Thursday, December 31, 2009

Day before the end of time

Ok, so the Mayan calendar ends sometime in 2012 and that's supposed to mean the world finally comes to its grand finale. Every calendar in my house comes to an end TODAY!! So that means, in the immortal words of Apollo Creed, "There IS NO TOMORROW!!!!"

Heh. Couldn't resist that. Sorry. If the Mayans couldn't foresee the coming of the Spaniards, then I'll take their more far-reaching prophecies with a grain of salt. And for all of you Mayans out there reading this, no offense meant. I don't believe anyone else's prophecies either.

Like all the other holidays this year, New Year's sort of snuck up on me. I've never been a big party person, so this one never really registered for me anyway. At least I'm not alone. It seems there are two big groups where New Year's Rockin' Eve is concerned. There's the group that goes out to a bar, a fancy dinner or some other occasion that involves dressing up in something other than jeans and t-shirt so they can drink and have fun in a huge mass of like-minded revelers.

Then there's the other group (my group) who cranks it down several notches. In younger days when we had to explain it to people, we would say things like, "There are so many crazies out there. I'm just staying home and kickin' it low key." As you can tell, I haven't had to explain myself in such a manner since sometime in the late 80's or early nineties and even then it was with lame terminology. This group's "kickin'" Usually involves staying home, watching movies and eating snack foods all night long. There are copious amounts of pizza rolls, chips & dips, nachos and other appetizer-esque delights involved and usually a raised glass or two at midnight. For several years, I thought this was a brand of low-key lameness that my parents invented and I grew to appreciate. Then, as I ask around to friends and family, I've found lots of people share this same tradition. One big reason is, let's face it, that first group truly is a bunch of crazies. That's fine, though. Gives us some funny stuff to watch on live TV in between movies.

This year, Megan and I are watching Paranormal Activity. I said during my earlier review that this movie would be much scarier when seen at home. Tonight is Megan's first viewing, so it should be fun. For everyone in both groups, Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Jessica owes me $2500

So this is weird. I was watching The Price is Right today and the first woman to get up to the stage played a game called "Half Off". I've never seen it before, but it involved picking the correct prices for smaller items to win some money. Imagine that, huh? Anyway, without describing the whole game, she made EVERY choice that I did when I was shouting out my answers to the screen. Come on, you all do that when watching Price is Right, don't you?

So she had to pick three different prices. I steered her wrong once, but she narrowed it down to four big prize boxes. One of them had $10,000 in it. I shouted, "Number 6! Pick Box Number 6!!" She did and the money was in there.

So, Jessica, since my powers with the Force guided you, I'm entitled to half, right? That's five grand. And since the name of the game was Half Off, that brings it down to $2,500. I'll be awaiting my payment. I also accept Burger King, Best Buy or Target gift certificates.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Xmas fun at Echo Base

When thinking about our decision to stay home this year instead of driving out to St. Louis for Christmas, I am reminded of the words of that knight from the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. "You chose...wisely."

After our rainy Wednesday, we got frozen, snowed on, dumped with more snow, frozen some more, more snow, frozen get it. Winter storm. The good thing is that I work at home and don't have to go anywhere for days if necessary. No digging out the car or risking my neck. None of that. The bad part is that I work from home and don't need to dig out my car. No reason to call in or take a snow day. Oh well. Skinners 4 is rolling along nicely and I'd rather keep it that way instead of put it on hold until a thaw.

Poor Abby still needs to trek outside to do her doggy thang. The snow was well over her head a while ago, so she must feel like a little white and black dot on big field of...white. That analogy started off better in my head.

Christmas was nice. We had a ham dinner and watched some very non-Christmassy movies. First up: Inglorious Basterds. Awesome Tarantino spectacle with a lot less Nahtzi killin' than I was expecting. Did the Brad Pitt accent come through there? I was thinking it was going to be a solid war-tacular violence fest along the lines of Kill Bill meets The Dirty Dozen. Not that that's a complaint. It was a great movie and when the violence did kick in, it was indeed glorious. I especially liked voice over work from Tarantino staples Samuel L Jackson and Harvey Keitel. Second on the film fest was District 9. This was one of the last summer movies that actually made me want to pay too much for a ticket to get into a crowded and noisy theater, pay way too much for popcorn and see it when it first came out. This has got to be one of the best science fiction movies in a long time. I liked the new Star Trek a lot and this is way up there as well. The effects were supposed to be done on the cheap, but they blended in so well that they didn't even look like effects! Most of you are probably in theaters more often than I am and already saw these, but there's my take.

Back to work. We've got plenty of leftovers to eat and movies to watch. Still haven't really scratched the surface with Dragon Age: Origins or a few other games so I've got those. There's also my pile of comics to catch up on. We rent, so people come around to shovel for us. LET IT SNOW!!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


We canceled our Christmas trip to St. Louis due to all the nasty weather headed our way. It has started, but at the moment it's all rain and the temps are just above freezing. While that means it'll get really nasty once this wetness freezes over and a bunch of snow is dumped onto it, I spotted a window of opportunity.

Today is New Comics Day. The roads aren't too bad yet, so I headed out to pick up the fresh batch. I actually feel proud of myself for darting there and back in that stretch of wet calm before the freezing storm. Also picked up some milk and bread so it seemed like I was actually taking the risk for something worthwhile. Now, I've earned the right to laugh heartily at those who were too nervous to drive in the soon-to-be-frozen rain. Sure you may be warm, safe and dry, but do you have the new issue of Thor? Didn't think so.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Gotta know when to fold 'em

Megan and I had plans to drive down to St. Louis again for Christmas, but just decided to pack it in. Weather reports are fluctuating as they tend to do, but it all points to some sort of snow / sleet / freezing rain combo that isn't fun to drive through. If we hadn't been there two weeks ago already, we'd probably risk it. Since there's still some St. Louisian dirt on my tires, though, we'll play it safe. Megan bought a ham and we'll have a quiet night in the Big O.

In other news, I've been watching weather reports on my NEW PHONE! If you heard Rod Roddy's voice and the old Price is Right music accompanying that announcement, you're my kind of TV geek! It's a Droid Eris and it's also the first time I've ever gotten a phone that wasn't the bare-bones piece of equipment needed to communicate with people too far away to scream at. It's got a touch screen, weather reports, planners, internet, a marketplace, and plenty of other crap that will take a whole lot of time for me to figure out. So far, I'm really impressed with the alarm and email notification because that's about all I've mastered. If I hadn't gotten an amazing coupon from Best Buy to get this for free, I wouldn't have bothered. But it was free, it's a cool gizmo and we weren't going to cancel our contract for another couple of years anyway.

Now, if only I could figure out how to touch this screen without accidentally calling my grandma, things would be great. That woman must think she's going insane after all the times her phone's rang once and stopped.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Speedy Delivery

I didn't even realize these were on the way! The UPS guy drops off a late delivery and this is what I find:

I think it's kind of funny how Twilight is mentioned on one of my covers, but such is today's market. Love the picture. Love the copy. Love this book. See ya on April 27th!!

Arkham 2

Watched the Spike TV Video Game Awards. Well, watched the trailers, a few of the awards and Jack Black, but fast-forwarded through the rest. What really caught my eye was the trailer for the next Batman game. It's by the same folks who did Arkham Asylum which is great. I'm purposely taking my time with that game so it lasts longer. It's that good. Here's a link for the site to the new trailer if you missed the awards or don't have patience for all those strobe lights:

The J Man doesn't look good. Could this be a video game version of the Last Laugh storyline? I like how Marvel re-told their Civil War in Ultimate Alliance 2, so that may not be such a bad thing. After the Arkham game, my hopes are high!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The long and winding (and slippery) road

Back from St. Louis! Star Wars in Concert was great, although VERY crowded. I was expecting as much, but it's been a long time since I've been around that many people at once. I'm more used to the comforting coziness of a Pelegrimas-level signing event as opposed to something people actually want to go to. BAZINGA!! The concert was held at a stadium normally reserved for hockey games and such and the crowds filled the place pretty well. Once we finally got to our seats, we enjoyed the show very much. Anthony Daniels truly seemed to have fun with it and the HD screens looked impressive even from the next-to-top row. If you get a chance and you're a Star Wars fan, check this out. There are no bad seats, the music is awesome and the whole presentation just rocked.

