Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Limited time offer

My editor sent me a bunch of promo covers (read that one twice...it's NOT porno) for Skinners 2: Howling Legion. I'm heading to some conventions over the next few months and since the next book won't be out until October, I thought these might be cool to sign and hand out for fans that show up to say hello. Now, I'm sure I'll meet plenty of great folks at Osfest (July 17-19 in Omaha, NE) and Archon (October in St. Louis) but let's just say EOS sent me a LOT of covers. So if any of you blog readers don't have the time or funds to make it to one of these cons, send me an email (there's a link on the side of the screen) with your name and address and I'll send you an autographed cover. If you'd like me to sign it to anyone in particular other than you, let me know.

Just a token of appreciation for the folks supporting SKINNERS, but I do need to keep some of these for the cons as well. Act fast! Quantities are limited!! Heh. Always wanted to say that.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Magical weekend

What a great weekend! Despite some computer setbacks on Friday that brought my PC to a standstill, I got all the R&R I could have wanted. I played some Ghostbusters (even got a chance to do some multiplayer - Survival mode rocks), was consumed by Magic: The Gathering (Webmaster Steve is now fully addicted), watched a bunch of mind numbing TV, saw My Bloody Valentine in 3D (The 3D actually worked on my TV...so much for the "theater-only" experience), and got a whole lot of sleep. Also, I started in on The Conduit which seems like a pretty damn great FPS on the Wii. Sure there aren't as many as on other consoles, but this and Metroid really nail it.

Today, I start in on Draft 3. Not as much overhaulin' as Draft 2 (hopefully) and I'm anxious to dig in. Also, BBC America FINALLY got the new season of Doctor Who started. It's been too long, Doc. Also on the way are Torchwood, Robin Hood and the new one Being Human. Primeval is already underway, giving the Brits well-earned domination in the genre TV show category. This season will be a short one for Who and Torchwood, but a little bit of something that great is better than nothing.

And on top of all this, the weather's cooled off. I can actually take Abby out for her walks and not want to kill myself as my eyeballs sizzle in their sockets.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hello XBox. Remember me?

I just finished Draft 2 of Skinners 3. Sometimes, a writer's work just seems to flow from a wellspring of creativity. This wasn't one of those times, but it turned out great. I'm completely spent and very much looking forward to taking a wee bit of time off to attach myself to the couch with a controller in my hand. Bust some ghosts. Shoot some stuff. Whatever. Then it all starts again on Monday with Draft 3.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Wild Midwest

Every now and then, I catch some flack for living in Nebraska. Usually it’s some comment about covered wagons and prairie dogs flipped my way any time I venture out of the state. I always have to defend Omaha by saying, “No, it’s really a city. Yes, there are paved roads.” And “No, it’s not the wild west.”

Today, Megan and I went to our bank and found the entrance taped off, cop cars out front and the drive-through lanes closed off. Was my bank robbed? Did I just miss seeing a bunch of gunmen storm out carrying bags of money with big dollar signs on them? Do I watch too many superhero cartoons? For all I know, somebody with a bad case of heat stroke wandered in to knock over the deposit slip racks or charge over the counter when the teller wouldn’t acknowledge they were there as they helped car after car in the outside lanes. If that’s the case, I feel for them. If it was a robbery, I’m just glad Megan and I hit the post office first. I like watching the horses thunder in from the east to drop off the new Sears Roebuck catalogs.

UPDATE --- I just saw on the news that it WAS a bank robbery! Yippee ki YAY!!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hibernation time

Like the mighty bear during the winter months, I have burrowed deep into my cave for the summer. Man, I wish I had a cave. It sounds like that would be so cool and shady. Bit by bit, I’ve turned my office into a cave-like replica, though. It’s cooler if I don’t have the sun blazing in all day, so the shades are drawn. Megan brings me berries and pads the floor with straw. It’s nice enough that I rarely go outside because I’ll either melt or run into someone who insists on asking, “Hot enough for ya?” I would have to kill that person.

