Gregory S. Close’s science fantasy novel Greyspace is now on KindleVella

He’s not actually doing this to bribe us (my clone-sibling and I), but there was at one time a deal struck that we’d finish “that novel” if he finished Greyspace… No wonder he asked me just a couple days ago how the work on that and other stories was going.

Here’s the blurb:

Once Upon a Future…

Sorcery powers the FTL Eldritch Cores of interstellar ships and modern science is just along for the ride. Second Ships Apprentice Bronwyn Mare is a somewhat average mage on the HMS Morrigan, but a mysterious message from her grandfather reveals that she’s got approximately ten hours to join forces with a mostly dead scientist, unleash a demon king, free a dreaded assassin, and save the universe. No pressure.

Cover Art: Paul B. Spence

(Yeah, that last bit is part of why, according to rumor, somewhere in the story is a shipbuilding company owned by “the Spence Clones.” 🙂 My twin has some skill in CGI, and years ago he made Greg a model of the HMS Morrigan.)

Now I’m gonna sign up for KindleVella so I can read the rest of this novel…

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Editing status: boss fight

I’m about two-thirds of the way through the manuscript, at least.

I would have had this one done months ago, but various real-life circumstances (mostly health problems) got in the way of me even working on it. (You know me: usually, I’d complete the first round of edits on a mere 130K-word manuscript in a few weeks.) I’m still nowhere near my usual speed and efficiency, but I’ve gotten through more than three chapters today, which is a lot more than I’d been doing.

One of the scenes I edited today (still haven’t gotten through the aftermath of it, though) is sort of an actual boss fight. Fans of the series tend to get worried when something comes along that’s able to seriously damage Drake, right? Well, friends, he’s seriously damaged. Could be worse — he could be dead again.

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I should have just watched the damn movie…

[I started writing this post more than a month ago, in early May. There’s a longer version — yes, really — that’s still a work-in-progress, but today seems like a good day to share at least part of it.]

Back in May, I made another attempt to get help for my PTSD. Found a therapist who listed trauma/PTSD as one of his areas of specialty. Scheduled an initial session over video.

During that initial session, the therapist informed me that I’m autistic. (More about that later…) I told him that I already knew that, and that I wasn’t seeking any sort of “therapy” for autism. “I just need help for PTSD,” I said.

However…

Therapist didn’t want — or even allow — me to say anything about any past experiences that may have resulted in me having PTSD. “The past doesn’t matter,” he said. “The only thing that matters is right now. What traumatic things are in your life right now?”

None, I said. I’m seeking therapy now because I’m able to seek therapy now, for old problems that have never been properly addressed. I have decades of old problems that are still making my life difficult and painful even though those problems are not happening now.

The response I got to that was less than helpful.

I was told to read Thinking in Pictures… or watch the movie based on it instead, if reading a book was “too difficult” for me.

(I asked why he wanted me to read this book… and was interrupted with, “We don’t use the word why.” And then, “Just read the book — or watch the movie, if that’s easier for you than reading — and after you do, I’ll tell you my reason for telling you to read it.” Spoiler: A week later, I was informed that the reason for this therapist wanting me to read Thinking in Pictures is that he was certain I’d see myself in the person the book is about, that I’d see how I’m just like her in how I think and behave.)

I didn’t want to do either. I already knew the basics of what the book is about, and although I’m sure the acting and such is excellent in the movie version, I did not want to see and hear it.

The intro to the 2006 edition of Thinking in Pictures, written by someone other than the author, is insulting to autistic people: ‘Ohmigod, y’all, it’s so amazing that this woman with Asperger’s was, like, able to learn how to be human even though she’s afflicted with Asperger’s and people like that aren’t really human.’

That’s not the over-the-top hyperbole (I can’t use hyperbole, remember, because it’s non-literal language — so say the “experts” on How Autistic People Think) that it appears. Here’s a quote to illustrate:

It is said by cognitive psychologists that autistic people lack “theory of mind” — any direct perception or idea of other minds, or other states of mind — and that this lies at the heart of their difficulties. What is remarkable is that Temple, now in her fifth decade, has developed some genuine appreciation of other people and other minds […] But many sorts of humanness have become available for Temple in the past ten years. Not least among these is a capacity for humor and even subterfuge which one would have thought impossible in someone who is autistic.