I kidded before about my signings, but the one in St. Louis before my birthday was great. Thanks again to everyone who stopped by. I need to get back to work on more Skinners, so this will probably be the last signing for a while. It was great to leave off on such a high note. Fear not, however. I'll be arranging more later but if you can't make it to one of those and you've got a book you'd like signed, drop me an email and I'm sure we can work something out.

The drive home from St. Louis was much better than I'd expected. There were some storms that took a big dump on the Midwest (How's that for imagery? Take THAT, Poetry!!) and I was worried we might hit some rough patches along the way. The roads were clear right until I got to my own street. About a day after we settled in, we got some more snow. Driving around running errands got me back into the winter mindset. One disturbing thing, however. While I was still tentative and unsure as to how far I could go without the danger of spinning out, I still made the trek across town to my comic book store to get the stuff I'd missed while away. I made it there and back without incident, but I never once thought about NOT going. Are those roads cleared off? Will I get stuck somewhere off the main streets? Should I park somewhere clear and walk to the comic book store? All of these questions drifted through my head without being weighed down by the obvious one. Should I wait a little while until the plows roll through again? Such is the bane of my addiction. Then again, some pretty cool stuff came out so it was worth it.

Back to work!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Brownies & Jedi

Last night was the signing in St. Louis. Thanks to everyone who showed up! There was an excellent turnout and even a few old friends that I haven't seen in a long time. Mainly, I was worried there was going to be a reading. The event was described as "Reading & Signing", but those usually just wind up being signings. That's fine with me, since readings often turn out to be me sitting in front of a bunch of chairs that are all empty except for Megan's. When I arrived, there was a bunch of chairs, but most of them filled up so the reading commenced. I'm not much of an orator, but I think I did pretty well. After that, most of the books stacked around me were sold and all was right with the world of that particular Borders.

This was very welcome, since it was the day before my birthday. That means TODAY is my birthday! I'm at an age where there are no real numerical landmarks left, apart from the ones that might freak me out for whatever reason. I'm not freaked out and the only landmark is that I needed to get a new driver's license. No biggie. Tomorrow, Megan, my mom and step-dad and I will go to see Star Wars in Concert. That should be awesome to hear the Star Wars theme performed by an orchestra with movie scenes playing on humongoid high def screens all over the place. I'm particularly looking forward to hearing "Duel of the Fates" (I think that's the name of it). It's the piece that was played during Obi-Wan's and Qui-Gon's duel with Darth Maul. Sa-weeeet!!!!

Time for cake. Actually, Mom made mint/chocolate brownies instead of a cake. How great is it to have a mom that pays attention? BROWNIES RULE!!!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

In the field

I'm writing this post from my laptop. Exciting, huh? I was worried about being away from my little workspace bubble during this trip, but it seems to be working out pretty well. It's not the first time I've gotten work done this way, but usually I'm editing on the unfamiliar keyboard instead of writing. Seems that things are going pretty well. We'll wait and see if I hit any "What the hell was I thinking when I wrote THAT garbage?" moments when I look over the stuff I came up with. Then again, I'm sure I would have hit plenty of those moments anyway. Bazinga.

Megan's corporate Christmas party was fun. Since I don't get into the office world too often, it was strange to be around such peculiar things as work related inside jokes, professional references, and other people. Still, the food was great so why complain?

The signing at the St. Louis Borders is tomorrow. I'm hoping for a good turnout, but you can never tell with these things. Well, some writers can, but they're in a much higher tax bracket than me. If anyone reading this is in the area tomorrow (Dec. 8th) I hope you'll stop by.

It's back to work now. The one big plus with working on the laptop in St. Louis? Lunchtime at Jack in the Box. Fried mystery-meat tacos, here I come!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

And I'm off...again

We're getting everything together for another road trip. This one is just to St. Louis for the signing, some family stuff, my birthday, a Christmas party with Megan's corporate office, plus I'll be taking in the Star Wars concert where all the theme music is played by a full orchestra. That last one should be a lot of fun. Hopefully, the signing will turn out ok as well. The last time I did one in St. Louis, my very first western had come out and I was tacked on to a signing with two other people. When I arrived, there was no mention I was there and 1 copy of my book on the table. Yes. One copy. That actually served me much better future-expectation-wise than some freak accident where my first signing would have been great.

Despite all the fun stuff going on, I'll still be working my tail feathers off writing the fourth Skinners. There's a lot going on in this one, as there was with the third. I'd hate for the series to just become "who do we kill this time around?" sort of stuff. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of killing. I also want to keep panning out to show more of the Skinners world. Today I finally arrived on a name for a major group that will come in to play throughout the rest of the series. Even though I've had them in mind for some time (and hinted at them several times in all the other books) they never seemed completely "real" to me until I settled on a name. The only name I'm worried about right now, though, is Michelin. After my tire blew out outside of Kansas City last week, I'm skittish about running the new ones into the ground. In the immortal words of Han Solo to the Millennium Falcon, "Hear me, baby? Hold together."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A slice of my day

The new tattoo is healing nicely. Sometimes it feels like my skin is one size too small below my knee, but that's all a part of the fun.

Putting together the sneak peek scene of Skinners 4 that goes in the back of Skinners 3. Usually, it's a little preview along the lines of a Coming Attraction sort of thing. This time around, I'm considering it to be one of those cool little scenes you see if you stick around in the theater after the credits are done rolling in a movie. Short, but tasty. (Insert gross joke here)

Getting ready for another road trip to St. Louis for the signing next week. When that's done, you guessed it, ANOTHER road trip for Christmas. Ugh.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Off the road again...for a little while at least

We're back from the long drive to Florida for Thanksgiving. Even though the trip took 2 days each way instead of one (let's face it, all the airport hassles and flight time pretty much take up a whole day) Megan and I kept thinking how much better it was than flying. We stopped where we wanted, I got to indulge in Jack in the Box tacos not once but TWICE, we brought the dog along, and we had a car when we got to Orlando. The trip was good. We even met up with an aunt and cousin that I haven't seen for WAY too long. Plenty of turkey to go around and all was well.

That is, until we hit Kansas City. Maybe the spirit of that place is getting its revenge on me for what I put it through in Howling Legion. As soon as we got within sight of KC, one of our tires blew. Fortunately, I had just gotten AAA for the trip so that was ok. It set us back a few hours, but no biggie.

Went through phase 3 of the new tattoo last night. That was fun. Next time I need to eat some real food before sitting for a four hour tattoo session because I was a little light on my feet and green around the gills afterward. Nothing erases the whole, "I'm a badass for getting a tat" mentality quicker than almost keeling over when it's done. Oh well. I just got some pics of Phase 2 so here's a look at how it's coming along. I think Paige is turning out quite nicely.

So now it's back to work. I did get some editing done during the trip but didn't have any time to sit and write. We're off to St. Louis later for next week's signing (Dec. 8 - Borders near Lindbergh and Watson - Be there or be a four-sided shape of some kind) and I'll have to get work done along the way. Brainstorming while on the road is fine, but fresh words need to be typed as well.

I'll get to it. I'll also run to the comic shop because there's 2 shipments for me. The comics I didn't get last week are still there and then there's this week's. Mmmmm. Comics.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Stuffin' mah face!

Just what I didn't need...a bunch of time away from my computer. Skinners #4 is rolling along, but so are the holidays. Megan, the dog and I are heading out to visit relatives for Thanksgiving and there won't be a lot of time for work. Even so, the laptop is coming along so I can get SOMEthing done in that time. Even though my fingers won't see the keyboard very much, road trips always do wonders for the creative juices. Whenever I take one in the midst of writing Skinners, I always come up with something good. I'll be sure to bring along some paper and pens.

So for all my readers who celebrate Thanksgiving, have a good one. For all the ones who don't, find some reason to have a big meal this week. You gotta eat, right? See you in a little while.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NOT a gift wrapping station

Had my first signing for Howling Legion the other night. Borders always treats me pretty well. Plenty of copies of the books and a prime seat right by the front door. Of course, once the holidays get closer, I try to migrate away from that part of the store since people will just want me to slap a bow on a recent purchase. Of course I do, but then I sign it...whatever it is.

