Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Why I Write - Additional Thoughts

Waaaaaay back on October 1st, I attempted to explain Why I Write.  It was a worthy attempt but I heard something over the weekend that I need to add on to it.

I was watching a documentary over the weekend about my favorite band, The Slackers, when Vic Ruggeiro, the keyboard player and soul of the band, said something that really resonated with me.  He said that his father always asked him why he worked his ass off playing a kind of music that not a lot of people listened to.  He said that ska made his life so much more beautiful and made his life worth living during the darkest times that he felt like he had to try to give something back.

The notion of giving something back really hit home for me.  Who among us hasn't taken solace in a favorite book when life kicks you in the testicles (or ovaries, as the case may be)?  Who hasn't pondered a throwaway idea in a sci-fi or fantasy novel for a lot longer than the author intended?  Who hasn't had a line of dialogue floating around in their head for weeks or months after reading a book?

That's another reason why I write, to try to give back some of what books have given me.  I want to shelter people from the storm.  I want to keep people thinking long after the reading is done.  I want one of my lines of dialogue working its way into people's everyday life.

That's all I have to say about that.  For now, anyway.

Snakes vs. Sharks: The Battle Wages On...

I mentioned a while back that I changed my Goodreads security question to ask which is scarier, snakes or sharks.  Since then, I have received 25 friend requests.  Not one of them has simply answered one or the other.  Some of the results have been humorous or attempts at humor, but I'd say at least 18 of them have included some kind of rationalization for the choice.

Some people choose snakes over sharks because the odds of running into snakes are much higher.  Others give the nod to sharks since while a snake can be poisonous, a shark can bite you in half before you know what's happening.

I wish I'd been keeping tally of the responses so far so I could give exact statistics.  Right now, snakes are definitely leading.

In other news, not a lot has happened since the Christmas burglary.  I read a lot, took pictures, as you may have noticed, and watched my new 40 inch TV a bit.  I felt a little guilty that my dad splurged and got my brother and I new TVs, especially when my brother and his wife have a baby coming in February.  I've since gotten over it and embraced the new television.  I should probably find something to watch on it besides badly filmed British comedy from the 80's, though.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Benevolent Christmas Burglary

During National Novel Writing Month, I mentioned to my dad that I'd bought a new computer chair since mine was like a torture rack.  He said they should get one since theirs was like sitting on a tree stump.  I knew then what I was going to get them.

Last Friday, I went to OfficeMax and picked out a chair for them, slightly superior to mine.  It was in a massive box which barely fit in my car.  I knew I wouldn't be able to take it and my dog over to their house on Christmas day so I began formulating a plan.  Once I subtly determined that neither of them would be home today, I sprung into action.

I drove to their house, used the code to open their garage door, and hauled the chair components inside.  On my second trip, I could tell their cat was going to be the complication.  She was already getting too comfortable inside the garage.

While humming the Grinch theme song, I quickly assembled the chair, having pre-assembled most of it before bringing it over.  Once it was complete, I wheeled it into the back of their utility room and cunningly stashed it behind some empty Christmas decoration boxes.  Once that was complete, I looked for any trace of my passing and went outside.

Sure enough, the cat was sleeping on a high shelf in the garage.  I finally got her down and put her outside the garage so I could close it and she kept running back in.  Finally, I gave her a gentle toss and keyed in the code. There was a brief moment where I thought she'd try to get past me but she lost interest and walked away.

I got in my car and started her up.  I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the cat was laying in the driveway, directly in my path.  After briefly imagining running over the cat and having to hide the carcass so no one would know I was there, I honked the horn a few times and started backing up.  Luckily, she got the hell out of the way and I was on the road, my burglary a complete success.

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Baby Makes Me Gravy

I heard this song when I was Christmas shopping Friday.  Other than old Johnny Cash and Hank Williams and similar artists, I don't like much country music but I really like this song.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Want to hear something weird?

I had a lot of nightmares when I was a kid and I eventually developed a defense mechanism: As soon as I thought there was a possibility I might be dreaming, I'd try to figure out for sure if I was dreaming or not.  Now that you have the background...

Once, when I was in high school, I dreamed I was standing on the sea shore.  I'd never been to the ocean before and was convinced I was dreaming right away.  I crouched down and scooped up a handful of seawater and tasted it.  Since it had a taste, I thought the dream was real.  I woke up sometime later but never forgot the dream.

About fifteen years later, I finally got my chance to taste seawater when my gf at the time and I went to Tybee Island.  It tasted exactly like it did in the dream I had years earlier.

My Dreams are Weird

It started with me in bed with a woman, her head resting on my chest.

"Can you believe we've been together almost eleven months?" she asked.
"Really?  It doesn't feel that long," I said.
"It's been great, though, hasn't it?" she asked.
"I'm not sure.  Now that I think about it, I can't remember anything before this conversation. I think this is a dream."
"Of course it's not a dream!"
"I think it is and I'll prove it," I said.
I grabbed a notepad off the nightstand and wrote my name on the top page.  I held it up so we could both read it but it had already become an unintelligible mass of squiggles.
"See?" I said.

She laughed. "Fine. Just because it's a dream doesn't mean you're going to wake up."

She vanished and the light came on.  Every surface in the bedroom was covered with weird creatures.  They were the size of golf-balls and looked like ladybugs with shrimp tails. They had a red and white pattern on their backs that looked like clown faces.

I tried to force myself awake but couldn't. The beetle-shrimp things starting buzzing and flying around the room. I grabbed a lamp and started smashing the little vermin with it before they could attack me.  Once the last one was gone, I woke up.

I find it really interesting that the logical part of my brain tries to pick my dreams apart.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Good News and Bad News

Let's start with the good news.  I'm beginning to think I should have grown a beard years ago.  This week, the woman who cuts my hair, some random mailroom guy, and the grumpy old cook in the cafeteria all complimented my beard.

Now, the bad news.  Looks like I have to get on the computer tonight at 9 and work until who knows when because other people can't be trusted to get their shit done on time. I was planning on being asleep or several sheets to the wind by 9! 

I guess I'll have to spend my evening in a more constructive fashion until 9 rolls around.  I'm thinking about taking apart my Roomba and see if I can get it working again.  I'll also be drinking some coffee and cursing a lot.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Does he need help?

Sometime over the summer, Belle and I were out surveying her territory one day after I got off work.  We reached the cemetery and I saw something odd.  There was a very old man, his back bent into an L shape by age, leaning against a tree at the edge of the cemetery.  His truck, a rusted out hulk, looked almost as old as he did.

He just seemed to be standing there but didn't look very comfortable.  I wondered if I should ask him if he needed help or directions or something.

I took a few steps in his direction when I noticed something.  The old man wasn't just standing there.  He was, in fact, urinating on the cemetery fence!  Since he clearly had the situation in hand, I no longer felt the need to help him.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


As you may have noticed, most of my blog posts recently have been pictures.  That's because I feel like my writing gears are a bit exhausted and that chapter of something I wrote a week and a half ago were like the last swallows from the bottom of the beer bottle.  I still haven't started editing, even though this year's NaNo-prize is even better than years previous.

I'm still getting ideas, though.  The one in the forefront at the moment is about a family that has been in charge of guarding a portal to another universe for centuries while using its resources to live high on the hog.  Things go askew when the youngest daughter gets engaged to a man who has his eyes on wresting the portal from their grasp.  It's a bit too much like Roger Zelazny's Amber at the moment so I'll have to think on it a bit more.

Not a lot else going on.  If I don't get moving on my Christmas shopping, the only one getting a gift is my brother.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dan on Driving

My commute is an hour each way so I get ample time to think about various subject at great length.  Hey, it beats paying attention to the road. One of the subjects that inevitably occupies my time is driving itself.  There are several sticking points with me.

  1. Speed Limits:  The way our speed limits work is a joke.  To me, a speed limit sign means "Hey, don't go faster than this or you'll get a ticket but we probably won't catch you so don't worry about it too much."  Instead of a speed limit, there should be a posted speed range.  If you go above or below the range, you get a fine.  Instead of having to get caught by a cop, cars should be equipped with some kind of monitoring device.  A speed bill is sent out at the end of the month and becomes just another bill to pay.
  2. Skill:  I estimate that maybe 10% of the people who have driver's licenses actually know how to drive.  That might be a high estimate, actually.  A lot of people can't seem to maintain a consistent speed or even keep the car between the lines.  I wish cellphones and drinking were to blame but, sadly, I don't think they are.  I think some people just can't drive.
  3. Rubbernecking: There needs to be a much higher barrier in the median to prevent people from gawking at accidents.  If I was in an accident and saw people gawking, I'd fling blood on them.  The gawkers impede traffic even more than the accident and sometimes cause even more accidents.
  4. The Weather: Ever notice how many people forget how to drive any time there's even a trace of precipitation?  I can't decide if they are worse drivers than the people who think it's perfectly fine to drive 80 mph on snow and ice on bald tires.
This concludes today's rant. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Go-To Mood Elevating Read

I've been feeling crabby and directionless lately so I picked up a P.G. Wodehouse novel and started reading a couple days ago.  While I'm still somewhat crabby and directionless, I'm also working a lot of 1930's British slang into my regular routine.  The point is, I'd enjoy reading P.G. Wodehouse even if I was simultaneously hacksawing one of my own legs off.

