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Monday, April 30, 2007

Death to the Word Meters!

I'm nixing the word meters from this blog. They're evil mocking creatures that hate me almost as much as I loathe their very existance. Their sole purpose seems to be to suck my creative energy. Damn you Zokutou! What did I ever see in you?

Gone. Gone.

Who's this Guy?

It's Chuck P. and guess who's going to see him. That's right, yours truly. Do I have the nerve to ask for a book blurb? I think you know I do. Tune in Friday to see if I followed through with my diabolical self-promotion.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Two Big Things

Saturday brought my editor's revision notes on the first book. And…surprises, they should be a cinch. Here's my favorite line: In terms of revisions, not much needs to be done. Of course, I'm so anal-retentive, I've been staring at the opening sentence like it had a target on it. It does. It has to go.

Anyways.

You'd think I'd be relieved. And I would, if it weren't for the super secret news from my agent. I'm dying to spill the beans. But he'd or they'd or someone would shoot me. I'm fairly certain.

We watched Night at the Museum last night; a friend brought it over. She gushed about how funny it was, and that we were going to love it. So we watched, and you can probably guess what happened. Yep. It was like visual Ambien. I was drifting within the first five minutes. I guess it was "cute", but really more suited to a thirty minute Twilight Zone kinda show. Ben Stiller is on my last nerve. Does anyone remember when he had his own show on Fox (back when he was funny), and he did Ask Charlie from Manson's prison cell? That was the funny Stiller.

"Check your muffler."

Speaking of Ambien, I'm off to finish reading The Thirteenth Tale for my book club. Maybe it's the news I'm sitting on but this book could be summed up way quicker than four hundred pages.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Movie Review: The Host



After an unfortunate binge on Puget Sound Pizza's ominously monikered The St. Helens (pepperoni, sausage, jalapenos), we hauled our bloated asses up the hill to Tacoma's only art house theater, the Grand Cinema, and crammed ourselves into the uncomfortable seats to watch The Host on a screen only slightly larger than our TV.

We're talking capital FUn.

The movie was good, but the sea monster was great! A big fluid tadpole/eel/dragon thing that steals every scene. The story's like this: American's are stupid and dump toxic chemicals in the river (yeah? and?), a family runs a snack shop in a tourist area by the water, sea monster makes like an amphibian and takes to land reaking havoc of the bloodthirsty variety. Hold on, though. Here's a new twist: the hero is mentally retarded (and I can say that because it is the technical term, develpmentally delayed is for the lay). He's mildly likeable, as are the rest of his family, most of all his daughter who is swiped by the creature early on which serves as the plot driver.

I think it's worth a look on video. Particularly if you don't need a happy ending.

You don't do you? Need a happy ending?

Shambling into the Past

I just finished setting up my myspace page, which brings my web presence to four sites (livejournal, Blogger, Webpage). I'm going to need a P.A. to deal with them all––not that kind of P.A. you dirty birds. Who would have thought that writing was just as much a marketing gig as a creative outlet? I'm busted. My first friend request was quite hospitable, although she wanted to show me "things" and have me toss her salad. Was that inappropriate? I prefer blue cheese on mine.

Delete! Luckily, Joe swept in to keep Tom, the myspace tech, company.

This is the end. There shall be no further technological advances, I hereby decree. But don't be surprised if I show up at your myspace asking to be friends. In fact, expect it. Do the same to me.

Let's all force electronic friendships together.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Good Times!

The wife and I are off to celebrate BOOKCHECK by doing dinner and a movie. Super trendy Thai Fusion food at Indochine followed by this little movie that I've been dying to see since Cherie Priest reviewed it over at her blog.



