Fictionista, Foodie, Feline-lover

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

L.A. Nocturne

I just sold my first copy L.A. Nocturne in the UK. Very exciting.

My second fiction collection: Toxic Reality & Other Tales will be out at the end of the summer. Joy Sillesen of StonyHill Productions is designing the cover and editing and formatting the text. Her striking covers for L.A. Nocturne and Fairy Story have been a big part of their success. They really stand out.

I know I judge a book by its cover, and figure everyone else does too.

It's a numbers game

I am lately obsessed with numbers--my weight (lower is better), my followers on twitter (higher is better) and two lists of things have attracted my attention. I've been adding movies to my NetFlix database so the AI can make recommendations (they keep telling me I'll really, really, really like Speed, and I so don't believe them). I have close to two thousand films listed.

Meanwhile, over at GoodReads, I'm trying to fill out my list of books because I'm now obsessed with listing EVERY SINGLE BOOK I EVER READ. And that is a really large number. I've read several books a week since I was a kid and that hasn't changed. (Except nowadays, people PAY me to read books) I've only got 671 books listed on my GoodReads shelf. Around a quarter of what I listed for movies. (And it's not that I am ashamed of admitting I've read a lot of crap. I read Gothic novels as a teen, and moved on to romance. I read every vampire book ever written except the The Shiny Metal Grin.

I just can't remember every author. I went through my mother's Nero Wolfe books and her Agatha Christies and kept going. Robert Barnard and Liza Cody and more.

But what this enumeration exercise has done is remind me of all the writers I stopped reading but who haven't stopped writing. Why didn't I read all the George Chesbro novels about Mongo? (Because they started getting really odd and fanciful around number 7.) What about all those Elvis Cole books I haven't read? This is definitely a summer to catch up with old friends. And then I'll list the books on my GoodReads shelf.

The Mother of Crawly Things

Today is my friend Berkeley Hunt's birthday. As a writer, she is steeped in Star Trek and Lovecraft, and true crime and classic literature. The distillation of those influences is the essence of this incredibly creepy story, which originally ran in Astonishing Adventures Magazine.

Celebrate Berkeley's birthday by reading her story:

