This is what happens without editors

I'm Marcus Pelegrimas, author of the SKINNERS series. Here you'll find various ramblings about movies, video games, TV, and...oh yeah...those books I write. If there's anything you'd like to discuss, just let me know. I try to update whenever the mood strikes me, so feel free to leave comments. There may be some occasional foul language, but anyone who's too easily offended probably doesn't read my stuff anyway.

Free Stuff

Here's how it goes. As usual, I've got my truckload of promo covers from EOS Books. I'll be going to some conventions, so I hope to see you there and I'll gladly sign your books. If you can't make it to a con, just email me your name, address and any inscription so I can send you a signed cover.


BONUS ---> If you would be so kind as to write up a review for any or all Skinners books and publish it on a site like Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Borders, or any other major review site, I can send you something extra. I made up some bookmarks (which I'll sign) and I've even put together some Shimmy's VIP passes (which I'll also sign). Can't guarantee the passes will get you into a real strip club, but I think they look pretty cool. Send me a link to your review along with your name, address and inscription, and I'll get these out to you as well.



Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween!!!

Ahhh, Halloween. All the fun of the December holidays without all the crappy "family" garbage. You're not expected to hang out with distant relatives and whatever friends they decide to bring along for a free meal. It's perfectly acceptable to snarl, sneer, or flip off the camera during picture time. Horror movies instead of home movies (which are actually a non-fun sort of horror movie). Instead of getting up early to watch a parade, we get to stay up late and watch Ghost Hunters Live. The list goes on and on.

Not to say that I don't enjoy the December holidays (and yes, Thanksgiving is rolled into that). Those are great in a traditional sort of way. The main difference is that, unless you're a kid, most of us have to brace for the big ticket holidays. Halloween is great from the first orange and black candy displays at the grocery store to the inevitable "best scary movie" lists that pop up everywhere. There are none of those, "Oh God, how am I gonna make it through this year?" moments. Nobody's mad if you don't call or send a card on Halloween. Of course, there's still family stuff but most of that is the good kind. You're with the core group, doing stuff you're glad to be doing.

This turned out to be an uncharacteristically wholesome musing sort of post. Oh well. Seeing kids dressed up as bloody corpses and demonic overlords always makes me warm inside.

Quick note to anyone Trick or Treating in my neighborhood: Anyone dressed as a werewolf gets extra candy! That also goes for someone dressed as a Gears of War character or a fairy. Don't get creeped out by that last one. My wife added it to the list.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Theeere cahn be ohnly wahhn!!!!

I love Highlander.
I love the original movie, most of the sequels (except for the second one. I pretend that never happened), and all but a few episodes of the TV series (and 90% of the sixth season). That may sound like I disavowed a lot of content, but the stuff that remains is freaking GREAT!!! Cool flashbacks. Sword fights. Decapitation!!! Awesome lightning. It's got it all.

This Saturday, Highlander gets mixed up with another one of life's little pleasures: The Sci-Fi Channel's original movie. They're doing a post-apocalyptic remake of Beowulf starring Christopher Lambert...CONNOR MacLeod himself!!! I'm not sure if this is a Sci-Fi Channel original or if they imported it from somewhere, but it's gonna be AWESOME!!! That's the best part about those movies. Even if they're crappy, they're still awesomely crappy! I just hope there'll be some cheesy CG effects and bad dialogue. Who am I kidding? Of course there will!

Friday, October 24, 2008

5 Stages of Waiting


Here’s another process that’s very important to being a professional writer: Waiting.
You come up with your ideas, write them and edit to hit some deadline or a window of opportunity for submitting it somewhere. That’s a whirlwind of work, creation and refinement also known as “the good stuff”. The waiting comes when you must deal with the rest of the world.

And I’m not referring to those fortunate writers who submit something and have to wait through a whole weekend or two before they get their deal. That’s great if it happens, but it’s not the norm. It’s more like earning your salary by winning the lottery. And that’s nothing against the talent of those quick-dealers. The whole system is generally very slow and any writer will tell you that you have to wait for any results whatsoever. Wait a LOT.