The turnout wasn't too bad. A good portion of the Nevermore folks showed up, so that was very cool. Also saw some new faces that wound up getting The Talk from me where I bend their ear until they buy a book so they can escape. Heh. Seriously, my heartfelt thanks to everyone who came. To all of those who couldn't make it, if you want a signed copy of Books 1 or 2, there's a few left at that Borders (Omaha - 132nd & Maple).

This just leaves the signing in St. Louis. The last time I did one over there was for my first western. That was rough. It's not a bad thing because that means, barring any 2012 sort of apocalypse, this one couldn't be any worse.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Thanks to some creative financial bending (see also: buying games instead of food) I picked up New Super Mario Bros for the Wii. Megan and I both enjoy some Mario. Cool. Megan and I like to play co-op games. Normally pretty cool. The new Mario game is built for co-op. Cool, right? You know what isn't cool? Me not being able to jump on one stinkin' cartoon tree without having my wife right there bouncing on my f'ing head!!

Back off, woman! You're smothering me!! I'm not talking about you sitting next to me on the couch. That's fine. Just let me get to one damn swinging platform without dropping some plumber shoes on my noggin!!

Ok. Enough exclamation marks. The game is great. Old school Mario with some new goodness mixed in. Let's just say it makes me eternally grateful that Megan can't jump that high in real life. She's kind of clumsy. At least this was better than the utter humiliation of being constantly pummelled in the new Punch Out game. No matter how hard I try, no matter how much I practice, I can NOT beat her at that game. Since she can punch in real life, I take my losses with a minimum of tears.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Turkey time...or lack of it. Time, not turkey.

This is a busy month. First of all, I'm digging in to Skinners 4. That brings more than enough baggage with it. Second, there's a lot of little events popping up here and there. Tomorrow I've got a radio interview on KAHI-AM in Sacramento at 10 AM Pacific Time. Tuesday is my signing here in Omaha. On Thursday, there's another interview scheduled. I'd post a link to that one as well, but radio interviews can be a little dicey. When I do them, they're a lot of fun. There was a streak for a while, though, where an interview would be scheduled and they just wouldn't call me back for it. Even worse is that they're normally early in the morning so I had to get up early just to sit in my office next to an un-ringing phone. The host from KAHI already called to confirm so it looks like I won't get stood up on that one.

The week after that is Thanksgiving. Megan and I are packing up the dog for a drive to see my family. Abby loves car rides, so she shouldn't be a problem. The big problem loops all the way back to my "first of all". I still need to work on Skinners! Sure I've got a laptop and I'll be doing work while away for Thanksgiving, but I won't be in my comfortable little nest...I mean professional workspace environment.

It'll be fine. Things are rolling right along, so there's no reason to complain. Howling Legion is out there and seems to be more visible than Blood Blade was during its first few weeks. I'm hearing from a lot more places that it's showing up on the New Release tables / towers / displays instead of just being snuck into the section. Hopefully my signing has a decent turn-out.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Electric needle therapy

After one delay of game due to slow healing, Stage 2 of the new tattoo was completed yesterday. And it couldn't have come at a better time. Despite my many vows to not obsess about how the new book is doing, I've been...well...obsessing about how the new book is doing. It hasn't been at the front of my mind constantly, but enough for me to get a nice airy feeling in my chest when it does hit. Not good, right? This wasn't even sparked by bad news. There's just NO news yet. Sure, it's only been just over a week, but my little brain gets to come up with all of its scenarios and then fill in the blanks to the point where I'm ready to pop.

Thankfully, I made my appointment for the tattoo. Let me tell you, there's no better therapy than that. And I'm not talking about the boring, soul-baring, "how I really feel about my family", tear-spilling stuff you see on tattoo shows where some dude confesses his darkest emotions to Kat Von D. When I'm in the chair, Jesse and I talk about comic books, movies (sound familiar? Nobody escapes this crap) and I even got to bounce some Skinner stuff off of him. The main thing was that I WASN'T thinking about whatever was tying my guts into a knot before. It's kind of tough to focus long enough to induce a heart attack when someone's carving up your leg. Ok, so it wasn't as bad as that, but getting tattooed for four hours tends to draw your focus in REAL tight to the here and now. And, unlike a therapy session, I gimp away with a freaking cool memento. Pics forthcoming.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Just one more fix!

I'm trying to be good. Honestly. Now that Megan and I have committed to going to the World Horror Convention in the UK, we've been trying to cut down on expenses. One of the easiest to should be video games, right? I mean, they're not food or rent. I'll go cold turkey.

No, wait. There are some major releases coming. I'll ONLY get the super big deal ones like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 next week. If there's anything like the Nazi Zombie mode on World at War, I'll be in deep for a while. Hell, even without zombies, Modern Warfare kicks butt. Gotta get that one.

Last night, Megan and I played the Left For Dead 2 demo. Ok. We've gotta get that one too. That's more of a family expense. We play that together, so it's like cutting out other entertainment like leaving the house or getting regular amounts of sleep. Speaking of stuff Megan and I play together, New Super Mario Bros for the Wii is coming out soon too. Well that's Mario. You gotta get MARIO!

Let's see. What can I cut out to make way for this? Do we really need extras at the grocery store like meat or laundry detergent? Hey, we've got plenty of dish soap. Detergent is out. We don't leave the house anyway, so who cares if our clothes are grimy? Yes! Perfect sense right?

Please buy Howling Legion. I NEED THE ROYALTIES!!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fourth-Date Jitters

After taking a few days off, I'm putting my nose back to the grindstone and getting to work on another project. The last few have been westerns, but the next one is SKINNERS 4!! The good news is that there's going to be a Skinners 4! Hmmm. Maybe I should have led with that one. Anyway, I didn't want to talk a lot about it before because my focus has been on the release of Book 2 and editing Book 3. There is gonna be a Book 4 and I'm pumped to start in on it.

Of course, this is the scary time. I've got my plans. I've been making notes and thinking about what events will follow the ones I've already written. Things are in motion and I know (pretty much) where they're headed. When I'm staring at a blank screen, however, I start to think that now's the time to make changes. I haven't written anything yet. I could COMPLETELY overhaul my ideas!! So that would mean I'm at Square 1. Yippee.

No. Not yippee.

Stick to the plan and overhaul when appropriate. Now for that first scene. First line, even! We all know how crucial and pivotal the first line can be. So DO IT! And make it good!!

No pressure.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

...and stay away from downed power lines. Thanks, Roadblock!

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra was one of the few movies I wanted to see in theaters over the summer. I'm spoiled with my kinda-nice speakers and TV at home and can wait to see quality films without having to filter out the garbage that comes along with a theater audience. GI Joe just seemed like one of those goofy, explosion-riffic spectacles that should be enjoyed on a theater screen where the noisy audience actually adds to the fun. Well, I never got around to it but I finally saw it last night in the Basement-Plex. It wasn't long into it that I started thinking, "Wow. This is even goofier than I thought it would be." About five seconds later, I realized that made it a perfect GI Joe movie.

Let's face it. If it was a gritty film about elite commandos fighting a terrorist organization, this would NOT have been GI Joe. When I think of GI Joe, I think of sweet-ass laser weapons, flippin' awesome vehicles and dudes with dumb code names shooting at each other with no regard for collateral damage. If someone made a big budget movie loosely based on one of the plot lines I came up with when playing with my Joes in the backyard when I was 10, it would be pretty close to this one. Hell yes, I had plot lines! One of my fondest summer vacation memories was an ongoing battle incited by my Star Wars toys invading a GI Joe base. It was one of the most awesome crossovers my young mind could conceive.

Oh, and you can't forget the hot women in glasses. Ahhh, The Baroness. I've already talked about my youthful longing for her. So what if she was a cartoon? This was before the days when a young lad could Google "hot women with glasses" and come up with enough pics to sate any appetite. We had to use our imaginations. Plus, I was 10 or so. Hadn't graduated past cartoon chicks just yet.

