WHERE THINGS STAND

It’s time for some straight talk.

There’s a few reasons why you might be on my site (or at least the domain).

  1. To read hella old fanfic I wrote eons ago. (Enjoy.)
  2. To read how obsessed I got over True Detective.
  3. To look at my published works or to find out what kind of person wrote these things.
  4. To see if I’ve reacted in any way to recent events surrounding Ellora’s Cave.
  5. You have no idea how you got here. Maybe a wizard did it?

I’m writing to address items #3 and #4 in that list of possibilities. Let’s get real here.

While you can still peruse the bibliographies for my two time-travel historical novels or read deleted scenes from some of my other works, you won’t find anything about the six separate titles I’ve published over the years. If you have no idea what happened in the last few days to make me take that information down, I’ll direct you to the Twitter hashtag #notchilled, which should illuminate you.

What does this all mean for my writing?

I want to stress that outside of one incident that I’m not going to describe here, I’ve always had a very professional relationship with Ellora’s Cave. I am grateful that they ever decided to publish me. I met many very nice individuals.

For a long while, especially as I finally near the end of my current WIP’s first draft, I have been considering self-publishing. I desire more control over things like cover design and editing choices. I desire more control over when my newest titles appear and to understand where my sales come from. In addition, I have been considering how my writing has evolved from my first novel to my latest. Certain stories I’ve published no longer reflect my brand, which may also be in need of an overhaul.

As countless authors, agents, editors, and other industry professionals have said over and over, the publishing industry has been changing rapidly. I raised my head after three years of struggling to finish a story while holding down a toxic day job and found myself not at the back of the pack but still at the starting line. On top of maintaining a social media presence, creating and executing all my own marketing (on a tiny budget), awkward attempts to network, and y’know, writing…very slowly…keeping up with the changes and the latest news seemed like too much for me. I got discouraged many times. I shut my laptop on days when I should have been trying to write.

I also know that there’s lots of other writers out there in the same boat as me, and that there’s a lot of resources for me to utilize. I just have to take advantage of them and keep picking myself up.

In the end, I figured that if my monthly royalty checks from EC are less than some ten-year-olds get as a monthly allowance, I could only do as well or better if I self-publish, and I might as well enjoy the greater creative control that self-publishing offers.

For all these reasons, I was already certain that I’d request a reversion of rights on some, if not all, of my titles with Ellora’s Cave. The brouhaha over the past weekend did not influence my decision. It merely hastened my decision.

What’s going to happen now?

It may not happen right away, but you’ll continue to see changes to this website. EC has some time to process the reversion request, so until they do, I ask that you not purchase any of my books. All of them were published through EC, so even if you were interested in supporting my non-EC titles, you and I are both SOL. (Seriously, though, thanks if you were interested.)

Once my rights have reverted, some of my back list will be made available again. Some of it won’t. I might edit some of them, or I might not. How long will all this take once my rights have reverted? Well, it’s just little old me figuring out this fancy self-publishing thing: new covers, formatting, where and how to publish and on which platforms, etc. I have no idea at this time. I’m not discouraging you from poking me about it, but just know that I may not have a satisfying answer. We can trade our favorite cat pictures on the internet instead?

Final Thoughts

If you did come here to find out how this affected me…wow. Seriously, thank you. That’s very sweet of you. Beyond that, all I ask is for your support and patience. A couple “go get ‘em, tiger!” tweets would also be welcome.

And now, back to my obsession with True Detective.

TRUE DETECTIVE, S1E7: AFTER YOU’VE GONE (Episode Recap)

TD7-1

It’s present day. Rust and Marty are grabbing that beer together. They comment on how they’ve aged and Marty says,”Father time has his way with us all.” Marty asks why they’re there, and Rust explains that the SPD is looking at him for the Lake Charles murder. He frets over the lack of press for the murder and a potential cover-up; his rhetoric unfortunately sounds paranoid. Marty expresses concern for Rust’s health, and Rust admits he’s been “functional but hammered” for the past ten years, eight of which he spent back in Alaska working fishing boats and bars.

Marty asks why Rust would come back, and Rust says it’s the same reason why he’s talking to Marty. “A man remembers his debts”, he says, which Marty mistakenly takes as meaning that Rust believes he owes Marty some kind of debt. When Marty says he doesn’t “dwell on the past”, Rust says, “Well, it must be nice.” Read more

TRUE DETECTIVE, S1E6: HAUNTED HOUSES (Episode Recap)

TD6-1

A guard escorts young Marty to the jail’s holding cells. The guard unlocks the door to a cell containing two young white men, saying he needs to go on his rounds and will return in about twenty minutes. The young men look nervous, and we learn that these two were the ones found in a car with Marty’s daughter. One insists he didn’t know that Audrey’s father was a cop, that he meant no disrespect. His friend agrees that they didn’t mean any disrespect. Marty, deceivingly calm, informs them while removing his ring that they’re looking at statutory rape charges. He asks if they know what happens to “pretty boys like [them] who go up to the farm on statch rape charges”, implying at least assault if not also sexual assault. He removes his jacket, marvels at how their cell door just swung open, and then invites to step out “for some air”.