…And I’m supposed to see myself in this. I’m supposed to ‘learn to understand’ that I have no sense of humor and no ability to even think about saying something that isn’t one-hundred-percent factually true and literal.

A few days later…

At no time while I’ve been reading this book have I not been angry.

I wonder whether any of the people who talk about Temple Grandin as some sort of folk hero for People With Autism have actually read what she has to say about autistic people.

She writes favorably about ABA (huge red flag there), even saying that a minimum of twenty hours a week of this “therapy” is required for even the most high-functioning autistic person to learn how to speak/communicate. (Fun fact: I never had any “therapy” for autism and somehow managed to be far better than most “normal” people are at using words.) She writes favorably about Lovaas’ “therapy” for autism. (In case you’re unfamiliar with this, it’s ABA: applied behavior analysis, the goal of which is to make autistic people ‘not act autistic.’ ABA causes a high percentage of autistic people subjected to it to develop PTSD.)

I had an intense anxiety attack when I got to the part of Thinking in Pictures where the author discusses the “squeeze machine” she daydreamed/fantasized about as a child. I knew this part of the book would be bad for me — it’s the primary reason why I didn’t want to watch the movie version — but I never thought it would be this bad. I cannot tell you, O Reader of my blog, exactly why it was bad for me, not because I don’t know or because I don’t have the words to explain it, but because I very much should not tell anyone the details. I did tell someone, however, because the person I told already already knows the specifics: “Based on her description, it’s a lot like the machine, just without the air-pressure aspect. When I read the words inflatable rubber lining, I practically threw the book across the room just to get it away from me, and I haven’t been able to look at it since.”

That anxiety attack is in no way the fault of the author of the book. For one thing, I at least sort of knew what I was risking when I chose to read this book. I’m just… angry, that so many people are apparently using one autistic person’s experiences as proof that literally every autistic person would benefit greatly by being subjected to pressure over their entire body while in an enclosed space because it would somehow make them not feel anxiety.

(Fact: That sort of pressure would “help” me with anxiety the way drowning “helps” with fear of water in someone who has already experienced almost dying from drowning — and no, I did not pick that specific comparison haphazardly.)

Temple Grandin seems to believe that all autistic people “think in pictures” (I know one person with an official autism diagnosis who’s also aphantasic: no thinking in pictures is possible for this person), that all autistic people have difficulty understanding that words even have meaning or are intended to communicate something (example to the contrary: Thomas Weaver Spence, who doesn’t even have trouble with prepositions, which Temple Grandin claims are just about impossible for autistic people to understand because they’re impossible to picture the meaning of in one’s mind. (**) Relevant side note: I am so fucking tired of people saying I am unable do something that I do all the time — that they see me do all the time — and even teach “normal” people how to do when they, with their oh-so-superior non-autistic brains, can’t figure it out on their own), and that all autistic people have “flat affect” in speech and such. Temple Grandin says autistic people don’t feel complex emotions, nor have any ability to understand how another person feels from an experience without having experienced the exact same thing themself, so it has to be true, right? (Temple Grandin would probably say I was not being sarcastic at the end of the previous sentence, because autistic people are all so goddamn literal all the fucking time.)

Important detail: I was not the one who brought up the possibility of me being autistic; this new therapist did. During the first session… right before telling me that ‘I cannot have PTSD, because I have autism.’

I did make sure to state during the initial session that I don’t want “therapy” for autism. (“No one can force you to get therapy,” he said, “since you’re an adult and live alone, but it would be for your own good, and you should at least consider it.”

A couple weeks later…

I cut the second session short, and I will never be talking to that therapist again.

I read the entirety of that damn book. I didn’t want to give the therapist an excuse to say that I “misunderstood” it because I hadn’t read all of it. (I’ll be blogging about Thinking in Pictures in much more detail sometime later.)

