Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Enough with the sleigh bells already

The Great Holiday Expedition of ’08 is finally complete! That’s just a lot of fanfare for two trips taken nearly back to back. The first was the Southern Flight into the Land of Mickey which was already documented here. The most recent was the Overland Excursion to the…uhhh….Kingdom of the….screw it. We drove down to St. Louis to see the family. Sorry, I kind of got caught up there.

The wife and I had a lot of fun. Megan’s sister was very accommodating by putting us up for a few days (thanks Jenny). It was also great to see everyone else and (as always) the food was excellent. We also paid a visit to a branch of my own family tree. Hi Mom & Bob!!! This trip was done in 3 tiers. First, we stayed a few nights in a comped suite at the Ameristar Casino just outside of St. Louis. Very festive, but Santa didn’t see fit to give me the jackpot I asked for. After that, it was a cozy Christmas Eve with a Mom-cooked meal. Then, we made the city rounds to Megan’s relatives. I guess they’re technically my relatives too, since we’re married and all, but you know what I mean. On the gift front, Megan made out like a bandit with clothes and a bracelet and all that. Me? I got some electric slippers! No, that’s not the name of a progressive synth band from the mid-80’s. They’re battery operated slippers that massage your feet. Very cool. And, using some gift cards, I finally picked up a box set containing all the Led Zeppelin CDs. Before now, I’ve had to make do with every album on cassette (for the younger ones out there…cassettes are plastic squares with tape in them that play sounds when placed in a big player. The last one I had was made by Magnorocks. HA! See what I did there? Instead of Magnavox. Like the Flintstones!! Maybe I’m still loopy from all the driving). Anyway, it’s great to hear Zep again without having to delve into an electronics history museum that includes mix tapes I made in high school entitled, “Jus’ the Good Stuff” volumes one through nine.

According to my ticker, there’s less than a month until the release of Skinners #1. I’m still very nervous, but in a good way. Some of our holiday gift cards were for Borders and Barnes & Noble, so we were wandering through the books and picking stuff out. Naturally, I drifted toward the fantasy / horror / sci-fi sections and wondered how the hell my book would keep afloat amid so much competition. Not only is there a lot of other stuff out there, but it’s a lot of great stuff! I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. I’ve already got my first signing lined up (as you can see in the newly-added section above the blog posting). Also, the local newspaper will be reviewing Blood Blade and interviewing me. I’m nervous about that as well, but they’re usually kind to a local boy like me. No matter what, I’m sure my stomach will be in a constant knot until release day. After that, it’ll probably be in several knots.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hard-wired response

So I'm watching Poker After Dark the other night. Snow's falling outside. A LOT of snow. It should only amount to about 3-6 inches and the ice should be cleared away in time for our road trip this weekend. Fine. Then, I see something roll across the bottom of the screen that triggers something in me that I didn't realize was still in there.
Schools are being closed.
MY old school district was closed...on a Friday!!!!!
That means 3 DAY WEEKEND!!!!! Right before Christmas Break!!!! It's like a present before getting more presents!!
I'm hip-deep into my thirties and I was getting genuinely amped up about my school being closed. The more I thought about it from a nostalgic point of view, the more excited I got. Then I had to remind myself that I'm not in school and I don't even need to drive to work. In fact, I still need to work today when I should be out throwing snowballs and watching The Price is Right during regularly scheduled Homeroom.
You know how I sometimes say that working at home is cool, but has it's drawbacks? This is one of 'em. No snow days. That just blows.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Game stuff

I took the last two days off in between the writing and editing phases of a current project. Needless to say, I did some gaming. First of all, just to make me feel special, Epic launched a new map pack for Gears 2 right when I had some time to try it out. It's pretty cool. Normally, I feel ripped off by most map packs...ok...Halo map packs. This is nothing to do with the quality of the maps. They're very cool and I really want to play them. I bought the last two, jumped into online multiplayer and got the same freakin' three maps over and OVER again!! Not even new ones. The same three we've been playing since launch. Then, when one of the new ones do come up, it gets vetoed. Admittedly, this is due to my lack of online friends than anything Bungie or Halo related. I've only got 4 total friends and one of them (my wife) doesn't like Halo. That makes it tough to form my own matches and pick whatever maps I want. The great thing with Gears is the ability to put bots into multiplayer matches. That's an answer to a prayer for losers like me who never played Gears 1 multiplayer online because I actually had to try and work with obscene, racist little kids who are even more socially awkward than me. Anyway, the new Gears maps are great. One of them has a wave of immulsion (basically, gold lava) rise up to cover some of the map. One match where one of my few friends and I were already dead, we watched as our AI partners crippled the last two opponents and then stood back to watch as the immulsion slowly rose to fry the crawling bastards to a crisp. I was laughing too hard to take a screen pic. It seemed really funny at the time.

I've also gotten a chance to sink into Fallout 3. Everything's already been said about this game. "Classic" "Masterpiece" "Amazing" All of it's true. Even the music is great.

The biggest surprise was just how much my wife has gotten into Left 4 Dead. First of all, she always said how much she hated 1st person shooters. Second, she is freaked out by zombies. I naturally assumed it would be a hard sell to get her into a 1st person shooter/zombie game. Turns out she loves it. In fact, she was the only one to survive one of the campaigns! It was one of those moments where I looked over at her and thought, "Damn, I'm lucky!" I got killed about a minute before the rescue chopper arrived---knocked off the top of a building by one of those huge tank dudes. Not knocked off the edge, mind you. One second, I was looking down the turret of a mounted machine gun and the next, I was seeing a view of the side of the building from about twenty yards away in empty air. Yowza!!! That was pretty funny at the time too. Jeez, I've got a weird sense of humor.

Played some more Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe. Cheesy, sure. Still, very fun.

