October 30, 2012

It's almost Halloween; have some zombies!

I have a story up today at Every Day Fiction! It's a zombie love story tour through ten Los Angeles area tourist attractions. Yes, you heard me.

When I lived in Southern California I would see ads all the time that said variants on "Things to do before you die!" The qualifier (before you die) always struck me as unnecessary. Which led me inevitably to the title of this story, "10 Things to Do in Los Angeles After You Die."

And I think that pretty much says it all.

*** But wait, there's more! (This post has been edited)

This morning I learned that Mad Scientist Journal, Summer 2012 (containing my story, "Ray, Disintegrating") is available for sale as a nook book.

I also learned that Every Day Fiction will publish another story, "Like Braces for Broken Teeth," which is -- *gasp* -- not SF. Well, except for being set in the not-so-distant future. Details to follow.

October 26, 2012

Novel Writing (The Horror)

Perhaps thirty seconds ago I finished fiddling with draft three of my current novel project. Draft three of Gravity knows how many. Maybe it's because I've been working on the thing for too long, but I feel much less relief than I thought I would now.

Perhaps more than with any project I've ever written, I have no idea how to feel about it. Is it good? Is it terrible? Have I wasted a year? Draft one received very mixed reviews from my writing group, and I'm not sure that I've made it better in this version.

"They" say that novels are never finished, only abandoned. It's time to walk away from this one for a while, leaving it like an orphan on a doorstep. It hurts to think that I'll have to take it back someday, and work on it MOAR.

Like this, only scarier.

In the meantime, it's almost NaNoWriMo. Will I attempt to outline and begin a new novel in only six days? I honestly don't know right now. Maybe it's the October spookiness outside, or the ineffable doomfeel of the impending election, but I'm feeling a little on edge.

I'm feeling a little behind. I have no idea how I can feel behind on my own life, which has no firm deadlines, but there you have it. I can't believe it took a year to write three drafts of this novel, considering I almost completed draft one during last November. But I suppose life is perverse like that. For another example of perverseness, my instinctual reaction to feeling behind is to avoid working.

Yeah, I know. Get back to work.

If you have any suggestions for how to actually do that, let me know.

October 11, 2012

My abusive relationship with Sherman Alexie

I've met a lot of authors now, at conventions, readings, or in a classroom setting. For the most part I can avoid gushing like a teenage fangirl. After all, authors are just people. Even famous ones.

But for some reason, Sherman Alexie is different. He makes me nervous, and when I get around him--say, at one of the two recent Seattle readings I attended--I say silly, embarrassing things. What can I say? I just want him to like me.

Why won't you be my friend?

But he never will. Mostly because my fangirlness turns me ridiculous, but also because I am white.

In both of his recent appearances he said stunning things about white people. Things like, "You genocided a really entertaining people."

To me this feels like a slap. I have never genocided anyone. I've never even killed anyone, Indian* or otherwise. I think it should go without saying that no one is guilty of the crimes of his or her ancestors. Furthermore, I'm pretty sure my ancestors' history in this country is too short to include the genocide of which Alexie speaks. One branch of my family immigrated in the 1950s (and probably haven't killed any Indians since). But of course that's not the point.

I can't even imagine how a person of color would take Alexie's statement. Despite his assertion that Seattle is a white city, I saw many non-white faces at both of his readings. Odd that his "you" would exclude all the minorities.

The point seems to be to make white people uncomfortable. I can get behind this, on principle. After all, we're often a bit too comfortable. So when Alexie says that he assumes white Seattlites are racist, I try to look at it from outside my own reflexive defensiveness and consider that perhaps I am racist even though I don't think I am.

The point, I suppose, is to make white people feel like a minority.

But it does kind of hurt my feelings. It feels weird to admire an author who seems to hate me. Why do I do this? Oh, but I do love the words, the wonderful words. I know I'll keep going back.

* "Indian" is Alexie's term; please don't blame me for using it.

October 03, 2012

Allow me to blind you . . . with MAD SCIENCE

Just a quick post to announce that Mad Scientist Journal: Summer 2012, which contains my story "Ray, Disintegrating," is available for purchase. It's only $1.99 and available in all manner of digital formats. And it has my name in slanted text all the way across the front of it! It's almost like the editor has mistaken me for a real author.

Looking forward, my story "10 Things to Do in Los Angeles After You Die," will be up on Every Day Fiction on October 30th. It's a love story . . . that may involve some brain eating.

October 01, 2012

Everybody clap now!

I have always hated audience participation. When a performer on stage asks me to clap, or to sing a portion of the song, or to raise a finger to the sky and twirl around and pretend to get drunk, my immediate reaction is to balk like a horse asked to cross a shallow puddle.

Maybe I'm just contrary, or maybe I'm no fun. It's a possibility I've considered.

But last night I went to Amanda Palmer's show at the Neptune in Seattle, and at some point during the encore I realized that I was happily clapping, stomping, and singing when instructed to as part of an "experiment with crowd-sourced percussion."

We are the drums, too.

The whole show was a lesson for me in audience participation. It was so qualitatively different from anything I've been to before that I want to call it something else. I think I will term it audience involvement. Before the show people were invited to send in pictures that were projected during various songs. At the show there was a box for people to write specific sad stories that were then read by Palmer between songs and used in a song to pretty stunning effect. There was also a scroll of paper on which people wrote who they wanted to be, which was incorporated into the show. So was the fruit that some people had brought (though apparently not in the initial spirit of the fruit, which is still a secret), and the flashlights.

All of this was integrated seamlessly--or at least hilariously--into the experience of the evening. Though I had nothing to do with most of it, I could feel how all of this brought us together into a community, how we were all part of the concert. The division between performer and audience grew smaller, such that by the end of the night when the drummer said clap I clapped willingly. Nobody ever said, "I can't hear you!" or goaded us into doing "better." They didn't need to.

Amanda Palmer is, by any measure, a terrific performer. When she wants people to feel sad we feel sad, and then she mocks the whole concept of feelings and we laugh. As an audience member I trust her completely--something fabulous is going to happen. If I have to stomp my feet to make it happen, I will.

This is (shockingly) a lot like writing. The more trust a reader has in a writer, based on things like his or her previous works or the technical skill on display, the more crazy crap that reader will put up with, even revel in. I guess it's the same for me with audience participation.

Who knew?