The two young men know exactly what’s going on. One says he doesn’t care to leave the cell, saying he thinks Marty is “a little angry”. Marty rolls up his sleeves and remarks that telling him how he feels is “patronizing”. He gives them two choices: letting him assault them and agreeing never to come near his daughter again, or being charged with statutory rape. He then pulls on a pair of black leather gloves and coaxes one man out of the cell. “Man’s games charges a man’s price,” he says before delivering several hard punches to the man’s face and stomach. The other young man is terrified. He obviously is not going to leave the cell for similar “punishment”, so Marty enters the cell. Read more

TRUE DETECTIVE, S1E5: THE SECRET FATE OF ALL LIFE (Episode Recap)

TD5-1

A red truck with a white trailer pulls up to a roadside bar. Young Rust and Ginger are waiting inside. A man with shaggy hair and a beard walks in. Ginger and Rust sit at a booth across from this man, who we learn is not Reggie Ledoux but someone who works directly with him (present-day Marty mentioned Duwall in the last episode). Ginger makes up an excuse about the injuries to his face and Rust starts in on his fake drug deal, “coke for crystal”. Duwall seems preternaturally suspicious and turns Rust down. Rust asks why, and the man leans forward to say, “I can see your soul at the edges of your eyes. It’s corrosive, like acid. You got a demon, little man, and I don’t like your face. It makes me want to do things to it.” Duwall chastises Ginger and then says to Rust, “There’s a shadow on you, son.” He leaves.

  • (pessimism/realism, self-deception; nihilism) As philosopher Paul J. Ennis put it in his Vulture.com interview, “This [anti-natalist, nihilistic] worldview is often correlated with self-destructiveness and I would say Rust’s fascination with murders, drugs, and the criminal lifestyle flower naturally from it.” Rust’s realism/pessimism (as opposed to his nihilistic views) also feed into his characterization. To quote Ennis again:

[Rust] expects people to be mired in self-deception, and that allows him to dig deeper behind the masks they wear to obscure what is really going on. However, there is a price to pay for this and we see that such a bleak understanding of the world can also result in the recklessness that forms part of his character.

It’s usually Rust who has an uncanny read on people, but Duwall (someone very close to the killer’s inner circle, if not a member of that inner circle) immediately picks up on the darkness in Rust. That awareness puts Duwall at the same level of bleak awareness as Rust, albeit on the self-serving and exploitative side of it.

Read more

TRUE DETECTIVE, S1E4: WHO GOES THERE (Episode Recap)

TD4-1

Young Rust and Marty interrogate Dora Lange’s ex-husband Charlie about his former cellmate, Reggie Ledoux. They accuse Charlie of having Reggie murder Dora on his behalf, which Charlie denies. The notion that Reggie killed Dora greatly upsets him, but Rust isn’t buying his act, which only makes Charlie angrier. Charlie confirms that he talked to Reggie about Dora, and that early in his sentence before she asked for a divorce, Dora gave him explicit Polaroids, which he also showed to Reggie.

Rust asks about Charlie and Reggie getting along as cellmates, and Charlie says they did only out of necessity. He didn’t want to befriend Reggie because the guy was “[a] creep”. Marty wants to know why Reggie’s a creep, and Charlie tells them Reggie’s a “chemist” who cooks down things like kitchen cleansers to get high, which is a “big deal in [prison]“. Charlie then recounts some of the things Reggie said while high with Charlie at night, such a “place down south where all these rich men go to devil-worship” and to sacrifice women and children. Charlie name-drops Carcosa and the Yellow King, and mentions that Reggie has a brand on his back in the shape of a spiral, which Reggie told him was “their sign”. Read more

TRUE DETECTIVE, S1E3: A LOCKED ROOM (Episode Recap)

TD3-1

Rust and Marty have called in backup to gather photographs and any physical evidence from the abandoned church. Then we find ourselves at a tent revival sermon where Minister Joel Theriot is preaching. He says to the congregation, “You are a stranger to yourself, and yet He knows you.” Theriot talks of God as being both the stars and the wind between. Then he says, “This world is a veil, and the face you wear is not your own.”

  • (pessimism, hypocrisy as the norm; Chambers reference) Already some interesting things being said. Theriot speaks of self-deception. The world as a veil, like Rust’s “secret truth of the universe” line from the last episode, calls to the “forbidden knowledge” theme common to the short stories of Chambers and his contemporaries. When Theriot tells the congregation that the faces they wear are not their own, it’s possibly a reference to the usage of masks in Chambers’ stories. “The Mask” is one of the titles in The King in Yellow compilation, which is introduced by another of the few excerpts from the imaginary The King in Yellow play. I point out this possible reference only because we’ll hear another very clear reference to masks later in the season.

