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Kyler dreams about old gay sex novels

From the Kyler Fey Tumbl (link below); he evidently has the books on the brain judging from his new dream journal entry. M-Brane Press is releasing his Commander Jace and the Strange Case of the Tattooed Twink possibly as soon as tomorrow. Though Intersex Boys of Venus is already out, this new one is properly the first episode of his series, so we might offer it as a free book for a little while in some venues.

https://kylerfey.tumblr.com/post/158307728609/old-paperbacks-show-up-in-horny-dream

That post has a couple examples of cool cover art from that ancient
genre. Here's a couple more that I just happen to have sitting around for some reason.

Formula

Last week when I was putting up Kyler Fey's new novellas in the ebook stores, I was a little bit baffled as to why every venue has a different hierarchy of categories. The print versions were easy enough to categorize the way I wanted them to be when I assigned the ISBN and arranged for print distribution, but the three ebook stores (Kindle, iBooks and Kobo) into which I placed them all varied. The most cumbersome was Kobo because for some reason I was not able to include "erotica" as a category without assigning  "romance" as its primary category. This is because in their categories system, pretty much all fictional genres except romance fall under "fiction," but "erotica" is not a sub-category of "fiction." It only shows up under romance, and when one tries to select that in combination with "science fiction," one is blocked by the rule of not being able to use catgeories from both fiction and "non-fiction." Which I would not consider romance to be, but anyway there  it was. I did end up sticking them both in romance because I felt it was fairly important to get them tagged as erotica (since they are both filled about eighty percent by volume with explicit depictions and discussions of m/m sex). But we actually consider them to be part of a serial of gay erotic "science fantasy" (some later installments of the series which I have gotten to examine also tread into supernatural horror).

Since I don't read a lot of genre literature crafted as "romance," I figured that I was probably not fully informed as to what makes it that. I know that its a multi-genre mode in that there can be contemporary settings, historical settings, science fictional settings, etc. But I wasn't entirely clear on what unifies all of this under the romance umbrella, and if erotica in general is under that umbrella or not (it's not necessarily). So I checked out submission guidelines for a few publishers who release a lot of Kindle books to see what they are shopping for when they say "romance." Here's what I did not know in my ignorance of the form, and which surprised me: it is evidently very deliberately formulaic in its construction in that whatever happens in the story, it is the expectation that every story conclude with a "happily ever after" (HEA) or at least a  "happily for now" (HFN) ending. I think every guidelines page that I read mandated this formula.This made me sit back and think for few moments. In most other genres--especially ones where the authors have some ambition of crafting "Real Literature" out of their SF or F or H concept--writers are constantly trying to subvert or evade the formulas. They'll get lauded when they succeed and their books are considered to be "better" than formulaic genre fiction. In fact it's a fairly common knock on a book that the reviewer didn't much like was that it was "formulaic." TV shows and movies are routinely panned over hewing too closely to an obvious formula (even though they all pretty much do so on purpose). So the story, in this mode, is really about learning how the characters reach their HEA state, because you know already that's where it's headed. The ending is not in doubt. There will be happiness. In this sense, the form reminds me of another very formulaic one that I got a lot of pleasure from when I was a kid and a teenager and even once in while still as an adult: Star Trek tie-in fiction.  I read tons of it in my youth, have a couple boxes of it still in a closet (only reason it's not out and shelved is because I dont have enough shelves), and once in a while will go back to one of those novels when I want something easy to digest. Like these romance novels, those Star Trek novels (many of which include romantic subplots) all ended HFN. You knew there was going to be another crisis, another adventure later on, but at the end of each story, things were pretty much reset to normal, the characters were all alive and well, and the mood was good.

So, are Kyler's books "romance" by formula? Intersex Boys of Venus ends with portents of an ominous threat that is not resolved and has yet to be fully uncovered (it's chapter 5 of a serial). But it does focus on two boys who plainly love each other a lot, but their relationship is not depicted as all that "romantic" in that they didn't just meet and fall in love etc. There's a little taste of HFN between them in their final scene of the novel, but then that's immediately followed by a creepy foreshadowing of future problems for them. One Hundred Times (the b-side of the print double with Intersex Boys) ends sort of HFN between the main characters, but it's also implied that they'll probably never see each other again, and it is explict throughout the book that the entire purpose of their relationship was fucking. They were never in love, and the narrator at one point grapples with feelings of "crushing" on his short-term sex partner and tries to bat those feelings away with rationality. So that's not a romance either, at least by formula. It's also true that the storyline is actually a thinly-veiled account of something that Kyler did in real life, so one probably wouldn't expect a memoir to hew to a genre formula in the way one would expect a romance novel to do so.

