|Fresh Dirt Archives: July-Sept.
Sept. 27, 2006
And the end.
One of the never-ending message board debates centers on whether one should write for love or money. Well, with this project, I can do both. I love to make fun of hillbillies and I love to make money. And we all live happily ever after.
Sept. 26, 2006
Dysfunctional universe #1: While browsing vampire Goth people on Myspace, I encountered a 20-ish "Creature" whose bio said, "I embrace the darkness and worship the night, except I don't like those icky bugs and mosquitoes." Whoa. A bloodsucker who fears the smaller bloodsuckers. Talk about an unflinching gaze into the abyss...
Dysfunctional universe #2: I live near the Blue Ridge Parkway, a narrow, 469-mile national park that is essentially a long scenic highway. A group just received a federal grant of about $120,000 to erect signs proclaiming "This is a Scenic Byway." Next will be a grant for signs that say, "Next sign, 500 feet."
Robyn Hitchcock has a new album out. I guess I'll have to sell some blood so I can buy it.
Sept. 22, 2006
Signing books tomorrow at the Kraut Creek Festival in Boone. Hopefully the weather will be fine, as I'm not sure there were any provisions for an indoor event. Either way, heck, my books are waterproof.
I'm scheduled to be on the Lou Gentile paranormal Internet radio show on Oct. 18. I believe I'm supposed to talk for two whole hours--not sure how I can pull that off, even talking about me me me. Now if I can only figure out how to sign up for the site...
Sept. 21, 2006
I took part in a peace day event today. It was pretty cool. I was covering it as a reporter and when I got finished with my notes I decided to join in. Beating drums, strumming guitar, doing chant circles. And a teepee. Don't forget the teepee.
I've been busy with Horror Day and we now have a bunch of great prizes and are trying to round up some celebrity judges. Between that, serving on ITW's publicity committee (sign up for our free newsletter!) and getting ready to help Deb LeBlanc as she guides HWA into the future, I'm finding it hard to get a consistent writing schedule. Actually, I haven't had one for quite a while, but things should settle down soon. Plus it's winter, so that limits one's choices for distractions.
Sept. 17, 2006
It's official. As of yesterday, I am vice-president of the Horror Writers Association. The news comes at a sad time, though, as genre giant Charles Grant passed away after an extended illness. (We are allowed to use that gentler euphemism in real life, though journalists must say "died." Grant was known for his "quiet horror," something of an anomaly in a field where the authors generally shriek like banshees, generally about their own overblown talents. A true gentleman, to be much missed. Fortunately, I still have a couple of his books in my boxes, and can go to them now with reverence and appreciation. The words live on.
This morning I'm working on my children's project "The Monster and the Pig." I'm writing it as a book from the improvised puppet show, then I'll script the puppet show a little more closely for my Oct. 13 Horror Day event at the library. The Horror Day prize list is getting impressive, so if you haven't joined, then check it out.
Sept. 15, 2006
Great essay a couple of days ago at Storytellers Unplugged: Brian Hodge talked about moving away from the horror genre and that he'd been disappointed in the results after publishing numerous novels. I understand. I feel that way myself. After six novels in the genre, novels that I feel straddle several genres, I don't find the same appeal as I once did in the supernatural. Primarily, I feel such books get second-class treatment by the publishing and book-selling industries. I also feel readers, the ones not instantly repelled by the H-word and who associate it with Freddie Krueger and gore, often overlook any theme or plot in the book in a rush to get the chill fix. Now, I am grateful for all my readers and I am touched by the insight they show when they write me, often having a better grasp of the story than I have. Unfortunately, the horror audience is very small in the grand scheme of things. It's really not even on the radar anymore, and I am one of the last people to have "Horror" printed on the spines of my books. That's ironic since I am probably the least horrific of anybody who has bore the title.
This is not a criticism of my publisher. I'm sure it's selling books the best way it knows how and has been doing it far longer than I have been writing. I have been treated fairly and given an opportunity to reach thousands of readers. Many of them have returned for subsequent books and I hope they follow me wherever I head next. In truth, it was probably easier to break in as a horror writer when I did and so I managed to get books out there when I might otherwise still be unpublished. What many people don't know is that I have written three other novels that are not supernatural or horror and that they haven't been marketed, aside from the first novel that I sent around before I'd really polished it. Two of those, I feel, are among the best work I've ever done. I also think, looking back, that THEY HUNGER is the best supernatural work I have written so far, so I hope you give it a try in April.