Yeah!!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Settlement…

I've finally settled on the scheme of my website. I went through these series of titles for it, like: The Boneyard, and shit like that. But ultimately decided that sounded like a porn site. The previous author site just bugged the shit out of me, and since I've been struggling with abolishing distractions from my laptop, I needed a site I could live with. The content hasn't changed much but it looks like this now:


On the writing side of things, I've put down Road Trip to focus on Most Likely to Dismember, my goth Nancy Drew. I'm having a lot of fun with it, now, and my editor's notes are due shortly for Happy Hour of the Damned, so I'll be getting a workout on that series, soon enough. Plus there's the actual road trip next month, that I plan on harvesting for the sequel.

It's amazing how getting paid actually loosens up the writer's block. This writing thing feels real now.

Kinda scary.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Aw Shit!

I've been waiting patiently since February 8 for it to show up, and make it all real. So you can imagine my excitement/awe/anxiety at opening up the mailbox.



+




How do you spell financial relief? BOOKCHECK!!! This is #1 of 4 of the advance, and I'm cashing it, rolling around naked in the bills, and then hoarding it away in a coffee can in the back yard.

I can feel my creative energy flowing back to my extremities.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Spilling Character Guts (and not in a Palahniuk kind of way)

(Here's the forementioned post from Zombie Chow, crass-posted for your reading pleasure)

On thursday night, despite an overwhelming urge to curl up and hide, I went to the writer's association meeting. One of my friends from writing group tagged along for a talk on "Getting to Know Your Characters". You've been to these kind of seminars yourself; the kind that promises a plethora of techniques guaranteed to reveal the inner thoughts and dreams of your literary creations.

Did it deliver, you ask? Not in the least.

The author was thunderously perky and sweet, and revealed a limited personal experience to childhood trauma of any sort. Hello, clue. I imagined her skipping through fields Shirley Temple locks bouncing around her face, thinking up one happy ending after another. She proceeded to pass out what essentially was a meme of questions about the character (name, height, weight–I swear to God), that delved into family shit a bit (to which I give her a bit of credit, although she seemed to have no clue that children process their own relationships as a cyclical response to witnessing their parent's interaction). She was like: if your dad's a banker then the kid could be, right? Tee hee hee. Jesus!

That was literally the extent of the meeting. It broke early so the author could sell her romance titles. We did have an interesting discussion with our tablemates about capturing opposite gendered characters accurately. So not a total loss.

What did I learn? Read the fine print on these meeting announcements. When I got home I reread the full memo, and gasped. She writes for Harlequin, or regurgitates for Harlequin, or whatever you call it. Now I'm no snob. I'm not writing the great American novel myself. This is strictly entertainment. However, formula bugs me. Really bugs me.

But it explained everything, the pert lady author with a sense that everything's right in the world, the meme, her rose colored glasses. Ahh, romance. It made me want to explore my own guts.

Guiltpost #1

It is with a deep disgrace and shame that I come before you. Since my ranting anti ROA post on Wednesday, I have woefully neglected Burlesque of the Damned. It seems I've allowed myself to be caught up in the Hook drama over at Fangs, Fur, and Fey. Of course, I have other reasons to be ashamed. I've cheated on my blog by posting over at Zombie Chow without mentioning it here. I mowed the lawn, the day after railing against the crazy gardening zealots. I'm ashamed. I'm a hypocrit.

So, against my better judgement, I'll post the best of the fake Grindhouse trailers, Thanksgiving, for your amusement. Again, not safe for work but funny as hell. You must promise to see the movie in spite of witnessing the hilarity.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

ROA Meetings: Scourge of the Earth or Bountiful Cornucopias of Hilarity?

Lets start with the definition. ROA: Resident Owners Association. You know; it was the subject of that X-files episode where Mulder and Scully posed as Rob and Laura Petrie to investigate murders by an ROA demon. Cut your grass motherfucker!

Because I'm clearly a masochist, I talked my wife into going to the yearly meeting. First issue, seating. This is of utmost importance, we couldn't sit near anyone else as our intention was to make fun of everyone (and no, that's not mean, they deserve it, bear with me). We found our spot and proceeded to wish we'd brought razor blades and two Tupperware bowls of water for an impromptu double suicide.