I'll be spending some time today on final formatting of the next episode of the serial, titled The Strange Case of the Tattoed Twink. The accompanying picture is the illustration for its cover. [updated to note that while this illustration was used for the final book, we changed the color of it].
After a few years of not releasing anything new, my little M-Brane Press is starting to be back in business a little bit. This year's first project is a gay erotica science fantasy serial by Kyler Fey. The "official" announcmentof it with links to the ebook sites is on the M-Brane Press site. Its first installment is a 35000-word novella titled The Intersex Boys of Venus. It's available in print, back to back in "double" format with One Hundred Times, Kyler's memoir about an intense hook-up with a young man who inspired a lot of the details about a main character in his serial. Both books are out separately in electronic form on Amazon, iBooksand Kobo.

The author, who likes to write a lot more than he likes to self-promote, has been encouraged (rather forcefully) to use more social media, and has chosen Tumblr as a venue. He has managed a couple/few posts about the book, including a little excerpt from the next installment. I am not immediately starting a lot of aggressive promo of the thing in the guise of M-Brane Press quite yet because I would like there to be at least one more installment of the serial published so that we can act more like it's a real series than a one-off. The total project has twenty-one installments. About half of them appear to have the major work of their writig complete, but they are all still missing some content. A few more of them exist only as a titles and synopses, but I am assured that they will manifest as complete works soon enough. I have been promised that I might have a new complete installment in hand as soon as tomorrow.

Originally, I was looking for a project whereby M-Brane Press could get in on the erotic ebook thing with a long series of little "quickies"--a lot of those Kindle books are really just short stories. The plan was to roll out a lot of them, or maybe even all of them, all at once and then put together one of those ebook "box sets" of them and also a print omnibus edition. But if they are all going to end up being novella-length like Intersex Boys, then the single giant print book
might be impractical. But I am still planning some sort of print format for the series--because I like making print books--but I haven't decided if they are all going to be doubles like this first book. It will probably depend on final page-count of some of these episodes. 

Annoying Dream:
For some reason, I've lately been having dreams in which I somehow end up in a wooded park and find myself getting lost and running into dead ends as I try to navigate its trails and roads. This park is a real place from my boyhood, a fairly large and heavily wooded park in the town in which I was born and lived until I was thirteen. It had (and I presume still has) hidden trails, a couple of weird bodies of water, an old stadium, a police shooting range, some assorted attractions like a public swimming pool and a dirt-and-gravel road that cuts through its back regions, but which doesn't really go anywhere--it just loops back around to where you started. But in some iterations of this dream, I am either walking or driving that road and somehow just can't quite find my way back out of the park. The road forks in strange ways, generates long sidepaths that dead-end in the woods or run into a large lake (there was in real life swampy flooded lake-like algae-choked area of water there that one could get to by following a dead-end path from the main road--and where it was believed that teenagers would go to fuck in their cars--but nothing nearly so large as the dream lake). In last night's version of the dream, instead of following the endless ever-changing road, I got similarly disoriented on a trail that cut through the woods and followed a narrow shallow stream. This trail and that stream were real things back in those days, too. During the summer when I was twelve, I frequently ventured down this trail by myself and masturbated. I enjoyed doing this outside so much that it became a nearly daily habit that summer even on rainy days, always standing in the same hidden spot and squirting on a clump of milkweed. It's amazing that I was never caught doing this because, while the path itself and my favorite spot on it were quite hidden from view, it was still traveled pretty frequently by other kids who liked to use it to cut aross the deep foresty middle of the park and feel some kind of sense of adventure from doing so. But I always got away with it. In fact, the only thing I was ever seen doing with my fly open was pissing in the stream that ran next to the trail, but that was totally non-controversial as it was absolutely standard for every boy who ever went to that part of the park to piss in that stream as if it were a long public trough-style urinal. In this dream from last night, I was on that same path, and I remember so many vivid details of it that makes me feel like my old impressions of it had risen whole and unchanged from some deep geological layer of memory. In the dream, I didnt jerk off and wasn't in the least bit horny enough to want to do so anyway, because I was intensely frustrated at how long circuitous the trail had become, and how it seemed that no matter which direction I went, I was just getting farther and farther away from the park's exit. At one point, I decided it would somehow be faster to simply go back the way I came and quit trying to find the end of the trail, but then the way back had changed, as if the path had been reworking itself behind me as I trod the woods' depths. Eventually, I made myself wake up. I can't always do this, but occasionally I have the ability to realize while in dream-space that I am probably dreaming and can just put an end to whatever dumb situation is going on by waking myself up.