I had originally planned to devote an entire blog entry to old Plum, as he was sometimes called, but I already did that last year.  Instead, I think I'll add a list of Wodehouse quotes and get back to work.

  • The voice of Love seemed to call to me, but it was a wrong number.
  • I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.

  • He had just about enough intelligence to open his mouth when he wanted to eat, but certainly no more.
  • At the age of eleven or thereabouts women acquire a poise and an ability to handle difficult situations which a man, if he is lucky, manages to achieve somewhere in the later seventies.
  • I pressed down the mental accelerator. The old lemon throbbed fiercely. I got an idea.
  • It is no use telling me there are bad aunts and good aunts. At the core, they are all alike. Sooner or later, out pops the cloven hoof.
  • Warm-hearted! I should think he has to wear asbestos vests!
  • A girl who bonnets a policeman with an ashcan full of bottles is obviously good wife-and-mother timber.
  • Intoxicated? The word did not express it by a mile. He was oiled, boiled, fried, plastered, whiffled, sozzled, and blotto.
  • He felt like a man who, chasing rainbows, has had one of them suddenly turn and bite him in the leg.
  • This was not Aunt Dehlia, my good and kindly aunt, but my Aunt Agatha, the one who chews broken bottles and kills rats with her teeth.

Monday, December 5, 2011

How did I forget to blog about this?

Thursday, I ditched the work holiday party in order to go see Bonerama.  Bonerama is a New Orleans jazz/funk band featuring three trombone players.  It was awesome.  At various points, they invited local trombone players to get one stage.  During their cover of Frankenstein by the Edgar Winter Group, there were six trombone players on stage and so much sound you could feel it inside your chest.

There was no opening band and Bonerama played for almost three hours.  They played a lot of songs I'd never heard before, along with the two covers I really wanted to hear, Frankenstein and Helter Skelter.  My ears were ringing until noon the next day but it was totally worth it.

Here's a clip I found of them on Youtube.

So yeah, Bonerama was amazing and they'll be added to my list of bands I'll clear my calendar for when they come to town.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December goals

Trisha over at W O R D + S T U F F asked the question "What are your goals for December?"  I think I should attempt to answer it since I've been feeling pretty directionless since about twenty minutes after finishing my NaNoWriMo draft of Bullets Don't Blink.

  1. Write at least 2k per week of something besides blog posts.  It doesn't sound that hard.  Hell, I did it last week without a lot of effort.  I'm afraid of falling out of the writing habit completely and this will make sure I don't.
  2. Read at least four more books.  Since today is rainy, I don't think this will be a problem.
  3. Commit to an idea for the next big project.
  4. Surreptitiously print out a paper copy of Bullets Don't Blink at work
  5. Figure out what my read will be between Christmas and New Year's.  The past two years, I've done the two halves of Roger Zelazny's Amber saga.  Not sure what I'll read this year
There.  I feel slightly less directionless now.

In non-writing news, my brother decided to grow a beard as well.  He swears I never mentioned growing one but I'm quite certain I complained about the itchiness quite a few times in the first three weeks.  This leads me to believe he wasn't actually listening.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Beard Status plus a piece of NaNoWriMo history I just unearthed.

  1. Beard Status - My beard is definitely getting fuller.  I'm not sure how long it will last beyond when I see my brother on Saturday, though.  Way more white hairs than I thought.
  2. The very first set of notes for Bullets Don't Blink.  The part that I think is funny is that one of the characters is listed as "girl (dead)."  Apologies for the photo being sideways.  I thought I could rotate it after I uploaded it.

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 28 Report

Can you believe NaNoWriMo is almost over?  It seems like just yesterday I was worrying about not being prepared enough.

I had big plans about printing out Bullets Don't Blink today and starting my revision but I'm a little gunshy about it.  Not to mention still tired from the earlier exertions of the month.  Well, that might be an exaggeration.  I did write a short story during my clandestine writing time today that may become the first chapter of something somewhere down the line.

I guess I feel like I need to recharge my batteries a bit before returning to Bullets Don't Blink.  Reading a few quick crime books would go a long way toward preparing me for months of editing.

On a side note, it's really hard coming back to work after four days off.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Brief Thanksgiving Rundown

  1. A yellowjacket stung the shit out of me while I was walking to a cave on my Grandpa's property with some cousins.  It did not hamper my spelunking.
  2. Only 4 desserts this year, way down from 2007's 14.
  3. I found out my dad comes up with an excuse to leave early ahead of time when these family gatherings come along.  That must be where I get it from.
  4. My cousin that's a nurse has the best stories in the family.  Most of them are quite disgusting.
  5. Beard reception was overwhelmingly positive.  Looks like I'll be hanging on to it for another couple weeks at least.
  6. Since it was nice outside, there were no post-dinner comas on the couch.  This is the first time in recorded history when this happened at a family gathering.
  7. My uncle dug through a bag of trash for a reason that I can no longer recall.
That's about it.  It was very fun as far as Thanksgivings go.  Make me think Christmas will also be enjoyable this year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NaNoWriMo - Day 23 - Finished Already?

My first set of eyes emailed me today telling me she finished reading Bullets Don't Blink already.  I think it was Monday evening when I sent it to her.  Shouldn't it have taken her longer to read something that took three weeks to write?

Choice comments include:
  1. What's the deal with the Yankee's hat? Garvin found it in a tree and you never mentioned it again.
  2. I couldn't put it down.
  3. I can't believe you made me care about a murdering ex-con.
  4. Didn't see the twist at the end coming.
  5. When are you writing the next one?
All good points besides me completely forgetting about the Yankee's hat after I mentioned it.  I can't decide if I'll take it out when I start editing or work it in.

Even though I wasn't planning on it, I sent it to a couple other people for feedback before I start editing.  We'll see how they feel about it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

NaNoWriMo - Day 22 - Stop reading so fast!

So last night, my friend that always gets to read my NaNoWriMo novel first, usually while it's in progress, emailed me, hinting that she needed something to read.  I sent Bullets Don't Blink to her last night and went about my business, reading and thinking about writing.

This morning, I get into work to find her 25% done already!  It probably took me five or six days to write what she read in an evening.  Not fair, if you ask me.  She's enjoying it, though.  That's good.  I think having a picture on her desk of one of the real life locations depicted in the novel has boosted her enthusiasm.  I told her to make it last but I have a feeling she'll be done when we come back from the Thanksgiving holidays.

In other news, I was reading through Sweating Bullets, my July Camp NaNoWriMo novel last night.  While I like big parts of it, I'm thinking about using the overall plot and the nuns with chainsaws and combining them with some older things of mine that I also only like parts of.  I will have to think about this for a bit more before I commit.

Monday, November 21, 2011

What would you do in this situation?

This morning, I was checking my Gold Box on Amazon like I do every morning, looking for the 5% off deal of my dreams, when I saw a flashing banner telling me I could spend my Discover Rewards points on Amazon.  Since I always forget said points exist, I went ahead and linked my account.

Imagine my surprise when I suddenly had nearly $200 to spend on Amazon.

With almost 200 bucks to spend, I could buy most of the Christmas presents I'm responsible for and still have money left over.  Or I could go hog wild and buy a few books with this sudden windfall to reward myself for NaNoWriMo and put the rest toward Christmas gifts.

I went with the second option, of course.  Although my definition of "a few" turned out to mean nine.

At least the money I spend on Christmas presents will go toward my reward points and thus continue to fuel my addiction.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 20 Report - Beard status picture

Anyone remember what I used to do in my spare time?  Aside from a trip to the grocery store, I haven't done much today other than mess around on Facebook and catch up on blogs.

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 20 Report

It is finished. The murderer is buried in the cemetery in an unmarked grave beneath a marked grave.  It's complicated. The feisty bartender came out of her coma, which made me glad. I didn't want her to die.

Day #: 20
Words Written Today: 1134
Total Words Written: 70,196
Drive: Finished
Beard Status:
Estimated wordage remaining: 0.  I shall now relax until I begin editing.  Actually, I'm thinking about editing Sweating Bullets and the Pogonologist until then so I don't get out of the writing mood.

