The Writing Process Blog Tour: Wherein below ye will find a cat, wine, fountain pens, and scissors.

Baby is a major part--or rather, she makes herself a major part--of my process.
Baby is a major (or rather, she makes herself) part of my process.

My friend J. T. Glover tagged me in a literary meme/chain mail/blog tour thing going around called the Writing Process Blog Tour. I really enjoyed his responses, which can be read here. In it he coins the term “anti-bildungsroman,” discusses his affinity for place in his work, and unpredictability of the writing process over all.  Before I take a stab at it myself, I want to tag New North Country Girl, who is one of my favorite bloggers of all time. I’m looking forward to her take on these questions.

Right, so….

1) What am I working on?

Taking tasting notes for Vintage Scenes #2.
Taking tasting notes for Vintage Scenes #2.

Short stories. Most currently I’ve been working on Vintage Scenes, a series of light vignettes focusing on specific bottles of wine.  I’ve only written two so far, but I am hoping to write one for each issue of MUNGBEING magazine, which is closing its doors next year. The latest, “VINTAGE SCENES #2: 2010 Bernkasteler Lay Riesling Spätlese” takes place in Bavaria and can be tasted here.

I am really enjoying writing these stories. My wonderful editor Mark Givens is giving me free-reign to do whatever I want with each story, as long as it integrates the bi-monthly theme, and it has been refreshing to indulge in and switch through various modes of storytelling outside of my normal weird stuff.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Yeah, I don’t know that I’ve been at this long enough to respond to a question like this.

Hmmm…well, I first had to ask myself what is my genre? I think there is a common misconception from my involvement with previous Steampunk projects that I only work within that genre, but I think I am mostly a horror girl, or maybe a weirdie. Even my steampunk stories are more Gothic and weird than science fiction or fantasy. I don’t like fetishizing or explaining things away–I like for there to be poetry. I don’t think I am alone in that, so I’m unsure that makes me differ from the genre, but that is what I strive for and so surely that ends up becoming something of a distinctive feature. That, and I mostly write about women and things I find personally scary about womanhood like childbirth and chemicals. I have a few stories in forthcoming anthologies like THE DARKE PHANTASTIQUE and STARRY WISDOM LIBRARY that express that mode more than what is out there currently.

And then there are the Vintage Scenes which have nothing to do with any of the above…so…maybe my work is different because it has serious marketing label commitment issues.

An image from when I was writing "Wandering Spirits: Traveling Mary Shelley's Frankenstein." Shows how I would cut-up, throw away, and re-arrange my penultimate drafts.
An image from when I was writing “Wandering Spirits: Traveling Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” Shows how I would cut-up, throw away, and re-arrange my penultimate drafts.

3) Why do I write what I do?

Why not?

If I am writing about something, it is because it interests me; if it doesn’t, I don’t.

4) How does my writing process work?

Very slowly, with a lot of research and a lot of editing.  In most cases, I end up putting a piece through at least ten drafts, the first few being handwritten, typed, then scribbled all over again, and which makes the prospect of novel-writing kind of terrifying.

My favorite part of my process is where I feel like I have everything down, but perhaps it is not arranged as well or tightly as it should be, and I start cutting the entire thing up into paragraph and sentence-sized puzzle pieces. Everything usually ends up fitting quite well after that.

Thanks, Tzara, Burroughs, and my mom (who actually was the first of the three to teach me about cutting things up, and who finalized her dissertation in this tape and scissors manner) for showing me the way.

Love Is The Law: An appreciation

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So my iPad flips things….

I read Nick Mamatas’ LOVE IS THE LAW in one sitting, and have been mulling over what to say about it for months. This book– just like Mamatas’ other books BULLETTIME, MOVE UNDER GROUND, and all of his short stories–stick with you. I don’t think it is because of off-beat characters or novel mash-up concepts, all of which are very good, but it is the authenticity of the voice he uses.

Dawn (the LITL protag)’s voice is so authentic that what I have been preoccupied with since reading it is whether to believe her or not. Obviously, the unreliable narrator is a trope of confessional stories, but what makes Dawn interesting is her voice reminds me of a certain kind of conviction found in sociopaths, schizophrenics, and religious zealots. They believe what they perceive, and don’t even consider convincing anyone of the truth (usually) because they see it before them–the truth is already there. You don’t see it, but they sure do, and they develop a genius for describing and understanding it.