New book project:
I am well into the editing and revision phase of a long project that I will probably release through (the long dormant) M-Brane Press hopefully later this year as both a series of ebooks and a single big print volume. It's a gay pornographic science fiction thing with elements of planetary romance and cosmic horror, set in a fantasy version of the Solar System several centuries from now, centered around a cast of specially-endowed characters that work almost like a Doc Savage-type secret organization to save the world again and again from various insidious threats (while continually getting their rocks off). I started it last summer, and added over fifty thousand words to it as my NaNoWriMo project last November, and it's been kind of growing gradually since then. I may release it pseudonymously, not because of its content but more because its built on the conceit that it's an assembly of several dudes' diary entries put together by an editor many years after the events described. So I think I will credit the book to its imaginary editor. It's become a lot more complicated, elaborate, nuanced, weird and just plain longer than what I had intended at the outset (which was just to knock out some quickie Kindle porn really fast and see if anyone would actually buy it), so I am months behind my own deadlines on it. The original idea was to release it as a bunch of ebooks, each "book" really just being a chapter in a serial. Typically these erotic Kindle books on Amazon tend to really just be four or five thousand-word short stories, and sometimes even shorter than that. My project is currently mapped out to have twenty-seven of these "books", each with a number and a lurid subtitle (I was kind of inspired to that number by Mark Danielwski's The Familiar, which he intends to tell in twenty-seven massive volumes). These individual book segments tend to be clocking in at around ten to twelve thousand words (and they get longer as I lard them up with "scholarly" footnotes) so a bit longer than is typical for the Kinde erotica format, but that's for the best, I think. I find a lot of that stuff to be too brief and not sufficiently fleshed out (and just plain awful) anyway. The final number of chapters may change by the time I am done, because a few of the unfinished ones seem to not need to exist anymore, while a couple of new ones that weren't even in the original outline have grown up and become important to the story arc. Also, I a few months ago, I had more or less decided to kill off one of the characters and excise him from the whole storyline because he didn't seem to be doing much of anything important, and I thought I maybe had too many major characters anyway (nine of them). But more recently, I kind of fell in love with the lad when he suddenly needed to be at the center of a couple new plot threads due to his special ability (he paints and draws stuff derived from prophetic visions). So he stays.
I am happy to be collaborating with Brandon Bell on a new project, Weird Bard Press, a small press focused on "socially aware fiction." Its first project, an anthology called Torn Pages, has its guidelines posted already. This particular book, which is Brandon's concept that he will edit, has a particularly interesting and powerful motivation behind it which will be elaborated upon in an article that he'll be publishing soon. When he asked me if I would knock the accumulated dust off my publisher hat and get busy on a new project, it was not possible to say no. I never even considered saying no. I decided in five seconds to say yes, because it's a cool project and it's with my favorite collaborator.
shakeweb
Hmm, collaboration: it ain't always for me. I don't always do well in groups (unless it's a group that I'm running). In my most private personal life, there's one person with whom I collaborate closely (he knows who he is) and the two of us are the entire group (with the cats, too, of course). In my day-to-day work-life, I do pretty well in the group (but I'm also kinda the boss of most of it, so I get my way a lot) but there, too, is one person who is my main collaborator, and he knows who he is. In my third strange area of life--this weird publishing and editing thing that's done almost entirely on computers--it's awesome to have a collaborator that you can actually get something cool done with, and in this area it's always Brandon Bell. My M-Brane Press handled his awesome magazine Fantastique Unfettered. He and I worked really hard and had great fun making our shared-world fiction concept The Aether Age a real book that Hadley Rille Books published a couple years ago. He also helped me make real my dream of a new book in the style of the old Ace Doubles by giving up one of his novellas to form half of it. I sometimes forget that he wasn't technically a collaborator on my antho Things We Are Not--though he did provide its awesome title story, reprinted here--because the whole time I was working on it I was constantly chatting with him by email about it and getting his insight about things. And the second story that I acquired for the M-Brane SF magazine's first issue was his. It was a stunner, and I knew that I was in touch with someone who was going to be important. So when he mails me and asks me if I want to do something, it's easy to sign up.

