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Monday, November 27, 2006

If Kate Beckinsale were a Goth Chick…



I love Curve, and Toni Halliday is amazing (my main character is based on her look). They hit the scene along with Garbage and were overshadowed. Sadly, they are no more.

Enjoy the video, especially if you've never heard them.

12/1: Changed the video, found my favorite Coast is Clear.

Now, I'm sick and I always will be.
Now, I'm sick.
Now, I'm sick.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Let the Self Critique Begin!

I gave myself an extra day's freedom from the barbed chains of my manuscript and am now going over my notes. I keep a stack of index cards near me during the process, to note elements that should have been included previous. I can now take a look at the ugly pile and try to figure out what the hell I meant, and more importantly where the additional information will go. If I did it at the time the thought came to me, I'd get lost in the revisions.

My goal is to rework at least two chapters per day. Although, the more I think about certain chapters, I'm convinced that at least two will need major revisions. Sloppy.

Enough procrastin…

Book Review: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon



I intended to read Zafon's, The Shadow of the Wind, since its 2004 release in the US. Since then: too much drama, far too little reading. My book club brought it back to my attention and we'll discuss it at our next meeting.

The story is a misty blend of mystery, romance and self-discovery. Daniel, our hero, is attracted by chance to a hidden tome in the cemetery of forgotten books, the title, The Shadow of the Wind. He is bestowed the honor of becoming the book's patron, its savior, if you will. He falls in love with it. Zafon details Daniel's search for the history of the book and its author, Julian Carax. The tale is haunting (sometimes literally) and complex and its revelations are unpredictable.

I found the book slow to invade, initially, as my mind was wrapped in my own novel, but, in time, I was hooked by the nostalgic feel and Zafon's gift with the written language. His words (as translated by Lucia Graves) flow and swirl like the mist and the fog surrounding his lurking antagonist.

Read it by a roaring fire and arrange for a solid rainy day. That's where the book wants to be read.


Next Book: Endymion Spring by Matthew Skelton

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Turkey Day!


Pass the cranberry sauce, Ma!

The wife and I (she forces me to call her that, italics and all, even in our most private intimate conversations--ssh, it's demeaning), will be cooking for my parents, and a couple of hangers-on. I think what I'm looking forward to most are the awkward silences, broken up by the occasional jaw grinding away at dry meat.

The holidays, why can't they be every month?

Oh yeah…mass suicides signal the apocalypse! Or do they? Are holiday suicides the work of the devil, as so many believe? No, I can't imagine they are.

Like the slowest gazelle, or a three legged dog, those who cannot deal with their family issues often are churned under by the cheery Thanksgiving or Christmas machine. I'm suggesting that they, the weak, are undeniable proof of Darwinism, much like the seeming storm of children swallowing toy magnets.

So, if you can't take the heat, get out of the holidays people. It is the season after all (through the ninth of January, when lights must come down or the evil home owner's association are on you like flies on mincemeat). Suicide. Think it over. It isn't just for high school kids! Plus, you'll be doing us all a favor for the Black Friday attack on the malls. You'll be one less person to stomp on, in that mad dash for chenille socks, or a discount turkey fryer.

To the rest of us: Pat yourselves on the back, you've survived. You're the holiday fittest! And, isn't that something to celebrate?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hallelujah!

Today at 5:30 pm.

A momentous event in this writer's life, the first draft of Undead Socialite is done.

Done!

And just like every other American who's accomplished a goal, I'm going to celebrate by eating pizza and getting fat...fatter.

Later.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Fincher? Fincher. Fincher!



I knew they were making a movie about the Zodiac killer, but I had no idea David Fincher would be directing. The case is one of the most fascinating, unsolved serial killer mysteries in our nation's history. Now that I'm aware that Fincher's directing, I'm going to be bouncing on my hands like a kindergardner.

