Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Friday, June 24, 2011

What's the Plan, Man? Here's the plan:

So, I'm taking a moment on a pirate WiFi signal that magically appeared while I was sitting down for a minute to rest after spending all sorts of annoying time piling all of my precious books into boxes to move from Alpharetta to Decatur.

Let me tell you about housing and renting prices in Atlanta. I'm moving from a one-bedroom apartment to a two bedroom. I'm saving about 10 % of my rent making this move into a new neighborhood that's about the same as this one, except that it's closer to all the places I like to hang out. (Little Shop of Stories...Noodle... Decatur Farmer's Market... Shambala Buddhist Center... a very pleasant Catholic Church in Stone Mountain...) It's also in a part of the city that is actually more centralized and more likely to offer work. Out on the fringe of North Atlanta is yuppie country, with golf clubs and the "nice" Wal-Marts. Not exactly an economic hub for the sort of things I'm looking to do. I only lived here, at all, because it was close to a job that has since dried up.

The only thing I think I'll really miss is the amazing Indian restaurant across the street.

It's weird to move into a better town, and a two-bedroom apartment, for quite a bit less than I'm paying for a one-bedroom up here in the yuppie end of town.

I'm really excited by this move.

In the mean time, expect contact from me to spotty for a week or two. Almost as soon as I finish moving, I'm traveling to Maine for my final semester of Stonecoast. I'll be giving a presentation on the more practical stuff on creating Mosaic Fictions to my fellow Stonecoasters, and introducing a very talented writer named Zachary Jernigan at his graduate reading.

When I get back into town, I'll be looking for work, particularly part-time work. I've got enough writing projects right now to make me want to tear my hair out some nights, but this is exactly why I need a part-time job. I need to be able to say "no" to things, and I need to be forced away from my computer screen for a few hours a day. If anyone has any leads, just drop me a line.

In the mean time, expect a slow signal from here.

One of the things I'm working on, by the way, is a review of this excellent little eBook:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Over at Apex...

First, I reviewed Eric Basso's BEAK DOCTOR, and I liked it:

Style and substance, inextricably linked together in the form of fiction, occasionally make strange bedfellows. For instance, approaching the truly horrific with the plain, mechanical prose popularized in pseudo-Hollywood thrillers does not truly frighten or unsettle or make strange. Rather, what happens is the lens itself normalizes the experience. By approaching the unknown through such familiar formula, the reader is not thrown akimbo, but allowed to maintain a sense of comfort even in the mouth of hell. Basso, no stranger to horror aficionados but new to my bookshelf,  eludes me. I’ve read his collection The Beak Doctor: Short Fiction 1972-1976(Leaping Dog Press, 2005) three times this year. It isn’t very long, and it is the kind of book that merits careful study.

Read the rest over there:

In other news, Apex has secured a National and International Distribution Contract with a big league distributor. Their seeking peerbacking to offset the sort of loans and investments required to ramp up their operation to that level in a month.

Do consider dropping a few dollars their way, if you're interested in seeing MAZE in nearly every bookstore in the country. This deal pending has held up the release date for MAZE. Personally, I'd rather launch the book with national distribution from a major distributor than early without.

I know some of you don't like waiting so long for MAZE when you heard it would be out in April, and we're working on something to address that concern. Just hold out a little longer, and I'll let you know what it is, exactly.

Also, and just an addendum, while I was putting the review together for Beak Doctor, I found a totally awesome costume! 

I want it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I Know What You Are: You're a Nowhere Kid

What is the mindscape of a Nowhere Kid. You know what a Nowhere Kid is? It's the lost ones, sexually abused, disassociated, drugged-out, dropped-out, gone. I borrow the term from Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa, a film that has a group of violent, dangerous, anarchist kids living in junk cars and big spare tires out in the desert, stealing bags of beans from people that don't have much. All of them runaways, abuse victims, waste-outs, gone.

Gone. That's the story of Orange. She's gone. She's runaway. She's disassociated. She's running through the dark with creeps and charismatic drug-addict vampires. Are they vampires, or are they just looking for the only explanation for what they are? ESP is what you feel when you separate and cast your long, hard gaze inward into your own sense of disassociation. The mind reaches out demanding a connection to the world. Finding none, it invents connections. Drugs don't help much.

What is the mindscape of the broken and the damned in the shadow of the consumerist dream, feeding off the scraps of society at twenty-four hour convenience stores and truck stops and drinking blood and drifting in and out of the flow of life with ESP and searching for a sister and drinking blood and using each other's bodies and drinking blood and the vampires are out there, in the nowhere places, slipping in and out of the edge of society, predators after prey, prey running from predators.

did I even read this book? is this the kind of book that can be read, or is it something inhaled like methamphetamines? Words of darkness and the end of the world straight mainline to the brainpan.

There's a rock show going down right now in an abandoned building.

Scrounged is better than bought. Sponging is better than working. DIY perverts cut adrift, foster care kids propping up the misery of the trucking industry with sex and death.

Orange is looking for her sister, Kim. Orange is out there looking through the wires and dangerous, deadly, messed-up stuff that is out among the nowhere kids, living with them, being with them.

Look out, Orange. Look out, Kim. Look out, kids.

