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Fresh Dirt Archives: Apr.-June 2006

June 30, 2006
Saw the first printed copy of The Farm at Thrillerfest--I was tempted to buy one because I don't even have a copy myself yet. But then I'd have to sell an extra 10 copies to break even. Highlights today: playing music with a number of thriller writers, hearing a hilarious live interview with R.L. Stine, have dinner with Deborah LeBlanc, Dave Simms, and Katherine Ramsland. The hotel is a beautiful Frank Loyd Wright job at the foot of a mountain. The big news was lightning this evening, apparently a rarity here. 106 degrees.

June 29, 2006
Currently in Phoenix--good wireless signal. Got here late due to a delayed flight, just made the reception where the Thriller anthology was introduced. The highlight was writers taking turns "hosing down" a copy of a negative New York Times review of the book. More reports later, but tonight I'm meeting the Thiller Killer guys--a secret project up my sleeve.

Travel notes: I couldn't access my own website from the Charlotte airport's wireless network. It had a firewall installed that blocked my site because it was "cult/occult." As Spock would say, "Fascinating." Also, Arizona Cardinal quarterback Kurt Warner was on my plane from Dallas to Phoenix. The dude has five kids or so. Nobody bothered him, except one guy asked for an autograph. I figure he probably gets bothered enough. I wanted to tell him to lose to the Panthers, but he'll do that anyway.

June 28, 2006
Off to Thrillerfest tomorrow. I hope to be able to swing some running updates of the conference, depending on the state of the hotel's wireless network.

Also still have some freebies in The Farm giveaway--I'll be continuing to put up new stuff throughout July for those who help me promote the new novel. Have an interview taping Monday for WNCW, an NPR affiliate that reaches parts of three states. Keep an eye on the booktour page for its air date. Pod of Horror #17 has an interview with me online, and Nickolas Cook is hosting my online book launch on the official release date of July 6 at 10 p.m. EST.

Recent story news: "Heal Thyself" accepted for Apex Digest's Aegri Somnia and Exit Laughing, containing my story "Dumb Luck," is apparently on its way to the printers for upcoming release--the anthology is also of note because it contains a posthumous story co-written by d.g.k. goldberg.

June 26, 2006
Three days of rain and the garden is really exploding with green. Of course, the slugs love it, too, so I'm doing a lot of hand scouting. I've learned to use rubber gloves because the only thing more persistent than slug snot is Dick Cheney.

Getting ready to go to Phoenix for Thrillerfest. It's my first big convention in three years. I hope to do one per year, but then the reality of the dusty checkbook sets in. The goal now is to make World Horror Convention in 2007, in Toronto. I've always wanted to visit Canada, because I may have to migrate there if we continue to elect despots.

I've been spending some time at Myspace, beefing up my site and looking up other writers and musicians. I love the whole concept--everybody gets a stage. Everybody has a soundtrack for their lives. Everybody has "friends" who take up so little time, they get extra attention because of it.

June 24, 2006
Two offsite Scott giveaways: Horrorwatch is running a simple contest to give away three signed copies of my books. Pod of Horror will be giving away a signed copy of my story collection next week, in Pod #17 where I am interviewed.

Also giving away two signed copies at the online book launch for The Farm--hosted by Nickolas Cook at the Lost and the Damned message board, on the day of the book's official release, Thursday, July 6--10 p.m. EST, 7 p.m. Pacific. Come ask all your craziest questions--goats, organic farming, mad science, the state of horror in the last days of civilization.

Hey, if you want a copy of The Harvest, I'd suggest getting one at Amazon or ordering through your favorite local bookstore--the print run is drying up and I don't know if there will be a second print. Even the used copies are getting hard to find.

June 22, 2006
As an experiment, I am seeing how long I can avoid learning the winners of the Bram Stoker awards given last weekend by the Horror Writers Association. Under my self-styled rules, I'm not seeking out the awards list, but will wait for it to come to me in an unavoidable manner. I believe I already know one winner, as suggested in an email round-robin (HWA-related, where I serve as a trustee).

