Thursday, June 30, 2011

400th Blog Post - My Camp NaNoWriMo teaser

Sweating Bullets

Brett Cooper thought he had it made.  He ran a successful restaurant chain and was a world famous chili cookoff judge.  His girlfriend was a knockout.  Then one day he started sweating bullets from his pores and the world changed.  Now everyone is after him: the Sisters of the Most Holy Chainsaw, a group of militant fungus enthusiasts bent on summoning an alien monster to purify the world and bring about the age of fungus, and the ancient order that has been caretakers of the only weapon that can stop it since the world began.  It just hasn't been Cooper's week...

Intrigued?  Me too.  Now I just have to write the thing.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Camp NaNoWriMo already?

So, Camp NaNoWriMo kicks off Friday with a second one in August.  Why did I think there was only an August version?  Looks like Sweating Bullets might be coming to life sooner than I thought.  I was wondering what I was going to do with my spare time in July anyway.  It's looking like it could be a 30 day orgy of underpreparedness.

Here's what I have so far that I want to include:
  • A man that wakes up sweating bullet-like objects one morning
  • A sect of chainsaw worshipping nuns
  • Furries
  • Millitant environmentalists attempting to summon a sleeping alien monster that's in orbit beyond pluto
  • Cicada Men living far beneath the earth's surface
  • An order that's been the keepers of a bizarre organic gun since the Earth's creation
  • A vast conspiracy
As you can see, it's a comedy.

I guess I should start stocking up on NaNo supplies like frozen pizzas, spam, ramen, and granola bars.  I wonder if I'll have enough juice left after Sweating Bullets to work on another one during the second Camp NaNoWriMo in August.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Geek alert - Interesting Search Terms

As I've mentioned before, I'm a compulsive stats checker on my blog.  I'm particularly interested in what search terms people use to get here.  Here are some interesting ones from my two blogs this week:
  • gunslinger and jake little severian - I'm assuming I wasn't the only one that saw parallels between Roland and Jake's relationship in The Dark Tower and Severian's relationship with Little Severian in The Book of the New Sun.
  • refrigerator smells like curry - self explanatory
  • doom patrol gay kiss - I believe this is referring to the kiss between Monsieur Mallah and the Brain in Doom Patrol Volume 2.  As I asked then, is it gay if a gorilla with a male human brain passionately kisses a robot with a man's brain inside?
  • april hairy pics - Something tells me they were looking for porn, not at the bumble bee picture they got.
  • big hairy pics - see above. 
In a related topic, my book blog has been getting some serious hits due to my author interviews lately. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

The first comic I owned*

Way back in my pre-kindergarten days, my superhero loyalty was to Batman and Robin, more Robin than Batman, actually.  Who wouldn't want to hang around with a superhero like Batman?

Anyway, image my surprise when my mom brings me a comic home from the drug store and Robin's in it but teaming with Superman.  Was such infidelity permitted?  Were superheroes allowed to woo away one another's sidekicks?  I was intrigued.

Fortunately, the Dynamic Duo's domestic union proved to be as strong as ever and the fling with Superman was quickly swept under the rug.

I read DC Comics Presents #31 to tatters and eventually let it be thrown away.  Sometime in my twenties, I tracked down a near mint copy of this gem.  The story didn't wow me like it did when I was four or five but it still had its moments.  I was much more interested in the Whatever Happened to Robotman back up feature the last time around.

* I'm fairly sure I owned a couple issues of Spider-man before this but have no idea which title or issues they were, although I'm fairly sure The Wizard and The Trapster appeared in one of them.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Amazon Rant - Update

It took twenty days, a bit of revising, and a lot of cursing but my review of Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You finally showed up on Amazon.  I also reviewed Bradley Sands is a Dick and they took my review on the first try.  Apparently you can have as many Dicks in a review as you want as long as there's no Fucking.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Who wants a body massage? The GI Joe PSAs

Five or so years ago, one of my co-workers found a collection of GI Joe public service announcements that had been doctored.  Some were just odd but others were hilarious.  Imagine my surprise when today's write-up on daily steals referenced my favorite of the altered PSAs.  Click on this link to see the PSAs for yourself.  The body massage one is 003.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tough, Gruff, and Stuffed: The Garrett Cook Interview

Today's guest is Garrett Cook, author of the recently released Jimmy Plush, Teddy Bear Detective.