Back to the movie. It was goofy as hell. Destro looked pretty cool, or as cool as a guy could look with a metal face. There was even a cameo by Dr. Mindbender. DR. MINDBENDER!! I thought that guy was a bit much even when I was a kid, but this movie went for it all. Plus, NINJAS! The director must have figured, "Hey, it's GI Joe. Bring on the lasers, one-man rocket sleds and giganto, goop-filled warheads." The grown man part of me was chuckling that I was watching this movie. The other part was secretly hoping to see parts of the Weather Dominator scattered around Cobra Commander's lab.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

In tribute

Now that HOWLING LEGION is out, I thought it would be a good time to give an acknowledgement and share a nice little story with you. While I was writing this book, a friend of mine (mystery writer Bob Randisi) was approached by Deb House, the sister of a police officer who was killed in the line of duty. Her brother was an avid reader and she asked Bob if he could possibly name a character in his book after him as a tribute. He was glad to oblige by naming a character after her brother in the fourth installment of his Rat Pack Mystery series (an excellent series for fans of Vegas in its prime).

Bob told me about Deb’s request and with my educational background in Criminal Justice, I was more than happy to pay tribute to one of many policemen who put their lives on the line to do their job. Deb’s brother was Robert Stanze, a Police Officer from St. Louis and if you read the new book, you’ll know the role that Officer Stanze plays in the story.

At the time when I wrote this book, I put Officer Stanze’s name in there because I thought it was a cool request from his sister to remember her brother. Unfortunately, I get quite scatter-brained with all the stuff that needs to be done in the writing and editing process and I forgot to put this in the actual Acknowledgement section. So I’m putting it here. I’ve recently spoken with Deb and sincerely hope that she enjoys the book.

Deb is also involved with MOCOPS (Missouri Concerns of Police Survivors) which is a chapter of the National Concerns of Police Survivors, Inc. (C.O.P.S.). These organizations help rebuild the lives of families of fallen Police Officers and do some very good work. As part of a continuing tribute to Officer Stanze and all of the other law enforcement workers who are out there with their necks on the line, I’d like to bring these organizations to your attention. From now on, I’ll have a link to them on the side of my page and hope it does some bit of good for them.

Thanks to Deb for allowing me to show my support in my own little ways and thanks to Police Officer Robert Stanze. You fought the good fight and won’t be forgotten.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Huntin' in the headlines

Ok, so maybe it wasn't in the headlines, but Nevermore Paranormal did make it into a local paper, The Omaha Reader. Here's a link to the article. Just scroll down to the bold print that starts off with "Paranormal Activity..."

Among other things, Nevermore's also been doing gigs at sold out seminars. That's the one where I was manning the chat board early in the morning. I'm so proud of those guys. Technically, I am one of "those guys" but I'm not much more than a grunt. Click the link on the side of the screen to see their website. Warning: that website is in desperate need of being updated! Can't do everything when they're (we're) so busy collecting evidence from the Great Beyond. Wow, that sounds pretty cool when I phrase it like that.


So far, so good on the HOWLING LEGION front. By that, I mean I've been doing a fairly good job of NOT obsessing about the new release when there's work to be done. I've heard some positive feedback so far and the rest is still "wait and see".

A while ago, I was asked by Michele over at the Vampchix blog to do a guest spot on her site. Vampchix, huh? Sounds like a perfect fit for Skinners, right? Heh. Actually, I'm amazed at how many fans of vampire romance are open to my little carnage-fests. The request was for me to participate in the site's "Vamp Bash" so how could I resist? It's a great site and I had a lot of fun writing my piece for it. Check it out at .

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Iiiiiiit's comin' out, so you'd better get the party started!

I'm trying to quote Pink? I'm not nearly funky enough to do that, right? Well, it's early and I'm pumped because Skinners 2: Electric Boogaloo...I mean HOWLING LEGION is released today. If you couldn't tell already, I'm pretty psyched about it. Not psyched enough to get up early, though. I did that to represent Nevermore Paranormal on a web chat in connection to a big ghost hunter event in Grand Island. If you're in that chat and my computer "crashes", that just means you asked a really good question that I couldn't answer so I ran away.

While I'm not overly superstitious, I do believe in signs. Fortunately, I got a cool one today. I have a page-a-day calendar that shows a scene from a Star Wars movie next to its concept art. Well take a look at today's scene:
I tried to scan the calendar page, but it looked more like a Fuzzy Brown Legion instead of an army of wailing Wookies. Still, this is pretty cool. Get out to the stores and pick up your copies. If they're not on the shelves yet, take a cue from these rampaging beasts and politely ask a salesperson.

Monday, October 26, 2009

What second book??

It's the day before Howling Legion is released and I'm trying to distract myself any way possible. It's either that or allow the nervous stomach pangs to grow up into something bigger. Of course, there's work to be done. Always work. I'm finishing up another project and then I'll dive into some more Skinner-ness. Also, I don't want to let October slip away without enjoying it. Halloween is this week and we stocked up on bags o' candy. We don't get a ton of Trick or Treaters, but I still don't want to be the "crappy candy" house. Plus, I like candy. As always, any kids dressed as werewolves will get extra. Hey, I don't play favorites. I just tip my hat to refined taste in costumes.

And it looks like there's no live Ghost Hunter show this year. Is that true?? I haven't seen any promos or heard anything about it. I would hate to see a cool tradition like that get shot down. It's just fun to sit and watch that stuff even if they are just jumping at spiders.

Speaking of ghost hunting, Megan and I are planning our trip to Brighton for the World Horror Convention. While we're across the ocean, we're making a big vacation of it and hitting Scotland. Being Torchwood fans, we even planned on going to Cardiff for a day to see the sights and take in the Doctor Who exhibit. Yes, there's a Who exhibit and it looks freaking great! Unfortunately, we're not made of money and need to cut down on extra train tickets and that sort of thing. We decided to use our time there for lengthier stays in London and Scotland. Back to the ghost thing, we're finding all these great haunted tours of documented sites and will be visiting as many of them as possible. I'll bring my digital audio recorder and keep my fingers crossed that the tourists before me haven't caused the spirits to find someplace quieter to haunt. Should be fun.

I've finally started in on Call of Duty: World at War. I know I'm late to the party on this one, but pulling myself away from CoD: Modern Warfare ain't easy. Mostly, I've been addicted to the Nazi Zombie levels. The single player campaign is spectacular and multiplayer is great, but I can't get enough of putting out all those glowing eyes with a few well-placed shots from a Tommy Gun.

So tomorrow is the big day. I can't be distracted for too long. Hopefully the stores will get the books on shelves and people will buy them. Uh-oh. Here comes the nervous stomach again.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Panic attack...right on schedule

Only four more days until the release of Skinners 2: Howling Legion. As is the case for any series, the groundwork needs to be laid in the first installment and after that you really get to play. I sure did play a lot in Howling Legion. It's strange because my mind is already past Book 3 and Book 2 isn't even out yet. When I think about the next one hitting shelves, I feel a twist in my gut as all of the anxiety begins to play out.

The first one went over pretty well. Hopefully the next will be better.
A series needs time to gain momentum and there's only one out there. Be patient.
What if this one tanks?
What if this one skyrockets?
What if I go to stores and don't see many on the shelves? Does that mean they sold or does it mean the store didn't order any?
As you can see, the possibilities for driving myself crazy are even wider than normal.

I know I'm in rough shape when I barely pick up the XBox controller (or ANY controller). Here's how distracted I've been...I got Borderlands on release day and haven't even cracked open the box! There's randomly generated guns in there! Electrified shotguns!! Automatic, acid spewing rocket launchers! And it's not just games. My comic reading is suffering too. There are a few issues of Dark Avengers that I haven't even read yet. DARK AVENGERS!! What's wrong with me?

Unfortunately, it's only just begun. Once Howling Legion is out, I'll be waiting to see how it does. I'll be trying not to read reviews because that just works out better for my state of mind. Usually Megan or someone else will tell me about the good ones. As for the bad ones, I expect some stinkers. They're not going to make me change anything as far as how I write my series so I'll just let them do their thing and I'll do mine.

And then there's the signings I need to set up. You can see those at the top of the page and I'm working on more. Conventions too. We're kicking around the idea of heading out to the World Horror Con in the UK. It's been too long since I've been to England and this would be a great time to go. That's a long haul, so we still need to do some figuring. Even so, I'm leaning toward the "Life's short. That's what credit cards are for" line of reasoning. Good for the economy, right? Riiiiiight.