I have no animosity toward the awards or the process, and not just because I'm not the type of "people person" prone to winning awards. Frankly, it just bores me. All the book awards bore me. I don't care. They don't measure literary worth or the worth of a soul; they are merely mileposts for the seriously ill, the terminally popular, the accidentally trendy. They are exercises in group psychology and little more.

Some people may think it's terrible that I don't care about the awards given by an organization for which I volunteer as an elected officer, an awards process that consumes nearly half of the dues money I mail in each year. Sorry. I still don't care. I obviously care for the organization and its mission, but I don't believe giving out awards furthers that mission. Sure, it's the only thing HWA really does that's worth sending out press releases, which is a shame in itself.

Dean Koontz, one of my professional role models, was a founding member of HWA (then known as Horror and Occult Writers League, or HOWL). Dean was vehemently opposed to peer awards, and history bears him out. Most of the founding members are long gone, including Dean himself. Awards are like sausage; once you see the manufacturing process, you lose your appetite.

June 20, 2006
Funny, considering yesterday's post, I woke up with this odd premonition/fear that something would happen to Girl on her summer camp field trip. I usually don't have such negative premonitions, and it could be entirely due to a shortage of sleep, but this one weighed on me. I asked a friend at work, who has two daughters, what she would do (I certainly didn't want to prevent her from going, though she'd already made the same trip with her kindergarten class a few months ago). My friend said: go there and delay the trip a few seconds. Alter the course of events.

Well, that made perfect sense to a control freak like me, so I drove over and walked in while the group was doing a strange "banana exercise." Girl asked why I was there, and I made the excuse that I wanted to make sure she had money for the trip. As they went to the next exercise, she and a couple of her friends lagged behind to talk to me, and I left, satisfied that I had done the job. But I eyed the activity bus suspiciously, and fought an urge to go on board and look around (after all, in the age of terrorism, everybody's a suspect). My main worry was they pack these kids into these metal tubes, and while us normal drivers have to strap our kids into licensed and approved car seats (that cost $50 or more), buses roll around with dozens of untethered kids. And then there's the driver: is he/she sober? Who is this person who can afford to work part-time but has so many lives in his/her hands?

Well, Girl made it home safely, so whatever it was, the prayer or the shift of the timeline, worked. So another worry wasted.

June 19, 2006
I killed two butterflies today.

Not on purpose. They were frolicking--preparing to mate or fight, is there any difference?--when they flitted out from the grass and into the grill of my Subaru. I couldn't avoid them, and it would have been silly to try, given the curvy, rocky stretch of highway. A friend of mine once saw me braking for a rabbit and said, "Are you crazy? I never swerve for animals." Different perspectives on the relative hierarchies of life, I suppose.

Listen, I've been known to cry when I accidentally run over an animal. I had a fairly traumatic experience when I was 12 or so, blithely bouncing into our childhood bedroom, forgetting all about the orphaned bunny my brother had brought home from school. I stepped on it with my bare foot, watched as it skidded sideways leaving blood and miasma across the floor, then fled. I couldn't sleep in the room that night.

I came home today and looked out from my porch at the "lawn" that I have let become a meadow. There were dozens of butterflies in it, performing that same playful and fleeting dance. Perhaps, in some small way, I am paying for the damage I have done over the years. "The Butterfly Effect," whereby a wing stroke in Kansas can cause a typhoon in the Phillipines, may be far more subtle than any of us can imagine. Me, I choose to believe in karma, in the power of good deeds, in the enabling strength of optimism. I'm far from practicing it in all areas of my life, but it's there, waiting to happen. I hope everyone finds a similar peace.