Secondarily, a few times I've felt people in "real life" think I'm somehow deranged because I write supernatural fiction. For a children's event at the library, I'm dubbed "Scary Scott," and that makes me uncomfortable because I don't feel scary at all. I'm actually kind of goofy. I rarely introduce myself as a writer, and almost never as a "horror writer." It's just no big deal. It doesn't matter to me. Just a bunch of words.
I'll keep on with the words because that's what I do and that's who I am. I wonder what kind of label will stick next.
Sept. 13, 2006
I've taken up swimming again. I was hardcore about it a few years ago, but it was also more convenient because I could walk to the pool at lunch time. Now I have to drive, change, shower, swim, shower, change, drive. Plus I have to pay now and it was free before. But if I can do it once or twice a week and keep playing tennis, maybe I can put another 20 years on this slab of mortal meat. I don't really care to live to a ripe old age. I wouldn't fight it, assuming I was healthy, but longevity for its own sake really doesn't matter in the long run. Of course, knowing me, I never want to leave unfinished business, so I'm sure there will always be a pressing reason to want that next breath.
Sept. 10, 2006
Took Girl to Tweetsie Railroad, the local Wild West theme park, yesterday. I always find myself watching the people more than the attractions. I am amazed by the perception of "experience," how people seem more intent on convincing themselves they are having an experience instead of actually experiencing the thing. In one dramatic case, a father took a digital picture of an event and nudged his young son and showed him the tiny captured image while the event was still going on! They missed a portion of the event because they were already storing it away in some "good memory" vault. Okay, I know I suppress my own senses and inner light, so I should not rush to judgment, but I had a great time myself--two rides on the carousel without my horse bucking me.
Hummingbirds are cute. No doubt. I filled up my feeder for the first time this year, but they spend all day fighting over it. One sits in a little branch nearby and guards it, flying in to buzz any poor little flitterbug that tries to steal some sugar water. Why should I nurture conflict right outside my window? Let 'em starve. No more refills.
We don't have many great American artists. I was flipping through an overview and most of our art falls into two categories, both reflective of our national attitude: the sprawling nature scene and the glorifying of political and social structures. Sure, there's a seamy underbelly, as reflected in the lurid genius of Thomas Hart Benton and Charles Burchfield, but most of the "famous American paintings" feature George Washington or some white explorer pursuing manifest destiny. Of course, most of our artists go to Europe at some point, so there's little purism, and we have occasionally tried to feel cultured by celebrating lesser lights like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. Maybe our role in the world is to disseminate mass media, to reduce creativity to its lowest common denominator. I believe, with the proper satellite network, that Parisians can vote for "American Idol."
Sept. 9, 2006
Spent too much time playing guitar today but I did manage to log some laptop time in the coffee shop. I used to think people who wrote in coffee shops were pretentious but sometimes it's the only place you can get a wireless connection and a legal buzz at the same time.
Sept. 5, 2006
The cover pretty much reflects the subject matter, if not necessarily the thematic content, of the novel. What the heck is a theme? Who am I kidding? It's a cheesy munchfest that reeks to high heaven! Sex, blood, and double-crossing. Everything you need to make your life complete. And you only have to wait eight more months!
Sept. 3, 2006
Sept. 2, 2006
I'm not sure I'm a fit role model or inspiration for anything. I look back and see nothing but mistakes and shortcomings, but I am making peace with some of the accomplishments. Sometimes I think my tenacity and willful striving to get published has been nothing but a symptom of my major character defects--supreme ego couched in obscene insecurity. I couldn't take "No" for an answer because I had to prove the world wrong and, damn it, wasn't it plain what an obvious genius I was? Well, I've learned I'm not so smart at all. The Scott way has been the wrong way in almost every instance. When good things happened, it was in spite of me and not because of me. I accept that many times I had good intentions, but a lot of the intentions basically arose from selfishness. I'm a big fan of Carl Jung and his theory of a collective unconsciousness. On an intellectual level, though, it's very hard to submit ego to a greater, larger force. On a practical level, it is surpassingly easy. Everything I have has been a gift, and everything I have lost has been because I tried to grab it my way, or treat it the way I thought it needed to be treated.