Despite being really busy (STILL working on draft 2, but almost done) I’ve had some time for gaming. First of all, Ghostbusters is freaking GREAT! I was grinning like an idiot the first time I heard the siren of Ecto-1B (yes, 1B because Ecto 1 was in the first movie and Ecto-1A was in the second.) Stupid details like that really make this game sing. For the first several minutes, I just wandered around the firehouse looking at all the stuff on the tables and scattered throughout the building. The strainer hat Louis wore in GB 1 is on a table. The Vigo painting is in the garage. There’s even stains on the sheets from that one VERY friendly ghost from that montage in 1. Ok, so maybe they left that detail out, but a lot of others are in there. You use the PKE meter and of course you use the proton pack. Oh my lord, the proton pack! They nail it from every sound (turning it on, firing the stream, cutting off the stream) to the rotating lights on the back. Next to a lightsaber, this is the piece of sci-fi equipment I’ve always wanted and this game gets pretty damn close to burning someone’s face off. Speaking of lightsabers, there’s still no good saber game on the Wii. And speaking of the Wii, I got to try Ghostbusters on the Wii. Now, the graphics aren’t as good, but they purposely went for the cartoon-version on this one. While they’re not the dudes from the Real Ghostbusters cartoon (which I watched religiously back in the day and yes, I was probably too old for it even back then), the Wii game has a great feel to it. The proton pack is aimed using the Wiimote, but I really got a kick out of throwing out the traps which you roll out with the same motion used by the pros (sort of a bowling motion). Megan liked this version better because of the split-screen co-op mode.

Another awesome game that just came out was Magic: The Gathering on Xbox Live Arcade. I got heavily into the card game for a few years around the release of the 7th Edition. It’s fun and pretty much the geek equivalent of smoking crack. Once you get a taste, you gotta have MORE, no matter how much you got to steal or who you gotta scam to get them cards. Was I a tournament-level player? No. Was I close? Ehhhh, maybe on my best days, but it was still fun to play with friends. Plus, it was during the time in St. Louis when I had a great D&D group going. Those were some expensive trips to the comic book shop every week. Pick up the new comics, maybe get a new monster sourcebook and top it off with some Magic booster packs. Megan actually stayed with me through those times. That’s love. Anyway, the Magic game on Live is as accurate as you can get on a console. Even better, you can unlock decks and cards by just playing the game instead of buying each one for an additional fee. I’m sure there’ll be downloadable content, but it’s nice to have so much variety for $10 (about the price of 1 real deck). Am I a lot better at the game now that I’m older and wiser? Hell no. I played a few games in the general population of Live and got annihilated. Still, the AI opponents are fun and (better yet) I got Webmaster Steve hooked so I have an opponent. It’ll probably be about a week or two before I get beat every game, but it’s still a good time.

Despite all this video game talk, I honestly haven’t had as much time as I would like to play. It’s been more of a welcome distraction from the self-imposed isolation / slave driving of editing. I need to force myself to come up for air lately and when I do it feels like a vacation. You know the look on that kid’s face from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when Indy frees him from that mine? That’s how I feel after taking a break to bust some ghosts or flip some cards around. Then that big dude with the whip and beard shows up to force me back to my editing. There’s no real dude like that, but it feels like it. Or is there a real guy? I don’t know anymore. Maybe I should stop working until 4AM.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Outdated E3 impressions

E3 is old news by now, but I just got finished watching all the G4 coverage on my DVR. Actually, I watched it last week, but have been wrapped up with draft 2 and haven’t had the time to give my impressions. Let’s just say I truly hope you guys go out and buy 4-5 copies of Skinners each because daddy will need to buy some games! Splinter Cell Conviction, Assassin’s Creed 2, new Gears 2 expansion, ROCK BAND BEATLES, the list of new games goes on and on. The big one I’m pumped for is Brutal Legend. That, like damn near every other awesome game, will come out in October. That month will be tough on the ol’ purse strings.

Microsoft had an awesome showing, with their new motion sensor / body sensing control system. As cool as that looked, I’d have to say Sony’s offering in that department looked a little more interesting. After seeing the Project Natal thing from MS, I was talking with Megan about how it would be so much better gaming-wise if there was just SOMEthing with buttons to hold. Mainly, I was still thinking about the lightsaber game that I, along with just about every other Wii owner, is aching to play. With the Natal scanning capability, how cool would it be to actually make your own lightsaber grip, hold it up to be scanned and then see it IN THE GAME?? The game could come with a grip, but the ability to make your own is cool. Then I saw the Sony event where they unveiled their own motion sensing thing which seemed like an advanced hybrid of Natal and the Wiimote. AND IT LOOKED LIKE A LIGHTSABER!! Very cool. Also, God of War 3 and Uncharted 2 looked beyond great. From the moment I started playing God of War 2, I swore that if part 3 was a PS3 exclusive, that would push me over into buying that system. Turns out that PS3 is coming up with quite a few good exclusives already. Like I said, quite the strain on a poor writer’s wallet.