While I’m waiting to hear back from submissions, I’ve found I go through some pretty basic stages. These held up when I waited to get a short story published in a small press magazine, to get an agent, and now to get a book (or series) published. Maybe some of this seems familiar to some other writers out there. For those of you new to the craft, it’s something to look forward to. After all, in the immortal words of GI Joe, “Knowing is half the battle”. And if you’re one of those folks who got your huge contract in less than eight months, good for you. I do hate you, though.

Stage 1: Denial – “This time it’ll be different! I’ll send it in and the first person who’s lucky enough to read it will trip all over themselves to give me a deal! I’d better be ready for the landslide that’ll follow this one. Should I subscribe to Publisher’s Weekly so I can read the awesome news before it hits the news stands?”

Stage 2: Bargaining – “Come on! It’s been what, three weeks? I haven’t heard anything so that’s gotta be good. That editor must be wondering if I can truly handle following through on the amazing idea I showed them in that proposal. I can handle it! I swear, if I get my chance with this, I’ll run with it! I’ll RUN like the WIND!! Who am I talking to? It doesn’t matter. The forces of good will carry my desire and happy thoughts to where they need to be. I can’t doubt for one moment that this is gonna happen or I’ll jinx it. Oh, shit! Did I just jinx it? No. I can DO THIS!!!”

Stage 3: Anger – “Damn it! It’s been three months!! Freaking editors are always on vacation. Freaking system doesn’t even move. What the hell is going on out there?! I should stomp into whatever break room they’re using to suck down their coffee and show them my GENIUS!!!! This is ridiculous! If I had the crappiest office job imaginable I’d never have to wait this long to get results from handing something in! I crank out more starlight from my printer and they take a month off for ONE HOLIDAY!!”

Stage 4: Depression – “It’s been over six months. I’m not gonna hear anything. Honestly, what did I expect? Those editors have either tossed my submission away like the garbage it is or they’re laughing at it. I think that telemarketing firm is hiring. Maybe I’ll try that.”

Stage 5: Acceptance – “Eh, screw it. I did the best I could, so I just need to wait for something to happen. There’s not much else for me to do. Actually, I’ve got an idea for something else. Maybe I’ll try that.”

Unfortunately for my wife and anyone else who has to deal with me (a big sorry goes out to my agent who still returns my calls and answers emails from every one of these stages), I may go through this cycle several times while waiting for one submission. If this sounds familiar to anyone out there, at least I’m not alone. That’s the problem with not working in an office. I don’t get to gripe to fellow co-workers.

As far as waiting goes, the simple truth is that you gotta do it whether you go through these stages or any other sort of ritualistic torture. Cry, whine, howl, work, shrug, it doesn’t matter. In the end, you’ll still be waiting. Of course, every so often, the waiting is worth it. And when it is. . .it’s REALLY worth it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sweetness is a virtue and you lost your virtue long ago


According to the most recent rumors, the new Guns n’ Roses album will be coming out next month. Technically, this is official, but after this long it's well past the "I'll believe it when I see it" stage. I’ve been a fan of GnR since Appetite for Destruction and still say Axl Rose is one of the ultimate rock stars of all time. No, I didn’t say he was the best singer or performer. Best Rock Star. Well, one of them anyway. The difference is all in the attitude. Rock stars aren’t easy to work with and they’re not worried about hitting perfect pitch. They strut on stage, kick ass in the shows where they stay upright and don’t give a rat’s ass what anyone has to say about any of it. Axl started a riot, which gives him HUGE rock star points. Guns had edge before “edge” became a catchphrase.

The new album is coming and it’s been in the works for over a decade. Of course, this is in between arguments with band members, drunken binges, public spectacles and the occasional performance. Rock stars, remember? You want punctuality and civil obedience, call U2. Eh, I don’t want to get into a high school debate about whose band rocks hardest. I just really hope Chinese Democracy has some cool songs on it. The trick will be to somehow listen to it without thinking about all the buildup. NOTHING can stand up to the tagline, “Over a decade in the making”. That just begs people to sit back, cross their arms and grunt, “Ok. This had better be good.”