Apparently––if you're already aware I do apologise––it's important to be aware of the day to day functions of the ROA secretary, treasurer, etcetera, in POWERPOINT! That sound you heard was my teeth grating for about a half hour.

And then it happened. The magic. Question round.

• "How much do we spend on the sprinkler heads run over by the lawn crews and tossed into the bushes?" Thinly veiled racism is what we heard.

Translation: What are we going to do with all the Mexicans?

There was a rolling gasp when the speaker suggested that kids were the culprits. To suggest that any of the demons birthed from these upstanding alcoholics were to blame was cause for outrage apparently. I wet myself a bit.

• "What's being done to lessen the impact of construction on Wildlife?" My wife clutched her side at this point and started jiggling in silent laughter.

Translation: I'm baiting you so that I can deliver a specific line.

The speaker guy rambled about studies and the insignificance of the impact, and made some really good arguments as to why the animals were not being disrupted. Now, I can tell you that the animals in our area are doing fine, for Christ's sake the 'coons are looking in my windows, plus did you see my eagle post? If anything we (me and my wife) are being impacted by the wildlife. So the guy who asked the question, finally shouts:

"So what you're saying is you're not doing anything!"

Spit take! I felt the need to alert those around us, mind you several seats away, that he'd been waiting to say that all night.

Next up was the inevitable:

• "They're not mowing their lawns!!!"

The anger is such that you'd think the ROA was asking this man to participate in racial integration, or reading. I grinned at another neighbor, whom along with myself has a tendency to adopt a more natural front lawn. Let's call it prairie style.

We left early. Stomach's aching from all the merriment. I'm not going next year.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Book Review: Blind Submission by Debra Ginsberg



Frequent Burlesque readers know that I don't review books I don't like, I justly abandon those naughty little children. So it's been difficult to differentiate the degree of my admiration. Debra Ginsberg's debut novel, Blind Submission, demands a rating system be implemented so it can take a place near the top. The story plays out like a well-written Devil Wears Prada, for the literary set, and with a far more satisfying ending.

Avid reader Angel Robinson interviews for an assistant position to the literary agent from hell, and is flung into that stressful world. Along for the ride are an aspiring writer boyfriend (of course), an Italian smack junkie, the agent's bitter staff, and a famous eskimo author. Ginsberg caught me on some basic literary hooks, since Angel's work is done through email and the reading of queries and manuscripts, there are plenty to peruse, each told in it's own unique voice, sometimes poorly constructed and hilarious, other times pointing to the novel's intricate mystery. An anonymous author seems to be writing Angel's story, in a very unflattering and dangerous manner.

This book is great fun and I tore through it in two sittings, which, incidentally is the new self explanatory rating system.

Blind Submission: Two Sittings!

Next Book: The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel by Diane Setterfield

Peepin' Tori

Feel free to check out Tori Amos's first video off American Doll Posse over at Yahoo, but any fan will tell you that Tori is best approached through her live work, hear the Beauty of Speed, live in Europe somewhere.

Warning, crappy Dutch videographer.



It's got me psyched for May 1st.

Monday, April 16, 2007

F**kin' Grindhouse, Man!

My wife and I saw Grindhouse at a matinee yesterday, just like I would have in the '70s with my mother. I have to tell you, my mother was so cool to have around as a horror fanatic kid. What 7 year old, that you know, saw The Omen in the theater? Sure I'm showing my age with that but you've got to be a little jealous, too. At my tenth birthday party, we checked out the reels of Night of the Living Dead and a projector from the library and had a showing on our living room wall.

Slapping film, shaky frames. Groans and screams from the pack of wild 10-year-olds. It rocked!

So, Grindhouse and particularly Robert Rodriguez's half, Planet Terror, was like a big ole ice cream scoop full of gory nostalgia. It was awesome! And I don't use that word. From the opening trailer for Machete! to the final scene of Death Proof––make sure to wait for it, it jumps back in right after the credits roll––the movie had me hooked.