Things I need to take care of in the second draft:
  1. Inconsistencies in Garvin's personality at the beginning 
  2. I'm pretty sure I had Eileen Crawford come from out of town in one chapter and Burnfield in another
  3. Give the Pearce brothers more time before I kill them
  4. Involve Farren Cochran with the Pearce meth gang.
  5. It occurred to me as I finished the final chapter that I made no further mention of the Yankee's hat Garvin found near the crime scene in chapter 2.  I'll have to work that in.
The final word count was about what I thought it would be when I started.  It'll probably be closer to 80 once I go through a few rounds of edits.

That's all I have for today.  For everyone still writing, I'm pulling for you.  You still have ten days to finish.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 19 Report

The big push to get finished is upon me.  I've written quite a bit today and am thinking of pushing even farther.  I'm a little tired at the moment.  I'm going kick back for a little while and figure out what needs to happen at the hospital.  The end is definitely in sight, though.

Day #: 19
Words Written Today: 5194
Total Words Written: 69,062
Drive: Almost there!
Beard Status:
Sticking around until Christmas
Estimated wordage remaining: 1000-1500-ish.  All that's left is the bit in the hospital and some expansion of the shit that goes down at the cemetery.

Friday, November 18, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 18 Report

The end is within spitting distance.  What I'd originally conceived as an orgy of violence actually has some nice character moments in it.  Between the bouts of orgying, I mean.  I'll probably take the morning off since I'll be visiting my parents.  Belle should be exhausted for the next two days so I should be able to write in peace.  I'd like to finish up tomorrow but it will likely be sometime Sunday.

Day #: 18
Words Written Today: 3260
Total Words Written: 63,868
Drive: I'm going to finish by the time I go back to work on Monday if it kills us all!
Beard Status:
I may ask for a beard trimmer for Christmas in addition to my usual request for books
Estimated wordage remaining: 7500-ish.  Still one bad guy to kill, one meth lab to destroy, a Mexican standoff in the cemetery and the epilogue.  I still haven't decided if the protagonist's love interest lives or dies.

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 18 NEW CHAIR Report

After going to bed with an aching back last night, getting a new chair today was a priority.  I went to Office Max and bought this marvelous chair.  It is awesome.  It was easy to put together and is very comfortable.  If it were possible for a man to marry a piece of office furniture, this would be the only chair for me.

On the writing front, I've written 2700-ish words so far today.  I'm going to write more if I have the energy after my late dinner.  I'm outlining what's left and it looks like only 3 chapters and the epilogue to go.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 17 Report

I saw a shooting star while walking the dog this morning.  That's about the only thought I can formulate at the moment other than my back hurts because my computer chair sucks.  I'm really tired.

Day #: 17
Words Written Today: 2064
Total Words Written: 60,608
Drive: almost there
Beard Status:  maybe it'll stick around a little longer
Estimated wordage remaining: 10k.  Still two main bad guys to kill, a meth lab to push on the train tracks, and the big ending.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 16 Report

I wasn't feeling it today at work and didn't think I was going to get any writing done at all this evening.  Then, there was an incident when I got home.

Belle and I were walking down the road when a pitbull-shaped missile came running out of a yard after us at top speed. I picked up Belle with my left arm and picked up the biggest rock I could find with my right.  I don't remember consciously being scared after the first moment I saw the dog charging us.  I was too pissed off after that.  What really made me mad was how nonchallant the prick whose dog it was acted when he was coming to get it.  He may have been a little scared of me since I was yelling "Come get this mother fucker, you asshole!" at the time.

Eventually he came and got the dog.  I felt a little satisfaction when he came to my door to apologize a little later and turned around without speaking when he saw the look on my face.  Anyway, I was really in the mood to write about people getting shot in the face after that.

Day #: 16
Words Written Today: 2,409
Total Words Written: 58,544
Drive: let's wrap this shit up
Beard Status:  ready to say goodbye

Estimated wordage remaining: 15,000 (three main villains left to kill, one meth lab to destroy, sweet vindication, and the epilogue.  Yes, I know I've said 15,000 for the last three days)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 15 Report

I'm in the home stretch now.  All that's left is making sure the bad guys end up dead and throwing in a couple twists near the end.  I'm not sure how much I actually have left.  I guess it depends on how it goes when Garvin tracks them down.  I had a vision of the end of Mad Max but it'll probably take longer than that.  As of today, I think I've written the last chapter where no one dies.  Garvin has his weapons and his vehicle is on the way.  The manure starts hitting the windmill tomorrow.  Don't tell anyone but I may have shed a few silent man tears during a poignant scene in the hospital.  Yes, I'm pretty tough.

Day #: 15
Words Written Today: 2,478
Total Words Written: 56,135
Drive: mother f*ckers are going to die!
Beard Status:  not quite Fidel Castro yet

Estimated wordage remaining: 15,000 (three main villains left to kill, one meth lab to destroy, sweet vindication, and the epilogue.)

In non-NaNoWriMo news, I was recently awarded the One Lovely Blog Award by Krista M over at the Jelly Beans of Writing.  Once things are a little less hectic, I'll pass it around.

I'm also planning on posting some photos later since I'm way behind on that.

Monday, November 14, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 14 Report

After my day off yesterday and my going to bed at 7:30, I managed to get back on the horse today, despite my brother's attempt to derail me.  He did advise me that an AK-47 would be a more efficient way for a bar to get shot up than a bunch of guys with shotguns so I guess he's excused.

Day #: 14
Words Written Today: 3,606
Total Words Written: 53,657
Drive: In the home stretch
Beard Status: itches like hell

Estimated wordage remaining: 15,000 (heart to heart in the hospital, three main villains left to kill, one meth lab to destroy, sweet vindication, and the epilogue.)

Thoughts from Day 14

The day goes by slowly when all you want to do is go home and write about meth dealers getting shot in the face.

Here are some thoughts I've had regarding NaNoWriMo, the Universe, and Everything:
  1. With the right idea, I think that if I took two weeks off of work and went someplace without internet access and other distractions, I could probably crank out 75k of something.  Facebook and actually having to go to work were big time wasters for me during the first two weeks of NaNoWriMo this year.
  2. If I treat writing like a job instead of like I hobby, I can actually get things done.  Amazing how that works.
  3. The more comfortable I am with a story, the less I hate it during the second week of NaNoWriMo and beyond.  It seems pretty obvious but it's taken me four NaNoWriMos to figure it out.  I'm not as quick on the uptake as I sometimes appear.
  4. Once I finish Bullets Don't Blink, I'm going to start editing Sweating Bullets, the Camp NaNoWriMo novel from July that I've been talking about editing for the past six months.
  5. The next thing I write is going to be humorous or at least humorous to me.  I keep thinking of jokes while I write Bullets Don't Blink that have no place in it.
  6. Under no circumstances will I attempt to write 100k in a single month.  Thank you, NaNoWriMo 2010 for that harsh lesson.
  7. Raymond Chandler's advice of sending a guy into the room with a gun whenever you get stuck works wonders in a crime novel.
That's all I have for now.  I'll be back with a progress report as well as a current beard status once I get some writing done this evening.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 13 Report

And on the 13th day, I rested.  So far, anyway

Actually, the resting started shortly after I hit 50k yesterday.  Here are the non-writing activities I've enjoyed since my last post:

  1. Going to see Th' Legendary Shack Shakers and Splitlip Rayfield at the Old Rock House
  2. Sleeping until 8:30!
  3. Reading Gigantic Death Worm by Vincent Kramer in its entirety
  4. Took quite a few pictures
  5. mooched a meal from my parents
  6. finished reading Barbarian Beast Bitches of the Badlands
Now that I've done all that, I'm at a loss on how to spend the rest of the evening.  I'm thinking about writing. Even though I planned to take the day off, I don't really have anything else to do.  I don't want to start another book until after I finish the one I've been reading at lunch at work.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 12 Report

Dearest National Novel Writing Month,
I am writing to inform you that I passed 50,000 words several minutes ago.  The 50,000th word was "cellmate."  This makes four victories in four years.  I just want you to know that it was fun and we should definitely do this again sometime.

Dangerous Dan.

Friday, November 11, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 11 Report

Things continue to move forward.  So far, I haven't had the freak out that I normally have around this time.  I'd say that's a good sign.

Day #: 11
Words Written Today: 5,698
Total Words Written: 46,405
Amount to 50k Goal: 3,595
Total # of red herrings introduced: I've completely lost track
Drive: Tired but hopeful.
Beard Status: nearly full-fledged
Ways I Procrastinated instead of writing: drinking a couple beers, cooking dinner

Thursday, November 10, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 10 Report

Things are still moving right along.  A few days ago I was worried I didn't have enough material to get much past 50k but now I think I'm going to get close to 80k. 

