Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Oh, so THAT'S why I can't shake this headache!

No big news, but I thought I'd check in. Here are a few things going on in the glamorous life of a professional writer! Get ready to quit your jobs, kids. After this, you'll want nothing more than to join me on the front lines of literary greatness.

-  Speaking of jobs, my search for a normal one goes on. And, by normal, I mean "paying" or "steady" or even "one that doesn't kick me in the balls on a daily basis". Maybe that last one is overly dramatic. The kicks come maybe once or twice a week actually. Also, that's most jobs. Anyway, there were a few prospects that seemed like sure bets and I haven't heard anything from them. Times are hard...the economy...blah, blah. Anyone know where I can sign on for one of those underground prize
fight clubs or evil mercenary gigs I read so much about? Hey! Comic books count as reading!!

-  Been watching Daredevil on Netflix. Ahhhh. Finally, something good has happened. Gritty and true to the source material. I've been doing my best to ration myself. Binge watching only means waiting longer for the next season.

-  Those brat burgers I mentioned last post are AMAZING!! Worth every calorie.

-  Sat down to start writing again for the first time in a long while. It feels good to get back to my REAL work. On the agenda for the immediate future is some western series work for ebooks and getting off my ass to FINALLY get the second Gillis Ledgers book out there. That one's been written for a while and the cover is even done. Looks great. I just got sidetracked before edits could be made. Won't be long before another of my spawn is out and about.

-  Filed my taxes. Was informed they were rejected. Filed them again. Waiting. Sigh. What's the matter, IRS? Can't wait to get my IOU for a couple hundred bucks??

You might have spotted a common theme through this and several other posts around here. Waiting. Ugh. Don't remind me. Oh yeah, you didn't remind me. I reminded me. I hate me sometimes!!!!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

I'm Weak. So Very, Very Weak.

Whenever I go grocery shopping, I've gotten into the habit of picking out one item upon which to bestow the glorious title of Grocery of the Day. As I've said numerous times throughout my books, the secret to a happy life is cheap thrills.

So this time, I was after some turkey burgers. I usually get the frozen ones with jalapeno or jack cheese. They're not great calorie-wise, but better than the alternative. Sitting directly beside them were the Johnsonville Brat burgers. SO much higher in calories, but oh so delicious! The last time I had one was before I was watching my weight and I still dream about them. I was going to be good and get my turkey burgers...until I saw the brat burgers with Swiss cheese and mushrooms!! After about two or three seconds of deliberation, I snagged me a box of those.

Sure they might be higher in calories than even the regular brat burgers, but how could I pass up the Grocery of the Day??!!! Thank you, Johnsonville. Thank you so bloody much.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Insanity. Gotta Have It!

When I was speaking at that high school gathering a little while ago, one of the students asked me if I was crazy. She was a great listener and was eager to learn about our craft, which means I don't think she was yanking my chain. Most likely, I wasn't the first writer she's encountered which means she already knew that we're all a little crazy. Either that, or I had a particularly wild look in my eyes that sometimes makes people feel "uncomfortable" around me. Heh.

What I believe is that she already knew what it takes to be even a mild success in any creative field. You gotta have a lot of heart, iron will and a complete disregard for practicality. In fact, a well known doctor and brilliant thinker once called practicality the last refuge of the mediocre. Of course, that man was Dr. Miguelito Loveless from The Wild Wild West, but his words still ring true. If we are to succeed as artists, we must fight to maintain our spirit while most everything around us tries to grind it down.

Money, power, a corner office, those sorts of things don't really make a dent to the artistic parts of the brain. Unfortunately, the artistic part of some people's brain (prime example: ME) overshadows damn near everything else. Folks like us don't see the point of sacrificing time and effort to hoard all those small pieces of paper. We yearn for experiences, emotion and the fantastic. Would I love to be rich? Sure! There's always the chance that one of my books could hit it big in one way or another, but that's a gamble I take with every word I type. Would I do what needs to be done to take the more certain way of getting material success? Would I devote myself to learning the game of finance and big business to amass wealth? Nah. I'm just not made that way. I'm not condemning people who do throw themselves into the business world. I just don't get it and wouldn't be any good at it. I know my limitations.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I'm looking for a day job to supplement my income. That's definitely been reminding me of just how unqualified I am for just about everything else that's out there. It's lead to a good deal of frustration, mainly with myself, for not having any marketable skills. I think back to all those years when I could have been bettering myself in a more practical way. That sure would have made things easier for me now.

