Mind of Winter by McCamy Taylor


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Post March 20, 2013, 06:35:45 PM

Mind of Winter by McCamy Taylor

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Post April 02, 2013, 12:52:00 AM

Re: Mind of Winter by McCamy Taylor

McCamy brings us mysteries, questions about life, and death, and states that may be neither, or may be both.

The questions in this story are about what happens to living things when (and sometimes before) the Earth changes. Some creatures remain as they've been, some change in predictable ways, while others show new traits far beyond our ability to have predicted. But nothing is certain or entirely known; every change has questions attached to it.

That lack of answers seems reader-magnetic, especially as it stands out against a writing style that's almost stark in its plainness. McCamy is clever; she knows that a story is easily forgotten when it answers all the questions.

Delicate, spooky and complex.
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Post April 02, 2013, 04:12:27 PM

Re: Mind of Winter by McCamy Taylor

The author informs me that this story is related to a number of previous tales featuring her unusual version(s) of the ubiquitous supernatural creatures that appear in this story (including "Vishnu's Beer Garden", which is probably included in our Beta (Gamma? Upsilon?) Author Index). Given the unusual viewpoint and ... evolution ... of the protagonist in "Mind of Winter", I didn't make the connection. (It's been a while since I read the other Taylor stories she cites as world-mates to this one.)
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Post April 10, 2013, 08:11:20 AM

Re: Mind of Winter by McCamy Taylor

Boy, the more I like a story the more I have to criticise it...

Inconsistencies:
"Rain turned acid. Crops withered in the ground."

then later:
"On the radio, they were saying 'Don't look up! If a snowflake touches your eye, it can blind you.'", making me think the snow must be pretty damn acid. However, the MC then goes on to eat the snow (both with blood and without) with no concern or ill consequences.

"Due to the unseasonably cold weather and cloudy skies, the nation's corn crop fails." - this was already mentioned but it was due to the Acid rain earlier.

Dogs do not see in only black and white:
Some people take the term 'color-blind' too literally. Dogs have only green and blue color cone receptors in their eyes so they do see colors but not nearly in so many shades or hues as humans, who have red cone receptors as well.

I'm glad the MC didn't eat the dog.

Side Note about the cleanliness of snow:
Having lived near the Arctic circle I can testify that when snow has been accumulating for months it is anything but clean. Come April/May when it melts the sidewalks are piled high with a winter's worth of grit, dirt, dust, cigarette ends, bottle caps, gum and dog turds - that's just the stuff you can see, it also smells like a urinal after it's melted. Really, really unpleasant. They have a saying in Moscow: The shit you did in November will find you in March (the English translation really doesn't do it justice, it is so much more offensive in Russian).

Suggestion:
The painting could have been mentioned earlier (a Chekhov's gun of sorts) and would have helped fill out the whole gallery/artist side to the MC and tie it to her prophetic dreams.

The ending:
Brilliant, a really great twist on the usual theme and I loved the way it was bolstered by a few historical references.
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Post April 10, 2013, 10:12:20 AM

Re: Mind of Winter by McCamy Taylor

Ha! There are no coincidences:

http://www.downloadtheuniverse.com/dtu/ ... lence.html

Since McCamy's story is related to the theme of epigenetics, this struck me as tangentially relevant.
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Post April 10, 2013, 02:30:13 PM

Re: Mind of Winter by McCamy Taylor

The "don't look up" story is a real one, told by a real New York cabbie in New Orleans about how people in NOLA have an absurd fear of (ordinary, non acidic) snow. It is supposed to occur before the volcanic eruption. Having lived in a Gulf coastal community, I can testify to the fact that people's lives come to a dead stop if even a single flake of something frozen falls from the sky and sticks to the ground.
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Post April 10, 2013, 04:56:54 PM

Re: Mind of Winter by McCamy Taylor

Verse wrote:Ha! There are no coincidences:

http://www.downloadtheuniverse.com/dtu/ ... lence.html

Since McCamy's story is related to the theme of epigenetics, this struck me as tangentially relevant.

Following links is so much fun . . .

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovi ... reat-ceos/

Reading the above article astonished me. In my novel, I have a bad guy who openly describes himself as a sociopath, but he meets the description of psychopathy in the Forbes article, and fits all the descriptors with scary accuracy. Oddly, I never studied psychopathy, but it seems true that "you know it when you see it."
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Post April 10, 2013, 10:22:21 PM

Re: Mind of Winter by McCamy Taylor

Lester Curtis wrote:
Verse wrote:Ha! There are no coincidences:

http://www.downloadtheuniverse.com/dtu/ ... lence.html

Since McCamy's story is related to the theme of epigenetics, this struck me as tangentially relevant.

Following links is so much fun . . .