Day #: 10
Words Written Today: 3,509
Total Words Written: 40,707
Amount to 50k Goal: 9,293
Total # of red herrings introduced: No man can say
Drive: Just about time for people to start dropping like flies.
Beard Status: Itchy as hell
Ways I Procrastinated instead of writing: going to work, watching Community

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 9 Report

Still on track.  That's about all I have to report.

Day #: 9
Words Written Today: 3,054
Total Words Written: 37,198
Amount to 50k Goal: 12,802
Total # of red herrings introduced: No man can say
Drive: On track for the big push, already thinking of next story
Beard Status: recent plane crash survivor in the Andes mountains.  Little to no cannibalism as of yet.
Ways I Procrastinated instead of writing: going to work

Day 9 - I like this bit of dialogue I just wrote.

"Do you think Hepatitis Barbie is going to come over here or should we order at the bar?"

"She'll come over. Those guys at the bar seem to be too into the game to be drinking heavily yet."

Garvin and Katie watched as the blonde flirted with her customers, leaning down a lot more often than was necessary. Out of politeness, Garvin made an effort not to look but it was difficult.

"She's giving our profession a bad name with that outfit. It's hard enough for customers to get the idea that I'm not on the menu without her putting her boobs on display like that."

"Maybe she is on the menu," Garvin said.

"Here she comes," Katie said.

"Can I get you two anything," the blond bartender asked.

"A pitcher will be fine. Whatever you have on draught."

"Coming right up," the blond said, her fingertips brushing Garvin's arm as she walked away.

"You might be tonight's Ken if you play your cards right, Garvin."

"I'll pass. Her dreamhouse has probably seen better days."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 8 Report

Has it been eight days already?  In some ways, it feels like NaNoWriMo just started.  In others, it feels like seven or eight ice ages.

Day #: 8
Words Written Today: 2,915
Total Words Written: 34,144
Amount to 50k Goal: 15,856
Total # of red herrings introduced: I have lost count
Drive: Back on track.  If everything goes as planned, I'm planning on making a big push to hit 50k over the weekend.
Beard Status: recently shipwreck victim
Ways I Procrastinated instead of writing: eating dinner

Monday, November 7, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 7 Report

Yeah, the writing was rough going today.  It was mostly motivational issues on my part.  I was feeling pretty tired.  Anyway, I thought about how I'd rather tough it out than take a night off and wish I'd spent it writing tomorrow.

Day #: 7
Words Written Today: 2,757
Total Words Written: 31,229
Amount to 50k Goal: 18,771
Total # of red herrings introduced: Since the ending has mutated a bit, some of the herrings are no longer red.
Drive: Flagging due to sinus headaches and tiredness.
Beard Status: recently homeless
Ways I Procrastinated instead of writing: haircut, taking a picture of a spider that crawled up on my laptop while I was writing.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 6 Report

Today was a damn writing marathon for me.  In another chapter or two, I think people are going to start dying.  I'm going to be really sad if the sassy bartender Garvin befriended  has to die.  Maybe I'll just have her end up in the hospital.

Oh, and I'm really starting to hate frozen pizza.  It is no longer my NaNoWriMo food of choice.

Day #: 6
Words Written Today: 6,450
Total Words Written: 28,472
Amount to 50k Goal: 21,528
Total # of red herrings introduced: up near 10 by now
Drive: Now that I've passed the halfway mark, I'm feeling pretty confident.
Beard Status: Indiana Jones
Ways I Procrastinated instead of writing: photography, TV, walking the dog, eating Cheez-Its.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 5 Report

Well, I didn't hit my daily goal of 5k but I did fairly well.  I finally introduced those damned Pearce brothers and figured out a few things that are going to happen down the line.  If it turns out that feisty bartender has to die, I'm going to be sad.  Tomorrow is going to be a trip to the DMV, a conversation with the Deacon, and yet another trip to the local tavern.

Day #: 5
Words Written Today: 3,461
Total Words Written: 22,022
Amount to 50k Goal: 27,978
Total # of red herrings introduced: 4 or 5
Drive: Not as strong as yesterday.  My brain is tired and I want to watch storage wars and eat Cheez-its.
Beard Status: Razor Ramon
Ways I Procrastinated instead of writing: photography, TV

Friday, November 4, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 4 Report

Day 4 is swiftly coming to a close. Tomorrow marks the day where I will have introduced the majority of my characters.

Day #: 4
Words Written Today: 5,074
Total Words Written: 18,561
Amount to 50k Goal: 31,439
Total # of red herrings introduced: one more
Drive: Strong.  I'd like to have 25k by close of business on Sunday
Beard Status: Clint Eastwood at the beginning of The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly
Ways I Procrastinated instead of writing: Getting my car worked on, going to the used bookstore, gratuitous dog walking, Facebook, eating dinner.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 3 Report

My eyes are tired but I'm too caffeinated to sleep.  I guess I could figure out what I'm going to write tomorrow instead.  I still don't have all of my characters introduced but it's coming along. 

Day #: 3
Words Written Today: 5,299
Total Words Written: 13,487
Amount to 50k Goal: 36,513
Total # of red herrings introduced: at least two
Drive: Making NaNoWriMo my bitch.
Beard Status: Scruffy
Ways I Procrastinated instead of writing: stopped to watch Community

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 2 Report

I kicked some ass today.  Not quite 5k but closer than yesterday.  Garvin's on the case and progressing nicely.  I still don't have all my characters introduced but I thought of some new wrinkles today.

Day #: 2
Words Written Today: 4513
Total Words Written: 8188
Amount to 50k Goal: 41812
Total # of Curse words: count discontinued due to impending tidal wave of cursing
Drive: Almost in high gear.  The usual NaNoWriMo enthusiasm is building.
Beard Status: A hill that's recently been deforested but is slowly recovering
Ways I Procrastinated instead of writing: washing dishes, doing laundry, gratuitous dog walking

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 1 Report

Well, I didn't hit 5k but I think I did pretty good.  I'm chalking up falling short of my goal to both myself and my dog not quite being in the swing of NaNoWriMo just yet.  I managed to introduce three of my main characters.  Tomorrow should see me introduce three or four more and get things moving along.

Day #: 1
Words Written Today: 3675
Total Words Written: 3675
Amount to 50k Goal: 46325
Total # of Curse words: 1(unless ass counts)
Drive: Not quite in the swing of things yet.  I'll try to catch up with Teralyn Rose Pilgrim tomorrow.
Beard Status: Slightly sandpapery feel
Ways I Procrastinated instead of writing: washing dishes, gratuitous dog walking

Begun this National Novel Writing Month Has...

Well, here we are again.  NaNoWriMo Day 1.  I may have secretly written a bit in my cube this morning before anyone else arrived.  Don't tell anyone.

I'm shooting for 5k today.  While officially it's so I can finish early and enjoy Thanksgiving without writing-guilt, it's also because I'm anxious to evad the beard itchiness that should be setting in around Day 10.

A few days ago, Hildred Billings, writer of enormous chapters, posted the following template for her NaNoWriMo blog posts.

Day #:

Words Written Today:
Total Words Written:
Amount to 50k Goal:
Total # of Pages:
Total # of Gratuitous Sex Scenes:

I'll probably use a similar template for my end of the day posts, along with a photo detailing my beardification status.

Happy writing, everyone!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Last Day of Freedom

Ever have one of those weekends that feels like a blink of an eye?

A friend of mine recently had her life turned upside down and was looking to get the hell out of Indianapolis for a couple days so I put her up at my house.  Long story short, the weekend passed by very fast.  I did manage to take a ton of pictures at the zoo and Pickle Springs.  Notice the picture of the two Galapagos tortoises having awkward lurching sex on my previous post.  It was like watching two Volkswagens getting into a car wreck.

The Pickle Springs trip was partly a location scouting mission since that's where I'm planning for the body to be found in my NaNoWriMo novel.  Still not sure how high the cliff near the end of the trail is but I'm calling it 70 feet in the book.

I'm still a bit behind in my NaNoPrep but I have all day to do it since my workload is a bit light.  I mean, I would never do anything writing-related at work!

Looks like I'm doing the NaNoBeard.  I shaved off my sideburns last night so I'm looking pretty baby-faced at the moment.  Maybe I'll try to finish in record time just so I don't have to experience beard itch.

Tonight's going to be my last evening of freedom prior to NaNoWriMo.  I'm thinking I'll load up on supplies on the way home and try to read an entire Michael Shayne novel.  After I finish up my preparations, of course.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

NaNo Prep Tips

I was going to go a little more in depth in my NaNoWriMo Preparation tips but Lola over at Sharp Pen/Dull Sword did a really good blog post yesterday that covers all of my points and has fancy pictures.  I leave you in her capable hands.