Zombies on a rampage is standard fare, but Rodriguez masterfully brings back that Italian Giala feel and goes for some of the sickest gross-outs you're likely to see in an American theater, this year. The acting is great fun and as over-the-top as the special effects. Rose McGowan (Charmed sexpot) and Freddy Rodriguez (Six Feet Under) as Cherry and El Ray, chew through their roles like umbilical cord, and Marley Shelton (above) is on hand (pun intended) for some of the sickest moments. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it.

Don't, Don't, Don't leave during the intermission! The fake previews––Werewolf Women of the SS, Don't, and Thanksgiving––are hilarious, particularly Eli Roth's take on the holiday bird. If you haven't pissed yourself…then, suggested pee break: Head to the restroom right after the intermission, as the screen fills with the "Our Feature Presentation" graphic.

Death Proof is being maligned for the inane, seemingly incessant dialogue that marks it as truly Tarentino. From a writerly standpoint, the auteur has a way with capturing the reality of how people talked in the B-movies of the '70s, and to some extent in real life (try eavesdropping in the mall). Kurt Russell is creepy as hell as Stuntman Mike, but he's got a hot car and a Cronenberg-style crash fetish. The car scenes are impressive and cringe-worthy.

I can't say enough. See it.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Well I'll Be Damned, Burlesque!

Probably not safe for work, even though I'm sure Dita's wearing pasties. I thought it was about time that BOTD lived up to it's name.



I poured over a mountain of clips––flicks sweat from brow––to come up with one that didn't look as though filmed by a drunken frat boy. I was hoping to find Carolina from Forty Deuce, but oddly the one I came across was a poorly shot compilation. Dita's hot in this clip though. Dare to deny?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Roadside Distractions

The zombie grrls have decided that my wife and I simply must join them on a tour of roadside America. And it's gonna be tax deductible since the locations are going in to the book (What's the accountant's motto? It's tax avoidance, not tax evasion). Thank God for research expenses.

Here's the wacky itinerary…

1. The Berkley Hole in Butte Montana, deepest man-made hole (stripped out copper mine) lorded over by America's largest statue of the Madonna. My question: Did they dig too deep? Was something loosed?

2. The Jewel Cave in South Dakota. Deep and strenuous, by the sound of the travel guide. Hmmm.

3. Mount Rushmore: for those North by Northwest homage sequences. Considered staying at the Alex Johnson in Rapid City where Hitchcock shot scenes.

4. Devil's Tower, Wyoming. But only from a distance, We're not driving two hours off the freeway to see a big rock, no matter what the dead have to say about it. I've seen Wolf Creek, I know how that trip ends.

5. Yellowstone: it'll look something like this photo.
Fun times at Yellowstone

6. Jackson Hole: The zombies are elitists and prefer expensive five star accommodations, plus they'll be hungry for well fed meat. Who am I to judge?

We'll hit other freak shows, along the way. I'm particularly interested in locations to set my hidden supernatural attractions, like the world's largest spool of human intestines, and Count Steve's Castle of Spleens.

(Cross posted from Zombie Chow)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Book Review: Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez



I'm in love with Gil's All Fright Diner. Here's why…

1. Good ol' boys Earl the Vampire and Duke the Werewolf.
2. Inter-species love (vampire/ghost)
3. Flesh-eating zombie cows!
4. Bitchy teenage sorceresses are the best.
5. Chthulu-style Armageddon sequence.

Are you sold yet? How about spirits trapped in magic 8 balls? Gloom tentacled ghouls?

The book is just straight up fun. It's a fantasy adventure that doesn't take itself seriously, and that's the most endearing thing of all. Get off your ass and pick it up.

Next book: Blind Submission by Debra Ginsberg

My Bloody Snotrag

Interesting tidbit: My body temperature runs around 96 on average. So the low grade 99 degree fever I've been nurturing for the last 10 days is convincing me that my brain is underwater. There's no oxygen, all that's left is television static. I can't make out the words.