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovi ... reat-ceos/

Reading the above article astonished me. In my novel, I have a bad guy who openly describes himself as a sociopath, but he meets the description of psychopathy in the Forbes article, and fits all the descriptors with scary accuracy. Oddly, I never studied psychopathy, but it seems true that "you know it when you see it."


... or "it takes one to know one"... >:D
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Post April 11, 2013, 11:53:53 AM

Re: Mind of Winter by McCamy Taylor

... or "it takes one to know one"... >:D
Hey, watch that, ya ornery pill.

Actually, no, or I'd have had a high-paying career doing something nasty, and publicly smiling about how it's "good for the bottom line."

Now I have a little better understanding of why I'm in the 99%.
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Post April 14, 2013, 04:18:45 PM

Re: Mind of Winter by McCamy Taylor

Quote from the Story
The Census worker is a youngish man, part Asian, part Black. The questions start with the usual, name, date of birth, city of birth, number of people in my household. Then, he asks about food. Since feeding the population is a major concern for the government, I do not get suspicious until he looks down at his e-pad and says

"In the last two months, your only food purchases have been dog food."

"How the hell do you know that?" I blurt out.

He blinks, startled by my angry tone. "From your debit card records. Do you have a dog?"

"Yes," I answer defensively. I cross my arms and glare at him. Some people frown upon feeding pets, when so many folks are hungry. But so far, the cat and dog lovers have prevailed. "He's had his shots, and I've got his tags."

"This isn't about your dog. This is about you. What have you been doing for food?"

What can I tell him? I drink my dog's blood? The SPCA would have something to say about that.

Lessa, who is hanging paintings for a new exhibition, pauses. From the tilt of her head, I know she is listening. Even if I tell the Census worker to fuck off, she will badger me with questions once he is gone. So, I come up with a plausible lie.

"I've been eating dog food."

Lessa gasps, but the man from the Census does not seem surprised. "I hear that a lot," he sighs. "You know that pet food is not formulated to meet the nutritional needs of humans."

So that is what this is about. "I take vitamins."

"You need more than vitamins." He types something into his e-pad. "I'm sending you the latest federal nutrition recommendations. You'll be surprised at how cheaply you can buy what your body needs."

I glare at him. He knows nothing about what my body needs.

Once he is gone, Lessa starts apologizing. "I had no idea you were hurting for money. You should have told me -- "

"I'm not hurting for money, and I'm not eating dog food," I assure her. "I'm buying meat and veggies from a guy who lives downstairs at my apartment complex." Now that food is in short supply, rationing has begun. Where there is food rationing, there will always be a black market.

I have been careless. I resolve to leave no more clues for nosy Census workers to discover. I still do not understand what is happening to me, but I am pretty sure that it is not something that I want Washington to know about.

I've learned a lot about smooth, believable dialogue from studying this story. I'm thinking now about how to apply it. Very professional. Taking ordinary, everyday conversation and making it interesting to read. Wow! Some serious talent going on here!

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Post April 15, 2013, 09:35:29 AM

Re: Mind of Winter by McCamy Taylor

Stories by McCamy are always worthwhile readings. She enters into another dimension with her writings, and opens up possibilities that are thought- provoking. And when writing in the first person, we get right onto the stage and next to the actors, so to speak. I heard that explanation of first-person writing once and always liked it!

The thoughts and feelings projected by McCamy are poignant, and they hammer home that Earth is changing drastically. And that its inhabitances are adapting.

The adopted dog, Sylvester, is taller than she is. I wonder if it’s taller when standing on its hind-legs, or taller when standing on all fours? In this story that’s a point to consider.

Before I started my critique, I read the others, which I don’t do very often. And I concur with them, but in varying degrees.

She mentions ‘Hydraulic Fracking’ and here in Pennsylvania that’s becoming as common as coal-mines once were. There is concern about the consequences of large-scale Fracking operations, and its impact on the water shed. Also, we have many abandoned coal-mines under Western Pa., and I’ve never heard about a study and its conclusion that investigated how Fracking and the abandoned coal-miners together would affect the environment.

I always look for symbolism in stories, or events related but in an abstract occurrence which sometimes the author doesn’t realize that he/she interjected. In this story, we have Keisha as an artist and owner of an art -gallery. And the more I think about the writing of this story, the more I realize that it seems to be a painting of words!

I’m wondering what others might think!
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Post April 16, 2013, 07:30:50 AM

Re: Mind of Winter by McCamy Taylor

(Early context notes cont.)

This time it does take a couple of paragraphs to figure out the story setting, but it starts to settle into Earth quickly enough. The main tricky point is whether it's precisely "today", or some small number of years in the future. However, a scan of the overall mood is that it's a "low tech" theme, so precise tech trends aren't so relevant, and it's rather "timeless" and not tied too tightly to any colossal piece of current events news. So then the exact year may not matter, and but not committing to one, the story "stays readable" for a modest time, instead of hard-locking to a specific date.

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