Now, it's back to work. Still, I can't stop thinking about how much more I want to get back into Fallout. I miss that bleak, ravaged wasteland. But I'm used to that sort of thing. I live in Nebraska. ZING!!!!!!!!!! Nothing personal, prairie. Just look at the other garbage I thought was funny.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fresh Snow & Instant Karma

We finally got our first real snow of the winter. YAY!!! Woke up this morning and the cars were all covered. The air is quiet, cold and calm. Everything feels cleaner. Can you tell I like snow? Anyway, I drove my wife around for some errands and such. During that time, I saw all the usual dipshits who don't bother to scrape off their windows, slow down on slippery roads or adjust their steering in the slightest due to the new white stuff covering the ground. It was a great day out. We went to Panera Bread for some french onion soup in a bread bowl (Best parts of that = big, fat croutons and scraping up the sloppy bread from the bottom of the bowl) and topped it off with a cookie. On the way home, we even saw some moron in a sports car speed through a red light and slam into an SUV. It wasn't serious. The SUV maybe got a dent, but the sports car got just enough damage to screw up his bumper. Ahhhhh. Sometimes you just need to stand back and wait for the dipshits to punish themselves.

Let the winter fun commence!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

You mean I could do this all along?

Every day, I need to flip through the DVR menu of stuff to be recorded so I can make sure overlapping shows don't push out things I want to see. I also need to make sure I have enough space on there to record anything at all. Yeah, there's about 50 hours available and I'm low on space. I watch a lot of TV. It's a problem. I know. Anyway, I saw Heroes was ready to tape and I got the familiar "ugh, I need to watch Heroes today" feeling. Then, I highlighted it and pressed "Do Not Record".

The DVR asked if I was sure I wanted to cancel that recording. I thought it over. Dare I make that leap? It's a big one. Then decided YES. I was SURE. I pushed OK and Heroes disappeared.

It just disappeared! Like magic. Out of my life. Poof! That felt good. I intended on giving it a chance when the new story arc picks up, but I don't know anymore. That felt SO GOOD to just dismiss it like that. Kind of like realizing there truly is an off switch to that annoying little brat who screams through movies or that jerk who parks in front of the apartments across the street, just so they can impress the neighborhood with the distorted bass coming out of their junk heap of a car. One press and...GONE!

My grandfather used to say some things were like pounding a rusty nail into your foot: They're worth doing just because of how great it feels when you stop.

Heroes = rusty nail.

Me - nail = happy!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Brrrr. That's more like it!

Ok. Now I’m in the spirit. The temperature dropped about 40-50 degrees and is in the single digits. It’s gray and a little snowy outside, while it’s warm inside. The tree is up and lit. The Santa stuff is hung around the house. It feels good. Last night, I went to a Christmas party thrown by my wife’s work and had a good time. All in all, a complete turnaround from yesterday’s blahs.

I’ve been reading about the recession and how it’s supposed to hit the entertainment industry. There’s an actor’s strike upcoming, which seems like very poor timing on that union’s part. When the whole industry is expected to cut back anyway, this isn’t really the time to threaten to walk away on purpose. Closer to home, lots of publishers are making layoffs and cutting down. Since I’m not an executive or any sort of power player (I don’t even own stocks), all I can do is sit back like everyone else and just keep doing my job. Being a writer doesn’t exactly have much stability in the best of times, so we’re always half-expecting to get cut back or sized down or whatever other term is used for not having a contract anymore. It sounds depressing, but that’s just the way it goes. There’s not much to do about it but keep chugging along and hope for the best. It sounds like that’s pretty much how it’s going to be the story for most everyone for a while. Keep working. Keep hoping for the best. Keep dealing with what comes our way.

In better economic news, I snuck one by The Man today. Had a coupon for $20 off Mercenaries 2 for the Xbox at Best Buy. It went on sale and the coupon wasn’t supposed to work in addition to the sale price, but would still be a good deal if taken off the normal price. Lo and behold, I checked out and got $20 off the SALE price! YEAH!!! Take that, Recession!!!!

Hey, get your thrills wherever you can.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mandatory fun. Decorations required.

We've arrived at that point where my wife and I either need to put up decorations or throw up our hands and say, "Screw it. No tree. No nothin' this year. I quit." We only got to that latter point once so far, so we're putting up the tree and crap this weekend. Yeah, it's festive. Sure, it can be fun. It just all feels more like a homework assignment that winds up being kind of entertaining once you get into it. Nothing against Christmas, but I don't like being shoved into a situation where The Man tells me to ENJOY MYSELF!! Do it!!! NOW!!!!

I'll feel better once I hear the first few chords of my Johnny Mathis Christmas album. That's the one that truly puts me in the spirit. That guy can sing the hell out of Silver Bells! Plus, there's no snow on the ground yet here in Omaha. Once I see some snow, I'll be more in the mood to throw on the big snowflake sweater and sign some greeting cards.

Another thing that's keeping me from savoring the holiday is the promotional war path I've been on to gear up for the Skinners #1 release. I've been arranging signings, newspaper stuff, you name it. Along with that, I've been nervous about the release in general. A whole lot of excitement, huh? Not really. At least with the streaming Netflix movies on XBox Live, I've been able to catch up on gems I've always wanted to see. Like, for example, Beverly Hills Ninja.


Where's that spiked egg nog?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Another review

The other day was my birthday and, since a joint checking account removes a lot of fun from buying gifts for your spouse (Hey honey...your check just arrived. Don't buy that thing you wanted because I'm going to use the same money to buy it for you. Yaayy), we've agreed to just treat the birthday person to a day o' fun! And guess what? My day was pretty damn fun! Part of it was me dragging my wife to see Punisher War Zone. I bitch a lot about the whole theater experience and I was more than content to wait for DVD on this one, but I'm a big Punisher fan. Ever since I read my first issue back in '88 or so, I just can't get enough of the big, skull-wearing, murderous lug. I snagged a pirated copy of the Dolph Lundgren movie at a convention before it was released for real. Yeah! Awesome!! I was even one of the few people who actually thought the Thomas Jane movie wasn't half bad. Even with all of that, combined with my love for crappy movies in general, I was thinking War Zone looked pretty bad. Let's just say I caved. We went to an early show several days after release, so the theater was practically empty (cool). As far as the movie goes, it was fairly cool whenever Punisher was doin' his thang (ie - shooting/stabbing/punching people). Everything else was pretty bad and this comes from a guy who goes in hoping for the best. Jigsaw was cheesy, his crazy brother was beyond cheesy and there were a few things that I'm amazed made it into the movie considering Marvel is taking the reins for their properties nowadays. I'm willing to cut a movie some slack, but one thing at the end should never have been allowed to happen. I won't say what it is for those 3 or 4 of you who may actually pay to see it in the future.