But even here, at the point where I feel the pinch more than ever, I simply don't regret being impractical. This is just how I am. This is just how WE, as artists and creative folks, are. Is that crazy? Strictly speaking...yeah.  A little. But at least it ain't mediocre.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Mr. Marcus goes to the Library

I don't get out much. It's best that I lead with that because I don't know any better. My human interaction is fairly limited because...well...see Line #1.

Heh. Seriously, though, I ventured out into the world today so I could join some of the bright-eyed Creative Writing students at Hurricane High School for a Q & A session / writing workshop / pizza party. At least, they were as bright-eyed as one might expect for students within a day and a half of spring break. They were actually great and it always does me a lot of good to see so much enthusiasm for the written word.

I hear a lot of griping (and do plenty of it myself) about this industry and the current state of literary affairs. What's really important, though, is that there are still fresh talents out there striving to take up this noble calling. Yes, I do believe this is a noble calling. Storytelling is one of humanity's greatest accomplishments next to music, philosophy and mixing chocolate with peanut butter. It does me a whole lot of good to go out and meet the creators of the next wave of books, poems, and general creative goodness. I even got to hear a few samples of their work and I hated them! Only because I wasn't so good when I was in high school!!

All jealousy aside, it was a great day and I was very impressed. Of course, they did butter me up with pizza and brownies, so...there's that.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Time for Plan C. I've Got a Plan C, Right?

I won't bore you with another "it's tough out there" rant, although I can't promise I won't bore you with it some other time. Lately, however, I've been on the hunt for a day job and it's been brutal. What's particularly depressing is that many jobs that fall under the category of "I can always get one of those when I'm desperate" are turning me down. Call center stuff, production work, customer care, all things that I've done plenty of times before in plenty of other places now don't find me qualified.

Bad economy. I'm old. I'm over / under qualified. Doesn't really matter anymore. The reasons are all just topics for discussion while the bills keep piling up. I can be somewhat charming in person, but the whole begging for more time routine is wearing thin with my landlord. Oh well. The only reason I bring it up is because today marks the start of training for a great job I thought I had LOCKED UP. Testing went well. The interview was awesome. I'm ideally located. My history is pretty good. But...nope. Very disheartening.

This topic, while not very cheerful or inspiring, seems appropriate today since it's Vincent van Gogh's birthday. Unappreciated in his time, poor and depressed. Hmmm. Seems vaguely familiar. Not that I think for a moment that my books will ever rise to the level of his paintings, but at least I can relate to the poor and depressed artist thing.


I promise to get back to the funnier stuff tomorrow.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

It's weird out there. Perhaps a little...too weird.

So I was flipping through the recommendations Netflix made for me today when I came across Danger 5. It's a show from Australia (I think) about a group of super spy people in a bizarro universe filled with bad props, puppet Nazi dogs, and...of course...Hitler. For the first few minutes I watched slack-jawed, wondering if I might've accidentally hit my head on my way to the TV or if I was in some sort of fever dream. The next few minutes after that, I wondered if this might be a little too far out there even for me. From then on though, I was hooked.

I can't really describe it and for all I know everyone already knows all about this show. Either way, I love it. Now let's just hope the US doesn't try to remake it so they can tone it down and sprinkle in a bunch of idiot reality show stars. I mean, take a look at this....

Nazi Stegosaurus! This show is perfect as is.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Top 5 Ways to Cool the 'Ol Nerves

There's a lot going through my brain at any given time. I'd use the royal our brains here, but I've had too much experience recently to include EVERYone in the category of having active brain processes. So here we go (in no particular order):

- Video Games -- Nothing relieves stress better than parking your butt in front of a TV and ending the virtual lives of every digitized life form known to man. Personally, I prefer third person shooters for maximum satisfaction and Gears of War tops them all. It's bloody, chaotic and allows you to chainsaw people into chunks. I'd recommend headphones, however. That way, your neighbors can only hear your maniacal laughter and not the grinding of a chainsaw motor along with your victim's screams. Other good games (although not 3rd person shooters) include Call of Duty and Mortal Kombat. 

