You only see what I show you

A friend pointed out that a reviewer, talking about my story “Mrs. Henderson’s Cemetery Dance”, said about my work:

“Sometimes as a writer, you step back and say, “Wait. What did I just write?” I have to assume that, as both a writer and editor of horror erotica, Carrie Cuinn has the occasional interesting reaction when she does that. There’s not even a tiny sign of self-consciousness in this story, though.”*

While I’m pretty sure that’s meant as a compliment (I’m definitely taking it that way), it does point out that a portion of my readership knows me primarily from the weird erotica side of my writing. There’s magic realism and science fiction and horror and non-fiction writing on my resume too!

But the truth is I have gotten a little notoriety lately from the success of Cthulhurotica, and that’s not a bad thing. I don’t want people to think my work isn’t sexy, when it’s meant to be; just the same, I can’t complain that people know me for one kind on writing when most of what I’ve written this year – in other genres – is sold but not yet published.

It’s a reminder that I need to get more writing out into the world, the same as I need to get my latest editing projects out and I need to make sure my non-fiction writing is both well done and placed where people can find it. I recently had a chance to give someone important to me advice about his writing, something I’m usually hesitant to do, and I said that you need to know the story you’re telling, don’t rush through it, but when the end comes, end it. Let it go. Move on to the next project and make that great too.

I don’t want to be known for just one book either. It’s up to me, then, to make sure I’m not.

* Whether or not I’m self-conscious in my writing is another conversation. I can’t say I’m always bold in real life, but I do think that if you’re going to tell a story, you shouldn’t be afraid. Be bold. Be passionate. Be completely convinced of the validity of the world you’re creating. If you aren’t certain you’re saying the right thing, your readers won’t be either.

Wonder what I sound like?

Now’s your chance to find out. Recently I was interviewed about Cthulhurotica, along with author Don Pizarro (who also has a story in that collection) for the Functional Nerds Podcast, and while I talked too fast and the sound quality – only on my end – wasn’t great, it is a chance to hear me and the others talk about the book, the Mythos, why Lovecraft was a great writer but a poor choice in party guests, and much more. Functional Nerds is Patrick Hester & John Anealio, and if you’re not following their interviews, you’re missing out on conversation and insights from some of science fiction and writing’s greats, along with can’t-miss new talent.

Click Here to Hear the Podcast!

Road Trip

The last few months have been hard for me. I’ve had drama both personally and professionally, a two-month bout of unemployment, and a really nasty case of strep throat (which I am just barely recovered from *cough*). I have writing that needs to be done and editing projects I’ve been ignoring and a few opportunities I’m certain I’ve lost at this point. I have moments where I think it’s all coming together and then some other exciting* thing happens and I’m back at “now what?”

This weekend was supposed to be good. I had a couple of road trips planned – for a total of 20 hrs on the road and a little over 1000 miles driven – which I love because I get to sit in my car and listen to music and not have a lot of other responsibilities beyond arriving safely at my destination. I was supposed to meet up with some very good friends, talk writing, drink, laugh, and forget about life for a while. It didn’t happen, because of things which were beyond my control. Again. Again! Too much has been happening in my life which isn’t my fault and I can’t stop and which spirals out of control around me. Which, I realized, was precisely the problem. Not the fact that life happens, often in nasty ways, because I still prefer living over the alternative. No, my problem is that I’ve been trying desperately to hold on to the facets of my life which matter to me, and to try to make decisions without having all of the facts in. I can’t have any control over the big things in my life right now.

Me, give up control and let life happen? Oh, I’m not good at that. Waiting for other people to decide if I’m worth something to them, or trusting that someone else will keep my best interests at heart? That’s scary, and I’d rather not, thanks. But trying things my way hasn’t exactly gotten me what I wanted either. Saturday night, plans cancelled, I got in my car, and drove away.

About 45 minutes later I ended up in Asbury Park, home to the Stone Pony and the Wonderbar and the ocean and a which was a place I’ve never actually been before. It was something new. I walked around the strip, looked out at the sea, and let go of – everything, really. Stress. Worry. Control. I just breathed in and breathed out.

Afterwards I stopped off and got a donut.

Driving home I knew I had to start over. I considered my options and realized that there are some very real, very solid things in my life, which often get overlooked when everything else comes crashing down:

1) I have a child. He’s my responsibility, he’s not going anywhere, and I quite like him. Whatever else I do next, he’s coming with me. (I discovered his usefulness Saturday afternoon when, in a fit of ennui, I was lying on the livingroom floor, like you do, and he decided we were going to play “airplane” whether I liked it or not. Five minutes of him trying to push my legs into the right position to support his weight was absolutely hilarious, and I cheered right up.)

2) I like writing. I like editing. I like taking an idea and turning it into a finished product, and having that change people’s life in some way. Dagan Books started out as a way to print one book, and I’ve been unsure if I truly have what it takes to turn that into a publishing company with a consistent print schedule and a staff and, frankly, responsibilities. A lot of my lost momentum the last few months, where DB is concerned anyway, has been because of that uncertainty. I’m not unsure anymore.