Some of the problems that arose during the three hours, total, during which I interacted with this therapist:

I asked Therapist why he’d wanted me to read Thinking in Pictures. He said, “We don’t use the word why.”

…So I reworded the question and asked again. “What was your reason for suggesting that I read Thinking in Pictures?”

“Because I wanted you to read it.”

“Obviously. What was your reason for wanting me to read it?”

“So you can learn that not every person thinks the exact same way.”

“Had anything I said or did given you reason to believe I didn’t already know this?”

“You have autism. People with autism don’t understand that other people don’t think the same way they do.”

“If that’s a requirement for someone being considered autistic, I’m not autistic.” (I know it’s not a requirement, by the way.)

“No one is autistic. Some people have autism.”

*sigh* “I know the standard arguments in favor of person-first language, but if it’s me we’re talking about, shouldn’t I have the right to refer to myself using identity-first language if I prefer that?”

“No. If you say you’re… you know, that’s saying there’s something wrong with you.”

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being autistic, any more than I think there’s anything wrong with being green-eyed. I have no strong personal preference between person-first or identity-first language, but I know that a majority of autistic adults prefer identity-first language, and I do not like some non-autistic person telling me that I must use the wording they prefer, as if I don’t have any right to choose for myself how to describe myself.”

Then there was some nonsense about how being green-eyed isn’t a bad thing… but that there was next to no chance of someone having green eyes and autism because both are so uncommon.

“Yeah, about two percent of the population for green eyes, and slightly less than that for autism. Nevertheless, there are three such people living in this house, in a town with fewer than twenty thousand people in all.”

Then I was accused of being a numbers nerd… and therefor of having lied about earning a living as a copyeditor (or “word nerd,” as Therapist called me). Because no one can be good with words and numbers, right? (And no “person with autism” can be good with words anyway, because we can’t understand that words have meanings. Obviously. *monthly sarcasm quota achieved*)

I was even indirectly accused of lying about having PTSD, because after all, no person with autism can feel intensely enough for a bad experience — someone trying to murder them, for example — to be traumatizing, right?

At some point during that second session, Therapist informed me that he doesn’t deal with PTSD/trauma. Nor does he have any training in working with autistic people “(people with autism”), either… but he has a colleague who works with “children who have autism,” and he thinks that makes him qualified to tell me that I’m just like some famous person who claims never to feel complex emotions and who has a lot of difficulty understanding that words have meanings.


** When I was in elementary school, some teachers explained what prepositions are as “anyplace a mouse can go.” Under, through, to, around, up, before, toward: those are prepositions. For people who need to picture something concrete in order to understand a word’s meaning, that seems like a rather useful explanation to start with.

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In case you need a laugh today

Something funny my clone-sibling just told me…

Scientists have decoded the signal from Alpha Centauri: “We’ve been trying to reach you about your extended auto warranty…”

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Announcement about “that novel” (*)

Friends, we have artwork:

If you’ve read Paul’s previous novels, you may recall the Amundsen being mentioned in The Madness Engine. Here are a couple of paragraphs from that portion of the novel:

One of the towers stood empty, but three had giant rockets standing ready for an order to launch that would never come. Those must be the colony ships, Drake thought to himself. Gerhardt had launched the Roald Amundson to Alpha Centauri in hopes of finding inhabitable worlds. It was an amazing feat, given the primitive technology of twenty-first century Earth.

Of course, the war had interrupted the whole mission. The explorers had launched in the Roald Amundson only months before the virus outbreak. They would be traveling for years to come. Drake had found a note that said Gerhardt had sent a message to them, telling them of the war, but they were in coldsleep. They wouldn’t know what had happened until they woke up at Centauri. It would be too late for them then. The trip had been one way. They were depending on the colony ships to bring the supplies needed to come back. They would die out there, never able to return home.

Anyway, I’m delighted to finally have a mission patch for the Amundsen. Now I just need to get this put on a coffee mug… 🙂

“Why a coffee mug, Weaver? Why not a t-shirt or something?” Because the captain of the Amundsen drank a lot of coffee, that’s why. I’ll probably also see about getting an actual patch like this at some point, but really, the coffee mug is more important to me.