On the bright side, some dialogue was so bad, it was great. For example:

Good guy who's dying: "I'll see you in Hell, Frank."

Punisher (Frank): "If I see you in hell, I'll kick yer ass up."

Yowza. There was one point where I felt it necessary to turn to my wife and say, "Ok. This isn't very good. Sorry about that." Not only did she smile and say it was fine, but she even said it wasn't as bad as she thought it would be. Apparently, her expectations were even lower than mine. Even better, after the movie, she baked me some peanut butter fudge brownies. I'm one lucky guy. Also, we picked up The Dark Knight on DVD and watched it while eating hot wings. What a freaking awesome birthday!!

PS - The only possible way for The Dark Knight to feel like an even better movie was to make Punisher War Zone its opening act.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

First Review!!!

Skinners #1 was sent out to a bunch of magazines and such for review and the first one just came out. I was especially worried about Publishers Weekly, because they can be brutal. Here's what they had to say:

Blood Blade: Skinners, Book 1 Marcus Pelegrimas. Harper, $7.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-146305-1
Seattle video game designer Cole Warnecki takes an extreme vacation in British Columbia and ends up hunting supernatural monsters in this campy, action-packed paranormal debut. After Cole survives an encounter with a nasty werewolflike Full Blood, he lands a job with the Midwestern Ectological Group, whose Skinners act as cops for the local supernatural population. They bring him to Chicago and pair him up with experienced Skinner Paige Strobel, who gives him sound advice like “Don't gawk at a woman's ass when she's carrying a shotgun.” Paige drags Cole into the front lines of MEG's war on insane vampire Misonyk, who infects people with vampiric spores and encourages them to drain victims dry, stealing their souls. Plenty of cinematic gore and wisecracks will keep readers coming back for future installments. (Feb.)

I was a little worried when I read the word "campy", simply because that can lead to some very unpleasant critical territory. It turned out pretty good, though. I'm so relieved I didn't get trashed on my first review. I was aiming for the good kind of campy and (at least with PW) it seemed to have landed.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Great. They're back

Remember how I was having that work done on the siding of my townhouse? That was a few weeks ago and I thought they were finished. Today, I look outside and nearly soil my britches when I find some dude in a hoodie standing directly outside my window. Thankfully, it wasn't a terrorist. After flying back and forth to Orlando and hearing all about the Orange, Red, Plaid and whatever other levels of alertness there are, I'm a bit jumpy. It's just another bunch of workers continuing to hammer and nail at the gutters.

Hey guys. Long time, no see.
Wait a second...it HASN'T been a long time. Are you going to be done? EVER?????

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Fellow blogger

I was recently approached by a fellow blogger over at Popin's Lair to do an interview. I was surprised by the fact that someone was actually reading my blog and that, after reading all the crap on here, they wanted to hear even more of what I had to say. Check out the interview here and be sure to check out the rest of the site.

If Popin's reading this...thanks for thinking of me!

What I did when I wasn't eating

While on vacation, I caught up on some of my movie watching. Granted, these aren’t a bunch of classics that I’ve been meaning to see since my film-noir phase during college (of which, there was none). Mostly, these were movies that my wife and I picked up while wandering through an Orlando Blockbuster that fell into the “didn’t want to go to the theaters, but still thought it might be worth a look” category.

The first was Rattaouie..wait…Ratatoieel…Ratatouille. You know…the Disney movie about the rat that can cook. Hey, Disney movies are mandatory viewing while in Orlando. Anyway, I loved this one. Considering all the monsters, blood and general deathery I tend to write, this may come as a surprise to some folks. No matter how many bad-ass creatures wander through my brain, I just wanted to pick up that little rat and pinch his wittle bubble-gum nose!! Too far? Yeah. Still a very entertaining movie.

Next was The Kingdom. I think this was my dad’s attempt to shake me back into the real world by showing me some good old fashioned terrorism and the bleak, never-ending cycle of violence that goes along with a war that’s been raging for hundreds of years. Thanks pops. This was also a great movie. Jennifer Garner was in it and although she didn’t throw on one tight dress or hot, straight-haired club wig ala Sydney Bristow, she and Jaime Fox were excellent. It’s about an FBI team that goes over to Saudi Arabia to investigate a bombing and it shows how local law enforcement deals with terrorists over there as opposed to the American style. I didn’t even realize Jason Bateman was on the team until about 75% of the way through. That’s not a slam, but more of a compliment as to how non-Michael Bluth he was in this.

Then there was the Love Guru. Oh sweet Jesus, this was bad. My wife is a huge Michael Meyers fan and even she knew this one was gonna suck when we saw the first previews over the summer. We thought it was worth a rental and boy were we wrong. Just typing about it makes me feel dirty and wrong (not in the good way).

We also saw Hancock. I’ve heard mixed reviews about this, but I really enjoyed it. Of course the effects were cool, but Will Smith did a great job of being a hero and a jerk at the same time. That’s a tough trick to master. Just ask Steve Carrell while he’s in Michael Scott (The Office) mode. My dad asked who that blonde woman was in half the scenes.
Me: “That’s Charlize Theron, Dad.”
Dad: “Who?”
Me: “Charlize Theron. She’s won awards and has been in a ton of movies. You know. Charlize Theron!!”
Dad: “So she’s famous?”
Me: “Yes.”
Dad: “Oh. Whatever you say.”
I’m really not trying to give my dad any grief here (maybe just a little), but this was part of my movie experience. Plus, it was during Thanksgiving, which is all about family, right?

Speaking of family, unless your family is extremely cool with rampant swearing and jokes about limbs getting blown off or people getting obliterated by land mines, don’t watch Tropic Thunder on the couch with yours during Thanksgiving. I tried this and it was. . .interesting. I hadn’t seen Tropic Thunder (Jack Black, Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr in a comedy that’s like The Three Amigos meets Rambo), but I really wanted to. My dad likes comedies, so I thought this would be fine. Despite Tom Cruise saying he was going to shi*t down someone’s eye socket or Jack Black’s hilarious cocaine withdrawal, my dad refused to laugh. I, on the other hand, couldn’t stop laughing which made me look like a foul-mouthed ghoul sharing a couch with a resident of the Magic Kingdom. To be fair, I shouldn’t have expected this to be a family-friendly comedy. My fault there. I thought Tropic Thunder was funny as hell in a stupid, raunchy sort of way. That’s pretty much where the movie’s sights were set, so it was a success. I gotta hand it to Downey for pulling off black-face comedy in a way that somehow didn’t seem racist. At one point, that white guy in black makeup had to put on a disguise that was more white face makeup. Moronic? Sure. Funny? Oh yeah.