Silversun Pickups? Nope it's their inspiration My Bloody Valentine. Time to wipe off the slobbery fan love. Could you bring me a tissue?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Book Review: An Unfinished Life by Mark Spragg



Last month's book club selection was An Unfinished Life by Mark Spragg. I probably don't need to tell you that I wasn't looking forward to a novel involving ranch life or cow milking, which was how I had it pinned (those two subjects are like fast acting Ambien). That J-Lo was in the film adaptation didn't salve, either. So imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a well crafted domestic violence drama that holds true to that phenomena's patterns and internal struggles. Spragg's view into that maligned relationship was revelatory. Deftly flipping from an insightful and heartbreaking child's view of her mother's patterns, to the opposite, in Roy's distance from his own behavior and delusions of kindness.

The author reiterates the causes and cyclical nature of alcoholism and domestic violence in a way that is never preachy. The realizations seem to spring naturally from this beautiful prose that while spare is oftentimes poetic.

I loved it, not enough to sit through the film, but enough to recommend it.

Next Book: Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez (I'm a fanboy over it, already and I'm not even halfway through)

Friday, April 06, 2007

So You Want to Make an Amazon List?

I do. But instead I'll just do it here and call it a day. Burlesque of the Damned reader, Heather has me thinking about horror films and recommendations. We played it out over at Zombie Chow, but I've been writing shit down ever since. Lists upon lists, but I'm in no way OCD.

**circles hand around head three times while tongue thrusting**

I don't want to beat the dead horses of the apocalypse (Exorcist, Halloween, NOTLD), instead let's take a trip into obscurity, shall we? Here's a list of horrors I love, some for being truly scary in some way, possibly subtle, more likely not, others so bad they're good. Check it…

• Let's Scare Jessica to Death: '70s pseudo vampire classic, or is it? Is it Jessica?
• The Sentinel ('70s): Rosemary's Baby's trashy cousin in a creepy apartment building.
• The Gates of Hell (City of the Living Dead): Zombie/Lovecraft Mash-up with the nastiest vomiting intestine scene. Plus if I remember, fun with power tools. Here's the trailer:

• Near Dark: Best use of spurs in any film. Cowboy vampires, come on.
Suspiria: Dario Argento, need I say more? Okay, the score will drive you insane.
• Silent Scream (80's): I don't know where you could find this, but, someone's in the wall!!!
Dellamorte Dellamore (Cemetery Man): The dead have needs.
• Alone in the Dark: insane asylum loonies hunt the new doctor (who's that skinny guy from the A team!)
Zombi 2: Fulci's zombie classic, not really a sequel but Romero's was retitled Zombi in Europe.
• Audition: kiri kiri kiri kiri kiri.
• High Tension: just how big are those rest stop bathrooms, Jesus!
• Dead Alive: Peter Jackson's gross-out piss yourself hilarious zombie flick, will make you say, "Lord of the what?"
• John Carpenter's The Fog (1980): Sure not the best movie, but second only to John Water's Female Trouble in memorable movie lines (I'm not ashamed to admit, I watch this three to four times a year).
• The Beyond: more Fulci. A film with so much atmosphere the plot becomes unnecessary.
Pumpkinhead: I don't care what you say, that monster's scary.
• Cube: a little sci-fi but freaked me out. Here's a short trailer:

• Rabid: Cronenberg just had to direct porn star Marilyn Chambers in the weirdest take on vampires, you're likely to see.
• Bay of Blood: Mario Bava giala classic that was harvested for the Friday the 13th franchise.

God, it makes me want to take a week of evenings and just stare at the TV. Do you have anything to add?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Rock Star Author Alert!

One of my favorite books from last year, as many of you know (that's all three of you–4, sorry Heather), is Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects. If you don't, here's my review, again. Bookslut has an interview with the author, here. But, read the book before you check it out, please.

