I’m back from my Florida semi-vacation. Some medical stuff in the family, as usual, so I went down to help out my mom. She’s fine—she pulled through her end of things like a champ! She’s one tough lady.

Let’s see…

I realized the other day that I’ve sold over twenty short stories in the last five years. Given how slowly I write, that’s a really exciting figure! Some of those short stories have been sold but not announced—at least two, maybe three? I’m terrible at keeping track of that stuff. Anyways, announcements on things as I can, obviously. Whee!

triathloatA week ago last Sunday (meaning September 21st) I completed my first sprint triathlon! It was pretty much the greatest thing in the world, I’ll definitely be doing more in future. And not only did I complete it, I got the times I wanted.

My goal for this was first and foremost to finish, but I also wanted to do it under two hours. That meant, knowing my athletic ability, I needed to finish the swim in under 20 minutes, the ride in under an hour, and the run in under 40 minutes. I did all of it! And I wasn’t totally wiped out, after, nor was I particularly sore. My hips were stiff, and my knees complained a little but that’s to be expected for me. All in all, it was a great experience, and I’ll definitely do another tri with Without Limits, and maybe some others. I’d be curious to do an Olympic some day.

Sprint Triathlons are:

1/2 mile swim

12.something mile ride (mine was 12.9)

5k run

Olympic/Standard Tris are:

.93mi swim

25mi bike ride

1ok run

So, a nice increase in my best event, swimming, but also an increase in my worst event, running. But, my plan is to keep up on running this winter and increasing gradually to see if I (meaning, my knees) can take that distance. But, I must say, the sprint distance was so fun and exhilarating, I have no problem sticking with that. I enjoyed it so much I’m considering looking for a used wetsuit so I can do earlier-season triathlons. The water in Union Reservoir was 69 the day I swam, which is totally fine without a wetsuit, but maybe 4 degrees colder and it would have been pretty terrible. Given how cold the reservoirs around here get during the winter, anything before July would probably be a struggle without one.

I have really been into sewing my own clothes. Down in Florida I completed a new long-sleeved tunic and a sleeveless tunic dress thing. Pics whenever I wear them, probably.

Other than that, I’ve just been working on my WiP, which is finally (FINALLY) chugging along nicely. I had some early-novel struggles with this, for whatever reason, but now I’m enjoying myself greatly. The reduced speculative element in this has been very refreshing for me… we’ll have to see how it flies with my readership! At least anyone who picks it up because they know I can be counted upon to write about terrible fuckers fucking up will be happy. I gotta be me!

I made mandu/mandoo for the first time a few weeks back. They’re time-consuming but super-delicious! So far I’ve only cooked up the steamed kind. Tonight, I’ll be frying up the pan-fried kind for dinner. I also used my leftover mandu-pi to make tortellini with some home-fermented cashew-almond gruyere, which was pretty righteous.

In two weeks I’ll be headed to Japan, which is super-exciting.

Okay… that’s it, I think. Back to work!

Up on the A.V. Club today is another of those AVQ&As, the topic this week being “What Entertainment Did You Unfortunately Inflict on Your Parents?” It got me thinking, as two films I regrettably showed my parents (and then a third) immediately sprang to mind. As it gave me a laugh I figured I’d share.

I will never forget showing (or rather, trying to show) my parents Tank Girl. As I recounted years

what was i thinking

what was i thinking

and years ago when Jesse and I were still doing Films of High Adventure, I saw a piece on probably Good Morning, America! or some shit about Tank Girl, wherein Lori Petty told the tale of how when she looked a the script she immediately shaved her head, went in, and screamed “I am Tank Girl!” at the casting director or whatever. I was breathless watching the clips; drooled during every preview. But I was not of age to see Rated R movies and there was no effing way my parents would take me to see Tank Girl in the theatre. But when it came to VHS I rented it.

They turned it off right after the scene where Malcolm McDowell quotes some poetry at an unimpressed Tank Girl. “No,” I remember my father saying. “No way.” My mom did not argue. She was sort of shell-shocked by what we’d watched, if memory serves, and as an adult I can’t really fault her reaction. I mean, I still love you, Tank Girl, but… damn.