Have you ever spoken to someone convinced of their beliefs?  For example, someone who says they talk to God, and further more God responds.  When I ask people what this is actually like—do they really have JC or Yahweh on speed dial?–the explanations are always different, and are always found in the reading of the mundane. A sign can be two missionaries approaching a farmer on his land just as he prayed to God for some extra hands, or words that unfolded from the unconscious brain lobes like a fortune cookie. One woman I’ve met who claimed herself a medium told me you could invoke spirits of loved ones (even living ones) by imitating their mannerism until the mannerism became natural….

And I believe all of them. I don’t believe that circumstances are what they think they are, but I believe they believe it is so.

I don’t get this conviction from other dubious narrators I’ve read in the past. With characters like Bateman and Humbert, I feel like they are just screwing with the reader. I feel like Dawn sincerely wants you to know her tale, as delusional as it may seem to us on the outside.

And whether we recognize it or not, we all talk a little crazy. We all read the world formed by our own language. For example, Freedom is a concept like Magick—who is to say either or both exists or don’t—we make them exist by transmuting the abstract into the concrete—we believe.

So, the book made me think about that, and I thought that was pretty cool.

I also really liked the juxtaposition of socialism, punk, and Alistair Crowley not because it is novel, but because I think that is another truth to the character and about any individual belief system. We’re all mash-up characters. A person is composed of her own private belief system comprised of myriad ideas.  Having a complex and polyamorous marriage of ideas and beliefs is what makes us complex and hard-to-pin down creatures.  For some reason, it is almost impossible to write characters true to life because of this–it is believed readers want it short and simple. But Dawn has a very developed conviction and it makes her background and psychology quite complex among fast-paced plotting.

She Walks In Shadows Stretch Goal Aimed at Illustrators

She Walks In Shadows Stretch Goal Aims at Illustrators

A few days ago, the indiegogo campaign to fund the first all-ladies anthology featuring all stories about Lovecraft’s women was fully funded! Now, with about 66 hours left, the campaign has kicked into a stretch-goal of $9,000 before it closes. That extra grand will go towards commissioning illustrations from female artists, and it looks like there’s only about $500 more to go before that is achieved.

I am afraid I do not know details about artist selection/submission, and all that, and that should be taken up with editor Silvia Moreno-Garcia, but I am really looking forward to seeing women illustrators represented in this sandbox, as they are perhaps even more overlooked in Lovecraftiana than female writers.

I know I’ve said it before, but I am excited to be a part of a very impressive TOC, and I wouldn’t be doing it without Silvia’s leadership and our readers support–so, a big thank you to everyone who tolerated my blasting of this campaign, who shared and linked to it, and the biggest thanks of all to everyone who threw their money at it.

Vintage Scenes and Stuckism in Mungbeing 54: New Directions

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The bottle that inspired my new story “Vintage Scenes #1: Bandol, Chateau La Rouvière, 2002” appearing in Mungbeing magazine.

After ten years of keeping the fringe and avant-garde alive and well, Mungbeing magazine has launched its final year with Issue 54: New Directions.  Editor Mark Givens has launched Pelekinesis, a small press that is specializing on promoting independent artists and writers across the myriad publishing platforms, and will be hanging the Mungbeing hat up to focus more on that.  But, Mungebeing has had an incredible history tackling many topical themes, and helping to bring to light underground and unclassifiable work under one roof.

I actually discovered Mungbeing through  Stuckism, when the magazine ran a Stuckist and Outsider Art Issue.  Throughout college, I was obsessed with movements like Stuckism and Kitsch, and even tried to start a Florida Stuckist group with a one-time issue online zine. Alas, it didn’t stick. However, I believe my interest in Stuckism and Remodernism shaped much of my sensibilities that have allowed me to appreciate, enjoy, and participate in retro movements like Steampunk.

Stuckism is now 15 years old, and this issue has an impressive amount of material covering the movement including exclusive art, interviews, and footage from people who have championed and observed the movement.

This issue also happens to have the first of my new series Vintage Scenes that involve pairings of a specific bottle of wine with a happening. Some of the stories are fictional memoir, others not so much, but one thing you can count on, the centerpiece of these stories have been or will be enjoyed by yours truly. This story focuses on the changing wine industry, and the best damn wine I’ve ever had, a 2002 Bandol which I actually drunk with my husband in a Genevan hotel after visiting Mont Blanc. God, memories in a bottle! You can read them here.

Dive by Post: Feature on Stone Skin Press for THE NEW GOTHIC

Sleepy Selena wants to share a thing before she slips off to miscount sheep.

