Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy

Tomorrow morning at this time I will be running around, hoping that I am not forgetting to do something before we leave for Toronto. I haven’t had much of a chance to get excited about the trip, but this morning it’s starting to be kind of real to me. The kitchen is a mess–I made Swedish meatballs last night–and so I need to get the dishwasher loaded, start gathering things to pack for the trip, etc.

I also queried another agent yesterday, and submitted another short story. I have three more agents to query on my list today, and I might submit yet another short story to another market. We’ll see how that goes.

I also printed out Jackson Square Jazz last night; I am going to do the ever popular copy edit with it. It also occurred to me that this is a golden opportunity, as the ebooks for the first two Scottys are about to go live, to re-edit them and therefore make the ‘new’ versions of them worthwhile to have for people. I haven’t completely decided whether I am going to re-edit the books or not, but we shall see how it goes. It’s really dependent on the time factor, and since I am trying to finish writing another Scotty at the same time…it’s also not a bad idea, as rereading the originals will put me in a Scotty mindset, which can’t hurt, you know?

I started reading Robert Marasco’s Burnt Offerings last night, and was very quickly absorbed into the story. The beginning is reminiscent of several other horror classics–Rosemary’s Baby, Harvest Home, The Haunting of Hill House–and thoroughly enjoyable. It’s clearly a ‘haunted house/bad place’ story; I’ve never seen the movie nor had I read the book before, so I am kind of excited about it. I also need to pick out the books I’m going to be taking with me on the trip.

We also finished watching Harlan Coben’s The Five mini-series last night on Netflix. There are ten episodes, and it’s a interesting show with several different mysteries, several different crimes, and they are all connected in some strange way to the disappearance of a small boy some twenty years earlier. The main characters–Slade, Danny, Mark, Pru–were all friends, and one afternoon they were off in the woods playing, with Mark’s younger brother Jesse in tow. Being older kids, they wanted to go off and do their own thing, so they sent Jesse off on his own and he disappeared. A child molesting serial killer later confessed to killing him…but the body was never found. Flash forward twenty years, and Jesse’s DNA has turned up at a brutal crime scene, which begs the question, is Jesse still alive? How did his DNA wind up at a crime scene twenty years after he disappeared? And then his DNA turns up at another brutal crime scene. What is the connection between the cases? Lots of twists and turns, and several big surprise twists made it quite enjoyable to watch. The cast was also really good, and the mini-series format gave the writers the opportunity to delve into the characters and their lives a lot more. It also was very haunting in that it’s theme–the damage the disappearance of a child can do to those left behind–is something I am fascinated by.

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Highly recommended.

And now, back to the spice mines.

I’ll Tumble 4 Ya

I slept very well last night and woke up to sunshine this morning. Nate kept turning to the east as he headed for land last night. We didn’t even get high winds here at the Lost Apartment; and just a little sprinkling rain. He also came ashore much sooner than originally anticipated; the weather at the Michigan-Michigan State game looked much worse than it was here. LSU also won yesterday, a nail-biting and highly nerve-wracking 17-16 win over Florida in Gainesville, which we watched while we waited for Nate to arrive.

I’m enjoying Colson Whitehead’s Zone One, and it has a lot of interesting things to say about modern society and the zombie apocalypse; basically, the theme is that modern society is just as much a zombie apocalypse as an actual one. And it’s an interesting world he’s building there, with his post-apocalyptic Manhattan. This is a zombie novel, but it’s also literary; I appreciate Whitehead’s take on zombies, but it’s more literary than zombie, if that makes sense. I’ll keep reading it, because it has a lot to say, and the insights and language are quite lovely…but nothing has happened, really, and I am about 100 pages in. When you compare that to, say, Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, which is only about 170 pages long…I decided yesterday that the thing to do was read it along with something else; maybe a chapter or two a day of Whitehead while reading something else more traditionally horror. I got started on two more books that didn’t pass the fifty-page-test and went into the donation pile, and then started Stephen Graham Jones’ Mongrels, which is pretty interesting so far. The voice is pitch-perfect; and I am curious to see where it goes. I found a couple of more books in the TBR pile to add to the Halloween Horror Read-a-thon; let’s hope those pass muster.

