Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Newsy Stuff!

Now that True Blood's over I didn't think I'd have all that much to look forward to. You see, Caroline and I had been going over to our friend Jo's house, along with my best friend Kevin to watch us some nasty vampire shit. And when it was over I was feeling a little let down. So when I got home, I checked my email and found out some awesome news!

The organizers of the Dreamin' in Dallas conference, okayed our (along with celebrity scribe, Jaye Wells) workshop and will even be footing my travel and hotel bill. This may not seem to be a big deal to you guys that travel for a living, but when you're a midlist author, conferences are expensive and the travel to get there and stay is rarely paid for by anyone but your dwindling bank account or nearly maxed out credit cards.

So I'm totally peeing myself. Plus I'll get to see Jaye and our friend Leah again, and of course, the lovely and talented Dakota Cassidy and maybe even Michele Bardsley (who coincidentally is the subject of today's Barely Sane Interview at the League. Check it cuz there's an awesome contest, too).

In other news, tomorrow's Turkey Day and I'll be cooking side dishes and pies tonight along with the rest of America. But tomorrow, I'll be thankful that I finished the final tweaking on the redesign of my website.

The Grand Reopening of is Monday, December 1st. Complete with a contest, lots of vulgarity, Amanda, Wendy and Gil reviewing movies and shit. You don't want to miss out and I'll be sure to remind you.

What are y'all gonna be thankful for?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Favorite Things!!!

This is Oprah.
She gives away her favorite things.

This is me.
I don't.

Come look at them anyway.
Over here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hangin' with the Belizians

Finally, the conclusion of the cruise into terror blog!

If you'll recall, when last we talked, the ship was rockin' and shaking and generally keeping your intrepid hero awake all night. I got up before dawn without a single apneaed moment of sleep and shambled through the rolling ship. Interesting because on a ship that carries nearly 3000 including staff, I ran into 5 people total. It was creepy. The boat groaned and grated. It was totally what I needed, to get a feel for the ship for Amanda book 4. Well worth a sleepless night.

That morning we pulled into the bay off Belize City--it doesn't have a deep water port so we were tendered in (see how I pick up on the lingo?). Here's what you need to know about Belize City: from the water, it's gorgeous. Seriously.
Caribbean colorblocking in teals and pinks and blues create a Disney-like wall between the cruise trade and the reality. Almost exactly like a Hollywood set, all facade. Remember the cruise malls that mark the beginning of every excursion? In Belize the dichotomy between the whitewashed tourist entry point is so severe, if I'd never been to a third world country before I would have been shocked, I'm certain some of my traveling companions were.

Maybe they should have picked up some Darvocet for our trip into the jungle (only $25 for 100 tabs! and No Prescription--I'm not saying I'm a prescription drug addict, but if I were, I'd be cruising more often). Here's the signs to prove it (though honestly, as far as you know I made these myself and taped them up on my back door.

Alright, so we leave the mall because I'll be damned if we're going to pay the cruise sponsored excursion folks $50 per person to drive us out to the howler monkey sanctuary. We thought about going to the zoo, but though better, 3rd world zoos can come off as simply sad, or worse infuriating. Because travel is about taking risks sometimes, we went out into the city and talked to a woman who set up what could either have been an awesomely cheap tour (she was willing to haggle, which made me feel better--$20/head sits better with this cheapskate) or the beginning of a horror movie in which we'd be sold into white slavery (I'll jump all the way to the end scenario since none of our families would be able to afford any sort of ransom). I'm totally serious on that one - just ask mine...

Kidnapper: $50,000 or your son gets it.
Mom: Yeah. You're going to have to send the body to the Mountain View Memorial Park on Steilacoom Boulevard, thanks.
Kidnapper: How 'bout $25,000?
Mom: (chuckles) click.

See? It was a bigger risk than you thought.

Our driver was fun and gave us the whole messy rundown on the place, pimples and all. Which made me happy (but you know me, I do love to pick a scab). The howler monkey sanctuary was an hour into the country, so we saw tons of stuff including a number of homes (for lack of a better word) that had simply been abandoned, either because they were built on bad pilings or the owners had run out of money and left to work in America for more construction money.

I'm not going to lie, when we pulled into someone's yard and our driver said, "Here we are," I was pretty sure we were about to die. But Kurt the owner of the house was totally nice, hospitable and super knowledgable. The Sanctuary itself covers a large jungled area in which several families have adopted human counterparts, living on their land. We simply bypassed the "official" guides, and went directly to the people's houses (forcing them to snatch their wet underwear off clotheslines). Caroline was mortified initially, I kept looking over and she had this fight or flight look in her eyes. Poor baby.

We were in Kurt's uncle's yard when we heard our first howler monkey. Kurt called for them first and I thought his voice was loud (I also was still pessimistic at that point, so I thought we might be being taken for a ride), until I heard the monkeys respond. Jesus! They're loud. Someone in the group was like "OMG how big are they?" Turns out not so big.

We followed the howling to Kurt's cousin's house and sure enough, they were hangin' everywhere. Here's Gina trying to get her hand back from one. Apparently she wants more bananas...

Only the longer we stayed, the more pissed the dominant male got...


How awesome is that, he's pissy? Plus, we got to use these Belizian flyswatters that were like self-flagellation devices. I had to buy one for home, since mosquitoes love me more than life itself.

Our driver took us back another way, so he could show us the prison...

...(which looked pretty much like the rest of Belize except for the fence), a big graveyard, with aboveground vaults because Belize is below sea level...

...and this awesomely misguided sign...

...Uhhhhhh. What?