So that's that. If you're reading this blog and don't appreciate the mental anguish of a man releasing his works into the wild, then I apologize in advance for some other blog posts to come. If you enjoy that sort of're in luck! Seriously, though, I wouldn't have it any other way. I've been buckled in and ready for this ride since I was a little kid scribbling monster stories onto that tan, lined paper designed for learning your cursive. Does anyone say "cursive" anymore or is it just "handwriting"? You know the paper I mean, though. It's that kind with the wide space and the dotted line in the middle? Reminds me of the days when snacks were on the official schedule. That's the good stuff.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Paranormal night out

The Nevermore crew and I went to a midnight showing of Paranormal Activity the other night. We bought in to the whole "vote to bring it to your town" thing and it actually worked. Our votes allowed us to go and pay to see a movie! Hmmm. Doesn't seem like such a democratic triumph when I put it that way. Anyhow, it was cool to go to a horror movie with an actual audience. On the other hand, this audience was cranked up and ready to scream at anything and everything. Nirvana for a horror movie maker, but rakes on chalkboards for ears that are used to being on a couch in front of a TV.

After all the press and people in the lobby talking about how mind-alteringly terrifying it was, I was ready to be petrified. There were tons of creepy moments, just about all of the scary stuff worked, the characters were believable (including a guy who was such a tool and so insensitive to his girlfriend's trauma that he seemed all too real) and there were some truly classic creepy moments. Was it the piss-your-pants-fest I was promised? Not quite. More than likely, that's because I've already spent plenty of hours in dark rooms listening for ghost sounds with the Nevermore team. When the first stuff happened in the movie, all the girls (and plenty of guys) in the audience screamed. Angie, one of the co-founders of Nevermore, was sitting next to me. She calmly asked, "Why can't WE catch anything like that?" Perspective is a funny thing.

That being said, I firmly believe that this movie will be 10 times scarier on DVD. It plays on all of those "What was that rumbling sound from the next room?" sort of fear. When you're watching this in your own house in your own dark room and then go upstairs to your own bed, you won't have that cool-down time you got on the drive home from the theater. Very cool movie! Oh, and Katie was HOT! Just had to put that out there.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Call of the wild

Ok, so a while ago I was talking about how stupid it is that Microsoft is making us PAY to dress up our Avatars on XBox Live. It IS stupid to pay real money for imaginary little outfits for our imaginary little people. Then I logged on last night and saw the Halloween costumes being offered.
Sure enough, there was a werewolf outfit and it's pretty freaking cool. You can even see the guy's skin through the eye holes in the mask!! The prices are getting closer to the acceptable range (just over half the amount they want for a lightsaber) and let's be serious. There's just no way I can pass up dressing my Avatar as a werewolf. Maybe it's a business expense?

Damn you, Microsoft!!! Why must I be so weak??

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Brutal Ink

It's been a full couple of days. Sunday was trip #1 for the new tattoo and all went as well as could be expected considering it was a few hours of getting inked by an electric needle followed by pulled pork sandwiches. FYI - Jesse at Nuclear Ink did the needling and Megan had the sandwiches ready for me when I came home. They were tasty. The tattoo is lookin' good! So far it's just an outline, but it turned out even better than I'd hoped. Here's a picture of Paige in her current depiction. I love the way Jesse drew her weapons and Shimmy's turned out pretty damn sweet. I know these aren't the clearest pictures, but they were the best our cheap camera could do on short notice. There's still plenty of work to be done. Looks like the werewolf on the other side of that leg will have some real good company.

In other news, it's Rocktober 13th!! That means Brutal Legend came out. It's a game I've been anxious to play for quite a while. Basically, it's about a dude who gets transported to a world from heavy metal album covers who fights chrome demons with an axe and a hot rod. If it's cool and awesome, it's in the game. I'm someone who can get on board with the notion of badass demons in a world where rock is given free reign. I've only played through the first level and done some driving around the beast & blade strewn landscape, but am already in love with this game.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Apart from the infomercials...

There are plenty of advantages for me in staying up late. I get my work done, my body stays on its natural nocturnal clock, plus I get to see the first snow of the season. Last night I went to bed and saw the white stuff falling down like the happy ending to some holiday movie. Since it's early October, I figured it would be gone by the the time the sun came up but it's still here. The neighbors are grinding their stubborn car engines, sliding around in the wrong shoes and trying to scrape their windows using credit cards. Ahhhh yes.

I love the cold. As an added bonus, it'll help dull the pain when I go to get stage 1 of my new tattoo done tomorrow. Everything hurts less in the cold right? Wait, no. It's the reverse. DAMN IT!!!! Even so... me = happy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Once upon a time...on a time...I don't know anymore

I've been going over the copyedits for Skinners 3 which are the nitty-gritty grammar, punctuation and technical fixes. In other words, this is where I learn how bad I am at grammar, punctuation and technical stuff. I'm fine with that. One thing I take comfort from is that these edits get easier and easier with every book I write. Sure, it may have started off better if I'd majored in English Composition in college or something more lit-tastic than Criminal Justice, but I'm making progress. Sometimes it doesn't seem like it, though.

One case in point: in tact. Or, intact. For some unknown reason, I ALWAYS split this into two words. My spell check doesn't catch it because they are both real words, but my proofreaders and editors sure do. It's become such a problem that I've put a sticky note on my desk that reads, "Intact = ONE WORD". You know what? I STILL make this mistake. When I'm writing, no matter how much I'm thinking about my problem, my fingers still screw up. Kind of like when I type the word "future". My fingers want to type "furture". I kid you not, when I wrote the first word in quotes it was furture. At least spell check catches that one.

Second case in point: Upon. I'm really seeing this one in the Skinners 3 manuscript. If my copyeditor is reading this, I'm genuinely sorry. Plus, you're a saint for all the freaking times you had to correct me on this one thing. My problem here is that I just use this word incorrectly. I write "upon" when it just needs to be "on". "Cole placed his hand upon Paige's shoulder." "Paige set the gun upon the table." "The furture rests upon their next decision." DAMN IT!!!!! In my head, one word just sounds better than the other. That's it. My brain doesn't care which is correct. It just knows which it likes and it likes the wrong one.

I cannot thank my editors enough. They have to put up with all of this garbage. At least they get to read the next Skinners before everyone else. If they don't like my books, then they deserve an extra medal for doing their jobs so well.

As much as I'd like to be perfect and get each manuscript right the first time through, I know that's just not going to happen. I'm not a grammatical guy. Also, in these tough times, I'd hate to put someone out of a job. This system works pretty well as it is, so I'll keep it in tact.

Monday, October 5, 2009


I have returned from St. Louis and boy are my arms tired! That joke really doesn't work for road trips, does it? Archon was great. I'm amazed at just how well organized that convention is. Although I'm sure there were snags somewhere in there, everything seemed to go without a hitch from my angle. Not only did the organizers remember I was supposed to be there, but they gave me a ribbon for my name tag that says, "PRO". After having been to so many cons ( jokes just happen. I'm that funny) it was cool to move up in the world enough to get a special ribbon. Cheap thrill? Sure, but seeing my name on a t-shirt blew my freaking mind! And it was even spelled correctly!! Right on the shoulder so I can point it out to the people behind me at the post office. There I am, in the list of guests (PRO guests) for that year's festivities. I've been writing for over 10 years, but this is a first. I'll take my proud moments whenever they come my way.

My panels went really well and were well attended. Except for the one about Vampires with a Curfew. I never figured out what that panel was supposed to be about and neither did any of the other panelists. Can't really blame most people for picking another place to be on a Friday night, but the folks that did show up got some pretty decent conversation about writing and genre stuff. Good times. The werewolf panel was (appropriately enough) a wild one. When we did stay on track, we debated the finer points of werewolfery, argued scientific merit of lycanthropy, and damned Kid Rock to hell for ripping off those bars from Werewolves of London. Plus, Captain America and Hawkeye were in the audience, so how could you go wrong? Ahhh, cons.

Saturday was my time to be a fan for the most part. I did have my signing, which turned out to be a high point. There weren't a ton of people there with books (since the dealer's room didn't stock any...grrrrr), but the people who showed up were great. Here's a shout out to Michael! Thanks for stopping by. You truly made my week.

The panel with Laurel Hamilton went pretty well. She was nice and the audience actually seemed interested in hearing me talk. Well, most of them did. Even though I lost a few when I admitted to not being a fan of steamy human-on-werewolf action, the ones who stuck with me were patient and made me feel welcome. Here's a shout out to those ladies in the front corner to my left. Sorry I didn't catch your names.