I heard Shackler’s Revenge, which was a new GnR tune on Rock Band 2 and I like it. The guitar riffs kick my ass on expert setting, but that's not the band's fault. The song itself was better than a chunk of the new Metallica CD, but not as awesome as classic tracks from Appetite. I heard the title track on the band's website and thought it sounded pretty cool. I’m no big music critic. I just listen to stuff. Way back in my younger days, I would have happily fought about stupid crap like this until foam came from my mouth and sweat rolled through my flowing, rock ‘n roll length hair. Now, I just want to hear some more good GnR songs. Maybe the new CD will be great. I really hope it is. No matter what, I’m sure Axl will screech the hell out of his music to the best of his ability and flip plenty of shit to anyone who doesn’t care for it. See? Rock star.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Back to it

Sinking my teeth into the next draft. This is more of a "polishing and sanding" phase. I look at revisions in a couple different ways. First, there's the kind that makes me feel like a mechanic taking an engine apart, setting all the chunks on the floor and putting them back together again. It's very gratifying to get your hands dirty and rebuild, but also very overwhelming when you take a break and look around at all the disconnected parts scattered around. At the end of that, there's another moment where you find all the parts either welded together or in the trash and wonder, "I did all of THAT??"

Sometimes, I feel more like a plumber who snakes around to find the trouble spots, pull away the bad pipe and put in a new set. Methodical problem solving at its best.

Currently, I'm in more of the stage that follows either (or both) of the other two. I go over all the crap I did before, smooth out the new joints, sand down the patches and check for leaks. After this is the "touch up and detailing" round. Read through the manuscript like a normal reader (or as close to one as I can be), look for snags in the prose or the occasional glaring mistake that slipped by me before and pray I don't have to dismantle the whole thing again.

Enough analogies for ya? Maybe it helps me get through the process to think of it in more concrete terms. Why do I write it all down here so you can read it? Maybe I'm just cruel.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Second verse, not quite the same as the first


Ahhhhhh.

Just finished the second draft of Skinners Book 2 and it feels goooood. Still a ways from turning it in, but I made some pretty major changes and I really like the way they turned out. In fact, I had plenty of "what the hell was I thinking when I wrote THAT??" moments. That's a good thing, mainly because I spotted the crappy parts and either changed them or just chopped them out altogether. I like to bitch about editing, but there's something very gratifying about trimming the fat in your own book. It's nice to find the garbage and pull it out or re-do it to make the whole thing better. Of course, I'm sure I missed some other garbage, but that's why I need to read through and edit the whole thing AGAIN. And...again.


After that, it's my editor's turn to rip and tear. After that, another editor.


Right now, I'm just gonna relax and enjoy my weekend. I've got some games to play!

Can getting kicked in the face be sexy?



Ok, I didn't mean for this to be a series, but this pic sort of jumped out at me. I also took Tae Kwon Do for several years in the high school/college years and I've gotta admit, it was kind of a thrill to get knocked around by a cute girl who knew her stuff. Of course, the drawback to that is that they were all a LOT more flexible than I was and dropped more than a few heels directly onto my dome. They were all cute and apologetic afterward, but when I tried to capitalize on that, I somehow got knocked out again. Go figure.

This illustrates the fine line between "hot" and "annoying". Hot = women who really do know how to fight and show their skills in an impressive manner. Annoying = women who take a few weeks of classes, brag about "kicking boys' asses" and strike stupid poses. Also, grown women who still have a "boys vs. girls" battle going on in their minds.

Just to show I'm not trying to pick on the ladies, I'll give some time to the guys here. Cool = Guys who know their stuff and whip ass when necessary without bragging about it to their numbskull roommate. Think Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry or William Munny from Unforgiven. Annoying = Men who take a few weeks of classes, brag about "kicking boys' asses" and strike stupid poses.

By the way, if any of those girls from my Tae Kwon Do class remember me and just happen to read this, don't get all bent out of shape. Also, please don't find me and kill me.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Can dead fish be sexy?