Writers, especially in the modern landscape, are taught to self-promote to the point of excess, with all possible energy and diligence. That flies in the face of most spiritual principles that teach passiveness and surrender. Perhaps a healthy balance is in there somewhere. My deal is that I believe in the things I have created, which came through my hands from a place beyond me, and so I have no problem encouraging others to share the experience by reading my books. I'm not even worried about getting 50 cents from the royalty. Checking my books out from the library or getting a used copy at a rummage sale for a quarter is fine with me. So please forgive me for the times I shout, "Buy my book!" Really, there is plenty enough noise in the world already. I wouldn't want to leave that as my legacy or my example. Read the books if you'd like, or tend your garden or your loved ones instead. It, as they say, is all good.
August 31, 2006
Even better is to cross two ideas to come up with a completely new concept. That's when the wheels turn and doors open onto new and unsuspected rooms. Sure, there's a lot of serendipity, magic, and just plain luck involved, but many mysteries are yet to be revealed. Crack a walnut and find a Styrofoam peanut.
Looks like I'll be back with the Killer Thriller Band to play at Thrillerfest in New York next summer, July 12-15. There is a convention in Toronto in the spring I am seriously considering but I'll have to look at funds. Usually one big trip per year is all I can manage. But Canada, now that is tempting.
August 30, 2006
Thank you for giving that nutball the attention he so desperately craved. Otherwise, he might have gone out and hurt somebody to get it. This way, no innocent people were injured, and only the law enforcement authorities and the media were duped--but they were hogs at the same trough anyway, so let them choke on their mutual swill. I'm sure the creepy-eyed S.O.B. already has an agent and a book and film deal. Thank you, idiots.
On a lighter note, my hero Zlad! is back from Molvania with another classic rock classic.
August 28, 2006
New article Take the reader inside.
August 26, 2006
It's the time of year when I wonder why I bothered with such a big garden. I have hundreds of cherry tomatoes and I don't have time to pick them and I don't have any way to store them. I usually go down and eat some until I'm tired of them, then gather all the other crops. I'm freezing a big batch of corn and I froze some more tomato sauce. I probably should have canned some but that's a whole extra level of work. I wonder if, when the End Times come, people will be able to relearn how to preserve and raise and capture their own food. When you think about it, almost all of the modern food storage techniques rely on electricity at some point, either in the preparation or the storage itself. Hmmm. Hopefully we'll never have to find out.
Finishing up "Fear Goggles" for Monster Noir. Should be ready in the morning. Also worked on my puppet show "The Monster and the Pig" for my Horror Day children's event. Wrote a song. Tomorrow I might hook up the recording equipment and have a go.
August 24, 2006
I had to do a major raid of the garden, since I have been home after dark for the last three days. Looks like the summer squash are finally fading and the tomatoes are getting down to the wire. I got a bunch of tomatillas with which to make salsa, maybe this weekend. The corn was a little disappointing this year. I think it needs far more nitrogen because of the large plants. Everything else has done pretty well. I think it's about the right size. The only thing I'd expand next year is pumpkins, since they need a lot of room but take care of themselves. I'll probably grow a couple more varieties of tomatoes as well as more onions and garlic. And spices--I have some chives but spices are so expensive in the store when one rosemary plant can provide a couple years' worth of leaves.
Writing stuff: I'm reading Irwin Shaw, who was the hero of my hero William Goldman. I guess the way it works is you keep reaching back through the realms of influence until you get to Shakespeare and Chaucer and Aristotle and Homer.