How did you get involved in the Bizarro movement?
It is convoluted and weird story, but I'll give you the short answer. The protagonist of my book Murderland (which was split into three parts by my former publisher Jeremy Needle because it works better that way)was named Jeremy Jenkins. Because of Jeremy Brett who played Sherlock Holmes for awhile, because of the Pearl Jam song Jeremy and because my college band was Mayonnaise Jenkins and the Former Kings of the Delta Blues. I bought an issue of Cemetery Dance in hopes of discovering some markets for the weird horror I was writing. I found none, but what I did find was an interview with Jeremy Robert Johnson, whose name was very close to that of my protagonist. I read the interview intently to see if I would have to change the name of the character. But I discovered a whole network of cool people writing things without boundaries. I wanted in, but I didn't quite know what to do. I queried a Bizarro press listed on Wikipedia, Fugue State. He rejected me, but he liked the book. So he kept me in mind. I queried Eraserhead, failed the interview, shrugged and thought my Bizarro dreams were over as fast as they came. I submitted stories to more conventional horror publishers, but they said my work wasn't genre enough. A year later, Jim Chapman from Fugue State wrote back to me about Evil Nerd Empire. Jeremy Needle accepted my book, saw Bizarro elements in it, of which there are many, though it's in kind of a nonplace genre wise. I got on the boards, I read Bizarro books, I got totally into it. I made friends. I impressed people. They impressed me. Went to Bizarrocon. Met the Eraserhead staff, bonded with Jeff Burk, who lived a town away from me for a few years and I never knew. Won the first annual Ultimate Bizarro Showdown. And I decided I could get used to all of this. I have some kickass friends doing kickass work and letting me do my best. It's beautiful. Guess that wasn't so short. Sorry, man.

Jimmy Plush, Teddy Bear Detective, is clearly a love letter to all things pulp. Who are some of your favorite pulp authors and characters?
Solomon Kane is my absolute favorite. I have a character who's a Solomon Kane parody, but nobody likes him. So I don't do more stuff with him. Obviously, The Shadow and Doc Savage. James M Cain's stuff is amazing. Lovecraft. Robert E. Howard. Chandler.

What was the inspiration behind the Jimmy Plush character?
I saw a little girl with a Paddington bear one day when I was sitting at Borders. It made me think of Jodie Sweetin on Full House's teddy bear.

Will there be more Jimmy Plush in the future?
I'll be writing more Plush stories. I wrote a new one last month, serialized in five parts. Good luck finding where in the continuity it fits in, but it's connected to Martian Pharaoh. There are 9 Plush stories total. Three were just for people who preordered the limited edition. I feel good that I get to give them that.

How was your experience with LegumeMan and Archelon Ranch?
Legumeman are amazing. I'm working on a sequel to Archelon Ranch called Cart Fop, Fart Cop. It's hard to write, so it might be awhile before it comes to fruition, but we've got something else planned.

Was there a book that made you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I've known I wanted to tell stories since I was about eight, so I don't think there was a book that made me want to be a writer, but there have been books that made me want to be a better writer. Ulysses, The Divine Comedy, The Great Gatsby were the three main ones that made me feel like I had to up my game. Since then, I've read books that had certain degrees of weirdness and beauty that let me know I had to up my game.

Who are some of your non-pulp influences?
So many. Dante, Burroughs, Ginsberg, Joyce, Kafka, Fitzgerald, Joyce Carol Oates and John Gardner were big inspirations. Each writer you love, you take a piece of even if it isn't something that looks on the surface like a component of your work.

What's your favorite book?
The Great Gatsby. It's both real and mystical, human and divine and noirish and sublimely written. Such great stuff.

Who's your favorite author?

What's the best book you've read in the last six months?
In the last six months? Alan Clark's Boneyard Babies might be it. Cameron Pierce's Abortion Arcade is also excellent.

Could Jimmy Plush take Roma the tomato from Eric Hendrixson's Bucket of Face in a gunfight?
When the protagonist fires a gun, he tends to hit things. Roma is at his best, an antagonist. Plush has the edge. And if you can't hit a tomato with a .45, you've got no business being a detective.

How long would Jimmy Plush survive in Thompson, New Jersey?
Three weeks. Then he would leave.

Any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
Listen to writers, not books about writing. Say hi to us. Ask us questions. We're on Facebook, we're at signings and we're human beings. If you think we're above it, then you think you'll be above it when you get published, and that's a terrible way to look at things. Don't whine about the business because you don't get published. Lots of people are published and we don't like being called whores and sellouts. "Read my manuscript, whore!" How does that sound to you? Shitty? Because it is shitty. Don't do it. Read lots of books. Learn about publishers from their writers and what they put out, not from The Writer's Market. Don't get cynical. Don't be a Pollyanna. Assume you've gotta get better. Don't stop. Do your best but assume your best must be better.

What's next for Garrett Cook?
I don't know...and I love it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Jive Turkey

So for the past week and a half, Belle wants to go for walks before I leave for work, when it's still dark outside.  I was thinking it was because she wasn't getting her fill of surveying her territory in the 100 degree heat. 