Bullets Don't Blink is coming together in my head, even if I'm behind in preparation.  I've talked over the particulars of the plot with some of my trusted Goodreads chums and I'm feeling pretty comfortable with it.  I'm hoping my workload is lighter than it was in July and August.  I'd like to hit 50k by the 21st if possible.  It would be nice to have a Thanksgiving where I'm not thinking about all the writing I have to do.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thinking about growing a NaNoBeard.

After a short slumber of 5-ish hours, I'm back amongst the living.  I've been awake for two hours and all I've managed so far is drinking a lot of coffee, listening to some tunes, and shaving off the goatee I'd been working on.  All the gray hairs in it were getting long and unmanageable.  Also, I had another idea in mind...

I'm thinking about growing one of those motivational beards. I figure I can start not shaving on November first and beard it up until I either hit 50k or just can't take it any more.

We'll see if I actually do it.  I kind of like being able to see my chin again.

Now that The Slackers have left town, I can focus on NaNoWriMo again.  I'd like to say that I'm going to take advantage of my time off today to iron out some details but I'm not committing to anything besides eating, relaxing, watching the Slackers documentary I bought last night, visiting the local used bookseller to gush about the Slackers show, and possibly finish reading The Prettiest Girl I Ever Killed.

In my befogged condition, I almost forgot to mention this:  I got a message on Goodreads from Scribner about reviewing an advance copy of The Last Good Man.  I'm hoping a pipeline of ARCs will open up if they like my review.  This could be another step closer to getting paid to read.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Slackers Report

Well, another Slackers show has come and gone.  Here's how it all went down.

After a quick dinner at IHOP, we arrived at the Firebird right on time.  Deals Gone Bad went on first.  While I like Deals Gone Bad, the two parts of their set I remember most vividly are the parts involving the Slackers.  First, Dave Hillyard joined them on stage with his sax and the damn microphone was dead.  Secondly, Vic Ruggeiro played harmonica with them on a different song and they finally got the mic fixed.

The Slackers got set up in near record time and belted out songs one right after another.  Here's the songs that I remember them playing.  I'm a little fuzzy on the order:
  1. Every Day is Sunday
  2. Feed My Girl
  3. Attitude
  4. Reach Out
  5. Living in a Tool Shed
  6. Same Every Day
  7. I Want to Thank You
  8. We Can Work it Out
  9. Ska Boheme
  10. The Nurse
  11. Please Decide
  12. Bin Waiting
  13. Knowing
  14. Rider
  15. Who Knows
  16. Pedophilia
  17. Have the Time
  18. Game Of Love" (Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders Cover)
  19. Old Dog
  20. Watch This
  21. What Went Wrong
  22. Saw a Fool
Thanks to Greg for the assist on the track list.  I know the order is off and I'm sure I forgot a couple.  I was particularly happy that they played The Nurse and What Went Wrong.   At the end of the regular set, sometime before Old Dog, Dave Hillyard and Glen Pine came down into the audience and played.  It was great and reminded me of the good old days at the Creepy Crawl when they'd play out the front door, come around the building, and come back in the back door.  I've seen the Slackers somewhere in the 16-18 time range and I'd say this show was in the top two.

If I had to bitch about something, it would be the guys who didn't seem to realize how packed the Firebird was and kept swinging their elbows around.  A couple times I had to move because I kept picturing myself knocking the newsboy hat off of one of the assholes and then sucker-punching him as he turned around to see who did it.

In conclusion, the next time the Slackers come to your town, clear your fucking calendar.  Baseball shmaseball.

Strange Saturday Night Dream

So I was playing basketball in my driveway when my dog Belle suddenly grew to human size, was wearing blue jeans, and running around on her back legs.  She growled and I turned to see the rest of the neighborhood dogs running up the road on their hind legs, also wearing blue jeans.

I was trying to figure out what to do next when I heard massive footsteps and trees breaking.  A gigantic robot stomped into my hard and a voice came over a loudspeaker telling me to climb aboard.  Fortunately, there were rungs built into the thing's leg and I scampered up to a hatch on the thing's shoulder.

Inside the giant robot were a lot of army guys running around and pressing buttons.  One of them grabbed me by the arm and told me I was the new co-pilot.  I was taking to a control room inside the head.  Justin Timberlake was there.  I asked why Justin Timberlake was playing the pilot and the dream was over.


Today is the big day.  Today's tune is So This is the Night.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Dream I had Last Night

I was strolling through the airport when security flagged me down.

"What's the problem?" I asked.
"We saw you stroking your goatee and laughing maniacally earlier and have reason to believe you're a Middle Eastern terrorist."
"Fine.  Where do you want to do this?" I asked.
"You don't seem overly concerned, sir," the security guy said.
"Well, while I am dark-complected, I don't think too many Middle Eastern terrorists have greenish-gray eyes and a rural Missouri accent."

The guy led me into a tiny white room and left the room to run my driver's license.  He soon returned.
"Sorry, sir.  You're free to go."

I pretended like I was going to shake his hand and punched him in the balls.  Then the dream was over.

My favorite part was that they saw me stroking my goatee and thought I was a terrorist.


Two more days! Today's tune is Don't Have To.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Orange Soda Chicken Experiment

I was talking to a friend about cooking a couple days ago when I remembered this recipe.  Unfortunately, no written record exists anywhere.  Earlier this evening, I attempted to reassemble the recipe from memories partially shrouded in an alcoholic haze.

First, the ingredients:
A pound of chicken.

12 ounces of orange soda.  I used one and a half of these cute little bastards.  I'm not sure if the Deadwood complete series boxed set visible behind them on my kitchen table is necessary but it couldn't hurt.

A hot sauce of your choice.

A package of stir fry vegetables.  You may need more than one.

An alcoholic beverage of your choice to drink while you're cooking.  Smithwick's is preferred but I suppose other beers or mixed drinks would work.  I suppose you could attempt it without having a tipple at the same time but it's not recommended.

First, you're going to want to dump your orange soda into a pan, then add a small dollop of your hot sauce.  Don't add a shitload or it will be to hot to eat once the mixture cooks down.  Note that dollop and shitload are highly scientific units of measurement.

Turn up the heat and start cutting your chicken into bite-sized chunks.  The basic premise of this recipe is to get the mixture of orange soda and hot sauce boiling and throw the chicken in.  By the time you're finished, hopefullly, the chicken will be permeated with a sweet and spicy taste and also have a nice sweet and spicy glaze on the outside.

I was about two beers deep into my six pack at this point so time became rather flexible.  Cook the chicken in the mixture until the mixture has been greatly reduced.  You'll want to leave a little of the sauce at the bottom of the pan.  Once your chicken is cooked, throw in your veggies and put the lid on and let the veggies steam in the citric mist you've been creating.

The success or failure of this process hinges on a few factors:

  1. You're going to want enough vegetables to make it worthwhile.  One bag wasn't quite enough.
  2. You want a hot sauce that has some bite to it.  The East Asian Tabasco I picked didn't really have the heat that I was looking for.  Still, it's a nice tasting sauce.
  3. Don't use too much soda!  This is the most important factor when attempting this.  Too much and the shit will never cook down enough.  In retrospect, 8 ounces probably would have been plenty.

Excitement Level Increasing...

First off, I have a confession to make.  It was 55 degrees in my house last night when I got home so I caved in and turned on the heat despite my resolve to not turn it on until November first.  Now that I've gotten that off my chest, it feels as if a huge weight has been lifted and I can get down to business.

My excitement level regarding NaNoWriMo is finally reaching appropriate levels after weeks of meh.  I've decided that I'm lifting the inept country police department from my August Camp NaNoWriMo fragment and possibly some of the dialogue as well.  I'm adding another deputy, a guy that never speaks or does much of anything (until I need him to) to be one of my wildcards.  I still need to come up with some names and locations but I think things are coming together.

Actual dialog from work about Muammar Qaddafi

Adrienne: Has it been confirmed that Qaddafi is dead?

Joe: It doesn't matter.  I'm pretty sure I'm not in his will.

Me: I know I'm not.  He's still mad at me for that time I tracked mud on his nice new carpets.

Joe: He never forgave me for that time I was picking up his neighbor's daughter for a date and kept honking my horn.  He didn't like the honking at all.


The Slackers countdown continues.  Today's tune is Body Double.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


It's getting to be that time of year where I need to stock up on crucial NaNoWriMo supplies.  What?  You thought this was going to be about outlining and such? 

My NaNo supplies consist of the following:
  1. frozen pizzas
  2. fish sticks
  3. ramen
  4. granola bars
  5. a few pads of post-its
  6. coffee
  7. tea
See the pattern?  I tend to focus on things I can heat and eat.  Or just eat, in the case of granola bars.  The tea and coffee are the caffeine delivery systems I prefer.

