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Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Misery Continues…

According to the online chat help guy–who made me want to kill–despite my website looking right on my browser, it doesn't on anyone elses. Apparently no one can see my cool fonts or dark teal background and there are error messages all over. After twenty minutes of communication failure, I was told I needed dreamweaver or frontpage to put the site together. So…until further notice…the website is under construction and I've got to go open a vein.

So join with me, start pulling your hair out. Your stomach feels like this…

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Three Days (and One Night) of Misery

I've been putting together a crappy website for the past three days, inbetween writing an author bio for Happy Hour of the Damned and reading Richelle Mead's Succubus Blues. Why can't anything be self explanatory? Blogger? No problem. LiveJournal? Easy. Website? Crazy fuck me in the head impossible.

So after that bit of fanfare, here it is: The Official Author Site for Mark Henry.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Book Abandonment: Threshold by Caitlin Kiernan



You'll have to give me credit for getting through the first 25 pages of Caitlin Kiernan's grating and pedantic prose in Threshold. I might have been able to get past the unwieldy use of the present tense, if I could vaguely remember anything after reading a page. The author seems so intent on achieving a poetic structure to the words, that storytelling suffers. So…couldn't finish it. I'm sure her fans love the book, and I wished I could have gotten something out of it other than a headache.

Moving on…

Next Book: Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead

28 Weeks Later!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Distractions, Positive Reinforcement for

I'm toying around with the idea of a high school murder mystery. My sleuthing team is a goth couple who are consistently singled out as "most likely to dismember". I've got some titles (they usually come first for me––have no idea why?).

Swallowing Bitter Pills
Hellions
Numbskulls
Eating Crow
The Sour Grapes

While trying to settle on some cool names for my pair beyond the pale, I came across the Goth Name Generator!

My name is: Purgatory Snow

What's yours?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Ta Da! Live Journal Announcement!

I've started abusing my livejournal account for talking about writing, and updates on the progress of the new shit. I'm loyal to my precious Burlesque though and plan to cross post quite a bit, unless it's something completely boring, then I'll stick it in the LJ. I'm calling it Parliament of Horrors, for no other reason than that stuck in my head like a Senjaya tune. It sounds pedantic, self-indulgent and pseudo-pseudo political, and since I'm, at least, one of those things, it's a go.

See you there.

Update (later that day): As I am a fickle bastard, I decided I hated Parliament of Horrors and switched the name to ZOMBIE CHOW!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Some Friday Name Calling

Book Review: Unshapely Things by Mark Del Franco



I loved Mark Del Franco's urban take on the fairy tale––we're talking actual fairies here, wings and all, elves and flits and gargoyles, too. The author creates an oddly familiar world in The Weird, a smarmy neighborhood that butts up to the Irish stronghold of South Boston. In Unshapely Things, Connor Grey is a druid on disability, contractor for the Boston PD, and hip deep in dead fairy prostitutes. If you're not hooked yet, go grab your Grisham and move aside. The characters are quirky, original and well drawn. Particularly amusing is Joe, or Stinkwort as Grey calls him, a small fairy creature that brings to mind a Guinness swigging, foul mouthed, womanizing, tinkerbell.

Of the three books in the genre I've read this month, Unshapely Thingsseems to fit the mold the best and captured my imagination within the first chapter. The mystery is tight and well plotted, with just enough twists and turns to ground the novel in a noir feel.

It's rare that I think about reading the next in a series, immediately after closing a book. But such is the case here. Del Franco has a new fan here at Burlesque.

Next Book: Threshold by Caitlin Kiernan

Thursday, March 22, 2007

What the F**k?

Why was this little girl crying during American Idol? It couldn't just have been Senjaya's screechy voice and Farrah hair, could it? Nope. She was playing up the wetworks from the beginning.

What could it be? Let's see.

• Simon's blatant neglect of his gynecomastic issues?
• Paula's abuse of the Pollyanna drug–what's it called again? Oh, yeah…crack.
• The desperate "fro patrol" pointed their picks at her?
• She's daddy's special girl?
• Ryan Seacrest's placating of rotten singers?
• Ham sandwich?

We didn't have to wait to long to find out. Because the little crying girl is on a publicity tour, she hit up the Today show this morning. Apparently, she's Senjaya's biggest fan. Which answers another question: yes. There is at least one.

Have You Seen Indexed?

Check out this blog. These index cards should be in a little flip book, like Bad Dog. I have to thank the fabulous Georgina for pointing it out.

It's a Jungle Out There!

My backyard has turned into the hill from The Ruins. It's terraced for one, the only mowable surface is a 10 x 10 patch, the rest is pure weed. Sometimes I hear things. I'm scared. Maybe someone else could do it. Is it wrong to hire Labor Ready guys from across the street, rather than going inside? I swear they only pay them minimum wage but charge the customer like $12 an hour. It's horrible. Why would I do that, when I can pay them minimum wage right out of my pocket.