- Walking --  Step outside and get some fresh air. Lots of frustration comes from feeling stuck, so get out there and keep moving. It becomes tougher to focus on your problems as you get tired. Try not to grumble about your troubles however, unless you've got someone with you. Depending on how big of a city you live in, people walking alone and talking to themselves may or may not be much of an issue.

- Booze --  Hey, I'm a writer after all. We have a long history of intoxication to deal with being rejected, stressed, depressed, frustrated, overlooked, underpaid, dicked over...wait...why am I a writer again? Oh yeah. The craft. whatever. I recommend Jim Beam or Stolichnaya Vodka when you're feeling fancy. 

-  Screaming  --  Sure, it's simple, but it works. Put on some headphones, crank some metal and rage away. Ball your fists up real tight and howl along with other (albeit richer) angry artists like yourself. I recommend: Creeping Death by Metallica, Double Talkin' Jive by Guns n' Roses, Don't Let 'Em Grind Ya Down by Motorhead, The Rage by Judas Priest, or ANYTHING by Black Label Society.

-  Meditate and be a better person  --  Ha! Just kidding. These things are nice, but don't really make you feel better when you're still pissed off. Best to volunteer after you've calmed down a bit. Stick to the booze and screaming.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Unreadable Dream

We've all heard writers talk about being inspired by dreams. Keep a journal. Write it down. Don't let those ideas go to waste! While I'm all for that advice, I would also tell you to give it some time before you start to write the book or story itself. Sometimes those nuggets aren't exactly gold.

This came to mind while I was cleaning off my desk and sorting through piles of handwritten notes and scribbled outlines the other day. Lots of them were from dreams and I remember being VERY excited about them while I wrote them down, all those wonderful images still swirling in my brain. Looking back on them now, I wonder what the hell I was on when I went to bed that night. Sure, there are some keepers. I've written more than one book based loosely on my sleepy babblings, but most of the good stuff was buried among all the weird crap that goes on when your subconscious gets to have some playtime.

That's the real bit of advice I would give here. Write dreams down, but don't expect to use them as a whole. And I know what you're thinking. Yes, I've heard the stories of some very popular books that were based on dreams. First, those are few and far between. Second, I've tried reading those books and still can't believe they were ever printed. Ugh. Just like in high school, popularity doesn't necessarily
equal quality. It doesn't matter what your or my opinion my be in regard to whatever popular schlock is out there or how it was made. Be your own person and write your own schlock!

As for the dreams, they are a valuable resource. Just be sure to sift through them for the really good stuff before you try to use anything. I want to make a reference to plucking the golden kernels of corn from a turd here, but that would be gross so I won't. Ooops. Forget that last part.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

I did that???

I just got finished adding the synopses for all the Skinners books onto the new page on this blog. Had to type them in without the use of cut and paste because of some weird color/background issues. Anyway, after reading all of those, I was fairly impressed. Those actually are pretty good!


Yes, I know this sounds egotistical but I talk enough trash to myself on every other day. Hearing some praise from the voices in my head is a nice change every now and then.

Cap'n Quaker!

No, it's not the woolen clad avenger for those who shun modern ways. And it's not the unsteadiest gun arm to ride the west. It's my new, favorite way to spice up boring food.

Now that I'm no longer a young, strapping buck with a bod covered in rippling muscles and...wait...I must be thinking of someone else. Ok, so I'm in my forties and need to watch what I eat. No matter how appealing the notion of dying with a gut full of burgers, face down in a greasy pizza with bacony cheese in the crust may be, I really have to rein it in nowadays.