I finished it the next day, on my own, as I had been completely enchanted by everything about the film. And really, I’m pretty grateful we didn’t finish it, because the sexual weirdness of watching Lori Petty and Naomi Watts getting sexy with kangaroo men was nothing I really needed to experience with my folks.

rhps

don’t get strung out

The second film I recall “unfortunately inflicting” on my parents was more of a success with them, which in some ways was far worse. I really, really wanted to go see a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show because that was what one did in the 90s in West Palm Beach, FL. My mom and dad wanted to vet the film before agreeing, and in my early teenage desperation I agreed, having really no idea what it was about, just that going to see it was supposed to be cool, and I wanted to do it. So we rented it.

Uhhhhh… yeah! So, sitting through that, with my parents, at maybe 14 years old… it was agonizing. I was mortified by the content, as any teen might be sitting on a couch next to one’s parents, watching Tim Curry strut erotically around the cheap sets in fishnets. I was perhaps more mortified, however, by the fact that my dad in particular thought the film was SUPER AMAZING. Maybe it was that he, too, used to watch crappy old scifi films at the late night double feature picture show, but he got really into it. I distinctly remember him jumping up, delighted, to put on the subwoofer and the rest of his expensive enormous mid-90s sound system to get the full effect of the music, which he thought was “a scream.” He even did a little dance, as it was during “Time Warp” I believe. Yeah… I’m re-embarrassed remembering this, even though it brings a smile to my face. Miss you, dad.

In a fit of madness, even after watching the film my parents agreed I was allowed to go to the midnight showing, where I was promptly shoved on stage by one of the handlers and forced to chant an obscene song and then eat whipped cream off of an inflatable sex doll’s breasts before the movie went on, as will happen. I remember enjoying that viewing much more, as I was surrounded by anonymous creeps and weirdos, not my parents.

Oh jeez, writing this I now remember I also went to see Interview with the Vampire in the theatre with my dad. That was hella awkward, as well, as you might imagine!

Good times!

I have A Thing due in November (two things, actually, but one of them is a little scarier than the other), and it’s now September. I’ve been working well on it, sometimes, but now I need to be working well on it… all the time.

This is at odds with my desire to blog more, as I find it rewarding, my desire to exercise more (and more diversely) which I have to do as my first triathlon is officially twenty (NO! 19, shit) days away, somehow, and my desire to start sewing my own clothes more, as my mother and I made a dress together on her most recent trip out here and it was super fun. Oh well! This kind of busyness is what I’ve been desiring since day one of deciding to try this whole writing thang.

Speaking of…

I use that little “stickies” program for Mac to keep my monthly biz straight on my dashboard. Hours for my various freelance gigs, HTML code I use to do stuff, etc. I also had been keeping a running list of publishers who were looking at Vermilion since my agent put it out in the world. It occurred to me today I could clear that. The top left of my dashboard now looks strangely empty, but thrillingly so.

I was the Lovecraftian/Weird Author of the Week over at the Lovecraft eZine. Recently, Mike Davis has begun posting short interviews every week with “a Weird Fiction and/or Lovecraftian author that I feel deserves more attention.” I was very flattered he offered me a spot. But I got a little, I dunno, introspective… so be warned.

What is it about Lovecraftian horror and Weird Fiction that appeals to you?

[....] In Weird, and especially Lovecraftian Weird, the world doesn’t make sense to begin with, so all you can do when things go really wrong is… go crazy, or (better) stay sane and learn to cope with the knowledge that everything you believed or knew is garbage. The older I get, the more that… realism, I suppose, appeals to me. I already mentioned my dad passing away… maybe this is obvious, but that really affected me, when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Not just because I was suddenly confronted with the terrible knowledge that he was going to die sooner than I’d ever expected, but because my dad was always the healthiest guy. He cooked low-fat and low-sugar, walked and cycled and worked out with weights… and yet, earlier than most people are even diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he died of it. What the fuck is that shit? How is that fair? Well, it’s not. It’s just terrible.

Whee! Fun!

Uhhh, in other news, September’s issue of The Big Click went up today.

