July 28th, 2009

The Red Tree

Howard Hughes vs. the Amazon Sales Rank

Hot yesterday, and it looks like more hot today. Summer finally found us, halfway through the summer.

A strange sort of day yesterday. I only managed 616 words on "January 28, 1926," before the swelter of the office got to me. I could no longer trust that I was putting the words where they belonged, or that they were even the correct words. So Spooky and I left the House, venturing Outside, where it was not quite so hot. We drove down to Beavertail on Conanicut Island. The wind was wonderfully cool. We followed the trail leading north from the northernmost parking lot, through the woods, along the fairy trail to the field on the other side. The tide was coming in, and the surf was rough, wild, sending white spray up and out across the slick black stone. We watched herrings gulls and cormorants and smaller sea birds until it was almost too dark to see. I think we reached Beavertail about 7 p.m., so it must have been well after 8 p.m. when we headed back to Providence. But it was only a little time with the sea, and I need so much more just now.

This book, The Red Tree, I don't think I've ever before had such a feeling that I was selling a book one goddamn copy at a time, by hand. And, here, I mean all the promotion that I've taken upon myself (because who else would ever do it?). Most of the summer has gone into promoting it, and I obsessively watch the sales rank at Amazon. It goes way up, then it drops precipitously. It goes up, and for an hour or three I have hope. Then it plunges again, and hope is pulled apart and scattered to the winds. This is the reality of publishing. None of the romance is left to me, I think. Only these numbers, the fear of these numbers. And I ask, if you haven't yet pre-ordered, please do so today. Thanks.

I'd not meant the comments I made yesterday to spiral into some sort of debate over "paranormal romance." I'd thought there would, instead, be discussion of Plate XV and a certain dubious bit of film. But what I intend to happen, and what actually happens...often they bear little resemblance to one another. I won't retract anything I said, because it was well thought out, and I meant what was said, and if I may not speak my mind in this blog, then it has no value, not to me and not to anyone else. I will add a couple of points, though. There were protests that it's not fair to compare what is obviously junk food to the gourmet stuff. That it's like, oh, comparing a B sf film to Dr. Zhivago. And yes, I will agree. I myself occasionally enjoy bad food and bad movies (though not so much bad writing). And this is fine. Just as long as we do not delude ourselves into believing that because we like Big Macs, because they make us feel good, that they are actually, you know, good food. And these books I speak of, they are literary candy bars, and if you subsist only on a steady diet of them, your brain will rot as surely as if it were only made of the stuff of teeth. Bah, I really don't feel like talking about this anymore. Though, I will add this, a marvelous quote from Liz Williams (mevennen):

I am occasionally asked to do a talk on the Gothic, and one of my pet peeves is the continual process of making the other safe. Once, unicorns were savage destroyers that slew anything that wasn't a virgin. Vampires were a horde of rats, or smoke. Angels eviscerated those who did not believe the word of God with flaming swords.

And now they're our imaginary friends, who have nothing better to do than schlep around being our 'totems.' I do, sometimes, feel that pagans have debased the great powers far more effectively than any Christian fundamentalist ever has. I work, on occasion, with Sekhmet, who is not to me a symbol of modern women's empowerment, but something huge and distant and remote. Like Aslan, not a tame lion. I think we need to get the 'awwww' out of 'awe', and pretty damn quick, too.

Which really gets to the heart of it all, much better than I managed to do.

The Very Special Auction auction continues. I should add, this is the only ARC of The Red Tree I will be auctioning.

And there are photos from yesterday:

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