August 21, 2006
The screenplay is pretty much a no-brainer. It's unrolling itself pretty easily, which probably means it is flawed to the very core. I have two other novel ideas, and I guess I'll work up some outlines for those and see which one my agent thinks I should work on next. One is more of a straight-ahead thriller and the other has potential to go in several directions, probably more of a "suburban Gothic" as opposed to the rural Appalachian Gothics I was writing. I've decided I want to do some books that move a little more, have a little faster pace, and a leaner and meaner story. In They Hunger, I used a technique where I actually left out small segments of the action, little set-ups that can pretty easily be imagined by the reader. I think it helped the pacing a lot and probably saved me 20,000 unneeded words, which can be important in the era of rising paper prices and shrinking typeface size.
Aegri Somnia banner--this anthology has my story "Heal Thyself":
August 19, 2006
I always wonder about the "stage moms" who push their kids in that direction. I have no doubt Girl would be a great model and actress and if she showed interest, I'd let her, provided it was full-clothed, regular advertising for wholesome products. But I'd never farm her out for my own ego or wallet.
Our friend gave her nothing but Christmas videos--so of course she had to decorate the ficus tree, make more paper ornaments, and begin plotting for an obscenely long list of Santa demands. Okay, I've already burned two pancakes while typing this--three and I'm out of the kitchen for good, condemned to a life of Barney reruns.
August 18, 2006
August 17, 2006
There's this real jerk (his name is "Jacques" in the script, but it may as well be Scott as played by a younger Jack Nicholson) who screws over two women in a stolen art deal. The two women team up to go after him. So does the double-crossed dealer, the cops, and the original owner of the painting--but, wait, the painting is actually a fake. And then the women rob a pawn shop for guns and...cut. You'll have to see the movie to find out the rest.
Yes, I am back in scriptland again after a long hiatus. The break was basically imposed by the reality that I always have book deadlines so it's hard to justify the time spent on an unsold script. The thing is, I know I'll have to write 10 of them just to figure out how to do it. When I was younger, no problem, but these days I need more than just learning experiences...I need real experiences!
Learn from your mistakes? If so, I should have been a genius long ago. In everything. Words are bad enough, but handling people is a whole 'nuther matter. I have this new, simple prayer that should last for a while: "God, please help me see things as they are." That one is so simple even I can't mess it up. Now to spend another year memorizing it.
Another good day--three hours not drinking in the bar of a Mexican restaurant, playing on the laptop. Word of the day is "serendipity": the gift of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought. Coincidentally, the word itself is a "found" word, invented by a writer. We writers, always making up things, usually lies!
August 14, 2006
Played some guitar at an amphitheater near town--a big, empty place with nice sound. Killed some time between meetings, adding a couple of back-up parts to some songs. It was either that or the laptop and I'd forgotten I'd already written early in the morning.
My friend Alexandra Sokoloff has a new novel The Harrowing coming out Sept. 1--make yourself useful and go order a copy, or better yet, ask your local library to order it. Another friend, RH Stavis, has staggered into the wondrous online maze known as myspace. So add her if you have a site--she's lost in there. And add me while you're at it!
August 13, 2006
Usually I try to do too many things at once because I look at all the work I've neglected. I guess the most important stuff always gets done somehow. I don't know how I'd manage if I had any serious, time-consuming hobbies. I interviewed a TV star yesterday for my newspaper--it was weird, because it was arranged for us to meet outside a cafe in a little entourage. I was there with Girl, waiting, and it was raining so we got under a shelter. A woman brings a baby out of the restaurant and is standing there soothing the baby. We talk about kids--she has a five-year-old. Then my radio friend comes up and introduces hersel to the woman--I have been talking to the TV star and didn't know it. Well, she had beautiful eyes, so I should have figured, but I don't watch TV so I don't know anybody. And I didn't have to admit I didn't know her, and she was probably relieved to not have to be a celebrity all the time. I actually never interviewed her; I got the radio tape for my story. So all is well that ends well and I got to keep my ignorance to myself.
August 12, 2006
I can just see myself going, "Oh, no, he's really going to do that, isn't he? Gosh, he's such a heartless bastard." And then he goes ahead and does the despicable thing. The other problem is parts of the plot are compressed over the course of a couple days, then an entire year passes in the space of a chapter. The pacing is all messed up. I'm going to go ahead and finish this one and it probably will need a third draft--and, like a dummy, I'll have to write a retroactive outline so I can figure out where to fix it. At least I'm smart enough these days to know I'm a dummy.