I didn’t get as much done yesterday as I would have liked; I did go to the grocery store but failed to get the things I really went for–so was unable to make Swedish meatballs for dinner last night. (Seriously, the most important things to get were ground sirloin and heavy cream…the two things I didn’t get.) So, today I am going to focus on getting things done. I did get the filing done yesterday, and today I need to make a packing list for the trip; a to-do list for the week; a submissions spreadsheet for the agent search and short stories; and I need to clean. I am also going to go back to the beginning of the Scotty and start revising, to write my way out of the hole I’ve gotten myself into. I’ll take the other WIP with me to Toronto to make notes. I’ve also relaunched my wrestling blog, which I kind of let slide for the last years or so, with a goal of posting at least once or twice a week. That’s something that’s just fun for me; I need to do fun things periodically in order to keep my writing fun. I was thinking last night about a short story I wrote, that was in the collection Wanna Wrestle?, and how much thought I put into structuring it and the story I wanted to tell…I think I might rush my short stories a bit, just coming up with the idea and not thinking about it before I start writing it, which could be why I am so not-confident about them as I should be.

Something definitely to consider.

And on that note, this spice isn’t going to mine itself.

Here’s a hunk to get the week started for you, Constant Reader.

 

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It’s a Mistake

Tropical Storm soon to be Hurricane Nate is out there, drawing nearer by the minute and moving pretty fast across an incredibly warm Gulf Of Mexico. I slept very well last night–woke up a few times, one of course being the daily five a.m. purr kitty lying on me and kneading my chest with his paws, but was able to fall back into a restful sleep every time. It’s gray out there this morning, and the storm seems to continue shifting eastward (sorry, Biloxi!), and they’re now saying we’re going to get tropical storm strength winds. The west side of a hurricane is usually the dry side, too, so we won’t get as much rain. I have to stop by the grocery store today to get a few things, but I imagine it won’t be quite the madhouse it would have been yesterday when STORM PANIC mode was gripping the city. I also don’t need water or bread, so am not too worried about the few things I need to get. I can’t imagine there was a run on cat food, for example.

Paul had some late afternoon/early evening meetings last night, so while I waited for him to come home I read R. L. Stine’s The Lost Girl and started reading Colson Whitehead’s Zone One. It’s a zombie apocalypse novel, so I figured it fit with my Halloween Horror reading for this month. It’s also remarkably good, and while it is not my first zombie apocalypse novel (I’ve only read Michael Thomas Ford’s Z, which is really good and vastly under-appreciated), it’s not like how I imagined any zombie apocalypse novel to be (I still have one of Joe McKinney’s in my TBR pile, but I don’t think I’ll get to it this month).

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What I remember most about that afternoon was the shimmering scarlet and yellow of the sky, as if the heavens were lighting up to join our family’s celebration. The sunlight sparkled off the two-day-old snow at teh curb, as if someone had piled diamonds in the street.

I think I remember everything about that day.

Running all the way home on the slushy sidewalks from my weekend job at the Clean Bee Laundry. The smell of the dry cleaning and the starch still on my clothes and my skin. I remember the blood thrumming at my temples as I ran and the feeling that, if I raised my arms high, I could take off, lift off from the crowded sidewalks of the Old Village, and glide easily into the pulsating colors of the sky.

The Lost Girl is a Fear Street novel, one of many R. L. Stine has published, set in the small city of Shadyside where Fear Street is located, where the ruins of the old Fear mansion, which had burned to the ground decades earlier, remained…only now, in this relaunched Fear Street series, the ruins have been cleared away and it’s a vacant lot. Stine built quite an empire with the Fear Street books, but his scary books for children, Goosebumps, were what really made him an industry. They were adapted into a TV show, and movies, and as the Goosebumps took off, the Fear Street books became less and less important and disappeared eventually. A quick glance at his Wikipedia page shows that there are, to date, 166 young adult novels written by Stine; the majority of them having something to do with Fear Street. I read a lot of those books in the early 1990’s–he and Christopher Pike and Jay Bennett, and those are the books that gave me the idea to write young adult novels in the first place–Sara, Sorceress, and Sleeping Angel were written in first drafts during that time. The Fear Street books were also what gave me the idea to link all of my y/a novels in some way; not all being set in the same town because that didn’t seem realistic, but linked in some way. I did manage to do that.

The Lost Girl is an entertaining enough read–it took me about two hours to get through it before I moved on to the Whitehead–and it’s very much what I remembered of the Fear Street books; very likable protagonist caught up in something terrible and awful through no fault of his own…loses some friends to the supernatural force, but eventually figures out how to bring it all to an end. It was a pleasant way to spend the evening while I waited for Paul to come home, and that was kind of how I read Stine back in the day; I always kept a few of them around on hand to read when I had some time to kill but didn’t want to get into anything truly heavy.