The Hook Contest

No, that's not some kind of urban legend reference, Fangs, Fur and Fey is holding a hook contest. What's a hook? It's sort of a movie trailer for your book. If you're writing in the urban fantasy (YA or adult), sci-fi/fantasy (light), mystery, or paranormal romance genres and can put together the best 300 word hook, it could snag you an agent at Lowenstein-Yost . No guarantees but it's worth a shot.

Plus!

I'm a judge. Yes, yes, for certain I'm judgmental, but I'm also a judge for the contest, and I vow to be H-O-N-E-S-T. No sugar coating here and I'll give some damn good suggestions. Check out the hook contest here and make it snappy.

Feel Free to Peruse

I think I've done all I'm going to on the website. I've checked it out on PCs, through different browsers and it looks pretty much the same on each. Check it out, and don't bother to point out errors, I've spent way too much energy on it and intend to get back to the sequel. Click here.

Book Review: Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead



These days, I find myself wanting to debate genre. With all the confusion between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance and blah, blah, blah, it takes a book like Richelle Mead's to clear things up a bit. In spite of a cover worthy of the steamy sex-filled shelves of Romance, Succubus Blues delivers pure urban fantasy, with a sense of romance, but more than that, tragedy, in the Greek sense.

The story's heroine, Georgina Kincaid, is a tormented succubus who draws her life energy through draining bad guys of theirs, through––you guessed it––the dirtyness. So no problem right? Hot sweaty demon sex should ensue. Not so much. Our girl wants to be loved, and that's a shame because Georgina's type of love comes with a price. How unfortunate for Seth and Roman as both men fall head over–ahem–tail.

The romance in Succubus Blues serves as a conduit to explore the character's grief and guilt. It has more to do with relating the tragedy of the heroine's situation than creating some swirling heady field of flowers aura. I don't believe there was a moment where I deluded myself into believing anyone was going to live happily ever after. In fact, from the moment that best-selling author Seth walks into Georgina's bookstore, I couldn't help but think of that This Mortal Coil song, It'll End in Tears.

It's not all lovelorn angst, Succubus Blues wraps itself around a series of immortal slayings that initially seem to point to Georgina, but in the end are intricately biblical. Mead creates an interesting supernatural world, where demons and angels party and vampires swing dance. The character is fully realized, funny, and smart as hell (pun intended).

So the difference between PR and UF? Here's how it looks to me: in Urban Fantasy romance is used as a plot tool, not a singular device, though, just one from the box. Happy endings are not guaranteed. If this is the case in PR, as well, feel free to comment and clear up my misgivings.

Verdict: Worth a read.

Next Book: Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Fever Dream

An anonymous comment (hey, feel free to leave your first name) asked when I'd be blogging about the book, again. Well…now, as it turns out. I think we've settled on the title and my cover suggestions have gone to the art department at Kensington–I'm excited to see what they come up with. My editor is giving the book the harsh critical eye and I expect his revision notes in the next couple of weeks. Final delivery is on August 1st, so there's definitely some time before Happy Hour hits the shelves. Meanwhile, Road Trip is progressing nicely, and the story wants to spawn a spin off in Honey Kim, Wereleopard Bodyguard. I think I'm going to set it in the Country Music World, since I can think of nothing more evil. We'll see how it goes. I'm also tinkering with a goth High School murder mystery, let's call it Most Likely to Dismember. So, lots of irons in the fire and all while fighting a nasty flu. My sinuses are packed tight with the yellowest goo of Hell. Yet, I'm still off to see Jim Butcher at his UW signing tonight. Wouldn't it be just like the zombie writer to want to spread infection?

Enough. Back to the couch, the blanket, and Richelle's book.

But, wait…did you bitches see this?



It had me doin' the hot pee of illness. And…while we're talkin' TV––cause that's what we're doin'now––can I just say, you'd have to be a crazy person or trying to get parole to be on The Bachelor! In other reality news, New York actually made the right choice in Tango, but who cares? I'm only watching it for the previews of Charm School! That shit looks bomb!