Read more

HOLLYWOOD GIVES ZERO F***S ABOUT MAKING GOOD MOVIES

My ultimate point here is something lots of other people have already said in some way or another. I started a draft of this post many months ago, intending to write out reviews of the 2012/13 films for which I had high hopes but which greatly disappointed me and then to culminate those reviews into a summary of why we’re probably doomed to get more of the same. Sitting down to relive two (or, more often, three) hours of nonsensical plot developments, over-the-top destruction of populated cities, and a litany of the most unlikable and inconsistent characters proved to be a difficult sell when I could watch cat GIFs instead, but I slowly managed to review the worst offenders.

First I went after Star Trek Into Darkness, which was more of a series of disjointed and expensive scenes stitched together with lens flare than a real story. Then I tore into Man of Steel for turning Superman into Jesus Christ. I gave Iron Man 3 a pass, but still feel it made a couple of bad decisions. Then I wept bitter tears at the lost potential of Prometheus, which is a piece of thematically confused shit, but they’re making a sequel anyway.

That all said, there’s one more film that I wanted to revisit. It’s been many months since I saw World War Z in theaters, but I still recall its main faults, the first of which is that the film, as so many people have already said, is nothing like the book. I adore Max Brooks’ tongue-in-cheek Zombie Survival Guide and his far more serious follow-up World War Z, a beautifully dark and varied collection of fictional accounts from those who survived a zombie apocalypse. I figured that adapting World War Z to the big screen would be rather easy. Tap someone like Brad Pitt to play the UN reporter collecting all these accounts. Use him to introduce a series of vignettes (and to slap his famous name on the movie poster). Choose a variety of chapters from the book, somewhere between three and five of them, and finish off the film with the UN reporter’s own story, something new that Brooks himself could write for the film and for our star-power to get their own zombie story. The best part is that, if the studio is concerned with international box-office sales, they already have several chapters from Brooks’ book from which to choose a vignette set in not-the-States. This thing would practically write itself!

But the studio didn’t do that, did they? The only thing the final film had in common with the book was the title.

I was still willing to shell out cash, and though the film I saw had its issues, it was far more competent than Into DarknessMan of Steel, and Prometheus. However, WWZ got trashed way more than those films. Its Rotten Tomatoes score is at 67% whereas Into Darkness is sitting pretty at 87% and Prometheus got away with 73%. As I said in my review of Man of Steel, it did a much worse job of hiding its flaws than Into Darkness, so it didn’t get away with much. Its Rotten score is at 56%.

I’m not advocating that WWZ get an A, but I’m appalled that Into Darkness and Prometheus are rated so highly.

And there you have it. I saw a bunch of “summer blockbusters” one year and don’t understand how people’s tastes can be so inconsistent. If everyone seriously likes the kind of sloppy writing we had in Into Darkness, I don’t understand why they don’t like all of the big-budget, poorly plotted blockbusters that Hollywood puts out every year. Is it witty banter? Is that all it takes to hide all the fridge logic?

That’s my best guess, so write whatever you want, apparently! Just make sure your characters say nothing but zingers and you’ll be fine. Oh, and make sure you reboot a franchise (Star Trek, Alien, Superman) rather than go for something even remotely new (a bestselling book).

TRUE DETECTIVE, S1E2: SEEING THINGS (Episode Recap)

TD2-1 We get right back to present-day Rust, who says he often thought of his wife and daughter when he couldn’t sleep. Then he says, “Something’s got your name on it, like a bullet…or a nail in the road.” Detective Papania asks Rust his opinion about the lattice being found in the Fontenot shed so many years after Marie’s disappearance. Rust agrees that it was strange. He mentions Marie’s school closed down in 1992 after Hurricane Andrew, and asks if that means anything to the detectives.

  • A “nail in the road” could very well be quite literal for Rust. We learn later in the episode that the day his daughter was put into a coma, she was playing on her tricycle in the driveway of their home, which sat on the bend of the road. My best theory, based on the scant details we get, is that a passing vehicle ran over a nail that burst one of the tires, causing the driver to lose control of the car. It careened onto Rust’s driveway and hit his daughter.
  • As we’ve already surmised, Gilbough and Papania suspect Rust is the Lake Charles killer (as well as the killer of Dora Lange), so it’s easy to notice, especially whenever Papania talks, the subtle incredulity of the two detectives’ line of questioning. Last episode, they asked how Rust knew to try to follow up with Danny Fontenot about a seemingly unrelated (and seemingly resolved) five-year-old missing child case. Rust shrugged and called it intuition. This episode, they convey how odd it was for the lattice to show up so many years after Marie Fontenot disappeared. Pay attention to their wording.
  • We’ll learn later why Rust is concerned with a closed school, but it’s not the first time Rust carefully prods for current case details from the two detectives. Pay attention to how he baits them. Again, Rust probably knows exactly what they suspect him of.

Read more