June 13, 2006
With my new laptop, I'll be able to update Fresh Dirt more often...hopefully four or five times a week. There was a thread on the Shocklines message board about Rain Books, a self-proclaimed "publisher" that asks for the copyright on your work (meaning they own it, forever) and also for a first option (the right to publish anything else you ever write, for the rest of your life, which they will then own forever). While the erstwhile publisher claims it is not a vanity or print-on-demand house, this is the kind of stinky publisher aided by the advent of technology that deceives writers of two stripes: those who have real, earnest dreams but are inexperienced and impatient, and those who are far overestimating their own talents and aren't willing to undertake the hard work to become a professional writer.

One line on the publisher's web site tells you all you need to know about why they deserve nothing but utter contempt: "We except only top quality new authors to our “Writers Circle" (sic) Which should read: "We accept only top-quality, new authors to our "Writer's Circle." Do you want to GIVE AWAY your book forever to a company that has five grammatical errors in a single sentence? I didn't think so.


June 12, 2006
Kensington is offering The Home, The Manor and eventually The Farm as e-books at 30 percent off the price of the paperbacks. The e-book market is still very small, but since I get an even split of the sale price with the publisher, I should earn more money per copy than I would with a paperback sale. Still, it will probably be mere peanuts in the grand scheme of things because most e-books sell on the order of dozens of copies rather than hundreds or thousands. I have had mixed success selling short fiction through Fictionwise, but I haven't really been focusing a lot of energy promoting the works or feeding them a fresh supply of stories. Until e-book readers become more user-friendly (i.e., you can take them in the bath for a good soak and they don't burn out your eyeballs), e-books will remain a minority taste, despite predictions of the last decade that paper books were dinosaurs.

New humor article "The Secrets of Internet Dating" by the one and only Dr. Mann, America's second-favorite advice columnist.

June 11, 2006
It's sickening to me that the same media outlets that have been prohibited from publishing photographs of the flag-draped coffins of U.S. soldiers rush to publish a post-mortem mug shot of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's battered face.

Make no mistake, this man was a poisoned soul, a hater, an enemy to the United States and a number of other countries, including people in his native Iraq. Zealots of every stripe should induce a heavy dose of caution--no matter their skin color. But if you celebrate any death, then may your God have mercy on your soul.

Knee-jerk reaction by USA Today called the death "good news," as if, "Well, gee whiz, Osama bin Laden masterminded the 9/11 attacks but he's too much trouble to catch so maybe we should celebrate this minor victory instead." All Zarqawi's death did was spawn a hundred new martyrs and another round of "terrorist attack" warnings. Gee, I feel much safer now, don't you? Can we declare "Mission Accomplished" yet again?

Some people have told me I shouldn't be public with my political beliefs because it might damage my writing career. My beliefs are far stranger than most people realize, because they veer into the extreme edge of libertarianism where legalized drugs clash with gun control. I'll never accept "freedom" as a cheap buzzword, especially from a populace where barely a third even bother to vote and a majority still mistakenly believe Saddam Hussein ordered the 9/11 attacks. Sorry. I expect more from a free, thinking society. I think if you don't think, you have no right to freedom and if you don't believe in a better world, then you have no right to my attention. As they say, your mileage may vary, but I sleep pretty well most nights.

June 9, 2006
Updated The Farm giveaway. It's no longer really a contest, though I'll give away a few prizes at the end. Instead, just help me promote my new novel and pick your free used DVD, paperback, or magazine. First come, first served, so help hype The Farm now.

I finally got a laptop and I can't believe I haven't had one before now. It's been quite handy and helps me fit more of my life into my day without undue rushing. Now I can have almost everything I need with me at all times. I'm still getting the hang of a few things, like updating this web site from it, but I anticipate it will soon be indespensable. I'm not much of a techno geek but I do like things that promote freedom (real freedom, not just the meaningless political blabber).

My article "Respect Yourself, Respect Your stories" is posted at Horror Web. New interview is online at Apex, along with my story Skin.

Here's a photo I took that's either a turtle orgy or an outbreak of 'shrooms.