Another thing I like about the Weird Bard Press plan right now is that we're not doing a periodical. It's too much of grind right now at this stage of things. I like magazines, and I think Brandon does too, but we're not in that mode this year. FU was finally cancelled a few months ago after its last issue didn't quite make it all the way to press, and I have not--despite some low-level clamor for it--committed to bringing back M-Brane SF. And I'm not going to this year. I'm not saying never, but it's not the right year for it. So, we're going to do stand-alone books and focus first and fully on Torn Pages. It's exciting for me right now because I really have no more idea what this book is really going to end up being than anyone else does, but I know for sure that it's going to be super-cool and very interesting. This certainty comes from knowing that it has a great editor with a great concept.
Here is the final piece of my Justin Bieber fan fiction trilogy (which I have just now this moment declared a trilogy because I have a third item). The first was "Your Justin Bieber" (2011) in which a second-person narrator has an unexpected romance with the pop star, but it's indicated that maybe the whole thing might be more about the archetypal figure that JB might suggest than about JB himself. The second item is "The Exorcist Playset" (2012) in which JB appears JBmug2only as a literal prop in a secondary role in what is otherwise a piece of Exorcist fan fiction. In this story, he is literally an action figure, a sort of animatronic doll that stars in a kid's weird play-time fantasy and who perhaps helps this kid work his way out of what may or may not be a real demonic possession. In the writing of the following story, I have brought the subject matter closer to home and let myself be embarrassed. And for this occasion, the story seems like it should have a long and ponderous title like…

You Will Find That Heart/Smiley-Thing Deep in Here, XOXO JB
by Christopher Fletcher

Woven into the texts of Nemesis—where the unknown author famously makes an extraordinary observation about a universe where “dark planets rolls without aim, where they roll in their horror unheeded, without knowledge or luster or name”—is a concept with which I utterly disagree. I can say now, as the world unwinds around us, that there really is an aim after all. It’s just one with which humans will have nothing to do.
            —Justin Bieber, PhD, from The Diary of Fthaggua

When he presented you, at the Xmas Eve party a couple years ago, with the next year’s Justin Bieber calendar, you were both amused and acutely embarrassed. Because it was a light-hearted gesture, honoring with well-intended humor the fact that you had unabashedly declared yourself a JB fan some time ago and were willing to admit it to anyone and stand up for its legitimacy against any opponent. And because you know that it’s likely an ongoing source of derision that you are too old, too serious, too old, too smart, too old, too professionally accomplished, too old, too cerebral and brainy, and mostly just plain too goddamned fucking old to be a belieber. It was like being handed a piece of pornography, by someone who knows exactly what kind of porn you’re into, in front of a whole bunch of other people who don’t now and won’t ever get your weird kink.
            Your favorite months are June and September, especially September where he wears Wayfarer sunglasses like yours.
            Because you are very busy with work and life—and because you are not a consumer of the kind of media where the foibles and failures of celebs are celebrated—you miss for a few days the news of JB’s arrest in Florida for drunken driving and resisting arrest. People close to you are amused that it falls to them to fill you, of all people, in on the latest of a series of ridiculous calamities surrounding this young man. You have to tell them that despite what they’d assumed was a deep and abiding fandom on your part, you just plain hadn’t heard about it yet. But when you get a few free moments away from anyone else’s gaze, you google the fuck out of the situation and find his mugshots. Though you’d not admit it to anyone else, you are relieved and delighted that he looks—even under the duress of drunken incarceration—not like a bleary-eyed loser like most people do under those conditions, but kind of pretty and sweet and crowned with mostly intact hair. He smiled for the cop cam.
         
This was about the last you’d hear of JB for a while. The incident supposedly motivated him to change his life, and part of that change was receding from pop celebrity. He cancelled his remaining performing and recording schedule. He declined media appearances and interviews. You remember hearing that he had decided to devote himself to matters of “faith and philosophy,” which you’d naturally assumed was some kind of meaningless fake-ass nonsense well in line with his previous professions of a sort of cheesy pop star Christianity.
            You remember liking a lot that full-page pic of him in his book Just Getting Started where he is on stage and he looks wet, sweat-slicked, very earnest, and yet behind him is a big lit-up sign that says PRAY. In its caption, he tells you that he is living proof that dreams come true. You cringe at this naïve cliché and you are embarrassed both for him (for saying it) and for yourself (for reading it and owning a copy of the book). He tells you to believe and to pray, and you cringe, believe and pray and pray and all  your childish dreams will come true, but he’s so fucking beautiful anyway, so you ignore this patent moronic nonsense and you decide, once again, once again, one more time, one final time, to like him anyway because he has, at least, a gorgeous voice even if he’s dumb as a bag of hammers. You occasionally still enjoy “As Long as You Love Me”  and “Boyfriend” when they recur on your playlist, but you assume that the next time you’ll see any sight of JB is when he is eventually dredged up as an F-list celeb alongside a hundred-year-old Joan Collins, a cyborg Kirstie Alley, a fat and drunk Marilyn Manson and one or another stupid Kardashian for a season of Celebrity Cook-Off hosted by an ever-more-raspy Guy Fieri.
            And of course some hot new kid quickly emerges to fill the Bieber niche, that pop-cultural hole that must always have a lithe young male occupant, and after a year or so of no new news of him at all, everyone quits caring about or even looking for the whereabouts of Justin Bieber, former pop star.