Oh, wait…Is that insensitive? I'm just joking. Of course, I'd provide them with a cold beverage and half a sandwich. I'm not a complete asshole.

Seriously, could someone please deal with my backyard? Please?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Update of the Neverending Reading List

It's up another fifty books. Won't you people stop!

I don't have the energy to find the link. It's on the right somewhere.

Book Review: Carpe Demon by Julie Kenner



I was surprised to read that Julie Kenner was a romance writer, her prose is sharp and lacking the usual flowery word-play, which is a compliment. Her novel, Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom, is a cute, funny take on the urban fantasy genre. She sets her middle aged Buffy in a carpool cul-de-sac. Retired and gone soft, Kate is forced into action, when an undead octegenarian barrels through her window. From there, it's cocktail parties with holy water chasers, hounds of hell and italian dialogue.

It's a quick entertaining read, with likeable characters. Most notable is the babbling elderly demon hunter Kate rescues from a thorazine shuffle at a demonic nursing home. There are a few things that seem to be left hanging, but this is a series…

Next book: Unshapely Things by Mark Del Franco

Note: It's looking like Urban Fantasy Month is going to run into April. I'm going to need some fantasy come the fifteenth.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I Hear You Calling…Across the Wake

Here's a nice Sisters of Mercy fix, for y'all.



If we had a daughter we'd call her Marian.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Spilling the Eccentricity Beans

A while back, a former co-worker asked how I dealt with the isolation of my work. I told him fine. Here's the reality:

We have two dogs, Chaz and Linzey. The latter, a yorkie-maltese-shiteater hybrid is named after the little girl in Halloween. It's not unheard of for me to yell the following: "Linzey! Chaz is barking again, and getting on my nerves again." Of course, I do so in my best Annie impersonation (those not completely enamored of Carpenter's classic just bear with me).

The dogs follow me up to my office at 8:00. They've been doing this for the last 6 months. They're my coworkers, now. When Chaz failed to appear, Linzey tried to convince me that he'd called in sick, but was faking it. She tried to have him written up, but I'm not getting involved in her workplace drama. The second time this happened I went to check on him and he'd stolen Linzey's bone. If it happens again, I'll have to call human resources (my wife).

I'll let you guys in on another habit. Everytime I finish a revision, I print the whole thing out and make a special cover. It's insane, wasteful, and I love it. The last cover––the first with the new title––is a close-up photo of a woman's hairlip done up in a pristine red and glossed to a sparkling sheen. I'm using the photo for my icon. Disturbing, intimate, lovely.

The dogs agree.

My office is in the front of our house and overlooks our Questa Verde-like street. When I'm stuck on a simile, or a scene gone too serious. I just spin around like Christina Raines at the end of the Sentinel (the horror movie, not that BS they just released) and scan the street. There's undoubtedly some craziness going on. Often, it's one big AA relapse. Sometimes the neighbor drinks his shanty booze out of a paper bag, while he's weeding. Delicious.

How do I deal with the isolation? After careful consideration, my answer: very well.

Care to join in on the sharing?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Book Review: Bitten by Kelley Armstrong



The first book in Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series, Bitten is a werewolf thriller and literary fantasy rolled up into an okay read (it's an urban fantasy, of course, but that title seems to encompass so much). Ms. Armstrong must admire Anne Rice a great deal, to focus so much on history and detail of the packs. I guess I expected something else.

Here's the distinction.

Werewolves that stalk on two feet: Horror.
Werewolves that stalk on four: Literary Fiction.

I have nothing against literary fiction, per se. Some of my favorite books are LF. But you have to be in the mood. I'm not sure a fan of the urban fantasy genre would be excited about this one.

That said. Bitten is well written and employs some beautiful prose. It drags a bit in the middle, and lingers a bit too long on werewolf societal rules. But, I'm not sorry I read it.

Next Review:Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom by Julie Kenner. Note: after spending way too much time on the revision, it seems the three books on my list are coming due. I'll read the one's I bought after this, and Mark Del Franco's Unshapely Things.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

My First Time…

The dead girl is back in the hands of editor extraordinaire, and Burlesque of the Damned reader, John Scognamiglio. He can do with her as he pleases, scribble on her, rewrite her, Hell, beat the crap out of her if it's necessary––Do you see how it's good I'm not a parent? The bulk and clean up snowballed into a big revision that added 46 pages and turned 18 chapters into 30. It was torturous, grueling experience and directly related to my tendency to underwrite.

I'm vowing to remedy it on Road Trip.

I've written some scenes, the first chapters, but tomorrow I start in earnest. My goal is first draft by the end of April. And my motto is be descriptive the first time!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Congratulations Manek!