Also saw Kung-Fu Panda (I don’t go to see animated movies in theaters anymore, so I tend to catch up on them in mass rentals). I could relate to the overweight dude collecting action figures. Saw Incredible Hulk again (Smash GOOD!!), as well as Get Smart (Steve Carrell playing Maxwell Smart was inspired casting. Yeah, I used the word “inspired” when talking about a movie also starring The Rock). We also rented Jumper, but didn’t get to see it. My dad and I actually share pretty similar tastes when it comes to sci-fi sort of stuff and he said he couldn’t make it through the first 15 minutes when he’d rented it earlier. Even if I could tolerate twice as much, that’s not very good. I took dad’s advice and passed. Of course, he may have just been trying to get me off the couch to help drag Christmas decorations down from the attic, but I digress.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Back with a vengeance! Well...I'm back anyway

Just returned from Thanksgiving in Florida. No snow or cold weather, but plenty of food. It was a pretty good trip and I got to spend time with family. It just feels like I've been gone a REALLY long time. I've got a ton of work to do and another week-long vacation to plan around. Whew. I took my laptop with me to do some work and I'm constantly amazed at how much that cheap bugger can do. I got it on sale a few years back, hoping I could check email and tap out my Word documents. I never expected to play games on it, but I can watch video and everything! Considering 75% of the memory is taken up by Vista (yes...Vista. Ugh), I'm surprised I can do much of anything on it. The clunky guy did great, though, so no complaints.

Logging in to this page, I found the countdown clock for the Skinners #1 release date had dipped below 60 days. I doubt I'll have any fingernails left to chew once we cross into the new year.

All those plane rides gave me a chance to listen to the new Guns n' Roses CD. Seems like my predictions were mostly on track. There's NO WAY any CD could live up to 15 years or so of hype, so I didn't expect it to. All in all, I'd say this one hits more than it misses. There are some pretty cool tracks and a few that I could easily skip. Some had me scratching my head, but I got into them eventually. For example, If The World starts off with a funky guitar sound that was pulled directly from a 70's porno movie. Somehow, I found myself liking it after a while. Maybe that's because it reminded me of 70's porno. Heh.

I also got my hands on a copy of Fallout 3, so I will be playing that bad boy in a matter of hours. First, I need to unpack, get the mail and run some errands. Eh, who am I kidding? I probably won't unpack until I need that suitcase for my drive into St. Louis for Christmas.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

TD in FL

I'll be spending this Turkey Day in Florida, visiting some family and basically making a pig of myself. Hey, that's what Thanksgiving is all about! Well...that and being thankful. Should be fun and relaxing. Hopefully, I can sit back and enjoy some down time without stressing about all the upcoming Skinners stuff. This is about the time when the first release date was set. Originally, it was supposed to come out on November 25th, but got pushed back. Ok...trying not to think about all of that.

It's always weird to go to Florida at this time of year because it's usually in the 70s or even 80s while back home there could be snow on the ground. It's a pleasant enough change going there, but arriving back home, I always wind up shivering in the cold airport parking lot because I'm still wearing Bermuda shorts and a Mickey Mouse t-shirt. The bad part is that I hate to fly. That, like the whole movie theater experience, has really gone down the tubes the last several years. Also, like the theater industry, they make it worse by not addressing the real problems and then wonder why their business is down. All the millions that go into "de-terroristing" the airlines apparently means that guards demand certain items go into baggies and then those same glassy eyed security guards don't provide baggies!! Why should I have to bring a baggie? It's YOUR rule! YOU GUYS are the ones who get all the Federal aid!! Can't a terrorist take something out of a baggie after it was put in? Eh, I'm not gonna go off on some tired old comedy routine from twenty years ago (And what is it with the airplane food? Could it BE less edible?).

In other news, the new Guns 'n Roses CD comes out today. I already posted about it here, so click it if you want to refresh your memory. As before, I just want it to be good. I'm a fan from way back, so please, Axl, don't let me down! I'm pullin' for ya, buddy!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ain't she cute?

In other cool news, XBox has launched a new update to their dashboard and overall system which allows us to (among other things) create little people that look like us. Sure, they don't HAVE to look like us, but I get a kick out of seeing a little dude who looks like me in games. I don't care how stupid it is, but my Nintendo Mii has done everything from Olympic games to driving go-karts alongside Mario and Donkey Kong and that's pretty sweet. Simple pleasures, right? Anyway, here's my wife Megan's little XBox chick. She doesn't own a hat like that, but that's what wondrous virtual worlds are for. I'm just lucky to have married an actual female who thinks this is somewhat cool. See guys, they're OUT THERE!!!

New cover

I just got a look at the new cover art for the second SKINNERS. I don't know if I can post it up here yet, but it is really cool! I was pretty lucky with the quality of the first one and it looks like my luck is holding up. It's so good that I don't even mind the construction guys hitting my wall and cursing like the proverbial drunken sailors. Swear away, guys! Life is goooood.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Not always as cool as you might think

Working at home. Most of the time, it's great. I get to make my own dress code, keep my own hours and take snack/latte breaks whenever I want. Instead of sneaking outside for a smoke or wasting time in the break room when nobody's looking, I can watch bits and pieces of a Basketball game in between work.

Then again, there are some definite drawbacks. One set of annoyances come about just because I'm home when nobody else is. That puts me on the top of some folks' lists for when they need a ride to the airport or somewhere else during business hours. Need someone to get your mail or pick up a prescription? Call Marcus. He's home and doesn't have anything else better to do. Arrrggghh. The only reason this came up today is because we had a bunch of guys working on repairing some storm damage. Remember this big wind storm from the summer? Well, it messed up our siding and now it's being fixed. Took a while, but that's fine. It's great they're getting to it. What isn't great is that they come around right when I'm working, pounding on the wall RIGHT outside my office and yelling back and forth at each other. I can't decide what I liked more...their radio, their hammers or when they frequently hit their fingers with their hammers and screamed a torrent of profanities over the radio, directly into my office and living room.