Stone Skin Press is excerpting “Dive In Me,” a story Jesse Bullington and I wrote about growing up SO(thern) GOTH and grunge in the 90s. It is the opener to THE NEW GOTHIC, edited by the awesome Beth Lewis, and is on sale now.

Jesse and I actually grew up in the same small times town in Northern Florida, and shared a similar taste in flannel, boots, and mischief, if I recall. This story encapsulates a bit of that along with a composite of the adolescent girls we once knew.  The title, for reasons that will be seen in the story, was inspired by Nirvana’s “Dive.”

There are plenty of awesome authors in this collection like Ramsey Campbell, Damien Kelley, Lauren Ellen Joyce, Richard Dansky, and more.  I, personally, can’t wait to check out everyone else’s contribution.

Woo-boy. Neuron switches are being flipped one by one. Thanks for shutting the place down with me. I’m diving in and out. Good night, folks!

An Eddy Poe Birthday: Events, fan art, and cake

Today is Edgar Allan Poe’s 205th birthday.  This is one of those occasions where I make profuse apologies for not having a proper post prepared. Seriously, I do have some notes laying around about Poe’s ubiquitous presence in pop culture as well as some snarky remarks about recent Poe appearances in certain films that are available on Netflix, but that will have to wait until I finish a few other things.

Meanwhile, I did recover this painting I did in high school illustrating his poem “Lenore,” and I thought it’d be a nice placeholder for now.

Lenore Illuminated, by Selena Chambers.  “Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and hated her for her pride, “And when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her — that she died! “How shall the ritual, then, be read? — the requiem how be sung “By you — by yours, the evil eye, — by yours, the slanderous tongue “That did to death the innocence that died, and died so young?”
Lenore Illuminated, by Selena Chambers.
“Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and hated her for her pride,
“And when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her — that she died!
“How shall the ritual, then, be read? — the requiem how be sung
“By you — by yours, the evil eye, — by yours, the slanderous tongue
“That did to death the innocence that died, and died so young?”

Most of my paintings make me cringe when I see them, but I kind of like this one because of the sausage curls. I was only able to scan a portion of it, but the entire poem is inscribed on the canvas in gold. This was done around 1998/99 when gel pens were new-fangled and mostly metallic and everyone in art school was obsessed with those Griffin & Sabine books….  Eh-yeah, I thought I was really doing something illuminating acrylic canvas boards.

Anyway, as usual, there are some really neat events happening up north.  Poe Forevermore has a really comprehensive list on their website, but I thought I’d highlight a few here.

Poepathists in the Boston area should check out The Edgar Allan Poe Foundation of Boston’s panel discussion about The Poe Statue Project, a dynamic public art project that will commemorate Bean town as Poe’s birthplace.

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In Philadelphia, the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site is putting “The Tell-Tale” murderer on trail.  Visitors will be the jury, and my friend and gentleman scholar Ed Pettit will be judging the murders plea By Reason of Insanity at 1:30 pm.

Also, the Independence National Historical Park is celebrating both Poe and Benjamin Franklin’s days as well as their contribution to publishing.

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And it isn’t a birthday party without cupcakes!

F. O. Friday: Net Neutrality and Writers

Let’s face it. It’s Friday and your mind just isn’t on your work. Let me offer you some time-passing and hopefully enlightening distractions via F. O. Friday.

Seriously, browse all you can, because days of Internet goofing-off at the office may be over.  That’s right, the FCC executed net neutrality last Tuesday, and there have been a lot of articles sussing out what this means to free speech, to small business, and to consumers.

Whether we are bibliophiles or writers, we spend a lot of our time on the Internet pursuing and sharing our passions, and so as someone who falls into both of the above categories, I wondered what net neutrality might mean to us literati folks.  The below links attempt to paint a picture and are worth perusing:

First, what is net neutrality? This piece at The Atlantic was pretty ok and not hysterical.

Melville House discusses possible effects on indie bookstores.

Cory Doctorow explores the history and paltry language of the original rules at Boing Boing.  I also stumbled across an older piece by Doctorow for Locust that pertains specifically to writers.

Josh Stearns discusses the freedom of press and future of journalism at PBS.org.

And the Writers Guild of America are not pleased.

So, yeah, this is bad.  All is not lost, though.  Free Press has set up an easy petition form to complete and help people to speak out.  If you disagree with the net neutrality decision, please take a moment to fill it out.