You come home from work late on Friday night—after cooking an Ancient Roman wine dinner or some such pretentious nonsense—and J says: “Can’t wait to tell you this shit: Your Boy has moved in behind us, in the house across the alley!” You honestly don’t know to which one of “Your” “Boys” he may be referring since that is the language he uses for any dude that he thinks that you might possibly think is cute. It could mean any of several thousands of dudes. It could be anyone. But seeing your exhausted confusion, he clarifies: “The Biebs. Fuckin’ JB. Here in Argos-Bellona, here in our back yard! Just moved in today.” And you again feel way behind on current events because this was supposedly widely reported on Channel 5. Stunned, you look out the back door, across the alley. Through a window in the house across the way you see a silhouette in motion that you can imagine matches JB’s.

You locate online and start reading daily the copious blog posts of the new Justin Bieber, the former pop celeb who now lives across the alley from you, whose backyard is in full view of your second-floor balcony. One day he writes,
            “The Outer God Nokkthathuas, typically represented as a blood-tinged cyclone or a shroud of blowing red dust possibly concealing some sort of unseen, unconscious creature, is perhaps a more appropriate entity for consideration nowadays—as the Dust once again threatens to enshroud the planet—than great Cthulhu itself, but the fanatics of the Cult Cthulhu will not give up their adolescent fantasy that they are finally getting noticed by the gods. They bear a mutant baby and they think it means love from the Void.”
            And, yeah, nearly all of it is just as impenetrable as that passage.
            One afternoon you sit on your balcony and gaze across the way. Behind his own house, JB sits at a table in his backyard. He wears nothing but board shorts and sunglasses, as if he might be ready for a swim, but you suspect (to your despair) that he is never going to get wet in that in-ground swimming next to his table. Because when he sits at that table he does nothing but type and click on a laptop computer. Sometimes he does this long into the evening.  Sometimes, after he has stopped for the day, you check his blog and see that he has just added another long and abstruse post about Cthulhist theology. On Twitter he might say something like, “Some people still want some kind of heart or smile from me. It’s fuckin’ comin’.”

You go to a local bookshop where you have an appointment to read aloud passages from your novel The Days of the Dust and the Diane Rehm Show and hopefully sign copies of the book, purchased by  readers from the merchant who invited you there. Hardly anyone to date has bought it yet so you hope for a small breakthrough here.
            The bookstore manager has arranged several rows of chairs in front of a table that you sit upon cross-legged and read to the guests. The passage you choose involves a dangerous, revelatory encounter between two young men aboard an airship cast in the form of a dream about alternate-history ancient Greeks who are uncovering an ancient horror on an asteroid that rolls in the dark between the Earth and the Moon.
            In the front row sits JB. He is somewhat disguised, a Cardinals baseball cap pulled low on his forehead, Wayfarer sunglasses, but it’s plainly him. You attempt to avoid glancing at him too many times, deciding to observe his obvious desire for anonymity since no one else seems to have realized who he is. He listens to you read, occasionally taps on an iPad resting on his lap. During the question/answer period, he doesn’t ask any questions. Afterward, he buys a copy of the book but he does not get in line to have you sign it.
            After he leaves, the bookstore manager says, “That dude who was sitting in the front, the one with the Cards cap, looked exactly like Justin Bieber.”
            “I guess it could have been him,” you say, and the guy just laughs. Maybe he doesn't know that JB actually lives in the city now. Or maybe he just can’t picture JB coming into his store for any reason.
         
Later that night, you take a look at the blog and read this headline:
            “Nokkthathuas and the Zeppelin: A-R Kanayda Shrouds a Deep Truth Inside a Family Drama.”
            His first paragraph: “This evening I listened to the author read from the book at a local bookstore. Even though I’d already read it, I kind of wanted to see the person who wrote it in person, speaking aloud some of its weird words, hearing his actual human voice saying these things.”
            Below this paragraph, inset within the post, is a picture of you from that night’s reading copied from a fresh post on your own website. You feel, for just a moment, quite nearly almost as embarrassed as you felt about the calendar because you understand that you are actually thrilled and flattered to appear on JB’s blog. On the new JB’s fuckin’ blog, which makes not a lick of sense. You’re a fucking fanboy so you do not care that what follows—his nine thousand word review/analysis of just one short segment of your novel—is nearly incomprehensible. And you love the fuck out of it when he cross-posts his new entry—about your story—to Twitter with the comment: “There’s a weird smiley/heart thing deep in here.” You could just die. Die.