Other things I'll have to do include taking care of the leaves in my yard so I don't have a heaping pile once NaNoWriMo is over.  Actually, I think that's about it.  I'll probably do a deep house cleaning so I can rule that out as a way to procrastinate.


Five more days.  Today's Slackers tune is Lazy Woman.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sometimes Mondays last until Thursday evening

It's hard for me to go to bed on Sunday nights.  Monday's right around the corner and I've no doubt upset my sleep schedule by then.  Last night was more of the same.  I finished Fourth Down to Death, a cheesy Brett Halliday paperback from the 70's.  As far as detective stories go, it showed me what I don't want to do in Bullets Don't Blink.

Anyway, it was tough silencing my brain after that.  I managed to fall asleep but Belle woke me up around midnight.  I thought she had to go to the bathroom but it turned out she really wanted to give her realm a surprise inspection.  Good thing there was enough moonlight to walk by.  So, I'm really tired today.

The midnight walk wasn't all bad, though.  I ironed out a few more details in Bullets Don't Blink.  The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of basing the ficitious Missouri town it takes place in on the semi-ficticious Missouri town I live in.  Change some names and distances and Bob's your uncle.  Actually, I do have an Uncle Bob.

It seems to me that I should come up with some clues for Garvin to uncover at each of the locations he initally visits.  I already have some things in mind but I'll likely throw some random things in so I have some additional ammo if I get stuck.  I've never tried writing a mystery before so this should be a learning experience.

In other news, from here until November 1st, I'll be reading nothing but detective novels for inspirational purpose.  I think I have enough to last me two weeks.

6 more days

Today's Slackers tune is The Nurse.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I've made the right choice

It took some restraint not to say "write choice" in the title.  Bad puns are awesome.

Anyway, I keep finding myself thinking of details to work into Bullets Don't Blink.  I figured out where my ex-con hero protagonist will get his guns this morning while I was walking the dog.  His personality is still a little elusive but I'm sure I can figure that out before the 1st.  I think he used to be a pretty driven criminal in his youth but 12 years in the clink has made him reluctant to do anything that might send him back there.

In non-writing news, I'm on pace to finish the new Terry Pratchett book today.  I'd say it's his best book in years but I've always been partial to Sam Vimes and the Ankh-Morpork City Watch books.

7 more days

Only one more week!  Today's tune: Runaway

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

Yeah, looks like I'm switching to the detective story after all

Here's the teaser for Bullets Don't Blink:

A young woman pays down on his luck ex-con David Garvin to investigate her friend's suspicious suicide.  Garvin's investigation gets him entangled in a web of deceit, drugs, and death!  Can Garvin find the woman's killer before he ends up dead or back in jail?

When you're staring down the barrel of a gun...

Bullets Don't Blink!

Now I just have to write the damn thing.

9 Days and Counting

Nine more days until the Slackers come to town.  Today's song - The Fried Chicken Song.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Shouldn't my excitement level be higher than this?

I find myself lacking enthusiasm about NaNoWriMo.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still looking forward to it.  I'm just not as gung-ho about it as I've been in previous years.

The idea of setting aside The Big Red Ragnarok and doing a regular detective novel has crossed my mind quite a bit recently.  For one thing, I'm not in a fantasy type of mood and for another, I've been wanting to write one for a long time. 

I've still got a couple weeks to decide, I guess.

Two Countdowns? It just isn't done!

There are 19 days until NaNoWriMo kicks off.  However, there is another impending date that's getting priority for the moment.

My favorite band, The Slackers, are coming to St. Louis in a mere ten days.  To celebrate the occasion, I will be posting a youtube video each day until then highlighting one of my favorite Slackers tunes.  Here's today's, You Don't Know I.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

That Damnable Seductress!

For the past couple years, I've been watching less and less TV in order to do more reading.  It's gone very well.  My unread pile continues to dwindle and I shouldn't have very many books when 2012 hits.  However...

... Around the beginning of July, I began watching the DVD backlog I'd been accumulating and discovered that not all television sucks.  First, I watched both seasons of Flight of the Conchords in near record time.  After that, it was the first season of Soap.  From there, Futurama season 5 and the second season of the Sarah Silverman Program.

In the last month, I've watched a shameful amount of television.  It all started when Deadwood was the deal of the day on Amazon.  I burned through five episodes one Sunday afternoon and watched all 36 episodes in two weeks.  That'll put a damper on anyone's reading.

As I neared the end of Deadwood, Justified became my new target.  I finished the final episode of season 1 last night.  Luckily I've become enamored with the Matt Smith version of Doctor Who lately and series 5 was in my gold box on Amazon the other day.  I'll be watching the good Doctor in the coming weeks and plan to have it wrapped up before NaNoWriMo kicks off.

It's odd.  I've always been apprehensive about dipping my toe in the Doctor's universe.  There are hundreds of episodes and multiple Doctors.  Until recently, the only ones I've ever seen have been John Pertwee or Tom Baker episodes.  For some reason, every time I visit my parents, BBC America has a Dr. Who marathon and I've since become hooked on the Matt Smith version.  I don't intend on backtracking at this time but you never know.

Research Shmesearch

If past years are any indication, I should have a lot more in the way of written notes for my NaNoWriMo story by now.  As it stands, all I have are a few emails to myself and some post-its.  Oh, and the beginning and ending are both pretty well formed.

I'm a little conflicted on how much prep I should do before November 1 hits.  In 2009 and 2010, I had pages of stuff and a rough outline by now.  On the other hand, in 2009 and 2010, the story didn't feel as lively as my Camp NaNoWriMo novel, Sweating Bullets did. 

Sweating Bullets had the back cover teaser, some character names, and a few scenes ideas when July 1st hit.  Sweating Bullets was the first story in a while where the characters felt like they were doing what they wanted, not what I wanted.  Sweating Bullets didn't need the worldbuilding that I'm going to need for The Big Red Ragnarok, though. 

At the very least, I think I should come up with a few characters for Loki to interact with on each of the Nine Homeworlds and some visuals.  I know my dwarves are going to be steampunky and the elves of Alfheim will probably be feral cannibals.  Not sure about the giants of Jotunheim yet apart from them being quite tall.

Another aspect of the story I'm still waffling on is who will be tagging along with Loki as he tries to piece together who was behind the attempt on Odin's life.  Odin had two ravens that served as his spies and I'm thinking about one or both of them tailing the Trickster, mostly so he'll have someone to banter with.  Another idea I had was having a Valkyrie tag along, possibly with her own agenda.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mr. T-Bone and The Young Lions - The President Of The Republic Of Bananas

I couldn't find anything from the new album on Youtube so here's some classic Mr. T-Bone.  He played this one last night.

He looks taller on my records - The Mr. T-Bone report

The evening was off to a rocky start.  Greg moved since the last time we went to a show so I had to find his new place.  I would have been fine if I hadn't looked at the map and just went with my instincts.  I had to turn around once but I still got there in time for two episodes of The Monkees.

Once Greg got ready, two of the fastest eaters on the planet hit the South City Diner.  I saw something called the meatloaf omelet on the menu and my mind was made up.  It was delicious.  A very short time later, we finished eating and headed for Off Broadway.  We may have been the first people there who weren't with the bands.

As show time grew nearer, I started to feel bad for the bands.  Not a lot of people had showed up.  And by not a lot, I mean around 20.  It was around this time I noticed an older gentleman about my size or possible a little shorter.  I could tell by the way he was watching Murder City Players set up that he was a musician.  I couldn't remember what any of Eastern Standard Time's members looked like other than the singer, who shaved off his waist-length dreadlocks since the last time they came to town, so I assumed he was with them.

Greg and I hit the Jump Up Records table and I filled some holes in my ska collection.  The selection they brought was a little crappy, mostly 90's stuff, but I still found a couple King Django records I didn't have.

Murder City Players went on first.  They've never been one of my favorite bands but they're local and are good for getting the crowd into it.  They played some good classic ska and reggae tunes but I was really waiting for Eastern Standard Time.

Eastern Standard Time hit the stage and I saw the older man playing trombone for them.  It was then I first suspected I'd been standing next to Mr. T-Bone for twenty minutes without realizing it earlier.  Did I miss my chance to talk to him?

EST blew the tiny crowd away.  They played like there were 500 people in the bar instead of less than 50.  My only gripe was that they didn't play Get Ready.  That Girl was easily their best song of the night.

After a short break, EST took the stage a second time and it was then I was sure the trombone player was Mr. T-Bone.  Mr. T-Bone sang and belted out the tunes with his trombone for another set.  It was great.  He played songs off of all his albums, a lot of them from the album that came out the day before.  If I hadn't bought it earlier in the evening, I would have rushed to the merch table to buy it.

The set ended and Mr. T-Bone was immediately surrounded as he walked to the back.  Again, I kicked myself for not talking to him when I had him to myself before the Murder City Players.