I almost skipped discussing the Nintendo conference because they pretty much tanked it in my opinion. Sure, there’s the Metroid game being developed by Team Ninja and that should be great. New Mario is always great, but their big new innovation was a Vitality Sensor. For those of you who didn’t see it, the Vitality thing clips onto your finger and measures your heart rate. Yeah. That’s really what it does. Have you ever stuck your arm into one of those blood pressure sleeves at Walgreen’s and thought, “Hot DAMN!!! Why isn’t this a video game!!????!!??” If so, this new gadget is for you. I’m not knocking the Wii. I own one and I love it. I think Mad World is one of the best, most visceral gaming experiences you can have. There’s just something about shoving your controller toward the screen to push some dude into a set of grinding blades that feels sooooo good. Hey, I even think that new Indiana Jones game is fun! At least it’s better than Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. As far as E3 conferences go, compared to MS, Sony and even EA, Nintendo tanked it. No big news there.

Tomorrow, the new Ghostbusters game comes out and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m a huge Ghostbusters fan and this game is supposed to be like the next movie. Most of the actors are even doing the voices. Should be great.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Remember a few posts ago I was talking about the highs and lows of the writing biz? Ok, so that post was mostly low. Well get ready for a high, because I just got copies of the cover for Skinners Book 2.

Once again, I got extremely lucky to have such an awesome cover. On the other hand, I'll no longer be able to bitch about how damn near EVERY book I pick up anymore has a hot chick with a sword on it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Don't adjust your sets...wait...you may have to adjust them a little

Finally, this glorious day is upon us! No longer will I have to languish in the hell that is Regular TV Signal Land. FINALLY I can enter this wonderful new age. This dawn of rebirth that is our fateful technological breakthrough!!!!!

I've been waiting so long. They teased me with the switch to a digital signal, but then cruelly yanked it away. We were so close!!! But not all of the populace was prepared to take Obi Wan's much vaunted "first step into a much larger world." Or perhaps the great bearded general will see the analog signal as "An elegant weapon from a more civilized age." In my little corner of the galaxy, it could very well be the bane of my Mom's existence.

I know that, even though she has digital cable, she will be scratching her head to try and figure out where the change happened. If there's a thunderstorm or anything else that knocks out her service, I'm sure I'll hear about "that damn signal that was SUPPOSED to make everything BETTER!!"

I honestly can't believe this is such a huge deal or that there will be people who are blindsided by this. And they can't use "I don't have access to all this tech news" as an excuse. I watch network TV and there's been more scrolling messages over the past several months than if a wall of tornadoes was headed our way. Like the great Millennium Scare of 1999, the asteroid near-miss as prophesied by Nostradamus, or any number of things that got people running around flapping their arms in a panic, this too shall fade into nothingness. Lord help us if my Mom actually has to re-scan for her channels when the Digi-pocalypse hits.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Not as pessimistic as it sounds

This has been a tough couple of days. While the editing for Skinners 3 isn’t quite as far along as I would like, the extra effort is making it better. Still a lot to do, but it’s coming along.

The rough part has to do with the business in general. There’s a reason most professional writers have day jobs. Unless you’re one of the very few who struck it rich, you need to hustle to keep getting that next deal and hope it will be better than the one before. Sometimes it is and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes, you just need to take whatever work comes along whether you truly want to do it or not. My philosophy isn’t a new one. It’s been to get as many proposals out there as possible so there are better odds that something will stick. Irons in the fire. Lines in the water. Pick your cliche. Then again, that also leads to times when you get shot down by several different people within the span of about 12-24 hours. Now that’s what I call timing!

I’ve been in this business for long enough to know it’s rough. I’ve been rejected more times than I can count and I’m sure plenty more of my ideas will get shot down in the years to come. All of my ideas are written down and I keep coming up with new stuff for that glorious day when editors might someday come to me and ask, “We’re looking for _______. What have you got?” If I didn’t already have a proposal ready to go, I could surely come up with something that would fit the bill. Well, this happened recently from a couple of different editors. I was happy to finally see that I’ve built up a little bit of credibility with these people after working for well over ten years to earn it. I know I’m not high enough on the totem pole to get the seven figure contract for turning in that magical 1 paragraph proposal, but I thought I’d at least get another much-needed bit of income and the chance to write some more cool series.