*”That novel” is what I used to call this particular WIP; last year, Paul gave it the working title of Necessary Precautions. The Amundsen‘s mission to [redacted] isn’t the main focus of the novel, but it is very important backstory. (Also, when the first manned anything to go beyond the Sol system is assumed lost for more than a century, but then it comes back… Yeah. Scary times for all involved, I’m sure. Except that old guy at Jellico, who knows far more than he’s telling, and even he’s worried.)

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(office kitty)

Another old post, but everyone likes to see cute cat photos, right?

I also just realized that I never shared any of the photos Grace took of IttyBitty while all the cats were spending a few hours in Paul’s office at work (because we all had to evacuate the house due to a wildfire nearby).

So, without further ado, I present to you… Office Kitty:

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(plausible)

I typed most of this in May of 2019 — where does the time go? *shakes head*

I’m having more than a little bit of anxiety — okay, nearly panic at times — because of something Grace told me she’d said to one of her friends yesterday afternoon.

She was talking to her friend Sherri (?), who’s been reading Paul’s latest novel (which Sherri bought in paperback — yay!) and is almost finished with it. ‘Paul needs to write faster,’ Sherri said, ‘because I’m about to run out of book again.’ So Grace asked her if she’d read the short stories yet…

Turned out that Sherri didn’t even know there are short stories connected with this series of novels, so Grace told her that they’re still available for free on Paul’s author website, but, ‘He’s going to remove them sometime soon, so download ’em while you still can.’

So far, so good… except that one of those short stories has a co-author listed, and the co-author has an aversion to drawing attention to himself in “real life” (as opposed to just the internet), and it’s possible that Sherri will be curious about this co-author, and she may, y’know, do an internet search and end up here, reading my blog and seeing my bio and realizing, Hey, Paul has a twin! and then thinking, Why have we never met Thomas? Why is he such a recluse? What’s wrong with him?

And I don’t want to deal with it. Ever. I want Sherri to read Paul’s short stories, of course, but I don’t want her looking at me as a result. (If some of the things I’ve written about Jason Grey are any indication — and they probably are — I get mean when I feel cornered that way.)

Not everything that happened yesterday is bad news for me, though. Something else Grace told me suggests she’s still negotiating with the person who has an embroidery machine to get a “mission logo” patch made for the exploration vessel/starship Roald Amundsen. (I also want that logo on a coffee mug. Ideally, the ginormous mug I got a few years ago.) Grace would make it herself, except it really needs to be machine-embroidered, and Grace only does hand embroidery. (Real space mission patches, by the way, are printed on special fabric that won’t burn or melt; the embroidered versions are no longer made except to sell to collectors. I didn’t know that until I started doing research for character backstory…)

More than a year and a half later… Sherri ought to have another of Paul’s novels to read soon-ish: I’m around twenty chapters/thirty percent through the first round of copyedits on a novel titled (unless the author changes his mind, which he did at almost literally the last minute with the first book in the series) The Dark Plaza.

There seem to be a lot more short stories in the works, too… but it’s unlikely that Sherri will read any of those. Or so I tell myself.

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Sometimes, he takes a break from editing, and then something funny happens.

I suppose it’s good to know that “flash-precog” thing is still working…

There I was, copyediting Paul’s latest novel. Got to the very beginning of that scene, the one I’ve been waiting for since practically forever. Decided to take a break, however, because the author of the manuscript was nearby (staying home from day job today), and that meant I couldn’t listen to music as a way of, um… redirecting some of the emotions that keep surfacing due to thematic elements (fun fact: we started using that term after encountering it in an interview with Neil Gaiman — how appropriate, in a weird, three-universes-to-the-left sort of way) in this part of the story.

So I checked my email instead. Saw that there was something about the day’s “theme music,” from a blogger I follow… And I knew. Instantly, beyond the shadow of a doubt, I knew what the song would be: “I Ran (So Far Away),” by A Flock of Seagulls.