June 3, 2006
Perhaps I'm jumping the gun a bit and the piece is embargoed, but "The Farm" is one of four books reviewed for the New York Times book review/summer reading guide coming out tomorrow. In a thoughtful article by Terence Rafferty, my new novel is called "a smoothly engineered supernatural entertainment in the more rambunctious American style of Stephen King." Being compared to King is pretty much commonplace these days, since King has already done everything, twice, and better than anyone else ever will. But Rafferty goes on to point out the novel doesn't quite cash in on its possibilities, saying the author (that's me) "doesn't appear to be terribly interested in working out the more gravely frightening implications of his preacher ghost." And Rafferty is absolutely right.

I could have worked much harder on that aspect of the story and ramped up the fear factor, but, increasingly, I find that just trying to scare people is fairly boring. I'm more interested in the characters and their interactions, and though I think I'm pretty good at tossing a hissing cat out of a dark closet into the face of an unsuspecting victim, I can't do it without wondering why the cat was there in the first place. My work has always been spiritually driven, even though I probably should pay more attention to my own spirit (even knows it needs some help) rather than that of my fictional creations. But I find faith, and its lack, fascinating.

Rafferty said all "The Farm" lacks is a soul; somewhat ironic, given that the story is about a long-dead preacher and in a way hearkens back to my first novel, The Red Church. Rafferty is again right. Though "The Farm" is by far my longest novel yet, it tends to sprawl more than focus. Again, that's my failing, and though I believe theme of "The Farm" is worth exploring, I am well aware the book will have "horror" printed on the spine and thus arouse certain expectations. I should have simplified, trimmed back some characters, and delved more deeply into the main antagonist (there are actually four antagonists in the book, another record for me).

The truth is, I am a little afraid to tackle a "big book," with sweeping themes, at least at this stage of my development. I think I've figured out sentences, and I can turn a pretty decent paragraph on command, and scenes aren't much of a problem. But I'm still tinkering with the big canvas, and most of it comes down to deciding what I really believe and what I really want to say. It's a journey, and I love the journey. Maybe this is the road my spirit has to travel, flitting into this and that entity (fictional characters), and checking their motivations, reactions, and moral shortcomings. I'm learning, and I hope it never ends.

If you ever close one of my books and all I did was scare you, you'll probably forget it by the time you crack the cover of your next read. If it comes back to you in the night, or over coffee, or even in the middle of reading a better, non-horror book, then I'll call it a success. For now.

June 2, 2006
We all hate to admit we're dumb, right? Or maybe it's just me. So there's this thing about books or movies that you start and they get stupid and then you either: (a) finish because you're stubborn, (b) finish because you feel the creator deserves a second or third chance, or (c) shut it down, close it, recycle, vomit.

I try to finish books I start, and I used to read everything. But I was younger and dumber then (funny how those two adjectives fit so naturally together as you get older), and the only books I didn't finish were those assigned classics, like "Moby Dick" and a Dickens or two. I love Dickens now, but they shouldn't try to shove him down the throats of adolescents in public schools. I finished a lot of bad books in the 1980's. "Slugs" immediately comes to mind. Somewhere in the 1990's, I decided life was too short, and books, movies, and other distractions too plentiful, to endure anything that didn't quickly grab my attention.

Since then, my patience level has dwindled from 50 pages to about five. The truth is, you can smell hog shit a mile away, and only an idiot needs to stick his nose in it to tell that it's hog shit. Maybe I'm just older and wiser, or maybe slowly becoming a little more honest. Or maybe hog shit stinks worse than it used to.

May 29, 2006
The blitz is on for the first anthology from International Thriller Writers, sure to be talked about for months, as it's billed as the first-ever anthology of strictly thriller stories. While the "thriller" label is pretty broad (I've been calling myself a thriller writer for years, and it easily embraces many mystery, romantic suspense, horror and even science fiction books), it's mostly seen as a marketing label for books that seek to strive above genre, or at least not be brought down by the lowest expectations of a genre. And that's purely in marketing, not in the writing itself. Believe me, I've seen plenty of bad books in every genre, and I've even written a few.