So after all that shouting, Megan and I got home safely. Waiting for us in the mail was that free copy of Guitar Hero: Van Halen I ordered after getting GH 5. You've seen the commercials. 2 for the price of 1. I'll believe it when I see it. Well, I see it. What do you know? People are actually following up with their promises lately! Nice. Now if I can just find the code to dress up David Lee Roth as Rockso the Rock 'n Roll Clown from Metalocalypse I'll be giddy.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A one, and 'a two, and a...

My XBox Gamerscore just hit 33,333. I think I'll stop playing for a while so I can bask in the perfect three-ness of it all.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Off to Archon

Packing up, because tomorrow we're shippin' out! The drive to St. Louis is on the lengthy side, but we've done it about 1024 times since we moved from there to Omaha. Road trips are always fun and this is a good chance for me to listen to some new CDs. Bought Dethklok's new one. Metalocalypse is about the funniest thing I've ever seen, but the new Titan Maximum comes pretty close. That's the new one from the Robot Chicken guys and I about busted a gut while watching.

So I hope to see some of you at Archon. Actually, I hope to not get stuff thrown at me during the panels. Should be a lot of fun. At the bare minimum, I'll get a chance to have some Steak 'N Shake and Jack in the Box tacos!!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Prepping for ink

I've been revisiting Jesse at Nuclear Ink Tattoo lately and it wasn't to deliver a signed copy of the book. Well, I did do that, but we also talked about finishing up my Skinners tatt. Maybe I should put up some more pics of the Full Blood piece I've already got on my leg. The plan is to get another one on the other half of my leg so it all wraps around into a big Skinners scene Huh. So many layers.

So the original plan was to have a picture of Cole with his weapon drawn like he was stalking the Full Blood tattooed on the other half of my leg. Jesse (the artist who drilled this masterpiece into my flesh) and I talked about that during the 18 or so hours it took to get the Full Blood tatt done. Does that sound like I'm bragging? Well, it was 18 hours of being tattooed, so I get to brag, damn it! Now that it's time to get the next one done, I had second thoughts. According to the cover pictures (which I love but didn't have a lot to do with) and some of the description in the book, a picture of Cole might wind up looking something like me. At least, it would in the "bald guy with taco sauce on his face" kind of way. Even having a dude tattooed onto me that looks remotely like me seems pretty lame, so I decided to go with Paige as my next tattoo. That way, I get to have one of my favorite characters and a good ol' "hot chick" tattoo all rolled into one. Jesse liked the idea and worked up a design.

I've seen it and it is freaking awesome! Paige looks great. She's wielding both sickles and Jesse even got a cool picture of Shimmy's in the background. That was my idea. It's gonna be another several sessions 'o pain, but very worth it.

I could post some more pics of the werewolf tatt here if anyone's interested. Better yet, you can come to Archon in St. Louis this weekend and see it in person. I've got an autograph signing arranged and everything. I'll even wear baggy pants so I can roll up the legs and show ink on request. How could you refuse an offer like that? Heh.

Just heard from someone at Archon. Seems that of the con's two biggest booksellers, one of them doesn't even carry Blood Blade. Hopefully the other one will, but I'll bring a few copies of my own to sell. Also, I'll have my trusty advance covers for Book 2 to sign so no worries there. Maybe I should hit a Borders or Barnes & Noble while I'm in town?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Guerilla Ghost Hunting

Last night, I donned my Nevermore Paranormal shirt and went on a ghost hunt. It was at a private home in Council Bluffs, which was one of the nicest houses I’ve ever seen. One great personal triumph came in the form of me helping put the DVR system together. I wish I could say I did the whole thing, but I’m just glad to have done more good than harm. We did need to call Jason our tech guy once, but Angie and I got the cameras up and rolling. There were supposed to be some footsteps heard going up and down the stairs of this house as well as a presence in one of the upstairs bedrooms. We had some interesting moments, but will have to wait and see what comes up in the evidence review.

One very interesting moment came when we saw a flash of bright light outside both front windows. We were sitting at the DVR monitor when it happened and soon heard a rattling on the front door. Turns out the rattle (at about 2:30 AM) was a cop and the flash was from that cop’s car! It seems one of the neighbors was a little concerned to see a bunch of strangers going in and out of our client’s darkened house at odd hours in the morning carrying cases and a television set. Fortunately, the client was there to let the cops know he wasn’t being held for ransom and the authorities moved along. Score one for a very effective Neighborhood Watch!

Bits and pieces for Archon are coming together nicely. Due to an error in me filling out my form, I originally didn’t have an autograph session scheduled. That’s been ironed out due to some last-minute hustling and I’ll be available to sign books at 1:30 on Saturday. Hope to see some of you there!

That’s about it for now. I’m wrapping up another manuscript and doing all the laundry, packing, and preparing needed for my road trip to St. Louis. Jack in the Box tacos, HERE I COME!!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Break out the flannels

Today is the first OFFICIAL day of autumn!!! I get more excited about this than I do with other events that come along with a day off. Granted, this hasn't been too bad of a summer, but autumn is so much better. You know how the Munsters always enjoyed it when it was gray and rainy outside their cool, run-down mansion? It's like that. Nothing against the sun per se, but I'll take cool temps and subdued lighting anytime. It also could have been worse if I still lived in St. Louis. Sure, I was able to get Jack in the Box tacos whenever I wanted, but the humidity there is a freaking nightmare. I don't even care how worn out that phrase is. It truly is a wet heat!

Some cases of the Swine Flu (or H1N1 or html or whatever they're calling it now) popped up around here. Seems like more panic that amounts to a fever and a few sick days. At least, those are the cases that have hit people in this area. Hopefully it stays at that level. I think what freaks a lot of people out is constantly seeing the microscopic pictures of the virus all over the internet and news. Kind of like when you see magnified pictures of the mites that live in your eyebrows.

Next weekend is Archon. I've been excited for this convention for a while and now it's almost here. I really enjoy this one because it's in St. Louis so it's on familiar turf and we get to visit family while we're there. Plus, as mentioned above, Jack in the Box. The release of Howling Legion is coming up as well, which means I need to line up signings and that sort of thing. Maybe someday I'll be famous enough to have a tour arranged so I can travel from store to store and appear at those huge signings where people need to wait in line and have multi-colored wrist bands. Actually, that sounds pretty overwhelming. For now, it's nice to just have people show up.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Lit Fest vs Huskers

Today is the Omaha Literary Festival. I'm anxious for the panels since they should be a lot of fun. I always like to get out and be a part of local stuff like this. Plus, there are some great restaurants near the event so even if I tank, at least Megan and I will have some good food afterward.

If you're not familiar with the whole Nebraska experience, a mandatory part of being here is that you appreciate college football. Even if you don't like it, you've got to at least know when it's around. Kind of like living near an Interstate. You don't have to drive big rigs to know when to get out of their way. With the season starting up, hopes are still high for a good season. Wouldn't you know it, there's a Cornhusker game on during the Lit Fest. Normally when I arrange for signings, I try not to compete with Nebraska football. Hopefully there will be enough writers there to attract a good crowd.

More to follow...

[added later]
Well, I'm back from the Lit Fest. It went over really well. There was a great crowd and plenty to talk about on the panel. Met some other local authors like Chloe Neill and D. Lee Hatchett to name a few (or they were local for the day) and didn't get upstaged too badly by Cornhusker football. I taped the game, so I still don't know who won. I gather from all the shouting I heard at the bar where Megan and I had dinner that there were some close moments. Anyway, I hope to keep in touch with the folks I met at the panel and keep my fingers crossed that I'm asked to return for next year's Fest.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Total eclipse of the brain

I took a few days off after finishing a manuscript. Fine.
Now it's time to get back to work and my brain just won't do it. I pull up the file that needs editing and stare at it. I start to type, but then I flip over and browse for DVDs on the internet. I don't need any more DVDs!! But hey, wasn't it cool to pick up that set of Dungeons & Dragons cartoons from the 80's? Yes it was. HEY! Stop it! I need to work!!!

Ok. Focus.

You want to see when that new Farscape set is coming out? It's the whole series. Really? I love that show. No!! DEMON!! Out, I say!!!