The Mother of Crawly Things

By Berkeley Hunt

Her brother Kevin could put curses on people. Maddie found this out when she was six and caught him eating the chocolate bunny out of her Easter basket. She hadn’t touched it herself because Kevin told her that if the real Easter Bunny saw her take so much as a bite, he would take back the basket and everything in it.
Their mom yelled at Kevin and held back his allowance. That was when he told Maddie he was an acolyte of the Devil and could put curses on people. At first Maddie thought he said “Coke Lite of the Devil,” and that didn’t sound scary at all. Besides, Kevin lied about lots of things. Like that he was the carnation of someone named Hitler and she should scream HEIL, which was German, when he said to. Mom had put a stop to that fast.
The curse Kevin put on her was that she wouldn't like any of Easter dinner. It was hard to believe. The smell of baking ham, sweet and smoky, already filled the dingy little house. It would come out of the oven glazed with yellow pineapple and be set on the table beside green beans in a nest of French’s Fried Onions, the yams she didn’t have to eat if she didn’t want to and all the crescent rolls she could eat. Best of all would be dessert, strawberry pie drowned in syrup redder than Christmas.
But Kevin was 14, a creature that lived in neither the child nor the grownup world but in the murk between. He shared his bedroom with resin monsters out of movies Mom wouldn't even let Maddie see: Alien and Predator and something that had bat wings and a beard and mustache made of twisting green tentacles. He could drive the car, too. Twice now he and his friends had backed it out of the garage and parked it around the corner to make Mom think it was stolen. When she called the police Kevin listened in on the other line and laughed so hard that snot shot out of his nose.
So when he cursed her she stood fast. He hogged the remote and sent her hate-stares all afternoon then did an about-face and let her have his Mountain Dew. He'd even remembered that her fingers weren’t very strong; when he handed it over the can was already open. Maybe the curse was already working, because the Mountain Dew didn’t taste as good as it usually did. And when she sat down to eat the food smells enveloped her like a giant, steamy fart. Her stomach turned itself inside-out and bile, thin and stinging, erupted from her throat and drenched the mashed potatoes.
That made Maddie a believer. Kevin began demanding her dollar-a-week allowance and taking her share of the candy and sodas Mom sometimes bought. By the time she was eight she was forking over all her desserts and doing most of his chores, too. When Mom wasn’t home he even made her mow the lawn with their bulky old mower, a machine whose rusted steel teeth could cut off a toe if she wasn’t careful. All this to keep him from cursing her with flunking a grade or being called a retard and getting beaten up after school every day for the rest of her life.
That was also the year that he totaled the car and Mom couldn't afford to get another one. After awhile she asked Maddie not to accept any more rides from her friends' moms and dads because there was no way to return the favor. Speaking very gently but very gravely too, Mom told her that it was better that Maddie not have anyone to sleep over, either.
Maddie didn’t dare ask why not. She knew it had something to do with the fact that Kevin was 16 now and had tried to give her a dollar if she’d walk around the house without even her panties on. Which meant Maddie couldn't stay at any of her friends' houses, either. No climbing into the other kids' SUVs for trips to the mall and no slumber parties. She might as well be a retard; by the time the year was up she'd be every bit as hated as one.
Even though he didn't curse her, Kevin didn't exactly leave her alone, either. Maddie had a pet snail she'd rescued from the poison in the neighbor-lady's garden and named Jasmine, after her favorite Disney princess. Right after she refused to take his dollar Kevin informed her--with a toothy grin-- that the French ate snails. After cooking them, of course. That's when he whipped his hand from behind his back. He was wearing a ratty old oven mitt and Jasmine was lying right in the center.
Her shell was caved in, her once-pale and glistening snail-skin red and black with angry lines from the old backyard barbecue grill. Maddie cried until her stomach roiled and she thought she might throw up, just like the Easter Sunday when Kevin first put a curse on her.
Mom grounded Kevin. The next day she bought Maddie an ant farm. The day after that, someone took the lid off the ant farm and the day after that ants were all over the kitchen, circling the sugar and flour canisters and tracking their way up the fridge. Naturally her brother was the one who ran for the Raid can and sprayed it everywhere.
The one thing Kevin couldn't stand was crawly things.
Maddie managed to save nine of the ants by inviting them to crawl their way onto her fingertips, then hurrying outside. Deep in the corner of the tiny backyard, behind the disassembled sides of a rusty dog crate and a rabbit hutch whose floor was a solid mass of prehistoric droppings she let them go, hoping that whatever watched over little crawly things would watch over them.
Hoping so hard and so desperately that it amounted to a prayer. One without words, almost without consciousness, fed by horror at what had been done to Jasmine and what was being done to her. To what god or devil, benevolent, malevolent or indifferent, Maddie didn't know. Not until later, after the shrieking stopped and the night was quiet again.
That was after midnight, when kids and grownups alike were supposed to be dead to the world. "Get out! Get OUT!" The screams were high and hysterical and thrilling, because the screams were Kevin's. Maddie ran to his room just as fast as she could, just in time to see the mother of all crawly things slice through the air over her brother’s bed. Big as a grapefruit, it paused as if deliberating. Then it strafed Kevin, just like one of the fighter planes in the Nazi movies he liked. Nose-first it went, right through his tousled, greasy hair.
"IS IT OFF-IS IT OFF-IS IT OFF?" His fingers did a frantic, combing dance and a ragged thumbnail opened up a pimple, ripe for the squeezing. It spat reddy-yellow pus and the Mother of Crawly Things left his hair for the shelf ruled by the bat-winged, tentacle-faced thing.

“KILL it, you stupid …!” Kevin shrilled. Maddie only stood, frozen not with fear but with fascination. The Mother of Crawly Things alighted atop Tentacle-Face, fixing her brother with eyes like round black stones.
Kevin rolled awkwardly out of bed, scooping up a pair of tighty not-so-whities from the floor. He let fly, snapping them the same way he used to snap towels at Maddie. This time all that happened was that Tentacle-Face hit the floor with a crunch and chunks of painted resin, big and small, shot away in all directions. Better yet, even though Kevin was now spewing the Ess-word—and the Eff-Word too—he sounded exactly like a third grader bawling on the playground.