That's okay, because I need to start another novel anyway. I pretty much know what's going on with the next one, and it will be more action-oriented. I think They Hunger was successful because of its brisk pacing. The early novels, the Gothics, got a bit stodgy in spots because I had to build structural history. After 10 years of doing this, I think I've figured out how to do everything at the same time the way you're supposed to--plot, character development, description, backstory and theme all at the same time, in every paragraph.
August 10, 2006
I saw a teacher at the school who reads all my books. She said she loved The Farm and couldn't wait for the next book. I told her when They Hunger was coming out, and I was thinking, like I always think, "Those books aren't me." And I was talking like they were someone else's and I didn't care much about them and they were not a big deal. Then, walking away, I thought, "Well, dammit, they ARE mine. That's not all I am, but I did those. They're not a big deal but they are real, and they came from me." It was a weird revelation, or maybe just a sign that I'm starting to assimilate all these strange fragments into a whole. Like a "normal" person. Hah.
Making soup out of things from the garden--had too many tomatoes so they went it. Green beans, blue potatoes, zucchini, Chinese mustard greens, some onion from the grocery store. I didn't plant enough onions. I usually don't eat that many but the past year or so I have eaten more. I've planted some stuff like collards, beets, and broccoli that will do well in cool weather. August is the muggiest month here but already signs of fall seep into the threads of nature's tapestry.
Here's a photo from the Fourth of July float, where we were playing patriotic songs (all two of them.) My friend Marie, who took the picture, refers to it as "Hot Scott." Whatever. Quite a few more gray hairs between that one and this one.
August 9, 2006
Working on some guitar stuff and then going back and forth on the writing. A refreshing change. I guess I'll work one or two habits into the rotation (trying to find some chess partners) so I can avoid being obsessive. Not that obsession is a major problem for me. Boredom is more likely.
There's some development going on around me. It doesn't bug me like it once did, because it's not my reality, it's theirs. One of the development team is an utter hypocrite: made his career selling paintings of scenic, rural mountain farms, took the money and bought those old farms, and bulldozed them to hell and back for rich Floridians. Now that's what I call "preserving a tradition." Again, it's his reality, and his deal with his creator. I don't have to look at his corny paintings or his dirty land if I so choose. And I choose.
August 7, 2006
The "new" novel (I won't give it a name yet because publishers often change them) that I'm revising from 2004 is actually pretty decent. I think at the time I knew it wasn't part of the horror books I was contracted to write, it was "mine" and I could do what I wanted. I haven't had to throw much of it out yet and I should have it polished up in a couple of weeks of steady work. Of course, all the characters are deceptive, heartless, and despicable. Hopefully it's therapy instead of autobiography!
Listening to a novel on tape by a hugely successfull thriller writer. I'd never read this person's work before. It's very odd and I can't really grasp the popular appeal--the story takes place on a global stage, lots of political intrigue and subterfuge, but the characters are absolutely cardboard. The author knows how fast a certain brand of jet flies and how much it costs, knows foreign maps down to the specific street name, knows the initials of every federal agency. But I don't care. I can't root for any of the people, or even loathe them. The men are all manly and the womany are womanly men. All are the best at what they do, flawless. Which is where this bores me to tears. I love fatal flaws, human failings, moral weakness--because then there's something to overcome.
And the whole tone is so conservative, in every avenue. I guess I have this strange notion of fiction as free-spirited, expansive, and liberating instead of seeking to reaffirm masculine notions of duty, honor, and capitalistic status quo. What's the point of getting the prize or the jackpot or the priceless artifact (or the romantic object, but there's no romance in this book, as if the two genders interact in a vacuum) if it doesn't affect the characters at all? It's like watching two computers play chess--intellectually stimulating for maybe five minutes or so, then you're ready for a cup of coffee. I'll probably finish it for educational purposes, but I can never write a book like this, even I was promised it would sell a million copies.
Well, on second thought...I'd do ONE. And the bad guy would win--AND get the girl!