One night you have a lengthy dream in which JB intermittently appears in various roles and guises: college friend, co-worker, boss, lover, brother, son. At one point, shortly before you awaken, he is leaning into you as if to hug you, and you permit this hug and you also permit him to kiss you in an awkward hesitant manner until you both eventually agree to this intimacy fully and kiss wetly with fully open mouths. The streaming spit between you becomes somehow thick and sticky and stringy like strands of rubber cement or semen. It thickens until your faces are bound together in a gluey mass from which you try half-heartedly to escape.

About a week later, you daydream that maybe you could really someday quit your day-job and take up the novelist life because JB’s endorsement has somehow caused Days of the Dust to rise into Amazon’s Top 100 in both Literature and Science Fiction and it looks like you might actually get a decent royalty payment for the first time ever in your life. But then a week or so later, it falls down into the top 30,000 and then down into the top 100,000 and then continues to plummet from there into the millions. But you have another one ready to publish and you can just go ahead and use JB’s endorsement of the first one as a cover blurb on the second one, and so it goes.
         
You go to the grocery store after work, very late and in a hurry for a shortcut for the pasta dish that H wants tonight. You peer at jars of various pestos and pickles and olives and other cured and marinated things at the Italian kiosk where a store chef has prepared samples of porcini mushroom/chicken risotto for the customers. You wonder if there is a container of something flavorful and piquant and oily that you can just dump into a pan with whole-wheat rotini and parm and be done with it.
            JB says, “This looks really good, but I have no idea how to make it.”
            You look up, turn around, and see him. He looks exactly like he did at the bookstore reading, sunglasses, Cards cap, t-shirt, board shorts. And he is looking at you. And his comment about not knowing how to make something was, in fact, actually spoken to you. Then you realize that you did not change clothes before you left work and that you are wearing a dirty green chef coat and black pants with pictures of fish printed on them. Of course, upon interacting with JB in person for the first time, Fucking Of Course! you’d look like this. And, Of course: he certainly thinks that you are the store chef who is handing out the risotto samples because that dude is not at his station at that moment.
            “It’s not that hard,” you say, checking quickly to make sure that you even know for sure what “it” is. The display surrounding the risotto samples has all the stuff that the store wants you to buy to make porcini/chicken risotto. But you disapprove of how it’s really just a bag of some kind of fake-ass risotto product to which you add chicken and the store-brand cheese. You disapprove of the lack of fresh mushrooms, white wine, freshly grated cheese, fresh parsley. “It’s not that hard,” you say again. “But this isn't the way to do it.”
            Though you resist the act of literally taking his hand in yours, the effect is similar as you lead him around the store and drop items into his hand basket: Arborio rice, shallots, garlic, assorted earthy shrooms, flat-leaf parsley, a box of chicken stock, a bottle of pinot grigio, a tub of grated parmesan. “It’s easy,” you adhere, “as long as you remember that you need about three times as much stock or other liquid as rice. What kind of kitchen equipment do you have?”
            “I have everything,” he says. “I’m just not good at using it.”
            “Just remember,” you say, “to not skimp on the heat when you start the initial sauté.  Heat is your friend. And don’t lose patience with the rice. It will be correct at about twenty-two minutes. Google some directions or a YouTube vid if you don't remember exactly what I have told you.”
            Fuck no, he says, you need to come to my place and show me.
            Stopped, as they say, “dead in your tracks,” you say this next thing, feeling like a totally stupid tool: “Um. I don’t know about that. But maybe. Do you live in the neighborhood?”
            You, he says, know goddamned well where I live.

When you finally return home that evening, H has already eaten dinner. You are amazed that his mood is good and that not a word is spoken about how late you are. He does not ask what kept you, does not disparage the fact that the groceries that you brought home are too late for tonight’s obsolete  plan. He does not inquire as to where you were, and so you do not have to tell him right now the truth that you followed JB to his home behind yours and that you were at once excited and creeped out when JB changed clothes in front of you (which consisted only of removing his shirt and swapping one pair of shorts for another) and that you were delighted to guide his hands, your long monkey arms wrapped around him from behind, as you taught him how to properly chop an onion and smash a garlic head, and how proud you were that you actually did not get a hard-on and knock it against the small of his back while you were doing this. Because no one would have believed you about that.
            And how, when you said goodnight just before you drove your car around the corner to your own house, you did not, emphatically not, accept his offer of a kiss goodnight, your kiss-spit remaining just a gluey rubber cement dream.
starfishI did resolve a few days ago to move along the long-in-progress work-in-progress to a this-year completion. This afternoon I roughed out this scene that seems to solve a problem that I was having the last time I tried to get past a certain point. These are the new words of the new chapter, fresh and unedited...