Here at The Big Click, we have pretty wide tastes in noir. We’ll publish stories about criminals, about psychopaths, barely reformed lowlifes, and the like. But only rarely will we do cops or private investigators. Partially because most of what is sent to us involving the police or PIs just isn’t noir: it’s hard-boiled, or a mystery with sex in it, or a procedural with booze in it. The rare cop-themed noir we do get tend to ultimately choose sides in a way that sends the story screaming into the hell of moral instruction. Trust us, we already know that doing drugs and killing people and hurting women is bad. (And if we didn’t think so, these stories would not persuade us.)

I think that’s it. My Dahl blog got pushed back from August into September, in part because the book came in late,  so if I actually get that in to Pornokitch it should go up this week. It’ll be on Over to You, his RAF stories. Since the book I finally received also contains what should have been September’s stories, I should be able to get that in on time! Novel!

John Langan, that illustrious author of quiet horror, was so good as to nominate me to be part of a Writing Process Blog Tour. I goofed and did not get to it in within a week, and as it’s sort of a chain letter, I guess I’ll be cursed or something. But, hey, first-hand curse experience isn’t such a bad thing in my field, I guess?

1) What are you working on?

Currently I’m working on a short novel. It’s been sold but not announced, so I don’t feel comfortable revealing the title yet. I will say it’s a period piece, and one with a limited speculative element. I hop it will please anyone who enjoyed the title novellas in A Pretty Mouth and Rumbullion.

2) How is your work different from others’ work in the same genre?

I tend to be a lot goofier, I guess. And I often write in historical settings. Horror/Weird/Lovecraftiana these days is very often Very Serious, or quiet and meditative, and largely modern. (I’m not dismissing any of the above; I love quite a bit of that stuff, most recently this story by Simon Strantzas, but you asked how I was different!) My most popular works, by contrast, tend to be ridiculous, and set in the past. For example, the first chapter of A Pretty Mouth (the novella), which is set just barely before the Restoration, involves a pudgy loser writing a poem honoring a schoolmate, not realizing it’s full of homoerotic entendre, getting shamed for it in front of his class, tripping, farting loudly, and then getting kicked in the ass by his professor. Not really deep, serious stuff. “The Infernal History of the Ivybridge Twins” got a lot of attention because it has twincest and… okay, probably because of the twincest. And “Herbert West in Love,” another story that has been reprinted and will be reprinted again (announcement when I can!) is just ridiculous.

3) Why do you write what you do?

I write stories I’d like to read.

4) How does your writing process work?

With short fiction, sometimes a title comes first; sometimes an anthology has a theme that calls to me. Most often these days, someone asks me to write something for a project, and I try to produce something that I think will be different from everything else they’ll get, and that (again) I’d like to read if I picked up that anthology. I write so slowly it’s been a long time since I’ve just written a story “because.” I’m not bragging; I hope once I clear my plate of my current obligations I can write some short fiction just for fun, but I came up with an exciting new idea for a novel a few weeks back so I’ll probably go down that hole once I’m a bit more free.

I don’t know if I have a writing process, when it comes to getting words on paper. I sometimes just blart out things and then go over them, revising and reworking until the story I want takes shape. Sometimes, especially with longer projects, I’ll use Scrivener to organize myself. I wrote the first draft of Vermilion, my forthcoming novel, in Scrivener. But I wrote A Pretty Mouth in Word, so, who knows?

As most of what I write is historical, I tend to make a trip to the library to research before I put down a single word. Like with what I’m working on, I grabbed such books as Developments in the History of Sexualities, Disorderly Women in 18th Century London, and How to Create the Perfect Wife. (So that’s a clue as to what I’m working on!)

Then I just spit on my hands, pray to Dionysios, and hope for the best. Sometimes it works; sometimes not. I junk a lot of biz.

Okay! Thanks again to John Langan, whose trust I squandered. I think I’ll tag… Simon Strantzas, as I mentioned him above, and Ross Lockhart, who is a writer as well as an editor. Huzzah!

What?

Anyways, updating to say that (yay) I’ll be a guest—a real, actual guest—of AnomalyCon in Denver next spring. Heyyyy, aren’t I publishing a sorta-kinda steampunk-ish novel around that time? Fancy! Maybe I’ll have an ARC or something to give away?