That's when the Mother of Crawly Things took off for a leisurely circle of the room. Whether it really paused in the air in front of Maddie as if showing itself to her or whether Kevin's bawling somehow heightened Maddie's senses she could never afterwards remember. But what she did recall was that one instant it had the enormous white head and shark-like eyes of a potato bug, the next a pale, snaily face and eyes on stalks. Its body was worm-red and segmented, then an iridescent beetle green. It had no legs at all, then six, then hundreds and hundreds. In their moment of communion she thanked it with all her heart.
Then it was gone, sailing over Maddie’s head on wings that belonged now to a dragonfly, now to a moth. Gone, even though the neighborhood was a rough one and the window was shut and the metal bars that overlaid it locked against the night.
Kevin’s bawling had slowed to an irregular hitching and whimpering and still, somehow, their mother hadn’t heard and come running. His nose ran; spit and snot bubbled at the corners of his mouth. His pajama bottoms—none too clean when he first put them on—were wet with fresh pee. When Maddie left she made a point of looking him deliberately up and down, the look one gives a retard.
She woke the next morning to Mom singing in the kitchen. The air smelled like waffles and her choice of toppings: Blueberries or maple syrup and butter. Mere steps away, the door to Kevin’s room was ajar. Maddie gave a careful push and peered it.
The old shag carpet had been trampled flat, as if by millions and millions of tiny feet. A yellow garden spider with one leg missing was trying to extract itself from one of the worn loops. A furry black caterpillar used its many front legs to drag its mashed back end. The old barbecue grill lay across another patch of rug, one gooey as if from the progress of hundreds of snails. Bits of wing and carapace and jaw littered the bed, so many that Kevin’s empty pillow was smashed flat beneath their weight.
Maddie closed the door on the vacant room and headed for the kitchen. She loved waffles.

Photograph of stag beetle courtesy of Eyyedg.

Want to know what editors really want?

Then check out Jim Harrington's ongoing series Six Questions for...
Here's the schedule for July:

7/04—Six Questions for Kyle J Smith, Editor-in-Chief, weasel and gun: variety magazine
7/07—Six Questions for Lorie Lewis Ham, Publisher, Kings River Life
7/11—Six Questions for Rycke Foreman, Executive Chef, 69 Flavors of Paranoia
7/14—Six Questions for John Carr Walker, Editor/Publisher, Trachodon
7/18—Six Questions for Cheryl Anne Gardner, Contributing Editor, Apocrypha & Abstractions
7/21—Six Questions for Greg Dybec, Editor, Fix it Broken
7/25—Six Questions for Janelle Elyse Kihlstrom, Editor, Melusine
7/28—Six Questions for Shawn and Justin Maddey, Founding Editors, Barge Press

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fun and Games by Duane Swierczynski

If you can get past the unlikely contrivances that set up the story, you'll be sucked into a character-driven thrill ride that will have you preordering the sequel as soon as you turn the last page.

FUN AND GAMES balances the quirky story with characters that seem real--paging Lindsay Lohan for the role of Lane--and sympathetic. The mystery about what sent Charlie fleeing from Philadelphia interests us but so does the question of who wants Lane dead and why.

A lot of the fun of the story--at least for people who actually live in Los Angeles--is the sense of authenticity. The plot plays out like a mash-up of John Ridley's EVERYBODY SMOKES IN HELL and Elmore Leonard's GET SHORTY. The characters have history and context and their lives are complicated. Sometimes this is tragic--as with Charlie--and sometimes it's hilarious, with the suburban dad who calls himself FACTBOY having to seclude himself in public bathrooms to stay in contact with his client--while his vacationing wife and children get antsy.

The client is an intriguing character herself. We know absolutely nothing about her but it's fascinating to watch her unravel as she has to invent more and more narratives to cover the scenarios that unfold when her plan goes FUBAR. We're not the only one horrified by her total lack of compassion--even second in command can't believe she's so cold-blooded.

