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Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaNo No-Nos

So it's the third day of November, aka "National Novel Writers Month." How goes your NaNo? At this time last year I was already well on my way to completing INDIGO. How am I doing THIS year you ask? HA!

I am morbidly over-ambitious when it comes to things I love doing or have an interest in. I have this delusion that I can do anything I put my mind to (and I really can...given an infinite amount of time, of course). The problem is that I have once again bitten off more than a mouthful. I've got an unfinished novel, an unfinished short story and a freshly started NaNoWriMo project all in flux at the same time. As of this post, I've written a paltry 1,000 words or so. I'm way behind the eight ball on this one.

So, for the rest of you who may be feeling overwhelmed by the 50,000 word limit of NaNoWriMo, I have a couple of other options. How's 600 words sound to you? Lulu is sponsoring a short-story contest just for you. It costs you nothing (except giving up your publication rights, but honestly, how much do you really think you'll make from one short story? If Neil Gaiman or Stephen King is reading this, the previous statement does not apply.) And here are the prizes!

First place:

$500 cash
Barnes & Noble NOOK
Feature in Lulu Staff Picks and Lulu Blog
Free mentions in upcoming Lulu publicity
Professional review of your work

Second place:

Barnes & Noble NOOK

Third place:

$100 gift card to Barnes and Noble

All participants:

20% off coupon for next purchase on

You only have until Dec. 1st to submit so get crackin'! You can find the full details right here. 600 words still too much for you? How's 100 sound?

The only catch here is that your 100 words need to come together to tell a tale of horror so
If you want to enter, check out details over at Cruentus Libri Press. The good news here is that you have until the end of the calendar year! That's only 1.72 words per day, vs NaNoWriMo, which is now 1,785.7 words per day...I should get back to work!


PS: Even if you haven't asked, yes, I will probably try to do each of the above contests because I'm stupid.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween: A Time for Snow and Santa Claus

Living in the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast has the advantage of being able to view changing seasons: leaves changing color in the fall, melting ice over the creeks in the spring time, blizzards on Halloween weekend...wait, what?

Normally, Halloween around these parts is either incredibly crappy (cold and rainy) or unbelievably gorgeous (60s/70s and clear). This year, Mother Nature decided to change it up with a snowstorm. While it wasn't anything debilitating, waking up to the white stuff in late October does not bode well for the rest of this winter. The Jack O' Lanterns (pictured above) looked pretty strange covered in frost.

In addition to non-traditional Halloween antics, I just watched a little movie called Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. While it sounds like a film that should be saved for late December, it's nothing of the sort. This flick is a re-imagining of the Santa Claus mythology that harkens back to pagan tales of a blood-thirsty, child-stealing yule-time monster. Definitely worth a watch if you like your Christmas a little on the darker side.

Speaking of scary things, NaNoWriMo starts at midnight tonight! I'm anxious to get started but I'm nowhere near as ready as I was last year. Check back in for weekly updates and good luck to those who are attempting their first, fifth or fiftieth run this year!


Friday, October 21, 2011

R.L. Stine's Trick-or-Tweet Contest!

Halloween is fast approaching. (Do you have your costume picked out already? Or are you the type that wraps a sheet around yourself like a toga and calls that a costume?) I’ve got nothing spooky going on at the moment. Lucky for you, the master of “Goosebumps” has a nice Trick-or-Treat contest. Or should I say, Trick-or-Tweet?

R.L. Stine is hosting a contest through his Twitter account for one of ten signed copies of his new book, “It's the First Day of School… FOREVER.” Check out the book trailer for it here:

Pretty sweet, huh? So you can see how to enter the contest here or just look below for instructions. Good luck!



To enter the contest, follow these step-by-step instructions.

To enter, you must be following @RL_Stine on Twitter.
If you are already a Follower, go to Step 2.
To become a Follower, go to and click ‘FOLLOW’.


You must Tweet the exact text below to enter the contest:

Enter @RL_Stine ‘s Halloween Trick-or-Tweet Contest to win an autographed book! Please RT. Info at:

You only need to tweet this ONE time. Tweeting multiple times will not help your chances of winning.


Complete the scary story below in one tweet. Tweet your story ending with the hashtag #RLSTINE by October 28. Please make sure to put #RLSTINE at the end of your tweet so we can find your submission.

Submit as many story endings as you like. But each entry must be a single tweet.
R.L. Stine will select 10 winning entries-- his favorite story endings.