Wrong!  As I was walking her up the road and getting progressively late for work, clues started lining up like Tetris blocks.
  1. the mysterious large white splotches I kept seeing the in grass
  2. numerous cicada wings lying around and much fewer live ones
  3. several turkey feathers in the yard over the past week or so
Conclusion:  A turkey has been visiting my yard in the early morning hours and snacking on cicadas.  That would explain the above three things and why Belle is all sniffy and pully in the morning. 

I'm not sure how I can test this hypothesis as I'm reasonably sure that it's both illegal to trap a turkey and a turkey wouldn't fit in my live trap leftover from the squirrel in my basement incident of last year.

On an unrelated topic, I've had Heart Like a Lion by Pressure Point in my head since my Give 'Em the Boot entry.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Muscial Nostalgia - Give Em The Boot

First off, I hate 99% of the complations I listen to, much like I detest short story anthologies.  Most of the time, it's two or three really good songs (or stories, in the case of anthologies), wrapped in a sheath of garbage.  Today, I'll be talking about an old favorite that nicely illustrates that there are indeed exceptions to every rule.

I'm talking about

The year was 1997.  Yeah, I knew I was going to enjoy Give 'Em the Boot the second I saw it reviewed in a zine someplace.  At 20 songs for 4.99, it appealed to my slacker sensibilities.  I'd read articles about Hellcat Records and was anxious to see what they'd come up with.  Was I pleased?

Hell Yes!  Look at this track list!
  1. The Brothels - Rancid
  2. Watch This - The Slackers
  3. I Can't Wait - Hepcat
  4. New Breed - The Pietasters
  5. Spirit Of The Streets - business
  6. Los Hombres No Lloran - Voodoo Glow Skulls
  7. Barroom Hero - Dropkick Murphys
  8. Does He Love You - Skinnerbox
  9. 17 @ 17 - Upbeat
  10. Open Season - Stubborn Allstars
  11. Beautiful Girl - Gadjits
  12. Roots Radicals - Union 13
  13. Jaks - U.S. Bombs
  14. Fifteenth and T - Swingin' Utters
  15. Latin Goes Ska - The Skatalites
  16. Policeman - The Silencers
  17. Heart Like A Lion - Pressure Points
  18. Infested - Choking Victim
  19. No Time - F-Minus
  20. Playtime - David Hillyard & The Rocksteady Seven
Give 'Em the Boot is one of those rare compliations that has more than it's share of great tunes.  From the opening song from Rancid, which should have been on an album, all the way to David Hillyard, this thing is loaded with good shit.  When I picked this cd up, the only bands I was familiar with were Rancid, Hepcat, and the Voodoo Glowskulls.  Yes, Give 'Em the Boot introduced me to two long time favorite bands, The Slackers and the Skatalites.  By the time 1997 was over, I had bought CDs by Rancid, The Slackers, Hepcat, the Pietasters, Dropkick Murphys, Skinnerbox, the Stubborn Allstars, the Gadjits, the Skatalites, Pressure Points, Choking Victim, and David Hillyard & the Rocksteady Seven.  That's a pretty good percentage of the featured artists.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Did anyone feel that?

This morning, I woke up around 3:10 to hear things rattling on shelves and the bed vibrating a bit.  I thought "Huh.  Must be an earthquake" and fell back to sleep until my alarm went off at 4:30.  I forgot all about the quake until Carrie mentioned it a little while ago.  Apparently, it was a 4.

It reminds me of the big Midwest earthquake scare of 1989.  I can't remember what grade I was in but I do remember the nuns scaring us into thinking our houses would be destroyed and we'd be living in tent cities behind the school for weeks until our parents found us.  Is it any wonder I quit going to church?

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Amazon Rant

It all started Friday when Bradley Sands send me a message via Goodreads, asking if I'd post my review for Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You on Amazon.  This puzzled me, since I post most of my Bizarro reviews on Amazon anyway and was reasonably sure I'd done so for Rico Slade.  Sure enough, I went to Amazon and it wasn't there.

I went on to look for other reviews I'd recently done and I could tell some were missing, no telling how many since it's not like I keep meticulous records.  I definitely noticed Starfish Girl by Athena Villaverde wasn't showing up.  I poured over the two reviews for anything that might get them rejected and reposted them.  I waited and waited and they never appeared.  What really sucks is that Amazon gives you no reasons for rejecting reviews, nor does it give you access to what you've written.  An added wrinkle is that they MAY be using some kind of google search to see if the review is posted elsewhere.  I'm guessing the way to get around that is to make just enough changes to get around it or post my Goodreads reviews on Amazon before Google gets a chance to index them.