I'm griping a little, but I know I've still got it pretty good. Another drawback is not having co-workers or a water cooler to share petty complaints. When I don't feel like whining to my wife, I blog about it.

Thanks for hanging in there. I'll take a break for a few rounds of Mortal Kombat and then keep writing until about 3AM or so.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pass the Tums

I know I already sent off SKINNERS #2, but I just got word that my editor has received it. Much like I've been for the last several months, I'm once again jumping between excitement and dread. I can't wait to see SKINNERS #1 on shelves this January and I tie my guts into knots hoping it goes over well. I think the second one turned out pretty good, but now I need to hear from the Main Man down at HarperCollins (my editor, Peter).

For anyone who wants to know about being a writer, this is pretty much it. Work a lot, get the occasional bit of good news, dread the bad news, hope for some ok news, keep working.

1 more thing

I just looked at the SKINNERS #1 ticker and saw it'll be out in 69 days.


It's been a while since my last post. Mostly just working, but there have been a few points of interest.

- Heroes is still tanking. This is nothing new, but still sad. I think the problem is that they never have the characters use their powers unless it's to help a scene transition. Teleportation and time traveling are basically fancy ways of getting to a new set. Other than that, it's a lot of people flicking their hands to cause a ball of electricity/fire/ice/whatever without actually USING those things against anyone. Come on guys. FIGHT SOMEBODY!! Also, if Claire just now lost her ability to feel pain, that means she could feel all that stuff BEFORE?? So when she was burned alive, shot, stabbed, chopped up and stuck her hand in a freaking GARBAGE DISPOSAL, she could feel it?? She just didn't react, huh? Is that bad acting, lazy writing or both? There's so many more gripes and unanswered bullshit. I wanted to give it another chance before, but this was it.

- I've been playing Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe and I like it. Sure, the fighting is a bit choppy sometimes, but it looks great and the powers are very cool without requiring a degree in button combos. I remember when I had the time to memorize each combo and fatality from MK 3. Those were the days. Now, I just want to whip some butt without referencing a printout every five seconds. People complain about the story, but since when were fighting games worried about plot lines? I could say this one has a more entertaining story than the last season and a half of Heroes, but why beat that into the ground? I guess I just did. Oh well. As far as MK vs DC, I wanted to kick some butt, look good doing it and have fun. Check, check and check.

- I finally got a hold of Legendary and spent some time playing it. Within a few minutes, I knew this game would be put through the wringer. On one hand, the gameplay is very linear and some things are very disappointing. You need to decapitate the werewolves to make sure they stay dead. COOL. They even provide a fire axe to do the chopping. That way, it takes more than just bullets to put them down. Then again, if you keep pulling the trigger on the machine gun, their heads will just pop off anyway. Kinda lame. On the other hand, there are lots of exciting moments and the creatures look pretty good. I bought this one with some store credit that brought the price down to about $21 and it's worth every cent. I honestly would have been a little upset to pay full price. For other monster fans, wait till the price drops and give it a whirl. There's over a dozen other games I want to get including Fallout 3, which I'm putting off simply because I don't have the time to get wrapped up in what looks like a real life-sucker. The rest just needs to wait for the funds to come through.

- I picked up the Gears of War novel, Aspho Fields. I normally don't read a lot of video game tie-ins, but I'm sort of a Gears fan (see pic). Then again, games are getting some pretty damn good stories. I did pick up the Mass Effect books, but haven't started reading them yet. The Gears book has a great, gritty military feel and even sneaks in a few wisecracks regarding the game itself. Why does Marcus wear a do rag instead of a helmet? Turns out it's in the regs as long as the insignia is centered. My favorite is when one of the characters asks, "Why can't they give us a damn flashlight?" That line was in Gears 2 as well, so I wonder who wrote it first? I'd like to think someone at Epic Games read the manuscript for the book, thought it was funny and stuck it into the game.

- I finally saw the Star Wars Clone Wars animated movie. I am genuinely shocked at how much I like that series on Cartoon Network. I gave it a shot and I'm glad I did! Some things (like the tinny voices for the battledroids) actually work better in a cartoon. The fights are very cool and the stories are exciting little tidbits that fit well into the universe. The movie is the same and I really enjoyed it.

- Also got around to seeing Hellboy 2. I loved the first one, but never got around to seeing it in theaters simply because the theater experience has become a general pain in the ass. Refer back to my post about the second time I went to see Dark Knight in theaters for all of that. Suffice it to say, I'm waiting for most movies to come to DVD before seeing them. Hellboy 2 fires on all cylinders. Guillermo del Toro has such a distinctive style that works so damn well in anything fantasy-related. He's one of those guys who takes fantasy just seriously enough to make it special. Blade 2 was the best in that series and I've been a fan of Guillermo's ever since.

- It's getting cold enough to thoroughly enjoy chili and oatmeal.

- Scooters Pumpkin Spice Latte is awesome.

Yeah. That's about it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

And away she goes!

Sent out the manuscript for SKINNERS 2 yesterday. Thank God most editors are taking email submissions (even preferring them) over the hard copy. Printing them out is a pain in the butt filled with making sure all the pages came through all right, nothing was crooked, no pages were skipped, and ink cartridges running dry. How come that never happens at the END of a bunch of pages? It's always at the beginning where I'm forced to throw away dozens of sheets of paper covered with half-legible words spat out by a piece of outdated hardware.

Still, there's something special about getting the whole thing printed up and seeing it on my desk. All that work over all those months comes together into an actual pile of pages that I can touch and rest my head upon. Mmmmm. Paper smells nice.