The Starfish

Below lay the tomb world, the immutable cause-and-effect world of the demonic. At the median extended the layer of the human, but at any instant a man could plunge—descend as if sinking—into the hell-layer beneath.  Or: he could ascend to the ethereal world above…
--From The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick

So there’s two “yous” in these notes, Chris, you my traveling companion, my step-dad, and then there’s the you of this journal. That second you I don’t always use, because it’s dumb, like “Dear Diary”-dumb, like I am a girl on a twentieth-century TV show addressing in the second-person a cheap blank book with flowers on the cover and a chintzy lock that any mean brother or sister could easily break. But sometimes I speak nonetheless to this journal directly even though it’s dumb. Chris: you are taking me on a trip today for a reason that I can’t guess at and which I haven’t bothered to ask about because I really want to go no matter what your own motive is. Diary: you will suck up my thoughts when I have them and then recede like something dimly perceived in binoculars, moving away, when I don’t have them.
                 We’re in the base of the Ankh, that giant metal thing from the 1960s that towers over the downtown of Argos-Bellona, because it is the only local structure suitable to be retrofitted as a dock for airships. You texted me a few days ago that the airship Atreides was arriving in town, stopping for a couple hours to take on new passengers for a journey northward to Transcanada and then later to Gotham. You implied by the very act of letting me know about this opportunity that I would be excited about it because I would hope that an old friend of mine would still be among the crew of that ship and that I would reunite joyously with him. But you were kind enough to not actually say a single word about this possibility—that he would be there—because you are worried that it will break my heart—and then eventually yours—when we board the ship and discover that he is not there anymore. It will break my heart, but I am ready for it, and I am ready to let it not break yours. I will wear a tough guise, a face of great confidence, a mask that proves that I am still excited about this airship journey because I am doing it with you, and certainly not because I expect to see someone else. You will believe this because it’s what will make the first few hours aboard so much easier on us both. This is always how I’ve done it, Chris, even when Dad was still with us. It needs to be even more this way now that we are alone together. Believe me. I am wiser than your years.Read more...Collapse )
photoIt is Christmas morning at almost 9:00 am as I start to write this post, J and I have been up and about since 6:00, and he keeps discouraging me from starting on today's food preparations until a little later. I guess I am not used to being around the house in the morning, and I am having trouble settling on something to do until it's time to start cooking. I realize that this is partly because all of 2013 was conducted at a full-on run, mostly because of my job, and it's weird to sit still. We did actually take two little vacations this year, to Curacao for four days in August followed by a couple days at home, and then to see our friends in OKC for three days at Halloween. But those, and two days back in January, were literally the only days this year until today that I did not appear at work for at least a short time. Working 350 or so days of the year, as I did in 2013, isn't going to be sustainable in 2014.

Work
But I am making some changes in the workplace in 2014 which are going to be good for me. I'll be reorganizing the team a bit and  filling a couple of vacant positions so that I can delegate away some of my more time-consuming chores and start to withdraw a bit from the minutiae of day-to-day operations. I need to to do this so that I can get some more big-picture stuff accomplished next year and also so that I don't just completely wear myself out. Also, I think my crew is getting tired of my stress-level (did a really bad job of keeping it bottled up inside this year!), and I would like to stave off mutiny for a while. But I kind of needed this year the way it was in order to figure some things out. My department expanded in size in 2013, and is about to expand again, and the experience of 2013 told me a lot about how to run a much larger operation.

Other Stuff
Changes at work need to help me create more time for other non-work stuff because I need to set some priorities and accomplish some things in my little writing/publishing world as well. M-Brane Press was considerably shrunken this year with only one new book title released and the promised revival of M-Brane SF magazine unrealized, and the long-promised final edition of Fantastique Unfettered altogether cancelled. A shame, because it was gorgeous, but I can't say I was too sad when its editor, Brandon, told me we were canceling. I was just too tired to finish my end of it properly anyway.

My own personal writing projects have been more or less in stasis for months. I haven't finished anything new and haven't published anywhere in a fairly long time. I am still plagued by what's now really a pair of novels involving a set of characters that have wanted their story finished to the exclusion of all else for a couple of years now. It's almost there, but it still needs some sustained attention.