Will you join me? Give it a hop.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Top Ten Horror (Short Fiction): A New Feature

I'm considering adding a new list feature, possibly one a month, depending on my own interest. Let's start with horror short stories (we'll include novellas):

10. Guts, Chuck Palahniuk (from, Haunted, a novel in stories)
A supremely horrific masturbation accident, leads to another, another. Stephen King says that if he cant' scare or horrify, he'll go for the gross out. Chuck achieves it in spades.

9. Bright Lights, Big Zombie, Douglas E. Winter
Winter is a lawyer (I think still), and an editor of horror anthologies, who pumps out these delicious little tales, like blood sausages. They are horror, comedy, and a skewering of writers du jour. You just want to eat 'em up.

8. The Turn of the Screw, Henry James
It's not on the list, because I'm drawn to it. I'm not, really. But I respect the pacing and the twists. It can be torturous trudging through the historical machinations of sentence structure. But you can't deny, it works.

7. Quitters, Inc., Stephen King (From Night Shift)
When I was just breaking free from the elementary school library (5th grade, I think), I couldn't get enough of Stephen King, Carrie was first and then Night Shift. Loved his way. Quitters, Inc. is just a great nastiness, and probably more effective than the patch.

6. The Dunwich Horror, H.P. Lovecraft
Head trip freak out, couldn't have a list without him. The story itself is arbitrary. Could have been any number of his fictions.

5. Autopsy Room Four, Stephen King (From Skeleton Crew)
This one just plain creeped me out. The simple idea of being alive on the autopsy table, chills like an exposed nerve being poked with a dental pick. Did you feel the current run through your spine?

4. I am Legend, Richard Mathesen
Who would dare to change up the Stoker's Dracula, if Mathesen hadn't brought us such a brilliant revision, to light the way through the dark. And, even though vampires seem to be inundating our culture, don't we just love the bloodthirsty bastards? Note: Will Smith has signed on as the lead in the film version.

3. The Lottery, Shirley Jackson
Brilliant, piece of work. Should be higher, but it's my list. I don't have the words for Ms. Jackson. A writer that can take fear and paranoia and put it into every literature class in the country. Thank you, Shirley. Anyone for a stoning?

2. Midnight Meat Train, Clive Barker (Books of Blood, No.1)
I know what you're thinking. Barker above Mathesen, Jackson, Lovecraft, and King. And no Poe or Crane mentions-blasphemy. WTF? (Then you'll read ahead to number one and really shake your head). This choice has to do with nostalgia and geeky adolescence. Midnight Meat Train is scary, horrific, and memorable. The entire volume of the Books of Blood, were genius. You wondered whether Barker was insane in the writing. "We are all books of blood, when we are opened we are red..."

1. Less than Zombie by Douglas Winter
This is the one I first remembered, when I thought to do the list. It is a brilliant mimicry of Bret Easton Ellis's minimalism, and hilarious, to boot. A huge inspiration, particularly for my book, The Undead Socialite's Guide to Nightlife. To take supernatural characters and spin them out of horror and throw them into '80s party and drug culture while staying true to flesh eating? Brilliant.

So, that's the list. Go discuss, disagree, comment, whatever…

A Poignant Tug of the Heart Strings.



Don't question what you can't understand!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Book Review: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn



A secret truth about family therapists: we collect your stories and share them with our friends like pirate treasure. And we laugh. Oh…how we laugh. Because if we don't, we'll go insane. You see, we gather the stories like childhood quilts, to wrap up in, to keep ourselves safe. Let me see if I can put this simply. The more they are story, the less they are real. It helps.

But there are certain life events, people you meet, that creep in to the head and take hold. Families so extravagantly sick and damaged that they cannot be turned into a simple story. In meeting them, in working with them, their very depravity invades and injures the therapist, too.

Two families come to my mind without thinking, at all. And both remind me, specifically, horrifically, of Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects: A Novel. My objective review is brief. A great, vicious, small town mystery. The objects in the novel are not nearly as sharp as Ms. Flynn's wit. She must have weaved this story on a sick loom, for she is a sick sick woman. And I love her for that.