There's still more work to do once the editors read it over, but this is the big step. According to the widget on my screen, there's just under 75 days until I get to see Book 1 on store shelves. I've sent out some review copies and the publisher sent out a bunch more, which leads to a whole other bunch of worries. Will it get torn apart by critics? Will that hamper sales? Will critics like it? Will that help sales? Could this be the end of my career? Tune in and FIND OUT!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Heroes makes me sad

Oh, Heroes. You started off so well. The first season was a bit slow, but headed in the right direction. It picked up and had a somewhat uneven finale. Ok...the first season finale was just dumb. The second season was cool. Still had some dumb moments, but enough good stuff to keep me going. This season started off really well! I was back on board after being skeptical about picking up so long after the writer's strike. Then, it derails.

Watching this last episode was kind of like watching a toy car flop and spin around after being kicked over. There's no direction. No hope of saving the race. It's just floundering pathetically and grinding its gears. Yes, I said pathetically. Nothing on this show makes sense anymore. Stuff that's supposed to be mysterious is just stupid. Even worse, I find myself looking at the clock and wondering when it's over instead of being surprised that another hour has gone by. I know pretty much everyone says Heroes is done, so I guess I've gotta agree. I don't even care what they come up with next season.

On the happy front, I've been playing the living hell out of Gears 2. You just haven't lived until you and your co-op partner pull off a DOUBLE chainsaw kill on one Locust drone. So far, I haven't found anything wrong with that game. Story problems? Not really. It's not trying to be anything it ain't and it's succeeding at being everything it is. That sentence makes more sense after re-reading it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

If Red Ryder were alive today...

I don’t think the UPS guy even tries to knock on my door anymore because all he has to do is pull to a stop in front of my townhouse and I'm running at him like a poorly trained mutt. Last time, it was to get my hands on Gears 2. Today, it was to get my replica LANCER!!!! I’ve been waiting for this puppy since the summer and it’s finally here. Sure, it’s just a big toy gun, but there’s also a chainsaw and it’s coated in blood!

Opening that box, I felt very much like Ralphie at the end of A Christmas Story. Eyes open wide. Hands trembling with anticipation. That little gasp when I see the life-size, gore-covered saw blade. What am I gonna do with this thing? What WON’T I do with it? Apart from the obvious picture ops and home security uses, there’s the sheer awesomeness of it that just makes life a little better. If you can’t take pleasure in something that’s cool just for the sake of being freaking cool, then you’re doomed to live a bleak existence indeed.

Sometimes, you just gotta let yourself be a raging geek simply because it’s fun. This is one of those days. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to pretend I’m chainsawing my poor wife while she’s trying to watch TV.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Terrible problem with Gears 2

Ok, so I've been playing Gears of War 2 and I have a huge gripe. Because of pesky things like "a job" and "real life", I don't have enough time to play!!

This game is simply fan-f'ing-tastic. I've been playing multiplayer a lot just because I want to savor the campaign so as not to breeze through it too quickly. Sure, I've played through Gears 1 several times and will do so with this one as well, but the first time through is always the best. One of my favorite things about the multiplayer is that you can activate bots to play with you so I don't have to take my chances at getting repeatedly cremated by a 12 year-old. The bots on both sides are even pretty damn good! Just to let you know how crappy my first few games were, I was the first man killed on either team where I was the only human in the group.

This game is so good, it makes dealing with the crappy Microsoft customer care and iffy equipment just to play it. And even better news: My Lancer should be here tomorrow.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Gears 2 update

In case you haven't kept up on my posts from August, I pre-ordered Gears of War 2 through Amazon.com so I could get my very own life-sized repilca of a Lancer rifle (Hell yes, I'll post pics when it gets here). Anyway, I figured the trade-off would be receiving the game a few days after launch due to shipping. Well, now it looks like my shipping was upgraded so I can receive the game on day ONE! I checked the UPS site and it just left Oklahoma City on its way to me!! The Lancer won't get here until next week, but that's fine. Also, I picked up Legendary yesterday and it looks freaking great. I haven't played it yet because I'm busting my ass to get SKINNERS 2 turned in on time. Still, there's no way in hell I'll be able to hold off when Gears gets here. I won't let Skinners suffer, so I'll just pull a few late(er) nights. Man oh man, I can already hear that chainsaw revvin'.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hear me baby? Hold together.

I have a bad feeling that my XBox is about to crap out on me again. It hasn't been acting funny, but it seems to be getting louder. Maybe I'm just paranoid because Gears 2 is on its way and that would be the absolute worst time for my console to die. I could be listening too hard and twitching at every whirring sound, but Microsoft hasn't given me any reason to sit comfortably and assume everything will be fine. Then again, if it did go, it would be my third red ring disaster. By now, I'm like a grizzled old dog with too much dead tissue on his hide to feel one more kick. It'll probably die again sooner or later. Just, please give me a few more months.

As far as the election goes. I did find one funny thing that may be ironic, although I kind of get fuzzy on what stuff truly is ironic or just strange. Anyway, with such a big population and so many campaigners and all that stuff, it seems like one vote really doesn't matter. I know that's a horrible thing to say, but it's just the ol' one tiny drop in a vast sea. Most people will tell you that the largest ocean is made up of all those tiny drops and we all come together to blah-blah-blah. We've heard it before. Anyway, I did my part and went out to vote like a good citizen. The process was just as easy and civil as always and I even got a discount at Scooters as a reward. Awesome! The results come in, history is made, people rejoice. When I look on the map, I see that it was all over before the results for my state were even registered. Guess that particular sea had enough drops before I got there. Heh.

Monday, November 3, 2008

There's an election happening? REALLY?

Yes, I’m going to vote tomorrow.
No, I don’t want to talk about who I’ll vote for and why.
No, I don’t want to know who anyone else votes for and YES I am sick of all the back and forth garbage regarding the election.
I realize this is important. The 16,500 calls I get every week and the jerks knocking on my door all tell me so. I’m just glad that at least some of this crap will be over this week.

I make my own decision and everyone else can make theirs. That’s the whole point of this system right? There’s also freedom of speech that allows people to spout off endlessly about their favorite or make fun of their not-so-favorite. I get it. Unfortunately, the whole “right to privacy” thing gets overlooked as all the loudmouthed idiots keep interrupting my day by calling me, knocking on my door and saying the same thing over and OVER again on the TV, radio, billboards and whatever else in their attempt to assert themselves into my life.
Yes I’m going to vote.
YES I know it’s important!!!
Now LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Back to our regularly scheduled nonsense.