August 5, 2006
I got another children's book idea right after that. I haven't heard back from my agent on the other five or six I sent in, but I have an artist friend who may take a crack at illustrating. I wish I could draw and paint so I could do them myself. I can sort of see the images in my mind but I have nowhere near the skill to put them down. And, in the past, when other people have visualized my ideas, they brought them to life far better than I would have, adding an extra dimension and depth.
We were at the coffee shop before the library, waiting for the post office to open. Girl knocked over my coffee and slogged it all over the laptop, where I was learning to burn CDs. What's funny is we'd even talked about it yesterday, she asked, "What would happen if something spilled on the laptop?" and I said, "I'd probably get mad." I didn't get mad when it actually happened. I said, "Gosh--" mostly from surprise, then I swabbed it up and asked Girl if she was burned. Everything seems to work, though one of the video card slots might be a little sticky--I doubt if I'll ever use that one anyway. Later, she said, "You said you would get mad if that happened." I had to explain the difference between being mad and being upset. If I had spilled the coffee on it, I would have been mad. Anybody else, I could deal with it, because that's out of my control. Or maybe my new friends are helping me not be mad anymore. Thank you, friends.
August 4, 2006
"They Hunger" is all boxed and ready to be shipped off in the morning. For all you who complained about the teeny print in The Farm, you can rest your eyes. This one is only 450 pages in manuscript instead of 630 or so. Collating the final draft and then printing it out is a chore in itself. I spent about eight hours on it today (finishing as I type this, trying to beat midnight). Usually I just send off a file for each chapter, but this time I did one big file with all the chapters in it, struggled through all the weird formatting stuff the laptop put in without my permission, and ran it to the printer 50 pages at a time. Not cheap, either. Figure two packs of paper, one-plus printer cartridge, and about $20 postage to mail a copy to both agent and publisher. Over $50.
Horror Wench at Horror-Web told me she "hated to do it" but really reamed The Farm in a review. I told her I didn't mind, and I don't. I didn't read the review. I don't read the good ones, either, unless they are significant ones that my agent or publisher can use, like Publishers Weekly or New York Times. I used to round up links to the reviews but it's kind of pointless--if you're at my site, you already know about the books.
Things are going really well right now, turning some stuff around. Is it the Monkees that sing the song "I got a feeling I'm into something good"? Yeah. You know the one. I have that feeling. Yeah.
July 31, 2006
Met some musician friends and had a good time actually playing some tunes with people besides myself. Hopefully it will become a regular event, though I'll need to spruce up my equipment and get a few odds and ends. I think I fried the P.A. amp but I'll check it out sometime this week. All of my equipment, except my acoustic guitar, has pretty much been stacked away for a decade. A couple of times I tried to sell the stuff, but it never worked out, so I guess I'm meant to keep it. Besides, the joy I get out of it, and other people can get out of it, are worth much more than whatever the money could buy.
Next project look like finishing up a very nasty novel I was writing before The Farm. I only have about four pages to go but every character was so despicable that I didn't have the stomach to write the ending. Now I think I can, and it will be okay, even if the book never gets published. Also, I have a screenplay that is within kissing distance of being finished--racing into the last act. Too long neglected, like a lover in the morning, or something poetic like that.
The neighbor's cows are getting on my nerves. The herd was separated into adjoining fields, and I think one of the bulls lost his moo mama, because he squeals and yelps and pretty much begs to be converted to sirloin. So if you see me dribbling bits of raw meat from my lips, you'll know...
July 27, 2006
It looks like Deborah LeBlanc and Shaun Jeffrey are squaring off for HWA president, while I seem to be unopposed as vice-president, with RH Stavis as secretary. I think there are eight people running for four trustee seats. I'm also on a publicity committee for International Thriller Writers and I was supposed to be doing something with MWA's publicity but haven't heard back from the committee. I swear, committees are the equivalent of social frontal lobotomies--they seem to stupidify everyone who touches them.
The Farm appears to be doing well, though The Manor looks like it's headed for the out-of-print list. Amazon reports it ships in "1 to 3 weeks," like The Harvest, which means they are on back order. I don't know if the publisher plans to send the first three back for additional print runs. If not, well, you might have a limited collector's item on your hands. So buy 10 copies! Right now!