As the band broke down their equipment, Greg said he wanted to go out back and have a smoke before we left.  We went outside.  Guess who showed up to have a cigarette a minute or two later?

Mr. T-Bone got a light from Greg and proceeded to talk with us for at least half an hour.  I always like finding out my favorite artists aren't assholes and T-Bone was great.  His English was very good and he told us about playing with the Slackers and the Skatalites and other bands I have great love for.  You could tell by the way he talked about them that even though he'd been playing for years and years, he was still a big fan of ska.   He told us about touring in Europe and trying to book bands over there.

We mentioned Dr. Ring-Ding and Mr. T-Bone asked us if we knew the story?  We said no and he told us how he was playing with a two-tone band and the DJ played a tune between sets and T-Bone was awestruck and knew he wanted his band to sound like that.  The record was Dandimite and the artist was Dr. Ring-Ding.

I told Mr. T-Bone I loved his record of instrumentals and he said he loved it too and it was the only one of his own records he could listen to.  He said that he normally can't listen to any of his own recordings until years later, once he forgets how much work went into it.  That resonated with me since I'm the same way about my writing.

As things wound down, Mr. T-Bone told us he was going to Brazil in a few weeks to do some shows and record a dub record.  He finished up his cigarettes and we shook hands and headed out.

Greg and I walked out even bigger Mr. T-Bone fans than we were going in.  It was a great show.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Woden's Day

I'm actually surprised people haven't lobbied to have the names of the days of the week changed so they are no longer named after the Norse gods.

Last night, I'd planned to stock up on groceries and get back on the work out train since missing Monday.  It did not come to pass.  Instead, Belle and I went fishing with my parents and dined on summer sausage, cheese, and crackers.  I got some good pictures that I'll post when I get home.  I'm hoping for another trip to the lake once the leaves change a bit more.

Interesting (to me) search terms:
  • barry yourgrau
  • cliff erickson
  • millard mithell
  • barb wire testicle
  • curry in fridge now stinks
First off, I have no idea who Barry Yourgrau, Cliff Erickson, or Millard Mithell are and how searching for them could land someone on my blog.  Barb Wire Testicle is an interesting one.  Curry in the fridge now stinks is also something I can relate to.

Does anyone know what Gothise is and how I'm getting so many hits from it?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Another Tuesday

So this goatee experiment I've been conducting may be coming to a close soon.  I noticed this morning that I'm dangerously close to exceeding the acceptable number of white hairs per square centimeter.  Some parts of getting older suck.

The Big Red Ragnarok continues to occupy a lot of my leisure time.  Too bad I hate doing research.  I'd really like to find a kid's book about Norse Mythology.  I just need the essense, not the full experience since I'll be cherry-picking what I want from it anyway.  Since Loki has been imprisioned underground for centuries, I'm giving myself free reign to tinker with the technological progression of the Nine Homeworlds (other than Earth) that hang from the World Ash.  I'll probably focus on some of the lesser known Norse Gods so I have a bit more wiggle room.

I keep seeing a hawk down by the cemetery during Belle's daily survey of her vast territory.  I got a picture the other day but the hawk was facing the wrong way and a little too far away to get a good picture.  I'll get him one of these evenings.

One of the books I got at Bouchercon was The Deputy by Victor Gischler.  It is flipping awesome!  The main character is a part-time deputy and kind of a clueless loser at the beginning of the book.  Then carnage rains down upon him and he's slowly becoming a character I can get behind.  I'm only forty pages from the end and can't figure out how things are going to go down.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday - Steppenwolf and the Dark Tower (and also regular bloggy stuff)

I finished Steppenwolf Thursday night and my reading energies have been somewhat depleted ever since.  This has given me time to notice similarities between Hermann Hesse's signature work and my all time favorite series, the Dark Tower.  From here on out, there will be SPOILERS so consider yourself warned.

  1. Roland and Harry Haller:  The leads of both works are men at war with their core natures.  Roland's obsession with the Dark Tower mirrors Haller's conflict between his humanity and the Steppenwolf he believes lives inside him.
  2. Stephen King and the Treatise of the Steppenwolf:  Just as Roland finds out that Stephen King has been chronicling his adventures, Harry Haller receives a book entitled The Treatise of the Steppenwolf that mentions him by name.
  3. The Doors:  In the Drawing of the Three and The Dark Tower, Roland encounters doorways to other worlds, much like those Haller encounters in the Magic Theater.  Specifically, the doors Roland finds in the Dark Tower function very much like those in the Magic Theater.
  4. The Dark but Hopeful Ending:  Just as Roland reaches the top of the Dark Tower and finds that he has reached the top countless times before and must continue in his time loop until he reaches the Tower with his humanity and the Horn of Eld before he is released from the cycle, Harry Haller kills Hermine in the Magic Theater and finds that he's going to have to live more lifetimes if he's ever to break from his cycle and become one of the Immortals.
In other blog news, I hiked about six miles yesterday and I'm still tired.  And while I never really enjoy Sundays, I have to go to a visitation later so this one is bleaker than most.  My dad's aunt passed a couple days ago.  I've only met her six or seven times and no one tried to guilt me into going but I feel like I should.  I've never been really close to my dad's side of the family and I'm hoping to change that.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Why I write

A few days ago, The Orange-Obsessed Hildred Billings wrote a touching blog entry about why she writes.  My story isn't nearly so touching.

I come from a long line of liars, bullshitters, and raconteurs, so I've always been interested in story-telling.  There's an episode of The Simpsons where Bleeding Gums Murphy tells Lisa that music is like a fire in your belly that spews out your mouth and you'd best put an instrument in front of it.  That's kind of how story-telling is with me.

It wasn't always writing, however.  For most of my life up until the end of my first marginally successful stint in college, drawing was my preferred method.  I drew a lot of comics and things of that nature.  Then I worked as a graphic designer for six months or so and haven't drawn very much since.  I came to realize that while I was good, I wasn't good enough to make a living with it.

I don't remember when I decided to take up writing as the way to get my stories out of my head but it took a little while to take hold.  I don't think I finished much of anything until I was 25 and the first novel-length work I wrote took about a year and a half to write, finishing when I was 29.  I wrote a few 30,000 word novellas and fragments after that.  Then came NaNoWriMo and my three year win streak, and here we are.  

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fabulous Fall Friday

Remember how much I enjoyed The Oriental Buffet, the little Chinese restaurant next to the used bookstore?  Apparently I lost my ability to taste salt at some point in the past and have since regained it.  It was like eating a salt block.

Fabulous may be stretching it a bit but it's still a beautiful day to be off.  I just got home from a trip to the used bookstore.  I traded John a box of Russian Stout mix for his beer kit for some noir and horror books.  I'd say it was win-win.  Other than that, the morning has been fairly uneventful.  I listened to some music and watched an episode of Deadwood.  Not a lot was accomplished other than drinking half a pot of coffee and taking Belle on a two mile walk.

Last night, I burned the 10 o'clock oil and finished Steppenwolf.  It was a great book but I'm not sure if I like it or not, if that makes sense.  There were a lot of concepts I may borrow for future writing endeavors.

The dog beckons.  I'm hoping to get some pictures to finish out the month in a colorful fashion.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Reviewing everything I read may be paying off...

Last Saturday, I finished devouring the newest Lawrence Block book, Getting Off, and wrote a review, as has been my habit for nearly ever book I've read in the past two-ish years.  On a whim, I posted the link to my book blog entry on Facebook and promptly went on to the next book in my pile.

This morning, I had an email from Mr. Block.  Attached was a PDF of his next book, The Night and The Music, a collection of short stories starring Matthew Scudder, and a request that I review it to spread the word before it is released.

Let me restate this:  MY favorite living crime writer asked ME to write a review for a collection of tales starring MY favorite detective character.  There may have been a certain percentage of strutting in my stride after reading that email and I hope I didn't make any embarassing noises. 

Needless to say, I'm either going to put Steppenwolf on the back burner and leap into The Night and The Music or finish wolfing (see what I did there?) down Hermann Hesse's masterpiece tonight.  It's not every day a man's favorite author plops an unreleased book in his lap.

On a completly unrelated note, how big of a PDF document is too big to print at work?

NaNoWriMo 2011 - The Teaser

Since I always write the back cover blurb before I start writing the book, here's the teaser for The Big Red Ragnarok:

On a sojourn to Midgard, Odin is cut down by assassins' bullets and all signs point to the giants of Jotunheim.  As Odin drifts in and out of a coma in the halls of Asgard, Thor plans the war of all wars against the giants and begins marshalling his forces.  Sensing that all is not what it seems, Heimdall releases Loki from his eternal prison to ferret out the masterminds behind the attack on the Allfather.  Can Loki find the culprit in time to avert the bloodiest conflict in history or will loosing the Trickster God from his bonds trigger The Big Red Ragnarok?