Why don't you write a new blog entry? It's been a while. You're right. I probably should put something up to--NO!!! Damn you!!! WORK!!!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Archon schedule

I just got the first schedule for Archon and a LOT will be going on. There's a link at the top of the page where all my appearances are listed, so click there for the whole tamale. One landmark event that will be kicking off in glorious fashion is ME appearing on some panels. I doubt there will be any parades or anything, but here are my appearances:

Friday, October 2

7:20 PM - "Fantasy World Building"

8:30 PM - "Is This the Decade of the Werewolf?" -- Needless to say, I'm pumped for this one. I wonder if anyone from the previous panel entitled, "Vampires-Stuck up blood suckers" will be in attendance? And no, I'm not ripping on the vamp crowd. That really is a panel. Sounds pretty cool to me.

10:50 PM - "Vampires with a Curfew?" -- I really don't know what this one is about. I don't have a curfew. Nymar come and go as they please. Details to follow.

Saturday, October 3

Nothing scheduled for me on Saturday so far. Looks like this day is more for the superstars of the con like the guests of honor and other folks with more than one book out. With the whole convention thing being such a fluid process, I may wind up doing something here, but if not I'll still be there hanging out. If you see me, feel free to say hello.

Sunday, October 4

1:30 PM - "Disguise & Deception" - Werewolves and shape shifters in fiction. This one should be interesting because I always like talking about the shifters. Also, Laurell K Hamilton will be on the panel. This crowd should be huge and stacked with people who will be wondering why the chunky bald guy is up on stage with Anita Blake's Grand Creator. Heh. I'll try to get a word in if anyone cares to hear it.

I've met Laurell Hamilton once, but I'm sure she doesn't remember. It was back at a little writer's gathering at a Borders in St. Louis. Lunatic Cafe had just come out, which is (I believe) the 4th book in the Anita Blake series. She seemed pretty nice for the two or three minutes we actually spoke to each other. Her series wasn't anywhere close to the juggernaut it is now and I was barely starting in my career, so I was mainly there for some free coffee and leftover danish.

Friday, September 11, 2009

With my head down and working on my own schedule, it's easy to forget what day of the week it is. I barely thought about it being September until I saw all the back to school stuff (which is mostly late August anyway, so that shows how on-point I am). Then after posting the last blog entry, I saw it's September 11th. There's so much that comes along with this, but most of it is personal and tough to express. Also, most of it doesn't need to be expressed because it's the same thing that most of us feel when we think of 9/11/01.

My big memory involves standing in line all day long to give blood. I was living in St. Louis and after I saw what happened, the news affiliates were predicting the Red Cross would need as much blood as possible to help the victims. This was while things were still happening, so they didn't know for certain whether anyone needed extra donations or not. That was the only thing I could do at the time, so I went to give. I'd never given blood before but I had to do something. When I got there, most of the city seemed to be lined up so they could do something too. I waited in that line all day long and honestly don't even know what they did with all that blood. There had to have been way more than what they (or all of the local Red Crosses) needed, but it was moving to be there and witness the entire country bleeding for our loss.

I don't appreciate being told to "never forget" as if I COULD forget. I'm also not one to feel more emotional about something because the calendar tells me to. Seeing the towers fall impacted me along with everybody else and I won't forget about it come September 14th or March 27th. Still, it is good to see everyone bleed for a good cause.

Beatles stuff OTHER than Rock Band???

Seems like I can't go to any video game store or electronics department without hearing Beatles music. It's pretty cool. 9/9/09 also saw the release of the remastered albums. On one hand, this is great because it keeps the music alive and vital. On the other hand, I can usually never really tell a difference when I hear older versions of songs as opposed to newer, "cleaner" versions. Unless the old one is from a scratchy record, my ears aren't sharp enough to catch all the tweaked nuances. That said, I bought a copy of remastered Revolver to see if I could tell a difference.

I put the new one on my MP3 player with the old one and did some side-by-side comparison. The difference wasn't mind-blowing, but it was there. I was especially impressed with the string sections. Listening to Eleanor Rigby made me feel like I was in the same room with the orchestra. So I guess that is pretty mind-blowing. It's a good time to be a Beatles fan. Although, it's also a time when I get to see teenage girls behind the register at Best Buy rolling their eyes while sighing, "More Beatles stuff? So is this, like, any good?" Just give me my receipt.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My DVR hates me

As a general, sweeping statement, "The DVR changed my life" is pretty accurate. Of course, like any addiction, it's rearranged my day-to-day functions in a way that also makes me dependant on it. I cannot go back to watching TV shows the regular way. I just can't. Watching live TV with those unwanted ads injecting themselves into my viewing with their chirping and...oh yeah, commercials. Those things. I feel bitter and cheated when I actually have to watch them anymore. Also, since I always have a backlog of around 15-20 hours of crap to watch, there's no more down time. When I want to see something, there's something to see. My DVR has made this possible.
I love my DVR.
I even named it. Instead of calling it TiVO (because it's's one from my cable company) I call it Rupert. Megan came up with the name, but I decided it needed a name. See? Joint effort.

Sometimes, Rupert acts up. Maybe it's just a way to make me appreciate it more when it's working properly. Or, it could be revenge for making it tape some sort of rerun, cooking show, cartoon or poker game throughout 93.8% of its day. Last night, Rupert threw a little fit. When I actually wanted to watch something (gasp...LIVE), it wouldn't let me. Every couple of minutes, it popped up with "Some other thing is scheduled to record on another channel. Do you want to proceed? Yes / No" I hit the button refusing that rerun of Robot Chicken, and it switches channels to record anyway. A couple minutes later, Frasier wants to record. I refuse and it switches over ANYWAY!! I think Rupert was pissed because I was enjoying TV as it happened. Don't worry, baby. You're still my regular Saturday night thing.

This morning I check on stuff that it taped overnight. Sure enough, as one last little flick to my nose, it cut off the first half hour of Poker After Dark. Man, that would be a great title for a porn series. Instead, this was real poker and I missed out on how Tom Dwan bluffed Phil Ivey out of a slice of his stack. You showed me, Rupert. Well played.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lit Fest-Mania

It's been a little while since my last post, but there hasn't been a ton of stuff going on here. First of all, the Omaha Literary Festival is coming up on the 19th. If any of you are in the area, you can come enjoy some bookish goodness. My panel will be "Vampires (heart) Zombies: the art and language of horror” and will be held on Saturday, Sept 19, at 3 pm. There's going to be a good mix of authors there and I assume we'll be talking about everyone's favorite blood suckers and brain eaters. Should be a good time and while I will be talking up my Nymar brethren, I will most definitely be representing the shape shifters as well. Can't let the pretty boys hog the spotlight all the time. There's more info on the link at the top of the page where I list my upcoming appearances.

Another bit of excitement for me has been the release of The Beatles Rock Band. A local store had a midnight release for preorders, so I preordered it that day and went back at midnight to pick it up. I swore the price on those replica guitars was too high and I simply wouldn't pay it (no matter how cool they looked). Even though this store knocked $15 off, they were still in the "too expensive" range. Megan, being the coolest wife ever, got me the Rickenbacker for an early anniversary gift. So, awesome replica guitar in hand, I played some Beatles last night.

First of all, I'd like to mention how great it was to see a line at the store for the midnight release. I knew this game was a big deal, but have also heard plenty of Rock Band fans griping about how "easy" the Beatles songs are. They're basically looking at this as just a gaming challenge instead of an interaction with Beatlemania. In short, they're not Beatles fans. Fine. Fandom is the most subjective thing in the world. I respect that. Also, the hardcore gamers are the ones who line up at midnight to get advance releases so I figured I'd be the only one (or possibly one of three or so) to show up for my copy. Folks my age and above are more likely to be Beatles fans and we're also more likely to say, "Yes I want the game, but I also want to sleep. They'll be there tomorrow." So I show up to get my copy and there's a line of like-minded night owls backing all the way out to the street. Did my heart some good.