I'll be making a list of items to give away in conjunction with The Farm hype contest--everyone who participates will be a winner, and everyone who participates will also be eligible for other prizes. Free DVDs, books, and magazines, and everybody who helps spread the word about my new novel will get a signed cover proof of The Farm.

Reviews of Poe's Lighthouse at LauraHird.com and SfReader.

May 25, 2006
Dean Koontz has an interesting essay (as usual) in his most recent newsletter. He talks about the inspiration for his novel "Mr. Murder," which is about to be reissued. In the essay, Koontz talks about a magazine spread in which his publisher had him photographed as a freaky horror writer, though Koontz has been adamantly and actively distancing himself from the genre since, oh, shortly after he helped form Horror and Occult Writers League (HOWL), the organization that later became Horror Writers Association.

Koontz is one of my favorite writers and a reminder that dedication is the most important "talent" any writer can possess. I've always believed you should emulate the people you admire, in any field, and try to practice their habits as closely as you can. Koontz rewrites with a passion that probably borders on obsessive-compulsive disorder, and he also sticks to a harsh regimen at the keyboard. He does few interviews and personal appearances, though he's widely considered approachable, humorous, and supportive of other writers. I've had a little correspondence with him and all those traits apply.

While his essay on "Mr. Murder" takes another sarcastic stab at Hollywood, it also contains a lot of insight about the man and his ideas. Say what you will about his characters who often seem too good to be true, his books resonate with millions of readers around the world. It's not just his formula for writing a bestseller, it's his philosophy of living. His new book, The Husband, he says, is "about courage and self-sacrifice, how those qualities are born of and nurtured by love as well as by a recognition that life has meaning and that this world has mysterious depths."

May 22, 2006
Finally took the plunge and ordered a laptop. The way my schedule is, with odd bits of time scattered throughout the day with responsibilities sprinkled among them, it made sense to be able to fill up some of that free time with writing. I figure it will only take a couple of productive weeks to offset its cost. And I'm curious about the whole wi-fi thing. I don't spend a lot of time in coffee shops, but then again I never had much reason to; I'm only good for a couple of cups before I get wired myself (a big change from my younger days when I would drink three pots a day).

I'm doing some giveaways for The Farm--check out the contest page if you'd like to help me promote the book. Most of the gimmicks cost you very little time and effort, and you are eligible to win DVDs, signed books, signed book covers, and other oddities I happen to uncover.

First review of the Farm is in, from Baryon Magazine: "Scott Nicholson is one of the new breed of horror writers who have taken up the mantle of King and Koontz with his modern day gothic horror thrillers that are chillingly filled with things not of this world visiting our realm with malicious intent."

May 18, 2006
Interesting essay by Bev Vincent on agents at Storytellers Unplugged. Agents vary a lot in their approach to editing and/or working with their authors. Some, like mine, focus on the marketing and career strategies. Others work closely with the author on multiple drafts and the direction of their subject matter. I've known people who were unhappy with their agents and dropped them, and some who have had decades of mutually beneficial alliance. Maybe it really is like a marriage and you pursue the one you want to spend your life with (or at least the next seven years or so). Then again, you have these guys, scam artists who promise fame, fortune, and Four Season lunches on the publisher's dime but deliver you nothing but an empty wallet. While freelance editing is a real and often honest business (I do a little myself), you're better off making sure you make your work the best you can on your own and then send it out to reputable places, and be wary of anyone who asks for money upfront.

While I'm schlepping product, here's a thrilling little number that really is one of a kind: the first anthology from the International Thriller Writers. Big advance, big advance orders, big names. I'm not in it, but I'm a member of the organization. The org will be conducting a massive publicity blitz beginning May 29, so consider yourself a little ahead of the curve.