When they're being displayed by Olivia Munn...yes. They sure can.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

October-riffic

It’s October, which is officially my favorite month of all. I only wish I could put Halloween decorations up, leave them up, and not get those freaked-out looks from neighbors at about the mid-April point. I don’t mind avoiding all that small talk when I go to get my mail, but those Neighborhood Watch patrols camped outside my door get old real quick. Anyway, it’s a great time for movies and I’m pumped to see Quarantine. It seems like I’m one of the few who still admit to liking Blair Witch Project. I KNOW you never see anything, but that’s the point. This one looks like it’s got that whole “in your FACE” camera style but they actually do show you stuff. I still gush about Cloverfield, so maybe I’m just a sucker for the whole shaky-cam thing. I just want to know when that remake of the Wolf Man is supposed to come out. I saw a picture of that werewolf on a magazine cover and it looks pretty damn cool.

It’s also a good time for video games. One of the horror titles I’m pumped about is Dead Space. Freaky aliens, no-gravity chases, and a system they lovingly call “creative dismemberment” practically demands me to drop some cash. Also, Legendary is out in about a week and a half. I’ve been awaiting this game for a while now and it looks great. Werewolves, Griffins, and all kinds of monsters tearing through modern day cities. Who writes this stuff?? Oh….yeah.

I watched the first episode of Sanctuary on the Sci-Fi Channel. Wasn’t blown away just yet, but it’s got promise. I’ll definitely watch the next few. Fringe is great as usual. I’ve only recently gotten into Supernatural. I didn’t start in on this show for a while because it looked like another “hot young people being snarky on the CW network” show. My agent actually recommended it, so I picked up the first season cheap on DVD. About twenty minutes into the first episode, I felt like a dumb-ass for not watching this show from the start. Very cool premise. VERY cool monsters and yeah, the dudes are dreamy. I’m secure enough in my manliness to admit it.

The only thing I hate about this month is all the stupid ads for every stupid thing that has a play on the word October. “Shock-tober movie fest”, “Rock-tober radio promos”, “Flock-tober all-you-can-eat seagull night”, “Jock-tober NFL giveaways”, “Crock-tober stew meat sales” (I can’t stop) “Mock-tober apple pie”, “Tick-Tock-tober pocket watch booths”, (seriously, I can’t rein this in) “Octo-tober calamari giveaways”. Ok, that one was bad. Broke the rhythm. I need to catch my breath……..

Friday, October 10, 2008

I don't know what to think of this...

HITCHHIKERS GUIDE Continues Without Douglas Adams
By: Jarrod SarafinDate: Friday, September 19, 2008Source: BBC

As fellow Maniac StarlightGuard wrote in his Mania blog, it seems we are going to be moving forward into new territory within the "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" universe. Seven years after author Douglas Adams passed away, the BBC is reporting that Eoin Colfer---best known for his best-selling "Artemis Fowl" novels---is being commissioned to write a sixth novel called "And Another Thing..."Colfer has already brought up his initial reactions to coming to a world with such a fandom. He said he was "terrified" by the prospect of creating a new Hitchhiker book almost a quarter of a century after being introduced to what he described as a "slice of satirical genius" in his late teens.
"I feel more pressure to perform now than I ever have with my own books," he said, adding that he was "determined that this will be the best thing I have ever written".
Jane Belson said: "I am delighted that Eoin Colfer has agreed to continue the Hitchhiker series.
"I love his books and could not think of a better person to transport Arthur, Zaphod and Marvin to pastures new. The project has my full support."


--My first reaction is to be pissed off by this. The Hitchhiker books effected me in so many ways, not the least of which was to inspire me to write my own first novel back in High School. Douglas Adams' work is timeless genius and will never be surpassed. Why mess with something THAT good?

On the other hand, he did create a very distinct, very original and VAST universe. Who's to say that another writer showing proper respect to the source material couldn't continue the adventures? Nobody's trying to rewrite the main books. For example, there are plenty of great books in the Star Wars universe. I think Timothy Zahn did such a good job with his series that picks up 5 years or so after Return of the Jedi that they should just be considered the third trilogy and leave it at that. Honestly, it sounds like this is being handled pretty well. The groundwork is set and as long as nobody tries to mess with that, there could be some interesting stories to tell.