Both Lane and Charlie are terrifically damaged people. The writer gives us their internal dialogue so that we are invested in their survival. It's funny that most of Lane's survival skills were learned while making various cheap action movies.

Charlie is almost ridiculously resilient but at the end, he's still standing. We don't know exactly what's going to happen to him when he wakes up from the sedative the EMT administers at the end, but since we know that there are two more books in the series, we can only assume he survives and thrives in some way.

Lane and Charlie have a good run of it, and the writer makes their survival pretty plausible just as he makes the bad guys' ability to track them seem pretty likely. It's a little too fortunate that Charlie has the skillset he does (and his backstory is actually kind of murky--the writer should have just made him an ex-cop instead of some sort of consultant whose role was violent but nebulous).

Charlie is a good man who lives with a terrible burden of guilt. He and Lane are a lot alike and he realizes it. When she confesses her own guilt (as she has to her secret boyfriend), he doesn't offer absolution but he can offer understanding.

The book contains some good action and the finale in the Hunter house is a particularly strong setpiece. The novel is steeped in noir tropes (and great quotes from movies ranging from COBRA to KISS KISS BANG BANG) and the twists of the plot do not disappoint.

Adventures in Children's Publishing

Publishers are always creating new categories ("Urban Fantasy" and "New Weird" for example), but YA (Young Adult) has been around for awhile. My teen years coincided with the heyday of S.E. Hinton, but even then I chafed at the idea of there being a separate category of books for teenagers and those for adults. I was reading mysteries and horror and sci fi but I was also reading history (my father was a Civil War buff) and popular science and "literature" for school.

These days, the YA category is probably the hottest thing out there, though, and keepng abreast of publishing trends means knowing what's going on in the YA category. Adventures in Children's Publishing is a great website for that. And they give away books. Who doesn't love free books? Check them out.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Circus of Brass and Bone

The Circus of Brass and Bone is a wildly imaginative post-apocalyptic steam punk series written by Abra Staffin Wiebe. You may know her as a fictionista or you may know her as the keeper of one of the most useful market lists around, but you need to know her as the author of this fantastic online series.

The tagline is, "After the collapse of civilization, the show goes on." The story is up to episode 12 (the others are archived), new episodes appear every week. The fiction is free, but donations are gratefully accepted. (All funds go to pay her mother's medical bills.)

Check out the stories, hit the donate button, and prepare to be transported into a fantastic world.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Not Your Usual NoHo Noir

It's not easy being an Armenian gangster's daughter.

If you've been following the series so far, you will remember that Nick is an undercover FBI agent investigating Rouzan's father. He knows that she's not involved in the life like her brother is, but he's using her to get close to her father and ... it's working.

Nick's an ambitious guy. He'll do whatever it takes to get ahead. But never let it be said he doesn't enjoy his work. Nick was introduced in the episode entitled "Full Service." Here's his picture courtesy of Mark Satchwill.

You can see why Rouzan fell for him. Enjoy this Saturday's and come back tomorrow for more noir!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fourth of July

This is my entry into the Beach House Noir fiction challenge over at Do Some Damage. I worked as an au pair one summer when I was a teenager and although the two little girls I looked after were darling, once was enough.