Obviously from what I've written here, the novel took me back to some rather disagreeable moments with previous clients. And what kind of a writer would I be if I couldn't spin a tale without keeping some secrets for myself.

I am reminded of a young boy, who stabbed his mother several times in a darkened kitchen. My interviews with this child were brief and fruitless, he didn't care, couldn't remember why he did it. The next day, I found a justification. The wounds were shallow and the mother chose to come to court for the arraignment. She wore an old cardigan like a shawl, and mid lobby, threw it off with a flourish, revealing butterfly taped wounds and raw stapled cut puckers. She was radiant and beaming. Oh to be the victim, and to play it so well.

Who's more frightening?

Next Book:The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Do you have your tickies?




I have my concerns with this one. I loved the revamped Dawn of the Dead, but Land left me sour. I fear that this 3D version owes more to the Sci-Fi channel weekend Crap-a-thons than to Romero's classic.

Discuss…

Strip Tease No. 3: Splayed

The novel is spraying out of me like explosive diarhea. Just get it done. Just get it done. I can clean up after. So what if it looks like the back of a rest stop toilet when I'm finished. I'm good for an oxyclean rewrite, or two, three, or four.

I let my copy editor know what's up and she told me I'd better get through quick. Apparently at 80,000 words, she's going to need it for a while. Jesus!

…is that a cramp? Here it comes again.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Book Review: London Calling by Edward Bloor



It seems the most interesting goings on in the fantasy genre are occurring in juvenile fiction. Edward Bloor's London Calling is case in point. His is a quiet little book that has ventured away from battle axe wielding goblins and obligatory dragons (of which, I have no interest--haven't since Bilbo had his showdown with the dragon in The Hobbit), to tell the story of Martin Conway, a depressed middle school student from an alcoholic family.

The plot turns on an antique radio. Its ghostly signal is also a portal to the deadly past of the London Blitz. Martin meets Jimmy a boy in desperate need of help (of the kind, I wouldn't dare mention here). Suffice it to say, Martin complies with Jimmy's request and sets forth on an adventure in history, revenge and redemption, couched in some very serious questions about death and the afterlife.

In a recent discussion, with a fellow author, it came to our attention that the preponderance of books in this area have been written with 12-year old girls as the focus. This appears to be the case, at least, of the current crop of juvenile new releases. London Calling, however, is firmly geared toward boys. I can't imagine it not taking up a place on my shelf, or your son's.

Next Book:Sharp Objects: A Novel, by Gillian Flynn

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Total F**king Freak Out

I'm about to lose my mind. I wrote recently about my short story sale, and now I've heard back from the editor at Penguin (I met with her in August and sent her a book synopsis and three sample chapters). Guess what? She wants to review the completed manuscript. Jesus! Now I have to finish it. I've set a goal for completion of the first draft by the end of November. Writing that down here, I hope, will keep me accountable. I've promised to have the manuscript to her by mid December, so I'm going to be working my fingers down to bloody stumps. I'm going to be a shut-in. The neighbors are going to think I'm the Sentinel.

Wish me luck and fast fingers.

Rodents are the New Puppies

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Book Review: Chasing the Dead by Joe Schreiber



A treacherously quick read,Chasing the Dead: A Novel, follows the principal character for only a matter of hours. It unfolds like a tight horror movie and if it hasn't been optioned yet, it soon will be. It has a kidnapping, voodoo, zombie's and that kooky ultraviolence, that's so hot right now. I imagine that this author was tired of watching bad horror on the Sci Fi Channel and, like so many of us do, said to himself, "I can do better than that."

Luckily for Mr. Schreiber, he was right. The pacing of the book, makes this one a real nail biter. It doesn't require much effort (although at times, I found myself reading so fast, I skipped some passages and had to back up). Chasing was like that literary cliche of a rollercoaster ride. But kudos, it's an E ticket.