One of those editors tossed my idea back because they’d changed their mind and didn’t want what they’d originally asked me for. End of line. Not long after that, another proposal gets nixed for no reason. I’m sure there was a reason, but nobody tells me these sorts of things. All I heard was, “We’d like a series of __________ books.” Followed by, “Wow, this proposal is great!” And then, “Still love it, we’ll be right back to you.” Then, several weeks later, a generic no.

This is the business. This is common practice. From my end (or any writer’s perspective who doesn’t fall into the “superstar” category) this part also sucks. Sure, the recession may explain why publishers aren’t buying as much as usual, but this sort of thing happens all the time, good economic climate or not. I know, because it’s been happening to me. That’s the way it goes. Sometimes being a writer is great. Sometimes it sucks. Hard.

My point is this. When people come up to me and say they want to write for a living, this is the sort of thing they DON’T want to hear. Then again, this is the sort of thing that forges someone into what it takes to be successful. Maybe one of those newbies will get lucky and score a 6 or 7 figure deal with an idea that struck them in a dream and they wrote down on a napkin. Good for them, but you can’t exactly aspire to hit the lottery. You need to be ready to buckle down and work. This is the stuff I tell myself to get through the tough times. I’ve spent the last few days moping and griping, but kept working and editing. Skinners is still out there and I won’t let Book 3 suffer because I had a bad day. I’ve been rejected before and I’ll be rejected again.

Anyone who wants to do what they love has to be ready to fight for it. And fighting doesn’t just mean swinging your hardest and never stopping. It also means taking hits that would put most other people flat on their ass.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Coolness in small doses

The results came back from the most recent Nevermore investigation at the Squirrel Cage Jail. Of course, the good stuff happened AFTER the hours of evidence I was there to review. And on top of that, Megan had the gall to be born on June 3rd (not this June 3rd) so I missed the meeting that was the reveal for the rest of the team. There wasn’t anything as cool as a spectral prisoner rattling his chains for the DVR, but we caught a few head-scratching moments. Apparently, while we were all outside for a fresh air / cigarette break (ironic, I know) all of the DVR cameras were shifted slightly and then shifted back again. Was it a show of displeasure from Beyond? Maybe a quirky signal? Something in between like a quirky signal from Beyond? We don’t know. Also, during the investigation, I was fortunate enough to see a strange globe of light appear and disappear on one of the monitors from the camera in the solitary confinement cell. It sort of swelled up from nowhere and shrank back down again. That was caught on video and we still can’t explain it. Could be a blown IR light. Could be a demonic warden from…eh you know. All in all, it was an interesting way to spend a weekend.

In writing news, I just managed to put together a preview of Skinners Book 3: Teeth of Beasts (I love that title the more I see it) for placement in the back of Book 2: Howling Legion (also a cool title!). And when I say I just made it, I mean I JUST made it. I’ve been editing the third manuscript and going through the final pass pages for Book 2 at the same time. Today was the deadline and the final draft of Book 2 along with the preview pages were emailed at around 1 this morning. Whew! If it didn’t make it, the world wouldn’t have ended or anything, but I think this preview is especially nice because it feels like watching the first 10 minutes of a sequel right after a movie. After this, the major work on my end for Book 2 is done. All that’s left is the good stuff like waiting to see the final cover, getting advance copies and the inevitable signings and stuff. As the series grows, I’m hoping to get out there and attend more conventions, readings, etc. It’s more accurate to say I’m hoping readers and bookstores will want me to show up for those kinds of things.

E3 has wrapped up and there’s plenty to say, but I’ll save that for another post. I know what you’re thinking. “Video game crap? HERE???” Just bait your breath and wait for it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

No longer just "Book 3"

Coming up with titles is always a little rough. Sometimes I can't think of anything that really pops right away. Other times, I think of something that I love but doesn't go over well with my editor. While I've heard some authors just let their editors decide the title completely, I'm fortunate enough to work with someone who truly works with me. Even if my first idea gets shot down, I have some say in the final choice.