I'll pick up the first book and hope it's good. If it isn't, I'm sure I won't be the only fan ready to slap those guys into a black on black on black spaceship and fly it into the sun.

They raped Indiana Jones

Holy crap. I've just seen one of the funniest shows ever shown. Tonight's South Park not only parodied every inappropriate scene to parody (ranging from the pinball scene of The Accused all the way to the famous Deliverance squeal-fest), but it also completely NAILED what it felt like to be a guy in his late thirties watching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

When I think back to watching that movie, I and every other fan of the good Doctor Jones see their hero being raped by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. How could they do that to INDY?? Just thinking about the refrigerator scene brings good, honest men to tears. WHYYYYY???? Why do that to Indy? When I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark, I was just a wide-eyed kid eager to see some innocent swashbucklery. When I saw Crystal Skull, I was the little boy who just witnessed something very, very wrong. My hero was violated. Aliens were allowed into something that was once wholesome and pure. Innocence is gone. I can try to go on, but. . .it'll just never be the same.

God bless you, Matt and Trey. South Park has had many moments of obscene genius, but this one was dead-on. If anyone thinks an image of Lucas bending over a stormtrooper and jamming him up the pooper is going too far, then just watch Episode 1. JUST WATCH IT, DAMN YOU! At least now I know (sniff) I know I'm not alone.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Assorted shtuff


- Added a bunch of moon gadgets to the blog. Don't know if I'll keep them but I think they fit nicely.


- Watching that TV show Chuck. Still funny. Action is still over the top just enough. Yvonne Strahovski is still amazingly hot. And how cool of a name is that? Plus, any show that works in a Thunderdome fight for no good reason deserves some high marks.


- I think the last episode of Heroes was a mess. That show is great and it came back very strong, but the time-travel stuff seems to be its Achilles Heel. Some cool nuggets, but I want to get back to the normal story. Just, please don't make this another season about ANOTHER guy blowing up.


- I'm back in the editing groove. Even better: I'm not only happy about the way things are going for Skinners 2, but am getting very excited for 3 and (hopefully) beyond.


- Picked up Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Even though I've seen the bad reviews, I'm interested in the story. I played the demo and picked up on a lot of the flaws people have been talking about, but found enough fun stuff to keep my little pea-brain entertained. Throwing a lightsaber around, blowing crap up and tossing people into walls DOES sound like a worthy use of my free time. I also picked up Fracture. After being at the con for a few days, it was great to get back to Rock Band.


- Can NOT wait for Gears of War 2. Guitar Hero World Tour looks better and better. Legendary looks freakin' awesome. I'm also pumped for Resistance 2. I don't have a PS3, but may just have to break down before too long. Of course, like most of the country, dropping that much cash for another game console isn't the easiest thing to do.


- Being around all those writers made me eager to read a bunch of different stuff. There's a bunch of fantasy series I want to start, in addition to the dozens of books on my pre-existing list.


- My wife is cooking stew for dinner. It'll be...well...stewing all day. It's only 1 in the afternoon and I can already smell the meat 'n potatoey goodness. Must...be.....strong. Must not...attack the crock pot. Must form....complete sentences.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Yayyyy

Just heard Fringe got picked up for a full season. That's truly good news for a genuinely fresh show. Although I've enjoyed every episode, I've been waiting for the hammer to drop. There's been plenty of cool shows that got axed for whatever reason just when they start getting really good. I enjoyed Threshold a few seasons back and that was dropped like the proverbially hot rock. Nothing really new there, but I'm glad to see this one's sticking around for a while.