Next Book: London Calling, by Edward Bloor.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Book Review: Lisey's Story by Stephen King



10 days to read 500 pages? How is that possible? Simply put, this is not your mother's Stephen King novel. Lisey's Story is challenging, heartbreaking, it tackles the randomness of memory with the precision of Ishiguro. Oh, don't get me wrong, monsters lurk in these pages, vast endless monsters, like the laughers or the title character's dead husband Scott's "long boy, with the never-ending piebald side."

I had some initial difficulty ingratiating myself into the words. It starts like a foreign language immersion class, with so many new words that they undulate around you like asphalt haze. These are the words of the interior of a long marriage, the language created from intimacy and rarely spoken outside. It is quite engrossing.

As the novel begins, Lisey Landon's husband, Scott, a famous award winning author (King insists is not based on him), has died, but that part of the story is detailed later, besides, he's very much alive in her memory. The author has left behind manuscripts and letters that are in high demand and frame the impetus for a violent showdown between Lisey and a threatening stalker. But it's about so much more: "bools and blood-bools", the "booya moon", a silver spade, a pool, catatonia, and love, above all, love.

A brilliant and unexpected work from a prolific mind, Lisey's Story is enthralling and magical, page after page.

Next Book: Chasing the Dead: A Novel

Friday, November 03, 2006

A Good Morning for Writing

There are days, mornings mostly, when the words come like dreams. Rainy and misty and grey as cataracts, good days. The words float in from the sides, like from a turn of the century postcard viewer. Very similar, in fact, fully beige in their sepia. Are they memories from dreams? Could it be that simple? Where do they come from?

Enough drifting, the clouds may part.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Stephen King Lecture Notes

Okay, so, I didn't actually take any notes. But I was entertained. Last night, My wife, two friends and me went to see Stephen King at Benaroya Hall in Seattle. The man can scat. Two hours and only a brief reading from his new book, Lisey's Story.

Some thoughts:
  • King likened writing to a tennis match, bouncing ideas off reality and writing down what comes back. This statement was in regards to how much of our 'selves' are in our characters.
  • He discussed some of his favorite adaptations to film (Shawshank, Misery, The Green Mile) and some that he thought were shit (Sometimes They Come Back Again). He reported that Eyes of the Dragon was being made into an Animated Film, and John Cusak had just wrapped a film, called 1408, from the short story of the same name.
  • On the popularity of Horror, King offered that people like to explore their darker thoughts, films and books are an easier way to do that than writing and filmmaking (stuck in the dark thoughts). He suggested that when people have to deal with extreme violence in reality, that is reflected in popular culture outlets (Saw, Texas Chainsaw).
An interesting night, full of anecdotes from his family life and medical issues (his recent pneumonia and subsequent infection, directly influenced the new book). He even conjured up a scare for the audience, bringing up reports that 1 in 50 people leave their cars unlocked and 1 in 100 leave their houses unsecured. That there would be someone waiting for those people in the rearview mirror or in a dark closet was assured. The only question: would they be carrying a kitchen knife or power tools?

Note: Another film currently in the works, The Mist, one of my favorite of King's short stories, is being directed by Frank Darabont (The Green Mile).

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Book Review (X3): The Professor Von Igelfeld Entertainments



Alexander McCall Smith, the author of the wildly popular No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, has a lesser known series of strict literate comedy, centered around a German University Romance Philology Department. Portuguese Irregular Verbs, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs, and At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances follow the misadventures of Professor Doctor Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld. Each of the three is more reasonably termed a novella than a novel, due to their brevity (clocking in the high 120s0: perfect for a bath! They were collected in a single volume titled The 2 1/2 Pillars of Wisdom, I believe.

Von Igelfeld is joined in educational intrigue and slapstick skullduggery by his best friend Prinzel and nemesis Unterholzer. From Venice to India, backwoods America to Cambridge, von Igelfeld doesn't miss out on an opportunity for hilarious misunderstandings.

The stories in these books never cease to make me smile, if not laugh out loud. Give them a try.

Most Haunted Psychic Derek Acorah a Fraud? No, Surely Not.