the treadmill, and I realize why I like this song so much.

It’s because it’s damn right I’m looking for the philosopher’s stone. My job is to write, yes. But an artist’s job–even a hack like myself–is to transform the world. I write because I must. The world demands it. Pain and joy both demand it. I take the things that could fester and destroy me, the things I scream against, and I write to perform one of the oldest magics known. I name a thing, and that name alters the essence of the thing. I write because it’s the magic I was made to work.

Lead and gold are different things for each traveler, and the method of transmutation is different too. It’s different for each bloody pebble and chunk of lead you find. It is a most personal magic, arrived at through trial and error. One size definitely does not fit all. My lead isn’t yours. The stones I drop in the water to make soup are different from the stones you’ll use. It’s cold out on the road, and fellow travelers may not even see you–because they’re searching for their own method of transformation.

Still, it’s nice to know there are fellow travelers. And it’s good to feel a piercing joy, so sweet it makes the tears start, when you realize a fellow traveler is putting words on your own journey.

Up in the morning, up in the morning out on the road
And my head is aching and my hands are cold
And I’m looking for the silver lining, silver lining in the clouds
And I’m searching for and
I’m searching for the philosophers stone

Yeah, Van. Me too.

Me too.

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Why is it that when people ask you questions, they often don’t want an answer, they just want support? It’s getting to where I have to stop and look at people and ask, “Why did you ask if you did not want to know what I thought? If you want support, tell me you want support, but don’t waylay me with a question and then downplay what I say because you’ve made up your mind you want something specific–something else.”

I can read minds–I’m a mum, for Chrissake. But I don’t like to. It’s impolite.

This concludes my circuitous bitching about some of the stuff happening lately. *makes face*

The last couple days have been crazy. Not in a bad way, more in a “is it a full moon because I’m seeing utter weirdness” sort of way. The weirdness factor has just been through the roof. Tomorrow I’ll focus on correspondence, I swear I will. Today I’m just going to recover. (Assuming we’ve seen the high tide of weirdness, which is not always a fair assumption.)

I’ve also been watching movies at night. Wolverine was…meh. All the complexity and rage of a wonderful character, reduced to flavorless stock footage. Granted, the actors really, really tried–Liev Schreiber is a good Sabertooth, but then I’ve had a thing for him ever since A Walk On The Moon. I could also look at Sweaty!Jackman all day, but that’s just me. I just felt like the actors were struggling with a script that would not do anything but play dead. The Deadpool moments were awesome, though. I love me some Deadpool. I would have loved to see more Gambit, an extended Gambit fight scene, etc.

The other recent movie was Eastern Promises, which is another Cronenberg-Mortensen thang. Cronenberg definitely has a thing for blonde, super-thin, kitten-faced leading ladies (Maria Bello in A History of Violence, which I liked, and Naomi Watts in this movie.) I liked it a great deal, even though Kirill the Psycho Gangster (played by a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek and nutzoid Vincent Cassel) has his Moment of Epiphany a little too late in the movie to really have the ending make sense. Still, Cronenberg didn’t take the easy way out, and Mortensen turns in a scorching, beautiful performance as a sort of decent antihero in an indecent world. This is pretty much his stock in trade, King of Men notwithstanding. Plus, the DVD extras about the tattoos in Russian prisons were pretty awesome, and musecrack to the max. All in all, extraordinarily enjoyable.

Half of today is already gone and I still have mountains to climb. So, a I bid you a civil adieu. Revisions wait for no woman.

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Yeah, when you stumble to the front door to let the cats out (because, of course, they will DIE IF THEY DON’T GET OUT THIS INSTANT) and see the sunshine, hear the birds singing, and even the thought of a bowl of Cheerios is too much effort…

…then, my friend, you know you stayed up too late last night getting your heroine in trouble.

I used to be able to pull all-nighters and be fresh as a daisy afterward. Then I hit a long jag of nothing but all-nighters. (It’s called early parenthood.) And when I surfaced from that at 30 I found out I had lost that ability. My body says, “Stay up all night and expect me to work the next morning? HAHAHAHAHA! You’re joking, right?”

Of course, it could have something to do with me staying up to write fiction instead of getting into trouble myself. Perhaps my body would be happier if I was out dancing or something. I do miss dancing. However, I do not miss the boozed-up jerkwads or some DJ’s idea of “cool” music shattering my eardrums with feedback when all I want is a beat. Oh, or my ride getting drunk and leaving me stranded.