The winners will be announced on Halloween Day. Winners will receive a Direct Message on Twitter from R.L. Stine notifying them that they won.

Each winner will receive an autographed copy of the book It's the First Day of School… Forever by R.L. Stine. The winning story endings will also be featured on


It wasn’t my idea to run through the old graveyard on Halloween night. My friends Becky and Ian are a lot braver than me. It has always creeped me out to have a graveyard at the end of my street.

But here we were in our Halloween costumes. The moon was hidden behind a blanket of clouds. A gusting wind sent dead leaves dancing over the ground as if they were alive. And Becky said, "Come on, David. Let's go running through the graveyard, howling like wolves."

"Yeah. Maybe we'll wake up the dead," Ian said.

"I… don’t want to wake up the dead," I stammered. But I had no choice. I had to run with them. And so we went running through the old gravestones, our costumes fluttering in the wind. Running and howling at the top of our lungs.

It was actually fun—until I tripped over an open grave marker and fell to my knees in the dirt. And when I looked up, I couldn't see my friends. They'd vanished into the darkness.

I climbed to my feet, brushing off dead leaves. I called to Becky and Ian. No answer.
And then I gasped as I felt icy hard fingers grab the back of my neck. Icy fingers wrapped around my skin. With a scream of horror, I spun around—and…

Finish the story in one tweet—and tweet it with the hashtag #RLSTINE by October 28. Good luck!


PS: You can see my story entries by following @vincentkale and looking for the hashtag #RLSTINE.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rick Riordan and the Olympian Week Book Tour!

Living in Pittsburgh has its benefits (he said before winter hits and he starts suffering through 5 degree mornings). We recently had The Dark Knight Rises film here, our sports teams are pretty good and it's often voted one of America's most livable cities. All that aside, Pittsburgh recently played host to Athena, Goddess of Wisdom. Though, Southside is more amenable to Dionysus, the God of Partying...

Somehow, we were one of 7 cities on Rick Riordan's Olympian Book Tour. The author of the wildly popular Percy Jackson series was touring for the release of "The Son of Neptune" in his "Heroes of Olympus" series. The author (who is very funny, humble and accommodating I might add) took some time out of his schedule to tell us a bit about his career and field questions from the hundreds of kids in the audience. Oh, yeah, I was roughly twice as tall as the average attendant...I sure didn't look out of place at all.

What I found most interesting about Riordan's talk was his path to publication. He started early on by writing a series of adult mystery novels and did fairly well. Then, Riordan was making up a bedtime story about Greek gods for his son when he simply ran out of mythology. His son not only encouraged him to make a story up on the spot, but to put that story to paper. Thus, Percy Jackson was born.

Out of something so simple as a shared interest in mythology between a father and a son, multiple series of best selling middle-grade/young-adult books were born. Riordan has masterfully cornered the market not only on Greek mythology, but now Roman mythology (which was done in a very clever way from both a literary and marketing standpoint), as well as Egyptian mythology in his Kane Chronicles and, eventually, Norse mythology when he can get to it. This isn't to say that there are no Gods left for the rest of us to write about (I'm partial to the Central/South American native Gods myself). Then there's always Jeff, the God of Biscuits.

Watch Roman Gods in Comedy  |  View More Free Videos Online at

But why settle for interpreting a pre-existing mythology when you can just make up one of your own? That's (more or less) what I'm doing at the moment as I'm wrapping up my current project. Without giving away too much, the story has to do with a race of people who view the trees as their Gods (which will make a heckuva lot more sense once you know what the rest of the story is all about).

I'm hurrying to finish that story in time for NaNoWriMo. This year, I think I'll tackle some Middle Grade once and for all. (Every other time I try, it ends up far too serious and morphs into YA or Adult.) The tentative title right now is: Spiderbeard and the Pirates of Black Sky. And here's the logline:

When habitual homework-hater Sam Muggins gets yanked up into the clouds by a giant fishhook, he finds himself standing on deck of a floating pirate ship crewed entirely by women. Together, they must prevent the dreaded Captain Spiderbeard from destroying the nine World Anchors, or face a world turned upside-down by the absence of gravity.

Nothing too awfully serious about that, is there? I'll keep you posted on my progress as usual! Until next time, go and check out some Middle Grade fiction. There are some fantastic stories out there that will make you feel like a kid again. Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments!