The Fourth of July

Ali hadn’t wanted the fucking job in the first place but her mother had insisted. “You can’t sit around the house all summer,” she’d said, pretending like she was worried Ali would be bored when really, she just didn’t want Ali around the house when Dean came over.
Her mother still looked good for 35 but Dean was 28 and Ali was 16 and her mom could do the math.
“A summer at the beach, working as an au pair sounds better than bagging groceries at Ralphs doesn’t it?” her mom coaxed.
She’d pronounced the French phrase like “ow pear,” which Ali knew was wrong because she’d seen a TV movie about an au pair who fell in love with the guy she worked for.
There was no fucking way Ali was gonna fall for Eliot Cubbison who was a 40-something finance guy going bald and soft.
Besides, au pair was just a fancy way of saying “full-time babysitter.”
Still, the money was pretty good and her mother was right about it being better than bagging groceries.
Ali had done that the summer before. One of her co-workers had been a ‘tard with a crush on her. She’d complained to the manager that he kept showing her his dick. The manager told her to quit teasing the boy or find somewhere else to work.
She’d stuck it out until late August. The manager had stiffed her on her last paycheck.
She’d gone back to the store at closing time a week later and cut little slits in all the plastic-wrapped packages of steak.
So au pair it was.
The job started June 15th and by the week of July 4th, Ali was so fucking over it.
There was a Mrs. Eliot somewhere but she hadn’t joined the family at the beach house.
Lucky her, Ali thought after three weeks with the kids. Nine-year-old Daniel was a mean little bully and his five-year-old sister Megan was an annoying little tattle-tale, a sibling dynamic that was guaranteed to produce strife.
What Eliot had described as a “private beach” turned out to be a remote patch of sand in the middle of fucking nowhere. Ali hadn’t expected Jersey Shore, but this beach was so deserted Ali half expected to come across the Statue of Liberty buried in the sand.
She was guaranteed one day off a week, but since the house was so isolated, and there was no car for her to use—Eliot had made it clear she wouldn’t be driving his Mercedes—she was essentially a prisoner.
Eliot spent most of his time on the deck with his laptop. Monitoring the movement of other people’s money. The kids had been taught not to bother daddy when he was working so they were under Ali’s feet the whole fucking day.
Eliot entertained every night, but his guests were all his age and he made it clear to Ali that she wasn’t welcome.
The kids weren’t welcome either, except in the roles their father assigned to them. He always brought Megan out in her shortie pajamas just before bedtime and paraded her around in a show of fatherly love that made Ali want to puke. Then he’d kiss his daughter on the forehead and hand her over to Ali before the kid realized she was being dismissed and started to wail.
Daniel’s role was a little more complicated.
Eliot had taught the little boy how to make pina coladas, complete with the juggling bottles and flashy moves and a little umbrella to top off the glass.
The guests thought it was adorable and laughed indulgently when Daniel sampled the drinks himself.
On July 4th, Eliot told Ali he was going to take everyone to see the fireworks once it got dark and then took off with a vague promise to return before dinner.
Megan had whined and sulked and Daniel had badgered and taunted her into a tantrum and by mid-afternoon, Ali was exhausted by the effort of playing referee.
She was lounging in a deck chair watching Megan make sand castles when Daniel appeared at her side with a tray holding a fishbowl-sized pina colada and a bag of over-priced, organic potato chips.
“I thought you might want a snack,” he said.
“I’m sorry for picking on Megan,” he added. “Please don’t tell my dad.”
Ali looked at Daniel skeptically, trying to figure out the little fucker’s angle.
Why not?” she finally asked.
“Because he won’t take us to the fireworks,” he said.
The idea of being stuck at home one more night made Ali shudder.
“I won’t tell your dad,” she said and reached for the drink.
It went down as easy as a Jamba Juice smoothie.
Three hours later she woke up with the beginnings of a wicked sunburn and the sense that something was terribly wrong. Two guys in suits stood over her, studying her like a lab specimen.
“Have a good nap?” one of them inquired pleasantly.
She sat up in the deck chair and noticed a crowd of people standing around a small square of beached marked off with crime scene tape.
“What’s going on?” she asked. The two men exchanged glances. The one who’d spoken to her answered.
“You tell us Ali.”
Ali saw Daniel standing with Eliot, the man’s arms around the boy’s shoulders, hugging him. She did not see Megan.
“I don’t understand,” Ali whispered, beginning to get a bad, bad feeling.
“That makes two of us,” the man said. “You tell me what kind of person ties a little girl’s hands and feet with seaweed then buries her up to her neck to drown as the tide comes in."
"No,” Ali said.
“Did you tell her it was a game?”
“It wasn’t me,” she said. “It was Daniel.”
She saw the look of disgust that crossed the man’s face.
“You sent Daniel to his room for being bad, don’t you remember?”
“No,” Ali said, "no I didn't."
As if he'd do anything I told him to.
But then she looked at Daniel putting on a show for the scrum of solicitous adults and she saw how it would go.
She was so fucking fucked.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Western as Noir

Screenwriter S. Craig Zahler's novel A Congregation of Jackals, is so compelling but bleak that it shares kinship with the Nordic Noir genre of mysteries.