Eat this book. Orange Eats Creeps by Grace Krilanovich from Two Dollar Radio, 2011.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Narrative Breeds Narrative

So, there’s the story told by the events that happen which are reported upon. Then, there’s the story that’s told by the events that happen being connected together into a narrative for consumption. (Often, these first two stories are told hand-in-hand, but occasionally the way one receives event reportage does not involve a whole news article. Rather, it may just involve a headline or a tweet.) That’s not all. There’s also the story that connects the connected story into a higher narrative in the zeitgeist. For example, any story about a sex scandal among politicians is part of the zeitgeist of powerful men who engage in selfish, sexist, or hypocritical behavior. Out from this are angle stories that focus on specific periphery characters to flesh out the scene presented.  For instance, the only time most political wives and mistresses are newsworthy is when their husbands are publicly apologizing to them. After all the events happen, or even as they are happening, editorialists will analyze the events from their particular slant. I’m sure I could keep layering on levels of narrative on top of narrative on top of narrative to continue describing all the layers of a “story” as it appears in the “news”.

In all this, a web of media narrative happens, tumbling forward from the mere reporting of events, into the appearance of a whole series of discoveries and compromises, as the weight of story creates more story and adjusts to fit into the network of other stories.

I mention this because it doesn’t just happen in the news.

There's the narratives of the author's book, then of the author, then the narratives constructed by the story of the critical reception, the story of what people talk about when they talk about your characters or plot, then of the author's public appearances, then of the blog, the friends, what your friends say about the book, then the narratives that you feel are influenced by the book or that influence the book, then the narrative of books as they relate to other books in the author's career. Oh, there's more. There's a narrative in every conversation, or pieces of them tumbling through the zeitgeist half-formed, malformed, broken and still spilling into the aether of life whole across space and time.

There are all narratives that influence the interpretation of the book, the author, the place they have in the world of books and the world beyond books.

Every book, every creative act, every act that works for change in the world, creates a spiraling sea of narratives peripherally related to the central one.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mercy Street

by Peter Gabriel, about Anne Sexton

Be merciful while I'm off-line, away from here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

All the Gold and the Guns couldn't get me on-line long enough to blog.

Writing, Moving, Prepping for my last Stonecoast Residency...

I'm down. I'm down.

Monday, June 6, 2011

"God Does Not Want You to Be a Punching Bag"

I think I mentioned that I'm getting married, one of these minutes. Still working out the details, and all that, but one detail that we recently worked out was pre-marital seminars with the Catholic Church. We did 7 hours of Pre-Cana Counselling in one day, with various volunteers from the local diocese. (I'm Catholic, and my future wife is not. But, she is very understanding about my desire for a Catholic service.)

Lots of stuff and information was delivered to us. One quote really stood out. A Franciscan Brother who works with the Marriage Tribunal for Annulment proceedings made it absolutely, abundantly clear to the whole room that if a marriage turns out to be an abusive one, it is not a valid one and repeated a couple times that "God does not want you to be a punching bag." It didn't matter whether that was for emotional, verbal, or physical abuse. "God does not want you to be a punching bag!"

The Catholic church, I must admit, has given some people I know some bad advice a few decades ago, and I'm glad to see that's changed. I've had this phrase bouncing around my head all weekend. It's something that's true in your work life, as well. If you work for abusive people, God does not want you to be a punching bag. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, get out because God does not want you to be a punching bag.

Canon law, I think, should include this phrase somewhere. Why doesn't the Baltimore Catechism include this simple, important idea? Why can't we add it to the Bible somewhere, in one of the Letters of Paul? There's been so much funny business with the Word of God as it gets translated in and out of so many dead languages and toyed with by new generations with such good intention behind their changes, I think there's room for a simple addition that "God does not want you to be a punching bag."

"God Does Not Want You To Be a Punching Bag" belongs on T-Shirts. Such a simple, clear message, and so many useful social applications as a dogma. When one finds oneself in an abusive situation, getting out is okay.

Jesus was the martyr, so you don't have to be one when it means is using you as a punching bag.

I certainly like it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Good Example Why Publishers Are Still Important

So, I bought an ad at one of my favorite magazines, Fantasy Magazine, a while back. Just a small one, to run for a couple months under the assumption that people who like my books will probably also like my favorite magazines. I sent over the money, and alerted my editor that I was going to need an ad to run right at that particular size.

That was it. The ad was handled by the publisher. All I did was let them know I had picked up the space.

I know, ideally, the publisher would pay for the ads but I'm basically an Indie Author without a huge following, and I'm also not exactly writing bestsellers. I'm willing to invest time and money in my own publicity and marketing, and I don't think it's unreasonable to pick up a few advertisements to promote my book while I help out my favorite publications!

If I was self-publishing, I would have had to either beg or bribe someone to put together a professional-looking advertisement. I think we all know that my graphic design skills are lacking. (Evidence: investigate the book cover I put together in MS Paint with some art I was able to beg from Flying Tangerine Studios, a.k.a. my lovely and generous fiance.) If I had tried to do that myself, it would have been a hassle of calling in favors and/or frantically wrestling with MS Paint to create something not-completely-embarrassing. Instead, because NEVER KNEW ANOTHER is out from Nightshade Books, all I had to do was alert the publicity person, Liz Upson, and it happened like magic.

We need publishers, still, and will continue to need them because there are skills authors don't have, and probably shouldn't have. Writing is time-consuming enough. Partnering with a publisher is a great way to maximize my time so I can spend more of it doing exactly what I'm doing right now, this afternoon: writing!

Hi-ho, Hi-ho, Back to the word mines I go...