Monday, November 30, 2009

Make monsters monstrous

Though it's doubtlessly been pointed out elsewhere, vampires suck.

They don't delicately consider the feelings of needy teens and Louisiana barmaids. They eat teens and barmaids and everything else. Sorry, kids.

Vampires are dead monsters who return to the grave every day, and by night they snack on the first juicy carotid artery they see. That's the way they were originally drawn up, that's the mythology, and I'm sticking to it. Sensitive vampires didn't exist until the last couple of decades, and suddenly it seems that they've just been misunderstood for all these centuries and what they've really wanted all this time is a meaningful relationship with an extraordinary female. What is going on? Why are all the scary monsters getting turned into cuddly buddies? Can't we stand to be scared by anything anymore?

It's all the thrice-cursed romance writers' fault. They're cynically exploiting women who know, who just know, that they're special and different somehow, and someday the knight/prince/vampire lord of darkness will recognize their inner worth and take them away for happily ever after and feed them boxes of chocolate while they get pedicures.

Zombies, fortunately, aren't being treated (yet) as viable love interests. What we get instead are movies that make them seem funny and vastly entertaining to destroy. It's a different way of attacking the same problem: monsters are monstrous.

Leave my monsters alone. People should be screaming when vampires show up, not sighing.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

In Praise of Strange Traditions

I have much to be thankful for: my wife and child, a house to keep them safe, and entertaining brouhahas between my dogs and cats; a spiffy set of friends; and a good publishing deal that represents a dream come true for me.

But on the day itself, I think I'm most thankful for the strange traditions of my family. I have no idea how they started, but part of me doesn't really want to know. I'd rather enjoy the mystery and oddity of it all.

Here's what we do: we go out to the McDowell Mountain Preserve north of Fountain Hills and have our full turkey dinner out there, on stone picnic tables, amongst the Saguaros and the Palo Verdes and the teddy bear cholla. Now this dinner is all-out, mind you, there's nothing missing: we have the gravy, we have the sweet potato thing with the marshmallows on it, and several homemade pies are on hand for dessert. It just has this potluck feel to it since everybody brings something and it's not all cooked in one kitchen, plus there's the whole paper plate thing.

After the dinner we all hike up Lone Mountain to burn maybe 300 of the 5,000 calories we consume, and then comes the topper: we string a rope over a Palo Verde branch and beat the crap out of a pinata. This is simply inexplicable to me and I love it. I remember doing it when I was a kid, and now I watch my daughter do it and I'm telling you, it's a really good time.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday simply because my family has managed to stray far, far away from the Hollywood-packaged motif of sitting around grandfather's table and squabbling about this and that. We have a freakin' picnic among plants that want to stab us and nobody does the dishes! We're Bohemians! We're fightin' the Power! Stickin' it to the Man! We're On the Bus!

I hope y'all are happy and safe and thankful for this fortunate life we're living.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Progress Report

Today I reached 50,000 words on HEXED. I also went through a whole box of tissues because I'm ill, but at least I'm getting some writing done in between the sniffles.

Thank goodness for Day Quil.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Screamo Christmas Carols, please!

Can somebody please, please, please release a death metal collection of Christmas songs? Actually, I have the perfect band for it: Lamb of God. The singer delivers his lyrics like he's hawking up the personal loogie of Satan, and it's that voice that I want to hear sing "HARK!" And then you'll get this thumping double-bass drum groove and a shredding guitar lick, and then he'll growl along with it like tigers hunting Siegfried and Roy, "the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn king, PEACE ON EARTH! and mercy MILD! God and sinners reconCILE!" And then they'll just thrash for three minutes. Yeah!

I'm telling you, if they'd play that in the stores instead of the same old tinny, weepy, wussy stuff, I'd be buying stuff so fast Visa wouldn't realize I'd maxed out my card until I'd single-handedly ended the recession.

Wouldn't it be awesome to hear Metallica do Jingle Bells? I'd love to hear the vocal stylings of James Hetfield applied to such a jaunty classic:

Dashing through the snoooooow-AH!
In a one-horse open sleigh-AH!
Over the fields we goooooo-AH!
Killing all the waaaaay-AH!

There's money to be made here, I'm sure of it. Metalheads need something to keep them sane amongst all the yuletide cheer. Who will join me in demanding this music? A psychobilly song or two would be fun, too:

Bunnies roasting over an open fire
Zombies nibbling on your toes

You get the idea.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

In the old stories, everybody died

I shocked my students yesterday when I told them that stories didn't used to have happy endings. Before the corporate giant of Disney, the bad guys used to win, because the tales reflected the truth of the world: the powerful ate the weak.