Stine is also a very nice man; I met him at the Edgars several years ago, and he was a Guest of Honor at Stokercon in Vegas, so I got to arrange his travel and email back and forth with him a few times. He’s very gracious, very kind, and it was kind of a thrill for me. Since I was representing Stokercon and the Horror Writers Association, I couldn’t gush and make a fool of myself the way I probably would have otherwise–which is probably a good thing.

And now, back to the spice mines. I want to find some more markets to submit my short stories to, and get some of this mess cleaned up.

Have a great day, Constant Reader!

Heart to Heart

Gah, it’s Wednesday and the week is half over and I’ve not scratched many items off my to-do list. Heavy heaving sigh. Although the weather seems to have turned here and it’s been lovely the last few days. I worked in the storage unit for about an hour yesterday; got a few more book donation boxes together and threw some things away, which was progress of a sort. The primary problem, however, is discovering that almost everything in there appears to be cases of copies of my own books, or my kids’ series–the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, etc.–that I will never get rid of; so I think my next move is to swap out boxes of books in the attic (or decoratively hidden around the apartment), books that I want to keep (copies of books written by friends, etc.) for the cases of my own books; it only makes sense to have easier access to them in order to donate for charity auctions or for book events where they don’t have copies of my books or aren’t able to get copies of my books. Or to sell myself. I do think from time to time I should resell my used books and make some money off them, but it also seems like an incredible pain in the ass and I barely have time to keep up with everything I need to get done, let alone adding another chore.

We’ll see.

I am one step closer to sending out the query letters. With the assistance of some amazing friends, I think I had a damned good query letter put together that just needs a tweak here and there, and has also helped me figure out what tweaking, oddly enough, needs to be done in the manuscript itself. So, the goal is to send out a wave of query emails by the end of the week, work on Scotty, finish the final revision of a short story to get sent out there, and make those manuscript tweaks.

I also put another book in the donation pile this week that didn’t pass the fifty page test, and am about to start reading R. L. Stine’s The Lost Girl. I read a lot of Stein and Christopher Pike novels in the early 1990’s–which helped inspire me to write the drafts that became Sorceress, Sara, and Sleeping Angel–so I am interested to see some of his newer work. I met him, not only at the Edgars one year, but at Stokercon in Vegas, and he is a lovely, very nice man. My original thought with those y/a’s was to link them all together at some point, the way he’d linked the Fear Street novels together, and in a way, all of my young adult novels are sort of linked together–Sara is set in a small town in Kansas; that town is where Laura, the main character in Sorceress is from; the town in California Laura moves to is where Sleeping Angel is set; and Scotty’s parents in Lake Thirteen are from the small town in Alabama where my main character in Dark Tide is from…and the town where Scotty lives now, in the suburbs of Chicago, was where Glenn in Sara moved to Kansas from. All connected. I sometimes forget that my young adult books all are in the same world and are all connected…

And on that note, I’m not going to finish my to-do list by sitting here thinking about getting things done.

Today’s Hump Day Hunk is actor Aaron-Taylor Johnson.

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All Right

It’s gloomy this morning, and my heart is heavy upon waking to the news from Las Vegas. Yay, Monday.

I have a lot to get done this week, as ever. Bouchercon and our trip to Toronto looms on the horizon; I went to work on the stuff in the storage attic over the laundry room this weekend. Cleaning out the storage spaces, of course, is an exercise in letting go; I donated three boxes of books last week and will probably donate that many more this week.

I want to get at least three more chapters on the Scotty book done this week; I also want to revise a short story one final team before sending it out into the world; and I am going to get the WIP whipped into final shape so I can start sending that out to agents. It should work, as long as I don’t get sidetracked or distracted or lazy. Tonight when I get home from work I am going to make pho, for the first time; I’ve found a ‘quick” recipe that should only take about forty minutes to make.

I started reading another book yesterday that didn’t pass the first fifty page test; into the donate pile it went, and I started reading another, The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum. I’ve never read Ketchum, but I’ve know who he is for years. I met him at Stokercon in Las Vegas; and since he was one of the guests of honor, I arranged for his travel and so forth. What an absolutely charming man! I bought my copy of this book that weekend, but never ran into him again after I’d bought it. It’s quite excellent so far.

And on that note, tis off to the spice mines with me for the rest of the day.

Here’s a hunk to slide you into the week.

