My postlady brought me all sorts of lovely things this week; first and foremost among them was a package containing Chester Brown’s beautiful cover art for my new book, The Forms of Things Unknown. By the time you read this I should have hired a digital artist to do the color and layout, and after that it won’t be long before I start putting the book together! Other packages, from a new reader who prefers to remain anonymous, contained a book about Doctor Who, a complete collection of Leonard Cohen’s studio albums, a big bag of licorice candy and this rather stunning dress, which I’ve already worn for an appointment with a very lovely couple! I also got a good bit of self-care in last week, caught up on my writing, completed another step in my secret project and got a good bit of paying work in, so all in all it was a very productive week (despite Seattle being largely at a standstill a week ago Monday due to overnight snow). This week: more selfcare, more work and more playing catch-up, and speaking of paying work you only have 12 more days to take advantage of my two-librarian special with Lorelei Rivers! Seriously, gents, this is not an opportunity to miss; we will shush you like you’ve never been shushed in your entire life! For details, email me at my work address. And don’t be overdue!
Posts Tagged ‘The Forms of Things Unknown’
As I explained on Thursday, my trip got more difficult after I left northern New Mexico on Tuesday. But I made it home safely (if exhausted) Wednesday night and hit the ground running on Thursday; I’ve had a full calendar since then, which is a very good thing even if it did slow my writing catch-up. But I’m back to three columns ahead, and by this time next week I hope to have it back to five. I’ve also received Chester Brown’s art for the cover of The Forms of Things Unknown and as soon as it’s colored and the blurbs are in place, I’ll be ready to compile the book and start the proofing process. Another thing I received by post recently was this lovely red dress from my Amazon wishlist, courtesy of a reader named Michael; if you send me another one (there are several on the list) I’ll post the pictures in an upcoming diary. Oh, and if you prefer to give me money in exchange for services, I should probably point out that Lorelei Rivers and I are doing a two-librarian special for the entire month of February. If you’re in a position to take advantage of that, email me for details; we promise you an unforgettable experience!
This last week before Grace arrives has been pretty busy. Besides work, trying to get as ahead as possible on my writing, holiday prep and activism (including Saturday’s December 17th vigil and an interview for Nightline about the TRB shutdown), I’m working on the final pre-composition stages for The Forms of Things Unknown. Once Chester Brown gets me the cover art I’ll need to have it colored, then compile the virtual book in CreateSpace software before proofreading it completely and then having a proof sent out. I’ve also had a number of beauty appointments lately, such as my most recent trip to the stylist; she talked me into letting her blow my hair out, and I liked it so much (you can see why in the picture) that I think I’ll let her do it every time I go. It’ll be interesting to have relatively-straight hair for two days every eight weeks! I’m also preparing for my January tour, for which I’ll leave only a week after Grace goes back to the ranch; if you’re interested in seeing me in one of the cities I’ll be visiting, you need to let me know ASAP. To encourage you, I’ll give you a special rate (see that link for details). And on top of everything else, I made some hard but necessary decisions last week which I’d rather not discuss just yet, but which I’ll be telling you about later (probably in the spring or early summer, as plans mature). Anyway, Grace arrives tomorrow and I’m more than ready for some celebrating and relaxing, though I will still be taking appointments throughout the holidays because bills don’t take days off. And if you’d like to send me a gift as Skye did (thank you for the Scary Stories Treasury!) you can either consult my Amazon wishlist or just donate via PayPal toward my beauty fund. ‘Cause I ain’t gettin’ younger, y’all, and all this pulchritude takes maintenance!
For a while I was getting nervous that I wouldn’t be able to come up with a good story for the opening position in The Forms of Things Unknown. But as so often happens, when my Muse was ready she demanded my attention immediately, and within three days “Trust Exercise” was done. Yes, I said three days; it’s a good bit longer than the short-short stories I typically write, weighing in at about 4000 words. I think you’ll like it, and it will appear exclusively in the new book (which looks like it will come out on schedule in January). But because I’m such an awful tease, I can’t resist giving you this sneak peak at what’s in the box; this is from about a third of the way into the story:
“So who is Zoe?”
“Why, I’m surprised at you, Doctor Lang; she’s my imaginary friend. You know that.”
“That would’ve barely been an acceptable answer when you were ten, much less fourteen.”
“OK, then, let’s call her my spirit guide. Is that a more palatable response?”
“I’m not your enemy, Dani. I’m trying to help you.”
“Oh, please. You’re trying to earn a living, same as everybody else. You wouldn’t give a damn about me if my dad’s insurance weren’t reimbursing you.”
“It’s true that helping professionals need to earn a living just like everyone else, but that doesn’t mean I don’t genuinely care. You might think of my income as a subsidy which allows me to do the work I find rewarding, which is helping young people with their difficulties.”
Dani rolled her darkly-lined eyes and sighed theatrically. “And you’ll still kick me out at the 50-minute mark.”
“Good job trying to make this about me. Look, I understand why you’re upset; your mom had no right to read your diary, and if I were in your place I’d be angry too. She didn’t tell me she was going to do it, and I would’ve discouraged her from doing it if she had. And I really am on your side, so if you’d rather not talk about Zoe we don’t have to.”