The text will likely change before November but the core ideas are all there.  Loki seems like a good detective lead since he's a slippery one and most of the rest of the Aesir seem like straight-ahead warriors to me.

I made several decisions regarding The Big Red Ragnarok yesterday.
  1. I'm using Encyclopedia Mythica as my primary source.
  2. To give myself a bit more freedom, my characters aren't the actual Norse Gods but the nigh-immortal beings that inspired the Norse legends.
  3. I figured out who the mastermind is but I need to work on his motivation.  Revenge will naturally be part of it but revenge alone doesn't make a very compelling villian, in my opinion
  4. While it is the least magical of the nine worlds, Earth is important.  Earth's populace's belief in magic controls the level of background magic (for lack of a better term) in the other eight worlds.  That's going to factor in to the story somehow.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Lightbulb Moment

I was driving from the bank to the bookstore Friday when thinns started happening inside my cranium.  I kept thinking of all the different stories I want to tell and how could I combine as many of the ideas I want to explore as possible for NaNoWriMo.  By the time I left the bookstore, I had a pretty good plot figured out with a lead character that I have a feeling will take over once I turn him loose.  Now I just have to research a bit of Norse mythology between now and November.

From this point hence, I am working four day weeks (or less) until the end of the year.  I will pause a moment to give people a chance to shout "Bastard!" or something similar.

Other than figuring out my NaNo novel (tentatively titled The Big Red Ragnarok), I didn't do much this weekend other than read, watch Deadwood, and take pictures.  The power going out for a couple hours yesterday afternoon freed up my time quite a bit.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Goodreads: Then and Now

The year was 2008 and I'd just broken up with my girlfriend when someone in the Christopher Moore group on MySpace (remember MySpace?) gushed about Goodreads.  I gave it a shot and never looked back.  MySpace was largely abandoned soon after.

Back in the day, Goodreads had a lot fewer users than it does now and a lot fewer people writing reviews.  I don't remember when I first noticed the top 50 reviewers or when I consciously decided to write reviews for every book I read.  I do remember the first time I got on the weekly top 50.  I read three Hard Cases that week and got a whopping 12 votes all told.  12 votes!  These days, you need at least 30 votes to get in the top 50 and even then it might be close.

When I first started writing reviews, I was happy if more than two people voted for them.  I laugh because ten votes is an average review for me.  Ten!  My reviews themselves have evolved quite a bit.  My first few reviews were just a couple sentences at most.  It took me a little while to get comfortable with the act of writing book reviews and developing my style.

Goodreads has changed the way I read.  Sometimes I jot down things I want to include in the review while I'm reading.  It's also changed what I read.  When ten of your Goodreads friends review the same book in rapid succession, it's hard to ignore.

You know how certain social networking websites endlessly muck about with the site, usually complicating it?  All of Goodreads' modifications have been fairly minor tweaks.  It still has a very simple interface.

I didn't expect this blog post to turn into a long commercial for Goodreads but that's what it feels like at the moment.  I'll just say that every reader should be on Goodreads.  It's like Facebook except that there's no Farmville, no one gushing about their pets, and no one sharing details about their life except for the most important one: what they happen to be reading.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


As the gulf of time widens between the present and the time I finished reading the Hyperion Cantos, the one aspect of the epic work that is the clearest in my mind is the structure.

Taking a cue from the Canterbury Tales, Hyperion makes extensive use of a frame narrative.  The pilgrims journeying to the Tombs of Time is a good story in and of itself but the pilgrims' nightly tales are what really sold me on the story.  The main story doesn't do a whole lot of world-building.  It's primarily a journey.  It's the individual tales that flesh out the world.

"So what does this have to do with anything?" you ask.

Nothing definite but I've been wanting to use a similar structure for six months now.  I've thrown some ideas around, starting while I was still reading Hyperion.   While I'm still leaning toward a much simpler crime story for NaNoWriMo, here are a couple of my ideas about using a structure similar to Hyperion.

The Basilisk of Dragonmouth Pass:
Trade is disrupted when a basilisk choses an important mountain pass to nest in.  Seven adventurers meet at an inn near the mouth of the pass and resolve to take on the basilisk together.  As they journey through the pass, they reveal their individual stories.  Too bad one of them is a liar and has been in league with the basilisk all along and is leading his fellow adventurers to the slaughter...

The Clockwork Assassin:
The Prime Minister is a marked man and summons the seven finest agents the secret service has to offer to protect him on a monorail journey while the troublemakers are ferreted out and disposed of.  Only he may be clutching a viper to his breast in the form of a deadly Clockwork Assassin...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hmmm.... This isn't the usual way I avoid housework...

For the past three years or so, I've cut way back on my TV watching in favor of chipping away at my stack of unread books.  I was up close to 200 at one point and I'd probably be done long ago if I'd quit buying books.  I'm currently at around 30 but the BoucherCon haul didn't help.

Anyway, during my years of minimal TV, people kept telling me how great Deadwood was.  I've been aware of Deadwood since it premiered but never really got into it.  It's hard enough getting up at 4:30 on Mondays without having stayed up late watching TV the night before.

I check my Amazon gold box daily, especially since I figured out that you can manipulate using your wish list (more on that later*).  Two weeks ago, the complete series of Deadwood was the gold box deal of the day, $60 for the whole shebang, marked down from $160.  I snapped it up and forgot about it until it arrived on Friday.

Sunday, I was wiped out after being at BoucherCon all day Friday and the family reunion/fish fry all day on Saturday.  I proceeded to lay on my couch and watch five episodes of Deadwood in a row.  I only planned on watching one or two but it had me ensnared.  Sorry, Eoin Colfer, you'll have to wait.

Last night, I had good intentions of blazing through Plugged in one evening.  I started watching Deadwood while I was making dinner and wound up watching three more episodes last night.  I'm already thinking about how many I can squeeze in tonight since dinner is cooking in the crockpot as week speak.  I'm betting on three or four.  Yes, I may have a problem.

* How to Manipulate the Gold Box on Amazon:
This is far from fool proof but it's actually not that difficult.  I discovered it when I was buying up the Shadow reprints Nostalgia Ventures was putting out a few years ago.
  1. Find a book you like by an author that has at least ten books
  2. Add all the books by the author except the ones you actually want to your wish list.
  3. Wait a day or two and one or more of the items you want will show up in the gold box.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award

As I mentioned in my post-BoucherCon funk the other day, I was recently awarded the Versatile Blogger award by Hildred Billings, a victory almost as momentous as the Dynamite Kid winning the WWF Junior Heavyweight title in Japan in 1982.

How's that for an obscure reference?

Seven things about me that aren't on my 25 things about me page:
  1. As far as I know, I'm only allergic to two things: yellowjacket stings and whatever artificial sweetener they use in pre-sweetened Grape Kool-Aide.
  2. The first time I wrote a 50k+ work, it took me a year and a half.  In NaNoWriMo 2010, I was able to write 50k in two weeks
  3. Related to #2, I have almost as many sizeable novel fragments as I do things I consider finished drafts, the biggest being my 82k unfinished novel from NaNo 2010.  Don't let the plot drive the story instead of the characters, kids!
  4. The only time I've ever been excited about a pair of shoes was a pair of Beatle boots I found at a discount shoe store in 2006 that were $75, marked down from $350.  I've since worn them out.
  5. I once baked my dad a cinnamon roll that was nearly a foot across after he saw such a thing on Man V. Food.  I think I may have covered that somewhere in my blog.
  6. One of my favorite comics of all time is James Robinson's run on Starman.  Read it!  Buy the omnibuses!
  7. Every year, I pick something I've been meaning to read and read it during the week between Christmas and New Year's.  This year will likely be the Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake.

I don't read as many blogs on a regular basis as I should so I won't be able to pass the award on 15 times.  Here are five of my favorite writing-related blogs @ bloggers:
  1. Trisha @ Word + Stuff  - I picture Trisha being an Indiana Jones type of character, finding time during her adventures in the Outback to sing and write.
  2. Krista M @ The Jellybeans of Writing -  I wish I'd had my shit together as well as she does at her age.  Keep up the good work!
  3. Teralyn Rose Pilgrim @ A Writer's Journey - Most writer's blogs that aren't mine are pretty informative but TRP makes me laugh on a regular basis.  Her account of sneaking into an art musuem is one of my favorite blog entries of all time.
  4. The East Coaster @ Published in a Year - Consistently informative and entertaining.  Pretty bold, too, if you ask me.
  5. Sarah @ Falen Formulates Fiction - Another blogger I find pretty funny.  Also, she has a cool steampunk writing hat.