Cutting to the point: The title for Skinners Book 3 is Teeth of Beasts.

My original choice was something else, but this was my first choice when I needed to come up with an alternate. I'm really happy with it and having a definite title makes it feel like the whole book is coming together. And since I'm in the thick of revisions, I can tell you the book really is coming together.

Skinners Book 3: Teeth of Beasts

I like it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Video game nerd-vana

For those of you who don't know, E3 is the Electronic Entertainment Expo. It's where all the big gaming companies show off their bestest and newest stuff and it's also happening this week! Being a big gaming nerd, I am basically the proverbial pig rolling around in slop as I sit and watch what I'll be spending my cash on over the next year or two.

Yesterday, Microsoft trotted out the big guns. Among the announcements was Crackdown 2. When I saw this, I literally pumped my fist and shouted as if Cleveland had actually played to their potential against Orlando and moved on to take out the Lakers in the NBA Finals. Crackdown was thought of as "that game that comes with the Halo 3 beta", but I played the living hell out of it and never touched the beta. When I heard talk that there were no plans for a sequel, I was as sad as I was while watching the Cavaliers tank in...ok you get the point. Not only is Crackdown 2 coming, but also Left 4 Dead 2!!! When we saw this, my wife actually got all giddy, which made me fall in love with her a little more.

And then there's The Beatles Rock Band. I'm a huge Rock Band fan and I was raised on The Beatles' music so this is a no brainer for me. Looks freaking great and it shows the lads in all their different stages from the mop top days to their psychedelic hippieness. And all the albums will be available for download?? Yes please.

And then there was Project Natal. It's some new system that allows you to play games without a controller. Megan was very pumped about this one, but I was a little skeptical. Sure, it looks cool, but how can I play Gears of War with that? There was a demo of some game where someone jumped around swatting at virtual balls while their Avatar did the same motions (more or less) on screen. While this unlocks a whole new world of teabagging, it also involved getting up and that's something I normally don't want to do while playing. Then Microsoft made one hell of a great move and showed real developers working with it. That got me thinking. Perhaps there could be sections of "real" games involving motion control. Maybe there would be certain characters that could interact with you using the format. Since it can be implemented without buying a new console, I don't see a reason why I wouldn't give this a try. At the very least, it's something with the potential to be truly revolutionary.

There was also Modern Warfare 2, Metal Gear coming to XBox (Which I don't really care about. I lost interest in Metal Gear after Sons of Liberty), more stuff added to the dashboard like Twitter and Facebook, the list goes on. Plus, there's still the Nintendo and Sony presentations to see. Just watching them try and follow Microsoft will be a show in itself.

I'm a breathless gaming nerd right now. Viva E3!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dumpster Diving

A friend of mine has a blog about comic books and when he digs into his back issues to read something that may be crap, he calls it Dumpster Diving. Well, I became very familiar with this phrase when I dug into some back issues of my own. Namely, a few issues of Spider-Man 2099 and a mini series called Blood Legacy.

According to the good folks at Marvel (and they are mostly good, if not great), about 90 years from now, we will traverse cyberspace on Rollerblades while wearing clunky VR helmets. Did I say Rollerblades? YES. F'ing Rollerblades. 'Nuff said.

Then I read the Blood Legacy series. It was only 4 issues and kept promising some big twist to pay off my time and $12 spent getting through it. Well, comic books also promise that I can see through ladies' clothes with x-ray specs or build an army of Sea Monkeys to forge my underwater empire. I think I just made an "I am really old" slip there with the Sea Monkeys reference. Anyway, none of those promises panned out. All I got was a bunch of vampires who swore they weren't vampires, but insisted on giving themselves away by drinking blood and living forever. My only payoff with either of these comics was a real good look at why I probably stopped reading comics for a while.

Speaking of feeling like an old man, I caught some of the MTV Movie Awards. Let's just say I was genuinely surprised that they didn't give Ben Stiller's Comedic Achievement award to Rob Pattinson. Megan's a Twilight fan, so I tried to keep my mouth shut. And even though she would tell you I didn't keep very quiet, she should know I did hold back quite a bit because yes, I realize I'm not the audience for Twilight. At least Heath Ledger's Joker won for Best Villain. If a sparkly vampire won that one, I would have had to write a terse letter to MTV. See, THAT'S how us old guys throw down!!

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.