Fellow South Sound Algonquin writing guy, Manek Mistry––who has the absolutely coolest name for a sci-fi author, I've ever heard––has a short fiction in Abyss & Apex, called Stories from the Invasion. Flying toasters, talking twig-piles, and our connections to each other.

Check it out!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Rotten Fruit from the Cruel Garden of Dark Delights

I'm particlarly grim now. The Volvo, fresh from a rebuilt transmission, is leaking oil out of one of the turbos. It doesn't end.

Earlier, the recall issue sprouted, and it lost power at the '76 station (lucky there). I'm calling on the powers of darkness to rain injury onto Goethenberg, Sweden, and Ford, of course.

Bauhaus should do the trick.

A Few Cute Additions to the Manuscript

Here's a peek into my evil plan:

In the last 48 hours the following scenes have been added into Undead Socialite:

• A tour through Hell and the minor soul-sorting factory.
• A suicidal zombie's failed attempts.
• Satan's orgy stadium: A jizzmopper's lament.

That last one makes me laugh.

I'm done with the additions. Through. Finis. Just doing the grammar check, which I wish my MSword would do for me, but somehow is really just a pile of crap.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sufficiently Bulked Up!

I've added everything I need to the manuscript, and it's been bulked up considerably from 74,445 words to approx. 82,000. Nice and fat. Unlike me, I'm dieting like a crazy person. I'm still cleaning up some residual bad habits, but the end is in sight (both book and weight). I can't wait to send the f**ker off to my editor, and dig back in to Road Trip. Plus, I might actually finish some of the books in my reading list. That'd be a coup.

I did get a chance to see Zodiac. Loved it. Long movie so go for the smaller drink, or bring an empty bottle if you're adventurous. Robert Downey, Jr. continues to do really good work, but Fincher is the star, the man knows a thing or two about building tension. There is a scene featuring the long absent Ione Skye that will creep you the f**k out!

Back to the minutiae.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Jessica Morrell Workshop Opportunity

One of my writing group partners is in talks with Jessica Morrell, author of Between the Lines, and the upcoming, Bullies, Bastards and Bitches, to provide a workshop in the Olympia area. Anyone who knows Jessica is amazed at the eruption of writing knowledge during her seminars. If we can pull together 10 people @ $75 each, she can manage a full day seminar.

Here's the course description and her bio:

Plot is a Verb
Cost: $75

Writing a compelling novel requires creating a world that’s so authentic that the page will disappear and lives amid a difficult situation will rise into existence in its place. But although specificity of details, authentic, fascinating characters, and a gripping situation are required for this, first comes knowing the underpinnings of fiction—structure, scene structure, opposition, desire, character arc, plot points, set pieces, outer and inner conflict, and a setting that adds to tension. With that in mind, this workshop is a primer on plot and storyline, but it also illustrates the more sophisticated and nuanced aspects of fiction writing. Comprehensive materials and exercises will illustrate the discussion and topics include: How to build a world of unease where each aspect of the story lends credibility to the characters’ struggles on the page. How to build a story that is not a pale imitation of life, but rather a rich reenactment that is larger than life. How plot points push the story forward. How to avoid middles that languish or plod. What balance and unity mean in fiction.

Jessica Morrell began teaching writers in 1991, creating workshops that are lively, focused and filled with sensible insights. Workshop and writing conference participants have described her as: “a torrent of information,” “lots of practical information with excellent concrete examples” and, “absolutely everything she says is packed with value.” She is the author of Between the Lines: the subtler aspects of writing fiction published by Writer’s Digest Books and Writing out the Storm published by Collectors Press. Also being published in 2007 is The Writer’s I Ching by Running Press and Voices from the Street by Gray Sunshine and in February 2008 Bullies, Bastards and Bitches, the Bad Guys in Fiction by Writer’s Digest Books. Morrell works as writing coach and freelance editor and hosts a web site www.writing-life.com . She has been writing a monthly column about topics related to writing since 1998 which currently appears in The Willamette Writer, writes a monthly newsletter, The Writing Life, a web log, and contributes articles to online sites, newspapers and public radio.

What say you?

V.A.S.T.ly Overlooked

For reasons to banal to mention here, my wife and I drove separately to breakfast this morning, but her iPod was broadcasting well enough my radio picked it up––it's a twofer. Touched by Vast came on and it just blew me away, all over again. What is that song like ten years old? Older? There's something about the Bulgarian women's choir mixed with the hard edge of the guitars, not to mention, it's all one guy doing everything. Love it.



Don't you?

What Did You Do Last Night?

I nearly had a panic attack. Why? I'll tell ya.

I went to Richelle Mead and Cherie Priest's reading/signing at the UW bookstore, and while they did a great job (Cherie read like a pro: she could do her own audiobooks), I began to imagine me up there, reading through Undead Socialite––I'm now calling it: Happy Hour of the Damned, by the way––babbling, red-faced, and the horror of high school presentations just came rolling back. And, I thought those days were over.