May 15, 2006
The Cemetery Dance limited edition hardcover of Poe's Lighthouse is finally out,with a number of noted contributors, including George Clayton Johnson, John Shirley, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. The idea was for each author to take an unfinished story fragment by Edgar Alan Poe and finish the story as a "co-author." My contribution is "Last Writes," and since the story was written two or three years ago, I'd forgotten most of it, so I had to read the last couple of paragraphs to remember. A great book to read and also a nice collectible, as you have 100 percent guaranteed assurance that every one of the authors who signed the book will one day be dead.

Finally got around to taking author photographs for "The Farm." I toy with the idea of having a new "image" for each novel, because they are little time capsules of my life anyway. This one, we went with the hillbilly farmer look, which isn't too much of a stretch, since this is what I do, just on a much smaller scale. Once again my friend Marie Freeman did a fine job on the photographs, especially considering her nongenic subject matter. You can see more of her great mountain photography at her Blue Ridge Blog.

May 8, 2006
Battling phone line problems here so updates may be sporadic. The Book of Dark Wisdom #9 just came out with my story "She Climbs A Winding Stair," told in a deliberately archaic style and based on an island with an abandoned historic sea port (now a national park) on the North Carolina Outer Banks. Nice illustration by Steven Gilberts. Best of all, the magazine contains work by my friends such as Jay Caselburg, G. Durant Haire, Darren Speegle, and Stephen Mark Rainey. That always makes it more fun.

Planted onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and tomatillos. I just hope it doesn't snow. The hummingbirds have even stopped haunting my empty feeder.

May 4, 2006
How fitting that Zacarias Moussaoui received a sentence in life in prison for his role in the 9/11 attacks. I'd hoped he would get this sentence, because a death sentence would have justified everything the probable manic-depressive had stood for in supporting the murder of 3,000 people. In voting for "life," the jurors spoke more loudly for freedom, strength, compassion, and understanding than a million suicide bombers could deliver in their selfish and explosive messages of hate and fear.

Dubya sez accepting a life sentence was --QUOTE--"something that he evidently wasn't willing to do for innocent American citizens." Can you imagine Dubya actually coming up with this line without a writer? Writers will never go unemployed. They just need to make sure they work for the right people.

May 1, 2006
Saw "Body Heat" and it confirmed everything I ever assumed about women--but I know even less now than I did then. I wrote an advice column on Internet dating today with my cohort in crimethought Frankie Ruggs. I'll post a link or put it online when it comes out. It's kind of fun to be funny once in a while.

I love the hilarious "wedge issues" that people invent--is anyone honestly upset if someone sings "The Star-Spangled Banner" in Spanish? As long as they hit the high notes, I'm fine with it. You can sing it in Korean, Kurdish, or Russian and it wouldn't diminish my freedom one little bit. France. Yeah, let's sing it in French! I heard one of the new Neil Young songs and he's really raking Dubya over the coals and takes a sideways stab at American indifference. I'm sort of bothered that it took a Canadian to do it, but hey, Hemingway said he couldn't write about Paris until he moved away from Paris.

Apr. 24, 2006
Friday's Destinies radio interview is now archived online at Capt. Phil's. Listening to Dean Koontz's "Intensity" on audiotape--he is so polished he always makes me feel a bit shamed as a writer. Also reading "Stick" by Elmore Leonard. They are the kind of books that wake you up in the middle of the night and compel you to get to the keyboard and write a few good sentences. Also reading "Don't Murder Your Mystery," by my friend and Mystery Writers of America compatriot Chris Roerden. A great primer on writing in general and mysteries or thrillers in particular.

Updated my bio because it sounded so boring. Not much way to help it. Writing is not all that exciting. It's basically just sitting there staring at computer keys for hours.

Apr. 19, 2006
Parsnips. I'm not sure what you do with them but I planted some. I just like saying it. Parsnips.

It looks like I'll be going to the first Thrillerfest in Phoenix at the end of June. Still not sure of details, but I will be in a volunteer capacity. Lots of big names afoot--Michael Palmer, David Morrell, R.L. Stine, M.J. Rose. People on the bestseller lists. I'm pretty juiced about it. Boy is going to college in Tucson in the fall, so I'll get to see some of that terrain.