This universe originally emerged in my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel (the only year so far that I actually made it to the finish line). Then, in the winter of 2011, I revived its characters in what was intended to have been a short story for one anthology or another. But it ended as a 30K-word novella, but still didn't feel done. Then I noticed that the two main characters from the '09 story, were separated from each other throughout the '11 story and only one of them was actually "on-camera" very much. So, sometime in 2012, I suddenly went to work on another big long thing focused on the other main character and what he was up to during the same time-frame as the '11 story. It could have stopped there. There's something I liked about the symmetry of the two parts. But it still wasn't done because Some More Stuff still needed to happen.

So '13's segment is intended to bring this to a conclusion at last. But now I have another problem: this three-part thing was originally imagined as a sequel to the '09 book. But I have somehow gradually changed enough stuff about these people and their past that the two stories don't make a lot of sense back-to-back now, or maybe that they make just enough sense together that the discontinuities are annoying to me. The timeline is messed up. I wonder if I don't really care about this or if I should somehow retcon the original story to make it match the newer one. It probably doesn't matter except for the fact that they might both end up in print at some point (just because I might put a revision of the '09 thing in a collection that I am considering). I have written some other junk here and there, but it's all been more or less unfinished or un-revised because this one project still wants all the attention. So that's the one that's getting it in early 2014 during this free time that I imagine I am creating for myself through reforms in my work life. We'll see how that goes.
J and I returned Monday from four days in Curacao, an island of the former Netherlands Antilles (now an independent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands). It's been eleven years since he and I vacationed anywhere very far away together. I want to make a few notes on what we saw and did there.

ARRIVAL, AIRPORT, TAXI: Airports stress me out generally, but as airports go, I like these small ones that are typical in the Caribbean and some places in Mexico. We'd hoped to exit the plane by stairs as we did many years ago in Mexico, but here they did have that exit tunnel thing like at most American airports. But the exit tunnel and the arrival/immigration/customs area was open to the air, not air-conditioned, kind of sultry because it was hot that day. We liked this, being immediately exposed to the climate.Read lots more...Collapse )
Feeling need to talk to my journal about random topics, no particular logic to it:

VACATION
Jeffy and I are going to Curacao next Thursday. This is the first actual vacation we have taken since 2002 when we went to Mexico. Curacao was a somewhat last-minute choice. We'd been planning a trip to France, but it got all off the rails for reasons too tedious to recount. Basically, we procrastinated our planning too long, weren't going to meet J's requirements for that particular trip, decided not to spend the money if it wasn't going to be right. But I was still determined to go somewhere completely away from home. We'd heard of this former Dutch colony just a few miles off the shore of Venezuela but we knew nothing about it. Now we are very excited about it. We have a suite in the capital Willemstad, which town evidently looks like this:

curacao

WORK IN PROGRESS
I certainly didn't need a new one of these to start up just now, but that's the way it goes. This is the opening segment of what turns into a haunted house tale of sorts later on:

Mud, made of red clay and the inches of rain that had deluged the land for the previous two days, finally stopped the driver of the old truck that was to have conveyed me the last few klicks to the Sanitorium Melancthon. It was not that his tires were yet mired, but rather that he wished to avoid that hassle, which he saw coming too soon down a road the pavement of which was probably two centuries decayed and which had been getting gradually more so as we drove. You’ll need to finish on foot, sir, he said. I’m sorry, but I’ll go no further in this mess. I paid him the full fare, pulled on my rucksack and trudged forward between ruts full of black water. The rain didn’t fall hard, but it was insistent and a bit too cold for that hot season.Read more...Collapse )

DREAMS
carsinwater
The water dreams are back. In these dreams, I am usually driving somewhere that I don't want to go and I find that as I proceed the road that I am on is too close to edges of bodies of water or that there are vast expanses of water to either side, and eventually the road starts to get washed out and I am trapped in some hopelessly cut-off swampy or oceanic area with no possibility of going forward nor any chance of retreating the way I came. I have been bothered by these dreams for most of my adult life. I went for a while without remembering one, but they recur a lot lately. I don't like it at all. I hope that when I am in Curacao by the ocean and on the floating bridge and in the floating market and driving a rental car within view of the ocean that some switch will flip back off and get rid of these dreams for a while.

EJAC STATS
Another ongoing work-in-progress caused me to do some quick Googling to determine if I could easily get an answer as  to whether, in the real world, something could somehow change with the genetic information transmitted in a human male's sperm as to make it somehow not really his genetic info anymore but rather that of an exomorphic entity.Read more only for TMI...Collapse )

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