Silly me.

A lot of people showed up, which is great, and I got to meet Richelle, finally, as both my agent Jim and editor John (both of whom Richelle and I share) have been gushing over her. She seems very nice, and was kind enough to link to Burlesque of the Damned over at her site. Thanks Richelle!

You may not be aware that Cherie Priest writes these amazing southern gothic horror mysteries, I wasn't. But from her reading, I was hooked. I picked up Four and Twenty Blackbirds and will review in the future. Speaking of reviews: Cherie throws in her two cents on books over at Chiaroscuro E-zine. Check it out.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Extinction of a Zombie Franchise

You know. Regardless of the disappointment of Apocalypse, I still want to see this:



Just call me Hollywood's brainwashed minion.

A Little Pee

We finally watched Borat.

"You know this is really offensive, right?" The video store clerk asked.
"Uh…yeah. We're counting on it." I handed her my debit.

(this next bit is off subject but actually happened)

"Do you mind me asking, does it effect your credit score when you just use your card, at stores and stuff?" She's serious.
"Uh…um…no?" I said.
"Then how do you build credit?"
Who the hell do I look like? Suze Orman? But since I'm a codependent people pleaser I had to respond, "Make timely payments."

So…anyway we were hoping for a night of political incorrectness.

…and weren't disappointed. There were times we were laughing so hard we had to pause to dab our urethras. So funny. Right up there with The Sweet Hereafter (joking).

What's not so funny?

Fast Food Nation. Jeezuss! As if you weren't depressed by the first hour and a half, then you get to take a tour of a meat packing plant kill floor. I couldn't possibly recommend this film. It comes off as Richard Linklater's shame mouthpiece.

Ho-hum, nothing to left to write.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Editing Like a Mushaboom.

Leslie Feist is keeping me company as I make a big push to clean the dirt off my dead girl. I just found this video, never seen it before, and I lub it, lub it, lub it. The album is great trippy, jazzy, all that.

It surprises me how much she looks like the hilarious Parker Posey, who by the way "doesn't act for trophies!" Excuse my meandering, but we saw For Your Consideration over the weekend, and can I say, not impressed. Shame, too. I loved Best in Show and Guffman. What did impress me was Stranger than Fiction.

Speaking of fiction: Here are my top edit issues.

• Thin description.
• Word overusage.
• Not enough time in the day.

Help me, Ms. Feist!



Wait, wait, wait. Hold up. Who's that rockin' the '80s pink satin? Why it's her nastiness Peaches (incidentally, that's one of the words you must never say to illicit a good photographic smile––ala cheese––the others are alfalfa and woah).

Now, who's up for some toast?

Monday, March 05, 2007

20 Pages Long…

The contract came on Friday and I've been pouring over it, staring at it, like it isn't real, just a stack of phantom paper. It's a bit longer than the deal memo, but everything matches up. So it's getting signed and sent today.

Still doesn't seem real.

Oh, and by the way…

Why didn't anyone tell me about this?



I'm just a wee bit excited.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Aftershock!

My copy of Loving the Undead showed up in the mail today! Yahoooo! My first published work. I tore open the bubble wrapped envelope and for the first time ever, ignored the check and snatched up the book (odd, since I'm a loot before card kind of guy–rude?) My initial thoughts? Cute cover, kinda cheap, but better than I expected. From the Asylum is a small small small press, after all. Good people, though. Katherine Sanger works hard and you have to respect our independents; They're heroes.

So…I open it up and find my story (Page 99, if you must know), read the first couple of paragraphs and shut the book. What the Hell? How did I let that out?

Reading the story, in this format, brings up an interesting subject (and a little of my lunch): Should a writer read their material after it's published?

I'm going to go with a big NO on that one. I found way too many things I'd change, if I were even to submit it again. Don't get me wrong, I'm beaming. But from now on I'll love my babies from afar.

Thoughts? Comments? Horror Stories?

Book Review: The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue



Keith Donohue writes about the fragility of memory in his not-so-faerie tale, The Stolen Child. The story follows Henry Day, a boy turned into a changeling after he's kidnapped, and the hobgoblin turned human that takes his place. As the two age and search for clues to their own identity, those around them fracture in response. Henry becomes Aniday and brings an element of missing, not to mention dangerous, humanity to the band of wildchildren that populate the woods. Alternately, his body thief works a slow transition into human experience through a mastery of the piano–a holdover from his own human past.

Owing as much to The Lord of The Flies as the Brother's Grimm,The Stolen Child fluidly covers guilt, loss, and love in a twining vine of a secret that spans centuries.

A fascinating debut, I look forward to Donohue's next effort.

The next book, Bitten by Kelley Armstrong, is the first for Urban Fantasy Month. Kockroach, which I'm still planning on reading is being shelved until April. Check back.