July 23, 2006
I'm going to start talking more about other writers here, because sometimes when I'm proofreading the journal, I seem a little bit self-centered and self-focused, though I think it's because I don't get out of the house much. Today's creature feature is on W.D. Gagliani, who has a nice web site and is author of Wolf's Trap. Also, check out my friend, talented songwriter Amy Steinberg. She told me she was a musician and I was thinking, "Yeah, right, I've heard that before, just like everybody I know is a writer or going to be." But she's really good, with spiritual, insightful songs and a warm presence.
July 22, 2006
July 20, 2006
When I was packing up copies of each book to send to a French editor, I did go, "Hmm, there's a lot of these now." A lot of words. A lot of copies in print, running into the six figures total now. Some get stripped and pulped, but lots of people have copies of my books. I hope you have a couple. That's pretty cool, when you think about. People. Books. Yeah.
July 18, 2006
Then I called up the Washington Post book editor and pitched an article I'd written. I left a message, so I'll have to follow up tomorrow, but I would never have dared do something like that before. I guess I just figured I had little left to lose. Or some things in life were changing for the better.
My newspaper editor, Jason Reagan, had a bicycle accident yesterday, with some head and dental damage. Apparently his chain jammed and threw him head over handlebars. Don't know the whole story yet, but speedy recovery, Jason.
July 16, 2006
Thanks to all who bought The Farm (still makes me chuckle to say that) and who helped spread the word. It appears to be doing very well and has helped my older titles a little bit. I appreciate your support.
Most of dinner has come from the garden: yellow squash, broccoli and onions in the stir fry (technically, it wasn't my onion, but I could have pulled one of mine); beet greens with vinegar, which I'd never had before, and like--they are bit like spinach with a little extra tang on the afterbite; green beans, which I hadn't noticed until I sprayed my vinegar-garlic-hot pepper insecticide; and beets with chives--I'll have to experiment with ways of cooling them so they don't explode red juice all over the microwave. I know, the meal needed grains and I should have dug up some potatoes, but I already have too much food in the fridge.
July 15, 2006
I have tried a lot of different online marketing approaches for this new novel, a change from my usual "Blitz the newspapers and do a lot of store signings" approach. One interesting thing I've noticed from tracking my web stats is very few visitors come to my site from traditional horror websites and sources. Most of my visitors come from left field, all over the place. The perennial most popular article is the one on our local FBI profiler, who worked with a couple of serial killer cases. He's also advising me on a couple of FBI characters for my next novel. So I guess the lesson is, more people would know me if I became a serial killer, and I'll bet my books would sell better. And I'd have plenty of time on death row to write after I got caught. Hmmm...
July 13, 2006
Working on an article called "The Last Horror Writer In America," based on my recent visit to Barnes & Noble, where it seemed I was the only author with "horror" on the spines of his books. Interesting phenomenon. If you see any mass market books in the chains that have "horror" on the spine (as a marketing category), please drop me a line and let me know, as I didn't have time to look through the whole store to test my theorem.
A guy from the Winston-Salem Journal came to my house today to do a piece. It's the first time someone's actually looked at my life instead of just doing the "horror author" interview. Should be out this weekend.
July 11, 2006
I told the clerk about my new book, she immediately went to the computer, punched it up, said copies might get there Friday or the Friday after that. A couple of weeks after the official release date. That didn't bother me too much, because the Fourth holiday seemed to have messed up shipping, and I have yet to receive my author copies. But the clerk had no interest in the book itself, or my status as a small-time yet "local" author who gets a lot of media coverage in my region. Instead, her sole reality was the computer--put Tab A in Slot B. She might just as well have been selling spark plugs of different sizes for all the passion she showed. Which caused me to multiply that attitude by the number of this chain's stores across the country, then take the square root of indifference and how that projects to the customers. No wonder "pirate" merchandise and Da Vinci-related books take the front of the store, because they are easy and the promotion has already been paid for with fast-food cups and cereal boxes. (At least the Da Vinci craze has gotten his great art and ideas out before the public again, though the dude did have an obscene obsession with weapons of mass destruction.)