Friday, October 31, 2008


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


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


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


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!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Flying the geek flag

Archon is coming up this weekend. It’s a convention held right outside of St. Louis, which means I’ll be able to attend without any hassles. I know how to get there, where to eat, were to stay, all the good stuff. For someone who gets lost as easily (and often) as I do, that’s a big plus.

The programming schedule just got posted on their website and there is a TON of great stuff. Not only is there plenty of writing panels, but the original MST3K crew is going to be there. I only hope I’ll be able to get into the Cinematic Titanic event. Good Lord, those guys are funny. I’ve never laughed so hard at the same old episodes as I have with nearly all of the MST3K stuff. CT and of course Mike Nelson’s Riff Tracks only carry along the tradition.

I was hoping to keep busy while in town and it already looks like there’ll be more panels and stuff than I can attend. Should be awesome. Plus, I get to hit Jack in the Box and Steak ‘n shake while I’m there. Yesssssss.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cool widget or TORTURE?

I was just at the HarperCollins website. . .and. . .ok that's not true. I looked myself up on Google (sounds better than "Googling myself") and saw I was actually on the HarperCollins site. When I clicked the link, I found this widget that's got a picture of Skinners #1 and a countdown to its release. AWESOME!!

Link to "Get this widget"...HELL yes!!!

Slapped it onto the ol' blog. It looks great. Only, now I'll see that countdown EVERY time I log on. Believe me, I've felt every day pass since the release date was first announced (and pushed back). Seeing the countdown in actual numbers is NOT what I need. It does look cool though and it's a good fit for the blog. It may not be a huge deal, but it's pretty nice. I've had other books come out in other genres and have always needed to make my own widgets.

Yeah. This one stays put. Or, it'll stay until my wife forces me to delete it so I stop reporting back to her with how many days, hours, minutes and seconds until my baby is out in the world.

Right on schedule

Had a minor setback the other day. Just one of those crises that usually hits me when I finish a book and start in on the editing process. I know, I said earlier how good it feels to get in there and start revising. It did feel good. . .right up to the point where I felt like I was trying to dig out of a prison with a plastic spork.

What followed wasn’t pretty. Mostly a bunch of griping about being overwhelmed, whining and asking a whole lot of stupid questions about the first draft of the book I’d finished. The more I questioned the little things, the more I thought about the bigger scenes. As I thought about the bigger scenes, I questioned the direction for the whole series.

All of this grew from some pretty standard editing stuff. The stupid part is that I KNEW it was coming. I went through this for the first Skinners and through a good portion of every other book I’ve written. The breakdown came right on schedule, but still somehow caught me by surprise. Once again, my wife is a saint for putting up with this bullshit and insisting I give myself a day off to relax. It’s amazing what a calming voice (and a shot of Jimmy Beam) can do.

I’m feeling much better now.
The editing has commenced and is going well.
The voices have stopped.
Well. . .at least they’re letting me work.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Good day for HD

Started watching the Tampa Bay / Chicago game today in regular resolution because I was taping it on the DVR and it takes up less space that way and blahblahblah. Anyway, caught up to the live broadcast, switched over to HD and had what I've decided to call an eye-gasm. I know HD is good, but damn! Going from one to the other like that is jarring! Not only that, but I got to see Tampa pull out a win in OT! Despite the snide comment I make about the Bucs in SKINNERS 1, I am a fan. I watch a lot of different teams mainly because there's no NFL team here in Nebraska. The closest we've got is Kansas City, Chicago and St. Louis. The Chiefs usually do all right (but not so far). The Rams. . .ehhhhh. . .let's not talk about the Rams. Chicago, however always puts on a hell of a defensive show. Why the Bucs? I'd like to say there was some serious research or some sort of childhood tie, but I like the skull and swords on the jersey. No, I'm not blond. When I started watching football a while back, I was deciding what games to watch and I went with the skull instead of throwing a dart at a TV schedule. Also, I played the Bucs a lot on Madden '05 and they always did right by me. So, despite a vaguely BS call in OT where the Bears got slammed for illegal contact when it was obviously of the TB players' fault, it was an awesome game. Ok...there's always some BS calls, so it was just an awesome game. I like to see Tampa win, but hate to see Chicago go out like that.

Wouldn't you know it, right after the game there was some beach volleyball on. FEMALE beach volleyball, no less! Those ladies may not look so great from the front or sides, but from the back it's quite a sight to behold. Not that they're ugly or anything, but there's just no beating those tight little butts wrapped up in those tiny bikini bottoms IN HD.

So that's my Sunday. Too bad Wing Stop doesn't deliver or I'd never have to get up.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My puzzler hurts

I should be wrapping up the first draft of SKINNERS 2 today. Actually, considering the editing I do along the way, it's really draft number...eh forget it. The first entire manuscript in any form of Book 2. Still pondering options for the ending, how stuff leads into other stories and countless other details that keep me from shutting my brain off and truly relaxing for a while. Whenever I work on a book (any book), I always feel like scenes drag on or conversations run too long or it's been too long since characters ate something. Then, I remind myself that trying to evaluate the flow of a book the first time through is hard because it's like reading something in slow motion. I'm putting together sentences, trying to use commas, figuring out where to end paragraphs and also trying to think of it as a flowing storyline. That's like trying to watch a movie while sifting through it frame by frame. You get a general feel for it, but aren't really seeing it the way the audience will see it. Pretty basic stuff, really, but taxing nonetheless.

Also, in my few bits of free time, I've been playing Braid. Real relaxing choice, huh? It FEELS relaxing, LOOKS like it should be relaxing and even has very relaxing music. As for the couple of puzzles in the 5th and 6th worlds that make me want to slam my controller against my forehead, not so relaxing. It;s still a lot of fun, though. I don't normally look up hints to get through games, but I may be forced down that dark road with this one.

All right. Back to work. I know the ending I want right down to the last line (more or less) so I just need to write it. After that, I plan on taking a few days to let my thinker unravel and then get into editing. I may bitch a lot about editing (and I WILL be bitching pretty soon), but it's the one thing that really lets me relax and enjoy my own work. I get to polish it up, nice and purdy, polish it some more, send it in, have someone else polish it, I polish it again, someone else does it and then I get to do it again....and maybe someone else does. I've lost track.