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Making Love Out of Nothing At All

Ah, where has the week gone? Tis now Friday morning, yet another week has somehow slipped through my fingers, and yet my to-do list is a long and large as it has ever been.  Sigh. But I did finish Eric Ambler’s Background to Danger last night; another one of those “hey, I’m just on the train minding my own business and now I’m involved in international intrigue” style stories, and it was done rather well. It was written before the second World War, and the two opposing sides were the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, trying to control who runs Romania and an evil international oil conglomerate was also involved; which was kind of interesting. Even in the 1930’s the capitalist insistence on profit before politics was known; the world has changed, apparently, very little. Were Ambler an American rather than British, making the Soviets the good side (even though the Nazis were the villains) would have made him suspect after the war; the lovely days of virulent anti-Communism, McCarthyism, and hysterical patriotism weren’t that long ago, and the after-effects are still being felt today.

I revised “For All Tomorrow’s Lies” yesterday, and I am not truly certain that the ending works. This is the problem I generally have with short stories (and novels, for that matter): ending them. I’m never completely convinced that my endings work; that they aren’t rushed and sudden. I think, over all, it’s a good story; I am going to reread a hard copy of it and make notes on it today. I like the concept of the story, but I am not sure I’ve pulled off the ending. It may need another thousand words; perhaps in the next version I’ll go ahead and tack on a longer ending, see if it can work. I also worked on “The Brady Kid” a bit yesterday, and I think it, too, is coming along well; I just am not certain that I know how to properly end it either. I think I’ve come up with the proper answer to make “Fireflies” work in it’s next edition; we shall see. I’d like to get them all out into the markets soon; rejections are, of course, to be expected and fine. (I am struggling with Scotty, so am following my own advice and working on something else while I ponder the issues I am having with the Scotty book; I may try to write my way out of those issues this weekend.)

And now, even though October doesn’t really begin until Sunday, I am going to start working through my Halloween Horror reading.  I’m going to start rereading It today; knowing I am most likely going to put it aside from time to time to read other things. I’d like to get through my entire stack of Halloween Horror reading; there is, of course, no guarantee that I will, but I am going to give it the old college try (there’s also the trip to Toronto, which means time in airports which also means more time to read).

And on that note, tis time to get  back to the spice mines.

Here’s a Friday hunk to slide you into the weekend:

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The Other Guy

Thursday!

I survived the long day yesterday somehow, slept beautifully last night, and am wide awake and raring to go this morning. Hurray! I am still reading Background to Danger by Eric Ambler, which is another one of those “uh oh, what did I get myself into?” style espionage stories, and am enjoying it tremendously. I also made more progress on the new Scotty yesterday morning–having my usual this sucks doubts as well–and it looks like I am finally going to be getting the ebooks for Bourbon Street Blues and Jackson Square Jazz under way; with an eye to hopefully having them available after the first of the year.

Right? It certainly has taken me long enough.

I also want to get a short story revised and out into the markets over the course of this weekend. We shall see how that goes.

I hope to finish reading the Ambler either today or tomorrow, and then dive into The Elementals by Michael MacDowell. Toronto Bouchercon looms on the horizon; and I need to start thinking about getting ready for that.

Also, speaking of the first two Scottys, I am donating a signed copy of the first two–unavailable in any form other than second-hand sellers or ebay–since 2010 to a fundraiser for disaster relief being organized by Murder by the Book in Houston. So…this is a good chance to see where the Scotty series began, before the ebooks/POD versions become available.

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We’re very excited to announce that Murder By The Book will be organizing and hosting BOOK LOVERS CARE, a collectible book auction benefitting natural disaster relief. The book-loving community is a generous one and we’re hoping this news gets spread far and wide. Authors, readers, collectors – we’re looking at you!

We are currently soliciting donations of signed/collectible books and book-related items to be auctioned off online. While Murder By The Book specializes in crime fiction, we are looking for books of all genres.

* 90% of the money raised will go to Direct Relief, a highly-rated charity providing worldwide relief, specifically to areas affected by Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria, and the Mexico City earthquake.

* 10% of the money raised will go to the BINC Foundation – the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, providing aid to booksellers in time of crisis.

* Please mail all donations to the following:

Murder By The Book
Attn: Book Lovers Care 
2342 Bissonnet St.
Houston, TX 77005

* We will be accepting donations through the end of October, with the hope of the auction occurring in November – just in time for holiday gift-giving!

* While any donation of a book is a good deed, we are specifically looking for signed first editions, limited editions, unique book swag, and unique items that would bring excitement to an auction because of their value and rarity. We are not looking for used paperbacks. If you’re looking to donate them, we suggest Operation Paperback.

* For any specific questions or media inquiries regarding this, please contact us at the following email address: bookloverscare@gmail.com

And now back to the spice mines.