Seagulls. Yeah. Because I’d just started editing the scene in which Jon Livingston (a man, not a bird) first actually appears “on screen” in this story…

(Are you reading this blog post, Loyal Reader? Are you paying attention…?)

I also have fragments of a Peter Gabriel song running in the back of my brain, but that’s not my fault. “Waves of steel,” indeed. *shakes head* I should be glad that I’ve been such a “bad influence” on my dear clone-sibling that he made an allusion to song lyrics in something he wrote.

Could have been worse. Editing that scene yesterday would’ve probably made me angry, for reasons entirely in the backstory. (“The character’s backstory or yours, Weaver?” Yeah, good question. I’ll let you know when I find out.) As it is, I just have to ignore the turns of phrase the author chose deliberately to mess with the new character (and our “bestest beta reader,” obviously) while correcting a few comma splices and polishing the occasional awkward sentence structure.

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*drinks coffee… picks up red pen*

Monday afternoon, my clone-sibling (*wonders if this means Paul is also able to wield the Red Pen of Doom — y’know, just in case*) handed over the manuscript for the fifth book of The Awakening series. Notice that I’m not referring to it as “the last Tebrey novel.” That’s because it isn’t; it’s simply the last book in this series. (Paul mentioned today that he’s thinking of leaving a note at the end of this book: Tebrey will return in Stars’ End.) Anyway, I’ve started the copyediting, and we already contacted our Loyal Reader and offered him the chance to be the first human to read this story… 🙂

I don’t know if a publication date has been decided yet. July seems a bit late, but it’s somewhat appropriate: July 17 is Daeren Drake’s birthday (adjusted for local calendar, of course), and July 23, 1995 was when I met my brother… Apparently C. Grendel’s birthday is sometime in July, too. (I didn’t know; Paul just mentioned something over the weekend about wanting to ‘have a birthday party for Grendel’ in July if at all possible. It’s actually that Paul joined the Society for Creative Anachronism in July, 1991. So yeah, party like it’s the mid-1400s, or something… but don’t ask me how old Grendel is, because I’m not supposed to make jokes about that.)

Perfectly logical segue that only looks like a non sequitur: In addition to Necessary Precautions, Paul has also been making progress with Riders on the Storm, the sequel to Project Brimstone. (*mutters something about epigenetics*) Y’know what’s really inconvenient? Needing a character for a story, but not having them available because they’re busy in a different universe. (Even the character best suited to handle the problem when the first one isn’t around… is also busy elsewhere. Not that I’m complaining.)

I guess it’s not at all surprising, then, that he’s also been thinking about “Finder’s Fee” (Alandra makes passing reference to a song that we do not even think about when discussing Riders on the Storm — it would make Dr. Channing angry, and then he’d refuse to cooperate, and the other characters sorta need his good will right now), trying to figure out how to line up ducks — or whatever it is he’s going — so the different points in the overall chronology make sense when seen as a whole… *shrug* And he said something to me yesterday (as we were standing in line to get our first COVID-19 vaccines) about wanting to use some stuff I wrote years ago about Teige’s backstory… (*wonders whether it was a mistake to allow the clone to re-read the original version of “that novel” last autumn*)

I gotta get back to copyediting feline (neo-panther) snark now… Just wanted to give everyone an update on our writing-related stuff.

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New year, new look…

You’re not imagining things: I did change my avatar/profile photo. Temporarily, anyway.

The ginormous coffee mug seems appropriate, considering the novel my clone-sibling and I have been working on lately. (Shortest explanation: the person in charge of the Roald Amundsen‘s interstellar mission drinks a lot of coffee.) The red pen and the copy of The Chicago Manual of Style, on which the ginormous coffee mug rests, should be self-explanatory.

No doubt some people would tell me that even a temporary change in avatar/profile photo is a very bad idea: ‘It’s important to always use the same image because blah blah branding blah.’ Yeah, well, I don’t like that word. And under the circumstances, a term originating in the practice of deliberately marking something by burning it with iron… Thematic elements, kids: sometimes I prefer not to think about ’em unless I’m in the process of writing the story at that moment. (*wonders what his twin is writing at this moment*)

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