Apr. 13, 2006
I like my assholes. Yeah, that's plural, though in most circumstances God and Genetics treat you kindly and only give you one to worry about.

One thing I've noticed in all my books, I have an asshole character (sometimes a few) and I have the most fun writing those. It is so natural. Or as Farrengalli, the loud-mouthed Italian from the Bronx in a novel as yet unnamed who will probably turn out fatally flawed (like his creator), says: "It's only fuckin' natural."

I hope it's not a sign of something deeper--oh, please, if I could only get a shrink on the couch for 30 seconds, I'm sure we'd both be that much happier.

Taxes done. I bought another dozen Bush bullets for Iraq and I feel so much safer now.

Apr. 11, 2006
You ever lost some music and then found it later? About five years ago, I left a Paul Westerberg CD on the roof of my car (I can remember putting it there but don't remember why and I can now picture it rolling onto the highway in a rainbow splash of sun). I couldn't order another because it had gone out of print but through the miracle of eBay I found a copy in Canada. Some of my all-time favorite lines in different songs:

The truth is overrated, I suppose. It's a wonderful lie, I still get by on those...

It's wrong to commit a suicide, it's only in self-defense...

You're the best thing that never happened, I'm the best thing you never had...

You were born for me, beautiful and blue, I could die here with you...

Is it fiction or fact? We're identically sad, We got tears rolling up our sleeves...

I shot an actor in the street...it was my debut at directing...we nailed him in the hands and feet...last scene he was in his trailer resting...who here in the crew was he talking to and what was he saying?

Wow. I wish I could write that good, or lines so well. He's the Raymond Chandler of rock, or the Sylvia Plath of major seventh chords.

I'm not much of a club hopper these days (a show a decade is a minor miracle), but I got to see Westerberg about a year ago. It was a great, old-fashioned rock'n'roll show, complete with Westerberg walking into the women's restroom like a jerk. Small crowd, cigarette smoke, five-dollar plastic cups of Chablis. A night not to be missed. One of those rare moments when you and the "artist" (or creator or inventor or thinker or lover) just kind of connect. You know what I mean. You. Him. Her. Whatever.

Mr. Westerberg continues to gain prominence in my esteem, a.ka. he rawks. The only newer artists who bug me so much are James McMurtry (though he's not so young anymore) and Eef Barzelay of Clem Snide.

Apr. 10, 2006
Been busy in the garden. The mountain above me sold and rumors favor either a high-end development or a ski slope. Either way, it looks like I'll be squeezed out, though hopefully with enough property value increase that I can buy more land and be even more reclusive. It's, as they say, all good.

My Hellnotes writing column has been cancelled. Appropriately enough, the last column was "The 'N' Word," about how rejection and negatives are the true building blocks of a writing career. A friend of mine reminded me today of the importance of my own advice, to write every day whether or not you have time, willingness, or fingers. I think I'm ready for a haircut.

Got advance reader copies for The Farm. Same as the others except these covers are canary yellow. So that makes orange (The Harvest), gray (The Manor), light gray (The Home), and now yellow. Apparently they use the cheapest leftover cardboard stock for these covers, so now we know which colors went out of style over the past few years.

Is it just me, or are a lot of pregnant celebrities starting to show up on the magazine racks?

Apr. 4, 2006
I'll be an interview guest on Destinies: The Voice of Science Fiction on Friday night, Apr. 21 at 11:30 EST. Host Howard Margolin will be discussing "The Home" and my upcoming book "The Farm." He's read all my books and his questions are pretty inquisitive and he'll keep me on my toes. It will be streaming on the Internet and also archived at Capt. Phil's if you miss it the first time.

Just added an essay at Storytellers Unplugged on the use of the phrase "A Novel" after the title of novels. Doing taxes right now, looking for all those creative writerly deductions that are easy to overlook--mileage to the bookstore, web costs, and probably my mental health bills. Are illegal substances legal deductions?

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