In many ways, this novel reminds us of classic western films like High Noon and the contemporary western Bad Day at Black Rock with a little detour through Deadwood. There are bad guys who are truly bad and good guys who once weren’t and they’re all on a collision course at a wedding. The writer takes his time setting things up and by the time the actual confrontation occurs, it’s almost as mythic as the gunfight at the OK Corral.

The characters are strong. A man named Oswell is the heart and soul of the story and much of it is told through his eyes and in his voice. We tend to expect that he is the one who will die in Montana, though, because he is the one with the most to lose. (The story is a little on the predictable side.)

Some of the characters seem to be a little “quirky” and some aren’t really necessary, but the writer is going for something kind of epic here and that means he’s painting on a broad canvas.

There are some really nice moments between Beatrice and her father, including a scene where he tells her he’s saved all his life to make sure that when she gets pregnant, she’ll have a doctor’s care. There’s clearly love between these characters and we know that he would die for her without hesitation. (We just hope he won’t have to.)

The writer gets major points for populating his West with a multi-cultural cast. There are blacks, there are Asians, and there are Native Americans. Adding these characters adds to the authenticity of the mix. A lot of the ethnic characters don’t fare too well—there’s a messenger named PICKLES who has the misfortune of knowing way too much about Quinlan’s plans—but they add “color” to the goings on.

There are some interesting subplots, like the connection between the Sheriff and the condescending widow. Their original antagonism melts into something else in true romantic drama tradition. There are some little bits of plot that feel completely contrived though, especially the weird encounter Dicky has with the blind man in the hotel.

The author tries hard to get the flavor of the times, often resorting to grandiloquent language (some of which isn’t used quite right). He never quite gets into LITTLE BIG MAN territory, though. On the other hand, it’s clear he’s done a lot of research into the period and there are period touches that really sell the reality of the story and its backdrop.

Some of the detail is astonishing and original—like a description of snake spines woven into the hair of the Appanuqi chief, who walks a leashed and grotesquely tortured Mexican like a pet. The scenes with the Indians—including the massacre that is the “inciting incident” for the whole revenge quest—are tough to read and would be even tougher on screen. The violent way that Quinlan takes over the tribe, beating and humiliating the chief, is only a prelude to what will happen later.

Arthur and his unnamed twin are evil forces of nature and we almost fear them more than we fear Quinlan. (Quinlan feels like he was modeled after Quantrill, the marauding outlaw who terrorized the West after the end of the Civil War.)

The story builds to a shattering climax that isn’t truly original and isn’t particularly surprising. (We always knew Oswell was a dead man walking.) The story-telling, though, is absorbing and while the narrative is a bit predictable and a little derivative, we are carried along. The ending is DIRE.

L.A. Banks Auction

You may not know L.A. Banks' books. If not, you're in for a treat. She writes in a number of different genres, but the novels I love are her urban fantasies. She has a couple of series--vampire huntress, dark avenger--and they are not your cookie cutter UF titles with the tramp-stamped heroines and the dreamy vampires. This lady can write.

If you do know her work, you may have heard that the author (real name Leslie Esdaile) has been diagnosed with late-stage adrenal cancer. Her medical bills are already astronomical and rising. Leslie's friends have organized an eBay auction on her behalf. The auction will begin next Tuesday and run for 10 days. Go here for more information.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Shouldn't Take More Than a Few Hours