PS: As a side note, while I was at the Riordan tour, a friend of mine passed on the news that Steve Jobs had died. While this statement has been uttered many times within the past week, I thought it was a remarkable feat that the world learned of his passing through devices he helped to create. I echo countless others in saying that he passed on too soon and will be grievously missed.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Win a Signed Copy of Jonathan Maberry's "Dead of Night"

Here's a quick post for you dead-heads out there. Are you a fan of Jonathan Maberry? Of course you are. (And if you're not, click here to read up on him.) As for "Dead of Night," here's the brief book jacket description:

A prison doctor injects a condemned serial killer with a formula designed to keep his consciousness awake while his body rots in the grave. But all drugs have unforeseen side-effects. Before he could be buried, the killer wakes up. Hungry. Infected. Contagious. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang…but a bite.

If you want to win a signed hardcover edition of Maberry's "Dead of Night," just click here and fill out a simple form! Just make sure to read the disclaimer. If you agree without reading it, Maberry has every right to try out experimental viruses on you...fair warning!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Vincent Kale's Review of "Monarch" by Michelle Davidson Argyle

As I mentioned at the end of last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to read an advance copy of Michelle Davidson Argyle's spy-thriller novel, "Monarch." I'll jump right into the review after another look at the back-cover blurb:

Nick’s life as a CIA spy should be fulfilling, but it has only given him unhappiness—a wife who committed suicide, and two daughters who resent everything he has become. Now, stuck in the Amazon on the last mission of his career, he must track down Matheus Ferreira, a drug lord and terrorist the U.S. has tried to bring down for years. If he succeeds, he’ll have the chance to start his life over again.

Just when Nick is on the brink of catching Ferreira, he’s framed for a murder that turns his world upside down. His only chance of survival lies in West Virginia where Lilian Love, a woman from his past, owns the secluded Monarch Inn. He’s safe, but not for long…

*Disclaimer: Please forgive any part of my review that is incoherent, misspelled or generally nonsensical. I'm battling a fever and the bottle of NyQuil is calling my name...

Argyle's "Monarch" is, at first blush, a mash-up of the romance and thriller genres with a dash of espionage thrown in. While my characterization of the novel may come across as dismissive, the blending of the two styles actually works quite well. Argyle starts "Monarch" off with a literal bang (or rather a muffled 'pop' from a silenced gun) during a failed assassination attempt. Here we are introduced to one of three principal characters: CIA officer, Nick Avery.

Nick has troubles with the ladies, to say the least. His previous wife committed suicide, his daughters are distant both emotionally and geographically, and the one person who can help clear his name is the wife of a drug lord hidden somewhere in Brazil. Only slightly more important than saving face and staying alive is finding the woman who might just redeem his soul. And here we come to Lilian Love.

Lilian runs the rustic Monarch Inn in the secluded woodland of West Virginia. With the help of her twenty-six year old son Devan, she plays host to honeymooners, travelers and scientists all looking to get a glimpse of the Monarch butterflies during their migration. In Lilian and Devan, Argyle introduces us to the other two principle points of view. She allows each character to develop their own personality throughout their respective chapters and it's done in a way that never becomes boring or predictable.

Nick is clearly the driver of the action in this story and there's plenty of it. While he seems to mess up more than he gets right, luck stays on his side for the most part. The fight scenes are well crafted and entertaining without being over-the-top. The comparison of survival in the harsh Brazilian jungle to the relaxing atmosphere of the West Virginia woods is nicely done (although events cause those two settings to crash together in a very satisfying climax!) Nick, while borderline incompetent with his trust at times, means well and comes off as a good-hearted fatherly type who deserves to win out at the end of the day.

Devan, whom I related to the most (probably because I'm a late-twenties male who's been in love triangles/affairs/what have you...) is a late-twenties male who gets caught up in a love triangle (fancy that!) when Nick drops off his similarly-aged daughters, Clara and Violet, at the Inn for safe keeping. It was great to read through Devan's reactions as he tried to figure out just what to do with these women and just what to do with his own life.

The one issue I did have with Devan's character came early on when Nick first shows up at the Inn. Devan knows Nick and his mother, Lilian, have a bit of a past. He also knows that his mother is still crushed over the divorce from Devan's father. When Nick shows up on the scene with his slick words and overly helpful attitude, Devan seems to take it in stride like it is no big deal. As the only son of a divorced mother, that is NOT the way I would have reacted. The Inn is Devan's territory and Lilian is his to protect. Even if he eventually had no say in the matter, Devan made things a bit to easy on Nick and thus missed out on, not only a realistic portrayal, but also a building of conflict that could have resolved later on.