In an experiment, I posted the two cleaned-up reviews at Barnes and Noble.  They both showed up immediately.  Not only that, B&N has an editor that will let you know something's not right, like the word shit that found it's way past my proofreading.

I reposted both reviews again Sunday and again this morning.  For some reason, Starfish Girl is showing up now but Rico Slade is still absent.

Is Amazon too busy forming publishing imprints and selling Kindles to let reviewers know why something isn't showing up and actually do something that might move some merchandise?  Yes.  Yes, they are.

Black Holes and Country Music: The Patrick Wensink Interview

Today's guest is Patrick Wensink, author of Sex Dungeon for Sale and Black Hole Blues.

How did you get involved in the Bizarro movement?

I sent Kevin Donihe a manuscript for a short story collection called "Sex Dungeon for Sale!" about two years ago. He liked it and selected it for the first batch of New Bizarro Author Series books. After some mild hazing, I was in the club.

What was the inspiration behind Black Hole Blues?

My love of music and my fear of the Hadron Collider.

I used to be a rock critic and was kind of snobbish for years. Since leaving that life behind, I've opened my ears to lots of different, cool music I wouldn't have five years ago. Such as Country. By that, I mean older stuff, Hank Williams, Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb and outlaw stuff, especially Kris Kristofferson.

Around the same time of this awakening, I started reading reports about the Hadron Collider in Europe, where they were trying to recreate the big bang by shooting protons at each other like astrophysical laser tag. Some people thought it actually could create a black hole. Thinking about that possibility honestly scared me for a while. It made me feel incredibly helpless. But, really, when you think about it, we're all pretty helpless when it comes to death.

Somehow, those two converged to inspire the book.

What made you pick Kenny Rogers as J. Claude's foil?
Kenny started off as just a one-line joke. I have a State Fair-type mirror of Kenny Rogers in my office. Early in the writing I was just making a joke regarding how J. Claude Caruthers is kind of arrogant and made a crack at The Gambler. But as the book went on, there was a lot of rich material there and Kenny developed into his own character. It wasn't intentional, but I don't really plan books out, I just let them unfold. So when I leave the possibilities open like that, shit like Kenny Rogers happens. Which I'm grateful for.

From there, he became my real life enemy when he and his management snubbed me when I offered to let Kenny read the book. Thus, Death to Kenny Rogers was born.

Who would you say is a better actor: Kenny Rogers or Elvis?
Elvis made more movies, so I'd guess he's a more seasoned thespian. I'd like to see him do Shakespeare.

Who are some of your influences?
Books that are written very well on a sentence level, like Flannery O'Connor. News of the Weird-type articles and esoteric bits of history. And improv comedy. I'm in an improv comedy group and building a good scene on stage is not that different than starting with a blank page and needing to create a story. There is not Backspace key on stage, sadly.

What's your favorite book?
"On the Road" is the book I've read more than any other. It really got me excited about writing when I was younger. A book never touched me on an emotional level like that one, at the time. It doesn't really influence me much anymore, but it has a nostalgic spot in my heart.

Who's your favorite author?
Don Delillo. Whenever I read one of his books I feel like I'm wasting my time, because I'll never write anything that good. It's a crushing motivator. The best kind of motivation to work harder, really.

What's the best book you've read in the last six months?
Karen Russell's "Swamplandia!". The story of a Florida family running a gator wrestling theme park.

Could the 2009 New Bizarro Authors beat the 2010 NBAs in a drinking contest despite their superior numbers?
Tough call. Three out of the four of the 2009 crop hail from the South (Eric Mays in Virginia, DW Barbee in Georgia, and myself just a mile below the Mason-Dixon in Louisville, KY), so I think we take our drinking more seriously.

Is the Wentastic BBQ Sauce available in stores?
Sadly, no. I used to sell my own line of BBQ Sauce at street fairs in Portland, OR. (I wrote a story about it here: And, apparently, the FDA has rules about selling BBQ sauce in stores. Apparently, you have to have a food handler's license or some such bologna. They also disapprove of cats on the counter top while you're brewing a batch. What a bunch of fascists.

Any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
Read books that make you feel like you're wasting your time as a writer. Lots of them.

What's Next for Patrick Wensink?

Lazy Fascist will be releasing my next novel, Broken Piano for President in November 2011. I'm excited about this one, because I wrote it about 5 years ago. Got an agent and did the whole NY publishing house thing with it and got thoroughly rejected. One editor at Penguin called it "nauseating" which I still wear as a badge of honor. It's about a guy who's more productive when he's drunk than when he's sober. So, clearly, that editor was an unproductive drunk.