Guess I’ve just gotten old and boring. I’d rather be hitting 50K on the YA and getting my heroine shot. You know, doing actual work.

Guess this means I need to turn in my “cool mama” card. Where does one mail those things back to anyway? If I can’t find a mailing address I’m going to have to keep it and just impersonate a cool mama.

Yes, I’m in a silly mood today. Can you tell? Here, have my morning earworms: one is Cutting Crew’s “(I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight” and the other? Murray Head’s “One Night In Bangkok.” The mashup inside my head is a thing of beauty and wonder, but I can’t share it because video and audio editing software is not jacked into my brain yet. Sorry. You’ll just have to imagine.

The Internet has been all over Roger Ebert’s deliciously cranky review of the new Transformers movie. His review actually makes me want to go see it MORE, because my complaint about Transformers 1 was “Less girlfriend, more FIGHTING ROBOTS!” I don’t want fricking plot in a Transformers movie, for Chrissake. I want ROBOTS. LOTS OF ROBOTS DUKING IT OUT. I want 99.9% PURE ROBOT BATTLE. Plot is for, you know, actual stories. Not for marketing machines built on a Hasbro line, for Chrissake. (Were Transformers Hasbro? I forget.)

Okay. All silliness aside, it’s time for me to make another lunge at finishing up this book. See you around, chickadees.

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Woke up this morning with an old filk song, Kerowyn’s Ride, in my head. I was a diehard Mercedes Lackey fan for a long time, and one of the joys of having a daughter was introducing her to the Heralds of Valdemar series (the initial trilogy) and the Vanyel books. I did sometimes want to be a Herald-Mage when I was younger. And Jill Kismet owes a great debt to Diana Tregarde.

Work continues apace today. Last night while driving to the post office I was listening to KNRK’s People’s Choice countdown, and came across a remake of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” by Old School Freight Train. (You can listen to it on their Myspace page.) It’s an odd, plaintive ballad with a banjo, and the rest of the CD is just as awesome (except for the title track, Six Years, which I didn’t like.) They have become the new soundtrack for the Sekrit Project, which I got a good chunk of out last night. If I can keep up this pace I’ll be done with both projects and ready for a run at a fresh Jill Kismet before long.

But it’s going to take time, a whole lot of precious time…it’s gonna take patience and time…

God, do you remember when that video was the last word in special effects? Whoa. Incidentally, this song along with Ringo Starr’s remake of You’re Sixteen, are the themes of the new Dru book. Along with Believe from Run Lola Run. (Is now the part where I say I was a Franka Potente fan back before it was cool to be one?) Anyway, if you listen in the last half of Believe you can hear Christophe whispering to Dru.

All right. Break’s over, all. Back on my head.

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Cross-posted from Deadline Dames, where there is a fiction contest and tips from a contest judge up this week. Go take a look!

Two quick things today, because there is a certain birthday party I must be prepared for. It’s not anyone’s birthday, but we’ve scheduled the party today, which works out well for all concerned.

Right now I’m reading John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In, the book the Tribeca-award-winning movie is based on. The premise is good, the story is tightly-interwoven and slow-paced but well done. There are things I don’t like about the book itself. Some of them are translation things, things that you can’t avoid with a book that’s been brought out of another language. Some of the others are stylistic, like the author’s apparent love affair with ellipses. I use too many ellipses myself–my beta has to ruthlessly step on their heads lest they breed–and I understand Lindqvist was trying to capture the way people really talk. That’s the trouble with dialogue. You have to walk that line between how you know people actually talk, with all the ums, ahs, and the things left unsaid, and balance that against what dialogue needs to be, a revealing and unfolding within the story.

It’s a hard act.

Which brings me to the intentional mistake. After you’ve been writing for a while (I want to say ten thousand hours, because I’ve read Outliers recently too, but maybe it’s between five and eight thousand) you start seeing the mistakes a little differently. Once you have the basics down and begin to have a good solid grasp of craft, then you can start breaking the rules.

Just like in life, breaking the rules to break them is a stupid kid’s game with unintended consequences. Knowing the rules and breaking them to effect is something else entirely. Stephen King talks about this in On Writing, one of the only two writing books I will ever recommend.