And the biggest one …

3) I know what I want. I can see in my head what I want my life to look like, the kind of person/people I want to share it with, what makes me happy. I may not definitely positively for-sure have those things, but I know now what it looks like, and that makes finding it so much easier.

Some times you have to stop thinking, breathe deep, and start with what you know. Drop the things you’re unsure of, let go of holding onto the past or the possibilities of something that isn’t working for you, and find the things that you’re so certain of you don’t even think about whether you’ll have them – you know you do.

Yesterday, I started editing IN SITU again. This week will see new blog posts about writing, and my #cook365 project. I may not know where I’m going to be living in 6 months, but I know what I want right now.

Thanks for being patient while I sorted it out.

* In the worst sense of the word.

The Editorial “We”

My first book came out in December, and it’s doing well. I’ve got plans for two more this year, and I’m busy with lots of editing work for other people/places. I’ve even had to cut back on some of the places I was volunteering, to focus more on the markets that will be good for my resume and future job-getting. It’s good to be me, right now, except … I keep thinking it’s all a big lie.

They’re not my books. I’m just the editor.

I put a huge amount of work into Cthulhurotica. After the Idea stage, I wrote guidelines, solicited submissions, did a few interviews, selected stories and essays, scouted out potential markets – and as I got further invested in the book, decided that it was the perfect first title for the small press I’d always wanted to start. Editing turned into publishing, and by the end I’d learned about marketing, ISBNs, covnerting to ebook, working with Amazon, web design, and so on. In a lot of ways, this is my book, from start to finish. But in one big way it isn’t: I didn’t write it. Since I still primarily think of myself as a writer, this has kept me from feeling that I’m as much a part of it as the other contributors are. I think of it as their book, or (depending on which one them I’m talking to) as “our” book. But not mine. Continue reading

Write Hard: Writers Who Inspire Me (Larter, Pizarro and Taylor)

When you win:

1. Post the picture above to your blog. You can link here if you want. It doesn’t have to become part of the permanent clutter of your sidebar. Goodness no.

2. List at least three writers who you feel live up to the “write hard” spirit. Think: writers who work at their craft, writers who never give up despite the odds, writers who constantly turn out quality work. Writers you admire. Optional: explain why you think they are awesome.

3. Include these rules or a link to them.

4. Notify said writers of their victory. Ask them to pass on the torch.

5. Continue being awesome.

I was nominated for this and since I’m both pleased and rules-abiding (when it suits me), here are my picks:

My three choices aren’t the only hard-working, ass-kicking writers I know, but they have the distinction of being both writers I like as people, and writers who’re working on an upcoming Dagan Books project of mine. All three talk about the process of writing on their own blogs, and they tweet about their day-to-day writing stats and struggles as well. They’re not afraid to be seen as writers who still have something to learn and they’re generous in sharing what tricks they do pick up. All three are committed to working on their craft not just when the muse strikes them but as often as necessary to become the kind of writer we all want to be.

1.  Simon C. Larter – is charming. You might not know this but meet him in person and you quickly realize he’s just as fun and easy to be around as you’d hope for. His writing is the same kind of fun – energetic, a little sexy, a little cocky, entertaining and accessible. If you read Larter’s twitter feed you probably already know that he’s married, working a day job, and finding time to write around his life as a father of a couple of small children. What you may not know is that his conversational style of writing isn’t as spur of the moment as it might feel… he actually reads and researches and re-writes as necessary to make his writing work. He also spends a considerable amount of time networking, talking to writers (new and experienced), sharing his thoughts, recommending work to his colleagues, and supporting us in times of need. He’s a better person than he’s probably willing to admit.

2. Don Pizarro – reads voraciously, adores indie writers, and bases his work in a strong foundation of research. He writes slowly and carefully, willing to retool his work until it’s perfect, no matter how long it takes. Pizarro is persistant in his determination to be a writer worth reading – writing nearly every day, making time on his lunch breaks and after work and on weekends – more than almost any other writer I know. I met him when we both found out we were appearing in the RIGOR AMORTIS anthology together, and got to work with him as an editor when he submitted to Cthulhurotica. He turned in a story about romancing a cultist that was both overtly sexual and extremely subtle, implying its Lovecraftian origins instead of smacking you upside the head with it. If he can do that with a piece of weird erotica, imagine what he can do with more serious writing. Follow him on twitter and find out for yourself.

3. K. V. Taylor – should probably be in a all-girl punk-pop band, but instead she’s a writer, and we’re all lucky she turned out this way. She’s quick witted, cheerful and enthusiastic on a regular basis. Her twitter feed is full of blog posts and music references and her obvious penchant for the strange and offbeat. Yes, my friends, this girl writes well, quotes fabulous lyrics, and likes monsters. If you’ve met me, you’d know this makes her awesome in my book. Also, she’s literally been awesome in my books – her story “Transfigured Night” appeared in Cthulhurotica, “Chennai 5″ will be in IN SITU, and since she’s going to be included in our next book as well, Taylor has the distinction of being the only author to appear in all three of my company’s first three titles.