I'm getting back into the groove for work. I know I was only gone for a weekend, but being at a convention is like being in a parallel universe for a few days. It's strange to step back into the world where costumes are few and far between and there's not fellow geeks patrolling the halls. Speaking of work, I've hit a few spots in editing that really change things for the better. Sometimes I wonder how crappy books would be if you saw them in the first draft phase. Actually, I'm talking about my books here because I'm sure plenty of writers can get things nailed down quicker than I do. Some of these things aren't little touches that make for a better story. They're major plot points that simply weren't there the first time around. Just imagine a first go-through of Lord of the Rings where the Ring Wraiths were just some slightly stronger goblins.

As I'm typing this, I'm seeing these wonderful little updates about the falling stock market. Good thing I don't truly understand financial stuff or I might be upset. I know it's bad, but there's not much I can do. I've already done my part by working at a craft where I get paid slightly less than a telemarketer for a full month's work.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Archon '08


I’m back from Archon. Whew! I’ve been to a few cons before, but usually just to putz around the dealer’s room, pester a few geek celebrities and watch some movies. This one had more panels than I knew what to do with! There were panels about using monsters in fiction, making compelling stories, sci-fi weaponry, and that was just the writing stuff. My wife and I also went to a ton of Doctor Who panels, Torchwood, you name it. There were so many, my butt got numb from being in those seats!

Then there was the MST3K stuff. Yowza! Everyone was there except for Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy (since they’re Riff Trackers now and I suppose in some enemy camp. I don’t keep up with all that stuff). They answered questions, shared anecdotes and even showed some early videos they used to sell the original show. Very entertaining stuff. They even riffed on a few of the costumes worn by the fanboys asking questions. Good-natured ribbing, mostly, but classic. I found I was most awestruck by Trace Beaulieu. There was just something beyond cool hearing Crow and Dr. Forrester talking IN THE SAME ROOM AS ME!!! Yeah, that’s the sort of exponentially increasing geekery that took over when I stood in line for autographs. “Crow just took my money for a Cinematic Titanic DVD!!” “Dr. Forrester just shook my hand!” It wasn’t my proudest moment, but it was a lot of fun. Of course, everyone was great. They’re all really cool people who I genuinely admire. There are funny shows. There are shows that stick with you. Then, there’s MST3K. Stupid, genius, adolescent, smart, all at once. I’m a fan. You get it.

I was also very happy to meet one of my current favorite authors, EE Knight. I can never recommend the Vampire Earth series enough. A fresh take on so many different genres, this series makes me happy I’m such a slow reader. That way, each book lasts longer and has more time to sink in. I was also honored to get a blurb from him for the cover of Skinners #1. An all-around great guy, plus he had plenty of great things to say at the writing panels. I really wanted to talk to him more, but I’m sure he had plenty of other glassy-eyed fans to contend with. Some of those fans were girls dressed in hot vampire outfits and not big tattooed bald guys who write about bloodthirsty werewolves, so it seemed like the right thing to do for the latter group to step aside for the former. Plus, since I couldn’t help but stare at some of those hotties in costumes, I was on thin ice with security anyway.

I bought too many t-shirts, debated too many details of Time Lord history and ate too much fast food. All in all, a great con experience. Time to grudgingly return to the real world and get some work done. My writing engines are fired up!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Movin' right along


I'm off to Collinsville! Actually, I'm off to St. Louis and then I'll make the jump into Collinsville but you get the point. Archon sounds like it'll be great and I hope to meet some real writers. If anything, it's fun to get out of the house and see people other than the ones who mix up my espresso smoothies at Scooters. Nothing against the Scooters folks. I love you deeply and you know that.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wow. Just...wow


I finally got around to watching the series premier of Knight Rider. Now, I enjoy crappy shows strictly for their crappiness. They can be fun. Then, some can be. . .the new Knight Rider. I mean, this is the sort of thing that just defies criticism. It's like the writers were halfway into it at the start of the show and gave up midway through. After half an hour of showing KITT go faster than two or three hundred mph, they need to spend another ten minutes on a chase scene where that same miracle of technology can't catch up to some regular sports car.

Ugh. Even stuff that should have been cool simply wasn't. I mean, why did KITT need to transform into a truck so often?? And why did he need to transform the little cobra design from "reclining cobra" to "STRIKING cobra"??? OOOOO, NOW you're in attack mode!