My favorite meal is breakfast and oatmeal is one of the best alternatives to the ever glorious McGriddle. One time, many years ago, I described the then-newly-arrived McGriddle to a guy over XBox Live who lived in London. They didn't have them there yet and he said they sounded "Fucking brilliant". Granted, he was probably high, but that doesn't mean he was wrong. So now that Mc-justaboutanything is off my menu, I find myself wanting to spice up the foods I can have.

Oatmeal is ok, but it needs to be mixed with something. How about something with texture? Raisins. Sure, I guess. Nuts? Come on, now. I'm not an animal. Something crunchy, though. Cereal! I started with peanut butter cheerios, which was good, but the Os got mushy pretty quick. Next I tried Cocoa Krispies, which were delightful. Then I dumped in some Cap'n Krunch. Let me tell you, Captain Yohann Krunch never disappoints! Yeah...Yohann. He looks like a Yohann, doesn't he? It's the 'stache. Next time, I go for Yohann's peanut butter variety. Droolin' over oatmeal? Now I know I've hit paydirt.

It may not be as healthy as straight oats or the raisins thing, but you gotta live a little. If wanting to start my day with some Krunch is wrong, I don't wanna be right!

Friday, March 20, 2015

New me for 2015!!

Alrighty! It’s 2015 and time for some changes. First of all, I’m sure anyone who’s been to this blog before notices the different layout. I love black and all, but got sick of looking at the same backgrounds, etc on this page. Also, I want to dedicate this page to everything I write so a new look seemed to be in order.

Another change for me is the shift in focus as far as my writing goes. This entire industry has been knocked on its ass for some time now. Ebooks are awesome, but to paraphrase the Joker from Dark Knight, they’ve changed things…forever. And there’s no turning back. Man I love that movie. I want to watch it now. Be right back…

…Ok. Awesome flick. What was I saying? Right. Changes. With the rise of the ebook and the fall of so many brick and mortar bookstores, the industry is still in upheaval. That might not be as obvious to the readers. After all, there are still some bookstores out there. Books are still being printed. There’s stuff to read. The Kindle is coming out with new models all the time. (I desperately want one of the new Paperwhite Kindles by the way) Trust me, though, it’s crazy from the inside of this industry and only gets crazier as the months drag into years.

Someone like me who isn’t on the receiving end of a publishers’ marketing budget needs to hustle for work whenever possible to keep up with the ol’ rent. That means trying to line up contracts wherever possible that pay some sort of advance so I can make ends meet. I love ebooks and the sense of creative freedom that comes along with them, but they’re a gamble financially. If writing is my only source of income, waiting for royalties to trickle in is not a stress-free way to live. So, after years of fighting the good fight and busting my butt to survive within the publishing machine, I need to suck it up and find other sources of income. Does that mean no more books from me? Uhh…why would I redo this blog if I was gonna shut it off?

Actually, it means the opposite. Once I secure myself in a more traditional manner (see also: day job) I can stop jumping through so many goddamn hoops, begging for the attention of publishers who only want me to write stuff that resembles whatever other author is the flavor of the month, and scrambling to fit myself into someone else’s category. I never was good at that kind of thing and haven’t gotten any better as I ferment.

Pleasing so many higher-ups who barely even know what they want anyway is a good way to drive yourself insane. The good thing about being truly apart from the machine (and being insane, for that matter) is that you don’t have a lot to lose. I will no longer worry about taking a good idea and rearranging it to fit the current trend. I will now focus on writing what I WANT and not just what I need to pay the bills.

I’ve been told my vampires need to be more mysterious and sultry. I’ve been told that I need to adhere to the concrete rules as set forth in legends in regards to mythological creatures. Legends as FACT? Isn’t tweaking legend and playing within a genre the FUN part of fiction? I’ve been told horror is no longer a genre. I’ve been told Steampunk is dead. I’ve been told a lot of things and I don’t mind hearing people speak their minds. I also don’t need to change what I do just to satisfy a bunch of rules that will change in a day or two anyway.

Overall, it’s a scary time for me. It’s also an exciting one. There’s a big weight lifted off my back when I stop worrying about trying to please someone in an office reading my horror manuscripts who doesn’t even like horror in the first place. I’m doing my own thing again and it feels good. Check back soon and I’ll tell you all about it.

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.