I am willing to put up with what I see as Lindqvist’s mistakes in this book because he has vouched in other ways that he knows the rules and he’s breaking them for a reason. The rest of the book is good enough that I can overlook the ellipses. There is a lesson in this. Readers are very forgiving if you give them a reason to be. Don’t abuse their trust, and they will follow you down the dark road of a book.

The other thing I want to talk about today is truth. Lindqvist’s book is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. Some of the main characters are children, but it would never be published as a Young Adult novel.

As a writer getting into YA now, I’m running up against some of the conventions of the genre. Well, not exactly conventions. I am running up against the laudable adult urge to protect the young, and the not-so-laudable urge to censor what is said to them.

In my house, we have a “reach it and read it” policy. If you can reach it, you can read it. If you can’t reach it–get a stepstool! I do not believe in censoring my childrens’ experience with the written word. Are there things I wish they wouldn’t read? You betcha. Do I put those books out of reach?

I do not.

Instead, I keep track of what the kids are reading, and I talk to them about it. The conversations are alternately funny (like when Astronomy Girl ran across a fade-to-black sex scene in a book and asked me what “orgasm” meant) and terrifying, like when the UnSullen was reading Food of the Gods and started asking me about hallucinogens.

Ah, the joy of parenting.

In each case I firmly believe in telling the truth in the straightest, most age-appropriate, and simplest way possible. This is, I think, the best policy. (Obviously, or I wouldn’t be doing it.) The more armed with simple knowledge my young oes are, the less danger there is of them doing something stupid. I mean, we all have lapses in judgment. That is not the exclusive province of the young.

But one is far less likely to have a stupid lapse in judgment if one has been calmly given straight answers. And kids who get straight answers, who know they can go to an adult and ask difficult, ticklish questions, are far more likely to check in when something happens they’re unsure of. Check in, that is, before the situation becomes an unholy tangle.

The best way to protect the young, then, happens to be not censoring the information given to them so much. Kids are smart and they love to learn (until the public school/jungle system beats it out of them, but that’s another blog post). They want to ask adults questions, and they want straight answers. A kid who doesn’t feel alone and adrift is a kid who is going to talk to someone before they go and do something silly, at least most of the time. Age-appropriate doesn’t have to mean “complete blackout of information”.

This is why I’m feeling okay and not so okay about my forays into YA. On the one hand, I feel like I have something of value to impart, a story to share with younger readers. On the other hand, dealing with a lot of forces who want kids kept in the dark about a lot of things–sex, drug use, violence, abuse–for a variety of reasons, whether to “protect” them or because of an adult’s profound discomfort with kids knowing about the darker things in life…well, it gets wearying. The fear in the publishing industry of being “too edgy” and setting off some of the more conservative elements in our society is immense. The writer gets asked to change things, to dial it back and not be so direct. Sometimes it’s necessary, sometimes it’s not.

There’s a fine line to walk there, too. You need to know when you’re too attached to something that doesn’t really move the story along. Conversely, you need to not give in when someone is asking you to bullshit for the sake of selling more books or not pissing someone off. The two are not mutually exclusive, and they’re hard to tell apart.

Telling the truth in this way is difficult. It’s dangerous. But I think it’s worth it. My kids are worth the truth. I think every kid out there is. It doesn’t mean I have to force the knowledge of the darker side of the world on them, but it does mean that I have a trust (I would go so far as to call it sacred) to tell the truth when I’m asked, and when the occasion calls for it.

Why else would I do this job?

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Mar. 11th, 2009 10:05 am)

No, it’s not so fine sometimes. But when it’s good…well, then it’s the best.

Back soon.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Mar. 10th, 2009 11:57 am)

I’ve finished the first pass of revisions for SA 2, and now I’m embarking on the second, more fine-tooth-comb pass. So, erm, I’ll be back in a bit.

Last night I took the Princess (who wishes to be referred to as Astronomy Girl from here on out) to see Coraline. She absolutely loved it, and if she is Good (and when is she not? Both my kids are very, very Good) I will buy her the book and maybe introduce her to some other Gaiman. (Suggestions welcome. My favorite is American Gods, but I’m told I’m in a minority.) I was pleasantly surprised to find that the movie didn’t ask adults to check their brains at the door, and of course it’s almost impossible to mess up such wonderful work as Gaiman does.

Okay. I’m outie. Hacking at the jungle of prose…

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)


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