Come see me! And Selena Chambers, who will also be there!

 

I’m really excited to announce that Vermilion, my first novel, has been acquired by Ross word hordeLockhart of Word Horde. It’s scheduled to come out sometime in Spring, 2015. Hey, that’s next year!

Vermilion (which for those of you who read this blog/know me, yes, it used to have a different title) is the story of Elouise, more commonly known as Lou Merriwether, a gunslinging, chain smoking, cross-dressing Taoist psychopomp who keeps San Francisco safe from ghosts, shades, and geung si. It’s an important job, but most folks consider it damn spooky. Some have accused Lou of being more comfortable with the dead than the living, and, well… they’re not wrong. Not entirely, at any rate. Then again, it’s not like Lou gets less guff from those what haven’t yet been buried. But when Lou finds out that a bunch of Chinatown boys have gone missing somewhere deep in the Colorado Rockies she decides to saddle up and head into the wilderness to investigate… even though she fears her particular talents make her better suited to help placate their sprits than ensure they get home alive.

Many, many thanks Ross Lockhart for taking an interest in the project, and to my agent, Cameron McClure, for representing it. I couldn’t be happier—Ross and I have worked together since he shocked and surprised me in the best way possible by picking up “The Infernal History of the Ivybridge Twins” for Book of Cthulhu. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, and it just keeps getting better.

starry wisdomGot a cool thing in my inbox the other day—the cover for The Starry Wisdom Library: The Catalogue of the Greatest Occult Book Auction of All Time, which I have a thing in. It also contains things by Nick Mamatas, Jesse Bullington, S.J. Chambers, Livia Llewellyn, Simon Strantzas, “and more.” Lots more!

I wrote my piece for this approximately a million years ago so I’m excited to see it’s all coming together so beautifully.

I also have my latest Roald Dahl blog up on Pornokitch, on Memories with Food at Gipsy House, which is a cookbook co-authored by Roald Dahl and his wife Felicity Dahl. I tried to make a meal out of it! The story is all there. Plus a recipe for vegan vanilla ice cream that is pretty much foolproof.

Other than that, things have been quiet. Except, not really?

I’m going to Japan in mid-October for two weeks. Whaaat. I know! I’m going to be spending most of my time in Toyko, as my girl Raechel is living there whilst dissertating, but we’re planning a side-trip to Kyoto. So fun!

I’m still training for my triathlon, which is tiring but really rewarding.

I’m culturing up some Rejuvelac for cheese making.

Oh, and I’m working on writing and editing stuff, of course.

Things have gotten so busy in that regard I’m having to scale back my involvement with certain recreational activities, sadly to say specifically lion dance. I hope to get back into it later this year, but after mid-August I’ll be done for a while. I don’t like to half-devote myself to things, so I’m focusing on my professional life for a while.

So, if you (1) are reading this, (2) live in Boulder or around here, and (3) care, you should come see me perform either at Boulder Asian Fest, which is on the 9th and the 10th (lion both days) or in Aurora at GlobalFest, on the 23rd.

With one thing and another, I’ve been neglecting this space. So, here’s what’s up:

I guest-edited this month’s issue of The Big Click. It’s a themed Bizarro/Crime mashup issue, featuring work from Cameron Pierce, Stephen Graham Jones, and J David Osborne. I’d really appreciate it if you picked up an issue or linked to it if you enjoy what you read for free online. This is my first solo editorial project and your support means a lot to me, and to us as a magazine!

I’ve published two more in my series about reading Roald Dahl since I last blogged. Here’s one on The Gremlins, a children’s book that was a failed Disney project. The next is also about Gremlins, but it’s on Dahl’s first novel for adults, Sometime Never. Spoiler: it kind of sucks. Another spoiler: I get to debunk a Cracked.com theory that Snozzberries are dicks. Anyways!

CoOL-639x1024I have a story in The Children of Old Leech, a Laird Barron tribute anthology. It’s beautiful (Matthew Revert, who did my cover for A Pretty Mouth) and full of lots of cool people, homies if you will. My story has gotten some good buzz, including this writeup from Publishers Weekly, which specifically mentions “Good Lord, Show Me The Way.” I think this might be the first time my name has appeared in PW, which is pretty exciting!