Monday, September 15, 2008


I love Rock Band. I’ve just gotta say that. I picked up RB2 and have been playing it steadily ever since. Somehow, I’ve also been getting work done but the mysterious ache and redness that’s settled into my eyes for some reason is making that difficult. Wouldn’t you know, I get that eye strain right when I want to keep playing? Of all the damned luck!

Mostly, I’ve been playing lead guitar for my band, Whitechapel Incident. Sometimes, I’ll sit in on drums but haven’t been convinced to do any singing yet. Considering how much kick-ass stuff is on there like White Wedding and Down with the Sickness, I’m sure I’ll be straining the ol’ vocal chords in a while. My wife does some singing, but plays a lot of bass. How cool is that? Just when I think my gaming habit has gotten bad by forcing me to play with toy instruments, my wife comes along and plays with me. I must’ve really done something right to land a woman like that!

There’s also another 20 songs that are supposed to be a free download coming along. I don’t know what those will be since I’ve barely unlocked a third of the new ones on the disk. Those, along with the downloads from RB1 that switched over to 2 have been keeping me busy. The great thing about this and Guitar Hero is the way they make me pay attention to songs that may have slipped by me otherwise. I might not be a fan of some of the groups on the radio, but playing their songs on a game gives them a new set of legs. For instance, I wasn’t overly impressed with the new Metallica CD, but got a chance to play some of the songs on Guitar Hero. Those are really fun to play! Float On by Modest Mouse is another one. I’ve heard that plenty of times on the radio and got sick of it pretty quick. On Rock Band, though, it’s damn good.

Ok, that’s the report so far. Rock Band = good. Back to work and then back to ROCK. (yes, you do have to type that in all caps).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Quick break

Rock Band 2 is awesome! Great new songs. Tweaks to the modes, but not too many differences. I'd say more, but I want to get back to it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

More ROCK...comin' right up

Two more days until Rock Band 2. I play a lot of Rock Band and Guitar Hero. It's a good way to loosen up the ol' fingers before, during, and after work. It's like listening to a CD in front of the TV with a toy hanging from your neck. Very therapeutic. Rock Band 2 has a ton of great songs on the list and I'm pumped to start rockin'. I won't pick up a new set of instruments until October when Guitar Hero World Tour releases. The GH instruments look a bit cooler and I can't afford to buy EVERYthing that comes out. So, Sunday will be busy. Do a little work, rock out. Do a little more work, keep rollin'. Maybe after that, I'll stop using so many apostrophes.

Decorating mistakes or just good TV?

Ok, so new stuff is coming out on TV and I’m actually starting to get a little pumped. As freaking awesome as Hole in the Wall might be (if you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out. Weirdoes in disturbingly form-fitting jumpsuits jump through shapes in a foam wall. Classic), it’s about time for some actual plotlines. Heroes looks like it could be pretty good, but that’s a little ways off. Sanctuary on the Sci-Fi Channel looks like it will have some promise. Torchwood will be returning. You know my thoughts on Primeval (awesome). The one I’ve seen most recently is Fringe.

Please Lord, let there be Fringe. I’ve heard the numbers for the pilot weren’t great, but the show sure as hell was! Even the lettering that marked where they were at the beginning of the scene was cool. It’s hard to explain, but if you’ve seen the show you know what I mean. The writing was great, the characters were original (a crazy guy who actually acts like a real crazy guy instead of some Looney Tunes character. SWEET), and there were even a few twists and turns that took me by surprise. Even the ones that weren’t a surprise were nicely done. It’s out there, but not quite X-Files out there. It’s right on the. . .oh. . .Fringe. Huh. Well Played, JJ Abrams.

Chuck’s also coming back and I really enjoy that show. Let’s see. . .I’ll give Knight Rider another try and I think that’s about it. I just hope Fringe gets its fair shot and is picked up for a full season. Maybe people just DVR’d it and watched it later like I did. Would that affect the numbers? I don’t know. Just keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Where's the "I hate you. You're the bane of my existence" button?

You know what truly sucks about working at home? Not having a tech guy to come around and fix my computer!! I know just enough to do the really hard stuff like work on Word documents and check email. Then, for no apparent reason, every little thing becomes a multi-layered chore that involves starting/stopping programs, watching everything come up as “not responding”, restarting the computer, talking to customer service reps, and all kinds of other fun stuff that wastes a good chunk of my day.

I need a tech guy to come in and work the voodoo required to clean up whatever I messed up. Yes, I’ve run virus scans, but I’ve never had my computer act goofy, run a scan, find a bunch of bugs and then have it run great after removing those bugs. Usually, all I get are a few tracking cookies and then I need to restart the computer because it’s chugging away at something or other. Seems to be working ok now, but it’s only a matter of time before I’m ready to get out the crowbar and do some debugging the old fashioned way.

Friday, September 5, 2008

MEG Branch 1

I put a link to MEG Branch 1 on the side of the page. It's just my page on Live Journal. I actually started out trying to put this blog on Live Journal just because some other people I know are on there. I found it hard to work with, so I ditched it and moved over to Blogger. It's not that LJ is overly complicated, but getting stuff set up on there just felt like a chore. Blogger seems a lot easier as far as arranging the layout and inserting pictures and all that crap.

Just a preference thing. No biggie.

The people I mentioned are still on LJ and you need to be a member to leave comments on some of them so I rejoined and put together another journal. I'm not crazy about updating more than 1 blog, so I decided to give that one an ectological focus. I can talk about supernatural stuff like ghost sightings, ghost hunting, urban legends, all that fun stuff. This will still be my normal day-to-day blog.

It's kind of funny because at the time I'm writing this, SKINNERS #1 isn't even on shelves yet and the only people who read this are a few friends and family (you will all be remembered when the New Order is implemented...heh). The last thing I need is another blog, but there it is. Not really that big of a deal when I think 2 blogs is probably a pretty low number for most folks. I still haven't done much of anything with my MySpace page, which I started for the same reason as I started the first LJ.

Enough of that. You get the idea. 1 blog is now 2. The link's on the side, so check it out if you like. If not, there'll still be plenty of crap right here!

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.