Little Red Riding Hood was eaten by the Big Bad Wolf, and the same wolf ate the first two of the three little pigs.

The Little Mermaid died in Hans Christian Andersen's original tale; she didn't get married and sing happy songs with crustaceans.

Goldilocks? The bears ate her. Hansel & Gretel? All cooked crispy in the witch's oven.

And fairies, by the way, aren't cute little creatures with wings that want to help out Peter Pan and sprinkle children with pixie dust so they can fly. One of the reasons I wrote HOUNDED was to depict fairies as the heartless enemies of man they originally were in Irish legend.

Perhaps Disney's most infuriating episode of meddling with the past is Pocahontas. The real Pocahontas died at age 22 of tuberculosis or pneumonia. She didn't live happily ever, painting with all the colors of the wind with her raccoon and hummingbird friends.

Sorry, kids, I don't mean to be mean: I just think Disney's like high fructose corn syrup. It's not real, it's not good for you, and you shouldn't swallow any of it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pulchritudinous Poland

I used a five-syllable word in the title just to freak out one of my students. He thinks that words longer than his fingernail should not be allowed. I think that they should be cherished, like the halcyon days of his youth. (I used halcyon to freak him out even more.) Plus, alliteration is always a good time, right?

Right now I love Poland, population 32 million or so. Never been there, but you know, maybe someday.

The reason I love Poland is that it's the first country to buy translation rights to my urban fantasy series. That's right, my first foreign sale is to...POLAND! Not to Germany or Italy or China or even the UK: Poland.

I am grateful to them and of course I hope they enjoy the Polish witches in my series. Malina Sokolowski, the leader of the Polish coven, is one of my favorite characters, and I always delight in writing about her. The Polish coven, as a matter of fact, is quite involved in the plot of HEXED.

I've learned quite a bit about Poland in the course of my research for the novels. The primary thing I've learned is that I have no idea how to pronounce anything in Polish. I look forward to learning much more, of course, and now I'm quite excited to know that my books will have an international audience.

Thank you, Poland!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Gandalf can take Chuck Norris

There is a certain amount of hyperbole associated with the abilities of Chuck Norris. But facts are facts: Gandalf told the Balrog "YOU...SHALL NOT...PASS!" and the Balrog didn't pass. In fact, Gandalf smote his ruin on the mountaintop. And then he saved Minas Tirith.

Chuck Norris can't take a Balrog. Chuck Norris can't even take Legolas. Chuck Norris certainly can't pass Gandalf. Therefore Gandalf owns Chuck Norris—because, look, you can't deliver a roundhouse kick to a dude with a magical force shield. Gandalf would send Chuck Norris back to the Shadow.

Gandalf can make Nazgul flee with a little white light from his staff. Gandalf can slay armored orcs with a little tap from said staff,  even though he's all old and arthritic. Gandalf can say "Your staff is broken," and your staff will break. Gandalf can break Chuck Norris' staff.

Gandalf is simply superior to Chuck Norris in every way. So there.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I'm Halfway Done, Son!

I've reached 40,000 words on HEXED, which means I'm halfway finished! And since this is the second book in a three-book contract, I'm also halfway finished with that, too!

I think this calls for pudding.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Disco Fries!

Today I learned about Disco Fries. It's not something you can routinely find in Arizona, or I would have heard about it by now.

Disco Fries are french fries with gravy and cheese on top. In Canada they call it poutine. Here's the link, son!

I learned about Disco Fries from my agent. I think I'll have to try some when I go to New York next summer, just to say I've had them.

But I have other excellent news: HOUNDED, HEXED and HAMMERED will be audio books published by Random House Audio! Since Random House owns Del Rey, the opportunities for synergistic marketing are strong, and I'm so happy that people in the publishin' world seem to dig Atticus and Oberon.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Writer's Playlist

I tend to listen to music while I write, and it's usually the instrumental sort, mostly guitar music of one kind or another.

Here are the artists I listen to most frequently:
1. Rodrigo y Gabriela, anything they've recorded
2. Yngwie Malmsteen's Concerto for Electric Guitar
3. Vinnie Moore, anything I have
4. Six Parts Seven, Casually Smashed to Pieces

Of course, this means I'm often plugged into headphones while I'm writing in public. I've discovered that I don't write well at Starbucks, because they play some awful music at times and they play it loud. Plus they turn on the blenders and the coffee grinders and auuugh! It's cacophonous.

Yes. I wrote this whole post just so I could write "cacophonous."

Word Count on HEXED: 37K.