We drove back through the center of the city and really, in all honesty, it was kinda scary. The closest thing I could compare it to were images of Soweto on TV. Very shantytown, only with actual buildings. It probably didn't help that when we got back it was to the strains of a pounding tropical downpour. Still. The poverty made me even less impressed by the cruise mall, we decided to do our shopping outside the gates at the local stands. Nice people, most of them and everyone spoke English, so it was pretty easy to navigate.

Did I mention it was raining?

Two of us got soaked on the way back to the ship, our catamaran had a roof but was open on the sides, we ended up standing near the boat captain.

All in all, Belize was definitely the most interesting place we visited. It certainly had a visceral effect and that's what I'm after in travel. So...success.

The rest of the cruise was at sea, at some point we passed Cuba, but it was night so you couldn't see anything but the lights of Havana in the distance. So, let's breeze through...

The night we left Belize, this carcass was hanging in our room, we call it our towel vulva, but I suppose from this angle it kinda looks like a howler monkey (I'll give them the benefit of the doubt--though really if you know there are drunken adults stumbling into the cabin, why not go all out with genital towel sculpture?

We came up with a particularly heinous zombie scene at this table in the bar (and by heinous, I do mean offensive to nearly everyone--expect that in book 4), Kevin nearly siezed...

The next day got me caught up on my reading and drinking...

...and as I'm losing steam here by the second, let me wrap all this up with the final towel carcass of the trip. The dreaded Dead Turkey Towel!!!

If you think it's something else, please share. The next morning we got our bar and tip bill, which was excessive...on our part, granted. Cruises are a great value for people who don't drink.

I was actually really surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. Gained 5 pounds, though. Damn you Royal Caribbean!!

Where should I go next?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

6-Things Revolution!

Qwill tagged me with the ubiquitous 6-things meme. Which I'm now forced to comply with, simply because she's so nice. But instead of following directions, which I'm known to disregard anyway, I decided to come up with my own.

Here you go...

1. If you're reading this meme, consider yourself tagged.
2. Post these directions, or directions of your own making on your blog.
3. Post 6 pictures of what's going on in your life right now. They don't have to be interesting, so don't worry.
4. Give each a title.
5. Bask in your artiness.

Damn Straight

Morning Consititutional

Intestinal Fortitude


Emotionally Detached

Self-Imposed Cubicle

So, there you have it Qwill. I hope you're happy with what you've started.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Special Announcement...


Tired of the same old bloodsuckers? Cost of medical insurance so high, you wish you were immortal? Between death and taxes, you're leaning toward death?

Whether you're human or not, everyone has a voice in Broken Heart, Oklahoma. YOU can Bite the Vote and choose the candidates that have forever to keep their promises. Unlike *other* elections, voters who cast their online ballots will be entered to win an awesome prize package with goodies from Michele Bardsley, Dakota Cassidy, Renee George, Molly Harper, Mark Henry, Jackie Kessler, Richelle Mead, Jaye Wells, and MORE! (Complete listing at voting site. One winner will be chosen.)

Bite the Vote at:

And don't forget to check out the newest novel in Michele Bardsley's Broken Heart vampire series: WAIT TILL YOUR VAMPIRE GETS HOME.

Read Chapter One
and Order here.

Monday, November 03, 2008

A New Week...

...time to get some shit done. I've been working on The Dark Rites of Joe Barkley for too long and having a really hard time shutting down my internal editor to get a flow going. So, this is the week. I joined up for 70 Days of Sweat. Primarily for the accountability, though if anyone's up for wordcount wars that'd be awesome, too. Anyone? My goal is to finish Joe and start the third Amanda book, Battle of the Network Zombies, within the 70 day period.

Over at the League, I just announced the winners of the last two Halloween week winners, you might want to check over there, just in case.

The awesome and gracious Amy Menden interviewed a bunch of us zombie writing types for West Virginia's Grafitti magazine, you can check out the story here. If you dare!

Last thing.

I'm getting really close to relaunching the website and though I've asked several of you for questions for Amanda, Wendy and Gil's FAQ, I don't think I've asked my entire flist. So, if you have a question, spill. Nothing is off limits.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Weekend Round-up: Hellfire and Brimstone Edition

Halloween started off with a nice surprise. A certain box...

...containing an unspecified number of copies of a certain item (hint: it's got tons of fucking typos and zombies doing horrible things including but not limited to getting their groove on in a filthy camper and chowing down on teen potheads). Hmm. I'll have to figure out something to do with those, huh?

Halloween was, as always, a highlight of the year. The goddaughters made me proud in dark fantasy personas, evil fey and witch. I couldn't have been happier. We ate enchiladas--I slaved over them all day--and watched The Thing and some Lovecraftian piece of crap from the 60s. Good times.

Saturday morning, Caroline and I watched 2000 Maniacs, which is my new favorite party movie. I'm going to have to buy that shit, it was so awful and stupidly gory that he had a hard time breathing and containing bladders from all the laughing. Seriously. Town celebrates their centennial by killing Yankees in pretty hilarious ways. Blood Feast was up next starring exactly the same people and looks to be a great double feature if we ever get to it. Which we might have had Richelle not scheduled the Team Seattle Halloween Shenanigans for that night.

Drum roll, please.

I went as...


What I found out in my pursuit of a disturbing pornstar coiffure is that cotton mop dreads want to make my face break out in a horrible rash. So Mophead was retired after the first hour of the party. Here's more shots from the Bacchannal (however that's spelled)!

Cherie and Caitlin were winners in the costume contest, sexiest and scariest, respectively. So they were totally pleased with themselves and their prizes. What wasn't a prize? Oh this...

If Richelle offers you a little bag of these nasties, it's because she either hates you or is trying to kill you. Big-ass candy fail!

Now, I'm off to watch two weeks worth of True Blood and eat Caldo Verde and too much cake. Hope everyone had a great Halloween and/or Samhain!

I'd love to know what you did, but I'd really rather know what you wish you'd done.