Hm, what else? I signed up for a sprint triathlon, so I’ve been training for that. Running still sucks, but at least this is giving me a good excuse to swim. And bike more!

This space is going to have some exciting news soon (what could it be??) so maybe it would behoove me to blog more. I’ll try to be more enthralling in future.

Oh, who am I kidding? Hahaha. I’m never enthralling.

 

 

I’ve only once ever followed a print comic during its actual run (The Maxx, back in the day) until sometime last year my friend Oliver put me on to the Avatar: The Last Airbender comics. They’re… super-great. Gene Luen Yang is an amazingly talented writer (and artist; his American Born Chinese and Boxers & Saints are both awesome). So when I saw that Dark Horse was releasing an Avatar short for Free Comic Book Day I figured I’d check it out and have my first ever Free Comic Book Day experience.

Well… my experience was that Free Comic Book Day involves a lot of waiting on lines for free comic books. I kind of knew that going in, though. Even so, it was fun. I saw some cute kids in costumes, and I picked up the free Avatar short, and some stuff I paid for.

Anyways, as I said, I really like Gene Yang’s writing, so I figured I’d enjoy the short—when I learned about the release, I looked up last year’s free Avatar comic by him and it was great. This year’s was, as well, but man… it was also an awesome call-out of some biz that’s been going on in geek/comics culture for way too long.

From the tiresome handwringing within the nerdosphere over the perceived threat of Fake Geek Girls, to the much darker, recent othering-plus-horrifying-rape-threats debacle surrounding Janelle Asselin’s reasonable remarks about Wonder Girl’s representation on the cover of the Teen Titans #1, fandom—be it comics, literature, cartoons/anime, films, shows, whatever—is a often a troubling and difficult space to negotiate if you’re a woman. Which is why it’s so awesome that this was Gene Yang’s chosen subject of the Avatar short for Free Comic Book Day:

photo-2Omg. Right?

So yeah, the whole thing is fairly transparently about the bogusness of snooty exclusivity in fan culture, done Avatar-style, and the solution is… okay, spoiler alert…

It’s solidarity. And sisterhood. And allies being fine with taking a back seat while those with the actual experience drive, so to speak.

Also kung fu. Shockingly enough, I really liked it!

The original Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of my favorite shows because it is sweet and thoughtful and very, very sincere. It also improved via adaptation in response to critique—after the first season where Katara was more or less The Girl Main Character, they introduced a bunch of super-interesting main female characters. I’m all about content creators hearing “you did an awesome job—now do better!” and instead of doubling down and saying “eh, whatever,” striving to improve… by listening. The Avatar creators could easily have become part of the “eh, whatever” culture that makes comic/geek culture so frustrating. But they didn’t.

It’s awesome that Gene Yang is continuing that tradition not only by writing engrossing, fun scripts for the Avatar comics, but actively making the point that comics, and fandom in general, is for everyone. While I don’t need my artistic heroes to also be nice people, it’s pretty wonderful when that actually happens.

This month for my Roald Dahl series for Pornokitch I tackled Rhyme Stew and Dirty Beasts. Both were… sub-par. Well, they can’t all be hidden gems.

April flew by in a haze of work. I was busier than I’ve been in a long time. But, I’ve made significant headway on my WiP, turned in two short stories, only one of which was unprofessionally late, and did quite a lot of work for my various freelance jobs. I also performed with my lion dance friends twice, both at CU.

The weather is changing, but slowly. It’s sunny… most of the time. And warmer, most of the time. But the wind is still cruel and ferocious. It’s been blowing around the blooming tulips and plum trees and cherry trees. Even so, the beauty of spring been inspiring me to get outside more, which is good. I got my bike its annual tune-up and have been riding around more.

What else… well, I discovered that Boulder has its very own Kombucha tap house… I mean, I guess I should have assumed that was the case. It’s called Rowdy Mermaid (!). I tried their kombucha at the farmer’s market and it’s really good! They had it in a kegerator. It’s 2014 in Boulder!

 

 

 

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