Back to the game. It's great. Plain and simple. It looks great, plays great, SOUNDS great. I'm a major Rock Band / Guitar Hero fan and I knew the songs wouldn't be Dragonforce-level shredding, but I was pleasantly surprised to find Expert level kept me on my toes. Did I fail out, humbled by the rock devils? No. Did I find myself doing the "John Bounce" while playing? Yes. It's extra cool to hear the 60's-era girls in thick plastic-framed glasses scream louder when you hit star power. Topped off my evening with Paperback Writer before getting to bed. Hey, I'm old. Plus, it'll be there in the morning.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Wii (not as) Fit (as we thought we were)

I used to belong to a gym. Then stuff started getting in the way that prevented me from going. Namely, the economy and my hatred of the gym. The gym itself was nice. Good equipment, lots of TVs and stuff to distract me from what I was doing. Plus, a friend and I were into Racquetball which was a lot of fun. That’s one of those sports that’s great as long as both people agree they’re not out for blood. The moment one person gets competitive and the other doesn’t, it loses its appeal and turns into a contest to see who can hit each other with “accidental ricochets” the most. That’s not why I gave it up. It was just life happening. Plus, a whole lot of naked old guys in the locker room. What’s the deal with that? We all have to change clothes. We all gotta shower. Why do the old timers insist on displaying their goods while brushing their teeth? Can’t they air that junk out when they’re at home?

A while ago, my doctor was worried about my heart. She made me eat healthier, which was actually a good idea. See, I’d been working under the philosophy of, “Life is short. I like Texas Whoppers. I’ll eat as many of ‘em as I want until there’s a reason not to.” Well, avoiding a heart attack was good enough reason for me. Turns out that Megan’s a good enough cook that even the healthy stuff tasted fine and my habits stayed changed. Yes, there’s still the occasional Whopper but it’s no longer a philosophical statement.

So, combine these two things and you get someone who eats ok but hates the gym. What’s he supposed to do, fitness-wise? We have a Wii, so Megan suggested getting Wii Fit. You know, the one with the balance board. I thought, awesome! I can finally brush up on my Hula-Hooping. Plus, maybe it’ll get me moving as a happy substitute for the gym. Never one to turn down a reason to drop some cash on video game crap, I got the Wii Fit. It actually was pretty fun, right until the Body Mass test.

For those of you who don’t know, the Wii allows you to make a Mii which is a little dude who looks like you (or anyone else you can make) that shows up in a lot of menus and games. I made my Mii look like me, since I like seeing myself in a Kart race with Donkey Kong. Some kids dream of sports crap. Anyway, I like my Mii. My Mii holds the world record in Trampoline in the Summer Olympics (The Mario and Sonic version at least). My Mii looks a lot like me if I was put into a cartoon. In all fairness, that’s not a bad place to be. Then Wii Fit chunked him up to reflect my Body Mass measurement. Holy Lord!!! I know I could stand to lose a few, but come on!! Nintendo is supposed to be the happy, feel-good company full of hopping plumbers and smiling suns. They sucker-punched me by taking my cool little video dude and turning him into a potato sack stuffed with bowling balls on two legs! Nintendo says their goal is to make people more aware of fitness goals and help them achieve them. If their other goal was to make me hate myself….MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!

I’m still going to do the Wii Fit. It is fun and does give me a workout which I desperately need. It’s cheaper than the gym and the only naked old dude in the showers is my dad when he comes to visit. At least he keeps his junk gift wrapped when people are looking. Heh, sorry Dad.

If I don’t lose any weight, I’ll make a Mii that looks like Biff from Back to the Future to kick my original Mii’s pasty ass!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Year(s) of the Full Blood

Seems like the newest supernatural bandwagon for the entertainment press to jump on has been werewolves. I've heard this since the beginning of the year, with all the cool kids discovering shapeshifters and MTV putting them on the air. Here's one of those articles that says once this stuff hits, it'll on for lycanthropes.

For me, the Year of the Werewolf has been roughly 1981-present. That's an advantage to being consistent. You wear the same thing for enough years in a row and odds are it'll eventually drift into fashion for a little while. And speaking of 1981, American Werewolf in London will be hitting Blu-Ray later this month. YESSSS!!! So glorious. I haven't been floored by the difference between DVD and Blu-Ray enough to start replacing my collection, but I gotta get this one.

I'm genuinely thrilled to see things like this article proclaiming the Year of the Werewolf. With all of these upcoming movies and projects in the works, it's more for me to watch. Sure, there are a few must-misses in there, but I like the trend. Skinners: Book 2 is coming out on Oct. 27th and with a title like Howling Legion, you know there will be plenty of Half-Breed / Full-Blood goodness going on. That's the thing about trends. You can't really count on them to be there for you but when they are, it's pretty nice. I've got my fingers crossed that this will help Skinners keep on rollin'.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Chocolate in my peanut butter?

I just read that Disney has purchased Marvel for some ungodly amount of money. No matter how much the "rational" part of my brain tells me that this is "just a standard business deal" and that it shouldn't effect "comic book coolness" or that I put "too many" quotes around things, I can't help but wince. I just got finished reading an awesome Wolverine/Punisher crossover where Frank beat Wolverine by blasting him in the face with a shotgun, slamming him in the nads with a bat (repeatedly), shooting him some more and then running him over with a steamroller. Comic fans may smell Garth Ennis's touch all over this and you'd be right. Disney does not mesh with this stuff.

I know. I should just relax. Disney owns half the world already and things are more or less ok. They've been too big to make everything kiddie friendly for a long time. Plus, Touchstone Studios is Disney, isn't it? They put out some great stuff. Hell, Disney puts out great stuff. Wait a second, I just got an email. Ooops. Looks like I've been warned not to use "hell" and "Disney" in "the same or tangential sentences". Also I should seriously cool it with the quotes.

Can you tell I don't want to get to work right now? Maybe if I pretend some other non-issue is important I can justify blogging about it instead of doing some "real" writing.

**This post brought to you by Quotation Marks. For when you don't want to just say something. You want people to know you SAY you're saying it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Upcoming Strumming

Over the next two weeks, some very cool new music games are coming out. Well, one pretty cool game and another AMAZINGLY cool game.

The first one is Guitar Hero 5. I've been with Guitar Hero since the beginning. I ran around trying to find a copy of GH1 on release day and had to go to some Best Buy in Iowa to get it. Even then, the woman at the register looked at me funny and asked, "Does this teach you how to play guitar?" I told her, "Sure. Just like Call of Duty teaches me to be a Marine." I love this series. I'm pumped for 5, but it looks like just another new Guitar Hero. It'll look a little better and there will be a lot of new songs. Sympathy for the Devil should be fun to play. Nothing to get all worked up about. I recently saw this picture today along with the announcement that Kurt Cobain will be a playable character along with Johnny Cash, Shirley Manson and a bunch of others. Personally, there was no topping Zakk Wylde showing up in GH World Tour. Kurt looks good and I'm glad "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Lithium" will finally be in a game. Then I read some of the comments on that website asking if Kurt would have approved of showing up in a game like this.

Interesting. On one hand, Kurt Cobain was known for being none too happy about always being in the spotlight or the subject of pop culture fame. Isn't that what "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is about? "I feel stupid and contagious. 'Here we are now, entertain us'." On the other hand, he had a sense of humor about himself. He didn't have any problem with Weird Al doing a parody of Teen Spirit that made fun of the garbled lyrics. Plus, Kurt was a smart guy. I think he would have found the irony amusing. Well, I'd say there's about a 70% chance that he would have been cool with it or at least chuckled and given an off-handed ok to showing up in a video game. I definitely don't think the GH creators meant any disrespect. The way this whole music game thing is going, it's a pretty damn good compliment.

The week after GH comes out, The Beatles Rock Band hits stores. To say I'm excited for this one doesn't even begin to cover it. Every detail I've seen in this game looks lovingly crafted to be so much more than John, Paul, George and Ringo dumped into a Rock Band game. This thing just feels like every Beatles fan's dream. Literally. Performances start off in a studio and melt into a flowery landscape with rolling hills and blue skies maybe it sounds kind of fruity, but it's not. It's Beatles through and through and it's awesome. I played a few songs at a demo kiosk in Best Buy and loved it. When I played "I Feel Fine", it started with a shot of an audience filled with screaming girls straight out of my mom's high school class picture and panned over to a scene that, at a quick glance, looked like it could possibly be a picture of the actual band on stage. I wanted to pick up one of the replica guitars they're putting out (ok so I wanted to pick up ALL the replica guitars) until I saw the price tag. $100. For a guitar and the game? I can swing that. For JUST the guitar?? Yowch. I'll have to wait until a few more of those Best Buy Reward Zone certificates pile up. I'm even pumped to sing with this one. I may have said all of this in an earlier post, but I don't care. Beatles Rock Band!!!!

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, 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.