The morning interview on WHKY with Hal Row was great--and Hal and his wonderful technical director Susie helped give me a great idea for a novel, combined with bits of an interrupted radio broadcast I heard going off the mountain. Accidents will happen, as Elvis the C. says, and often they are happy accidents.
At the signing, I met some wonderful and interesting people--I am not very outgoing, but this time, instead of worrying about selling books, I focused on getting to know the people who stopped by my table. I met an out-of-work law officer who drove an hour to meet me, a woman and her husband who had cleaned the store out of my books, a young man who wants to pursue dreams of art and writing despite his family's pressure to "get a real life," a younger man who owns a multimedia company, a guy who screwed up the old joke about the waitress and the customer who asks for a quickie (before he told the joke, he asked if I knew what "quiche" was), a fifth grader who sought out my book because she loves to read and whose supportive mother encouraged her pursuits. Hooray! People still read. People still dream. People are really cool.
July 10, 2006
news: Reaped my first yellow squash yesterday, and had a
stir fry with garden broccoli
and onions, augmented by my first Peruvian potatoes of
the year--they are a thick-skinned, cool-weather potato
that does well in the mountains (hence, why they are
grown in the Peruvian mountains), though they tend toward
the smallish size--from tennis balls to golf balls and
the occasional marble. Best of all, they have purple
skins and purple streaks inside them, making them much
fun for soups. Many greens are coming in--a Chinese
cabbage that is a bit "hot" that seems related
to mustard greens, mustard greens which are now bolting,
kale which doesn't like the heat (though it's been in the
60s much of the week), spinach, and lettuce. And, my
favorites, turnip greens.
July 7, 2006
The news may be slowly making the rounds, but I am running for vice-president of the Horror Writers Association, riding shotgun for presidential candidate Deborah LeBlanc. Judi Rohrig is running for secretary, and it looks like we'll have quite a full slate of trustee candidates (of course, I'll be resigning as trustee so another slot will open up.) It looks like there are a number of highly qualified female candidates, too, which is important because some women have felt there is a "good-old-boyz" network in many of the writing organizations.
I'm running the Farm hype giveaway through the month of July and added a few more books and magazines, so if you like free stuff and want to help me out, drop in on the contest page. Thursday's chat is archived at http://lostdamned.com/board/viewtopic.php?t=395.
July 5, 2006
Also got to play guitar in the newspaper's parade entry yesterday--we played only two songs, "America The Beautiful" and "Yankee Doodle Boy," but we probably covered them in five different styles each. Let's see, I should be promoting THE FARM more, but, wow, a lot is going on. And I need to finish the new novel!
Thrillerfest memory: There was a serial killer attack
about four blocks from the conference hotel, apparently
the fifth victim. Such a yawner that it merited a
one-inch teaser on the front page, and on the local
section, the story was a single column, below the fold.
How casually we take murder these days.
July 3, 2006
But the biggest news is a couple of horses got in my garden while I was away. Ate some squash and corn. The funniest part: my mom, who is 64, and my lovely neighbor Lillian, in her 70's, went out with sticks and brooms to drive the horses away. Talk about ladies with class.
Mom made her first-ever visit to my house, watching Girl while I was away. She is so intuitive about things. The most natural person I've ever known. One of her phrases: "I never wanted to drink. I just wanted to kick ass."
Mom cleaned my house, weeded my flower bed, washed all my dishes, folded clothes (I'm not sure an item of clothing has been folded there since I bought the place in '04), and in an amazing display of stamina kept up with Girl for three days. I know what you're thinking-- my mom wants things to "be nice." And I'm slightly embarrassed to be this old and let my mom clean for me. The truth is, she has so much energy she doesn't want to sit still, and she fights for "her boys" with every breath.
In my younger days, I liked to help Mom in the kitchen. I learned to cook, sew, and wash dishes. And sometimes even do laundry. She once got pissed when I scorched her bra--(hey, how many sons can say that without fear of misdemeanor charges?)--by pouring straight Clorox on the load before I hit the knob. Hey, what did I know? I could barely reach the knob, even on tiptoes.
I am so lucky to have such a great woman in my life. I have a lot of luck. I hope you do, too.
July 2, 2006
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