I've been a full-time freelance writer for 20 years. In the last four years, I've found a lot of work on Craig's List. A lot of that work is grossly underpaid (there's a surprise) but even the gigs that pay decently often have unrealistic expectations attached.
Mostly those expectations have to do with time-frame. Either the client (who has been sitting on the idea for, oh, a decade or so) wants something done by the weekend; or the client grossly underestimates the amount of time a project will take.
"Should take no more than a few hours" is a phrase that's popping up more and more.
Today it came up in an ad for writing 50 "job descriptions" complete with photos that had to be sourced. Seriously? Even if these job descriptions only take three minutes apiece, that's 150 minutes.
I think the problem is that secretly, most people think they could write if only they had the time. No one ever says, "I could do that heart transplant if I had a couple of extra hours," but people always say, "I'm a pretty good writer."
My feeling? If you can write it yourself, do so. But if you can't, don't devalue my work by telling me it's something I can just toss off.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Step Away From the Netflix

I share a household NetFlix account with someone whose movie tastes are WILDLY divergent from mine. Last night I was in the mood to watch something and all the suggestions that came up were based on his ratings of 800 or so movies. So we finally separated our ratings and queues, which still left me looking for a movie. But first...I needed to input a few ratings to get the ball rolling. That was last night. Less than 24 hours later I have ratings for 1504 movies and counting. Now I'm kind of obsessed with it. And annoyed that a lot of the movies I've seen (bad martial arts movies, for example) are not in Netflix.
Seriously, where is Loren Avedon's King of the Kickboxers? Filmed in Thailand with Billy Blanks of Tai Bo fame, the always reliable Don Stroud and Sherrie Rose?
Where is the terrific Disney adventure The Fighting Prince of Donegal? Ii think I saw the movie on the Sunday Disney show at some point but I remember it being full of derring-do. I like my historical shows a little darker these days--I can't believe tonight is the second-to-last episode of Game of Thrones for the season--but at the time, it was terrific.

So many blogs, so little time

I admire people who can blog day in and day out. Clearly, I don't have that discipline. But I really like browsing the blogs. I found this one, Historical Tapestry, by accident and it's going to be a place I hit up often:
One of my long-time projects is a historical mystery and part of the problem is that I can't bring myself to just ... make stuff up. I have been researching it off and on for several years now, and the section of my bookcase devoted to research is not several shelves deep, with Welsh-English dictionaries, books on weapons, books on food, books on clothing. You get the idea. Reading this excellent blog will be another excellent way to fritter writing time away. Because you know, there can never be too many ways to avoid actually sitting down and writing.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Yes--the return of shameless self-promotion

Mark Satchwill, my partner in crime at NoHo Noir, has been sick for a few weeks so various artists have been filling in for him. Joanne Renaud stepped in for him today, and the illustration is fantastic.
The story's a long one for me, more than 2000 words, mostly because to get to the part I really wanted to tell, I had to explain some things.
And of course there's a place where I switched character names. The CMS we use on the site is pretty wonky and I don't have administrator privileges so I can't go in and fix things.
This story is a result of a character rebelling against fate. I'd planned to kill Mary off and right up to the last moment when she's discovered, I fully intended to do that. But then, I just couldn't. And now this whole mother/daughter thing is happening.
One last detail. The artwork you see behind the characters? It's real art that's on the walls at the offices of CAA (Creative Artists Agency). Someone put a photo of it up at Flickr, which is where Joanne saw it. Is it not the ugliest piece of corporate art you've ever seen?
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the story.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Death of a Magazine

I killed my baby today. At least, that's what it felt like. Joy Sillesen and Joanne Renaud and I first conceived the magazine Dark Valentine in a mall somewhere between Joy's house and our apartments. It was the first time I'd met Joy f2f but we bonded instntly.
We hammered out the details over pasties and pear cider in Glendale and a few months later, Dark Valentine was born.
The incredible Sarah Vaughn put together our website, with Joanne Renaud consulting and Joy and I chiming in on the doowahs. (I was the one who suggtested stylized loteria card images for the logo.)
We conceived it as a quarterly but after we began publishing, we realized we could fill an issue a month. That was briefly considered before we all came to our senses.
I knew some of the writers and artists who contributed to the five issues we published but many were new to me. That's one part of the experience I wouldn't trade for the world.
There were others.
Nothing is ever wasted.
Thanks for your support.