“I’d rather not. Let’s just call her my Jungian shadow and leave it at that, OK?”
“Fair enough. Do you want to talk about how your mother’s violating your privacy made you feel instead?”
And so they did, and many other topics over the next couple of years. But Zoe never came up again, because Danielle had learned it was absolutely never a good idea to mention anything about her to anyone else, no matter what their age and relationship to her. As she had aged the visits had become less frequent but longer, and more likely to occur when she was alone; she was also much better able to answer her shadowy visitor’s questions, and she began to understand that the reason for her confusion in the past was that Zoe and the others had never adapted their questioning to a child’s intellectual level, almost as though they hadn’t understood that she was a child. But as that aspect of their interaction grew steadily less frustrating, another grew steadily more so: Zoe absolutely refused to discuss anything about herself and the others, or to answer any of Dani’s questions. All she ever said in reply was, “I’m afraid you’ll just have to trust me.”
And you, dear reader, will have to trust me that the rest won’t disappoint you. You only have about a month to wait!
I’m currently in the proofreading stage of preparing The Forms of Things Unknown; the foreword and all the story introductions are done except for the introduction to the first story, for the simple reason that I haven’t written it yet. I simply haven’t had an idea that has gelled into a tale, and I want to do an original to open this collection (as a bookend to the final tale, which I wrote in ’93 but have never shared with y’all). But don’t worry; as y’all probably know I’m a very fast writer, so once the story forms in my mind it will be typed out, placed, edited and introduced within 24 hours. Chester Brown is working on the cover art (and his preliminary sketches are very exciting!) so I’m hoping to have both content and art ready by the end of the year, and to be compiling and checking the proofs (first digital, then physical) by the beginning of the year. Fingers crossed! Speaking of books, last week I received a gift from long-time reader Korhomme: The Story of Sex, which combines one of my favorite topics with one of my favorite media. Thank you!
Although I really hate Christmas displays and marketing going up before Thanksgiving day (tune in this coming Friday if you want to know how much I hate it), my behind-the-scenes preparations have already started. I’ve ordered some presents already, bought Grace’s ticket to visit me over the last two weeks of the year, and have already set up for my annual Yuletide special (details on Friday). All this despite the fact that I’m really still in a more Halloweenish mood, as evidenced by this recent selfie taken while I was very high and looking quite witchy. That may have something to do with a lot of difficult personal stuff I’ve been dealing with lately, or the rereading of a number of my stories while compiling The Forms of Things Unknown, or even binge-watching Doctor Who with Lorelei Rivers. As many of you probably realize, binge-watching TV shows is not my usual style. But I’d never seen any of the post-revival episodes until now (though the classic series is one of my favorites), and I’d like to catch up. Plus Lorelei is a major fan, and she is extremely persuasive (not that it actually takes a lot of arm-twisting to get me to cuddle on a sofa for hours with a beautiful young woman). Anyway, I’m also starting to put together the sketchy outlines of my January tour down the West Coast, and it looks like I may (not certain yet) head down to Florida in March. So keep your eyes on these diary columns and be sure to let me know ASAP if you want a date while I’m passing through your city.
Five years ago, in the introduction to “Concubine“, I wrote:
I must admit that I’m surprised I’ve been able to deliver [a new story] every month; I always used to say that unlike my dependable and constant Muse of Nonfiction, my Muse of Fiction was like a sulky girlfriend: when she wanted me she demanded my undivided attention, but when she didn’t want me I couldn’t even get her on the phone. But ever since “The Trick”, she has visited me without fail at least once per month, usually without my even having to beg her…
I repeated the joke in the foreword to Ladies of the Night, and until last year it was true. But as my available time shrank and my commitments increased, I found that inspiration often came more slowly, and I had to beg a lot more often. Fewer of my stories were (in my own opinion) really inspired or especially memorable, and the ones that were revealed a lot more of my soul than was the norm before. Several of the stories came to me literally hours before publication, then this past February I cheated by letting someone else tell a story, and last month I quietly and unceremoniously slipped another type of essay into the usual story slot. But if I keep doing that y’all are going to notice, so here we are. Some ideas were bouncing around my brain, but as of this writing none of them has gelled and I’m very tired and about to go and get myself a milkshake. So what I’m thinking is, I’m going to take a brief hiatus from fiction; the next story I think of will be an exclusive for my new book, The Forms of Things Unknown, which I plan to start compiling this coming week. I know this kind of sucks, but consider that I’ve had an almost unbroken run of one story per month for six years; that’s 72 stories in all. That’s really very damned good; I don’t think many writers are that prolific. I also don’t think my Muse has really returned to her old sulky ways; she’s probably just tired and wants a little vacation. Or maybe she’s suffering from PMS, or thinks I’ve been neglecting her. Maybe this is her way of getting me to do the book. But one way or another, I’m sure she’ll be sending me inspiration again in short order, and I’ll soon be serving up new tales on a regular basis again. And if not, it was a good thing while it lasted!