On to Lilian. Though she is arguably the most important character in the novel, I found myself liking her the least. Now hold on, let me explain! Throughout the story, I found her to be too pliable, a doormat, a wandering spirit with no purpose or direction. To me, she wallowed too much in her past relationships and reflected too often on their failures. For a time, all of the relationships in "Monarch" were about as shallow as those in a paranormal, young adult novel you'd buy off the supermarket shelf. But about halfway through, they pick up, add depth and develop into something that's got a bit of a nasty bite to it as well as hope for a silver lining. Like any romance worth is words, Argyle layers the paths connecting her characters so that it actually means something when one of them is hurt, or even killed; all the more so when they end up happy.

Back to Lilian. I mentioned how much I didn't like her early on. I kept waiting for her to wake up, to snap out of it, to stand up for herself. I'm happy to say that Argyle did not disappoint. There's a dark little scene towards the end that forces Lilian to take control, if only for a moment; it was enough to put me back on her side.

And then it hit me...the Monarchs, these fragile little creatures that have been a major theme throughout the story. They're at the mercy of countless events that are beyond their control. They lack the strength to resist a strong wind or to fly through heavy rains, yet still they persist. They weather storms and droughts and declines in their population. They go through a physical metamorphosis that changes them from inside-out, wholly, completely.

Once that revelation hit me while reading the last few pages of "Monarch," it made me appreciate all of the characters that much more. Each of them evolved in their own way and none of them were simple or one-dimensional. Even the villains had some gray areas to them, making them more human and less cartoonish. It's a revelation that warrants another read of "Monarch" to fully appreciate the journey. I hope that, whether you're a fan of romance or spy-thrillers or just fantastic writing in general, you'll give Michelle Davidson Argyle's "Monarch" a try!

Click here for a list of places to buy "Monarch!"


Friday, September 9, 2011

Butterflies and Spies

Almost a year ago to the day, I finished reading the novella "Cinders" by author Michelle Davidson Argyle. As soon as I put it down I knew I'd be checking back to see when her next story became available. It wasn't long (mere weeks, actually) before Ms. Argyle signed with a publisher and started planning a roll-out of her projects over the next couple of years. So it was with great excitement and enthusiasm that I was offered a free copy of her upcoming novel, "Monarch," in exchange for a review and blog post!

Here's the blurb from the book jacket:

Nick’s life as a CIA spy should be fulfilling, but it has only given him unhappiness—a wife who committed suicide, and two daughters who resent everything he has become. Now, stuck in the Amazon on the last mission of his career, he must track down Matheus Ferreira, a drug lord and terrorist the U.S. has tried to bring down for years. If he succeeds, he’ll have the chance to start his life over again.

Just when Nick is on the brink of catching Ferreira, he’s framed for a murder that turns his world upside down. His only chance of survival lies in West Virginia where Lilian Love, a woman from his past, owns the secluded Monarch Inn. He’s safe, but not for long…

Sounds awesome, right? Well, let me tell you, it is! Argyle unites the romantic and thriller genres in a way that will please fans of both and convert the holdouts. But I won't get into a full review just yet; that'll post on Monday.

In the meantime, if you're interested in getting your hands on a copy of "Monarch" by Michelle Davidson Argyle, click here! There you can find purchasing links, two sample chapters and a host of information on the eponymous Monarch butterflies.

If you still want more, follow the butterfly in this awesome trailer:

Check back on Monday for my full review!


Friday, September 2, 2011

A Quick Note Before Skynet Shuts Me Down

Skynet is live. Computers are aware. For some reason, they're after me.

Personally, it's been an odd day as far as technology goes: my phone refuses to do what I tell it and responds with snarky "error" messages, my computer fails to load webpages while my co-workers zip through Facebook and kitten videos unperturbed and a query email to a literary agent may have gotten lost in the ever-confusing series of internet tubes. There are some bright spots, however!

When I finally DID get my computer to work, I was able to get details on two anthologies I'd like to submit to. One is "World's Collider" (which you can read up on here). The other is through BlackSails Press and is featuring a mash-up of vampires and steampunk. The category was unexpected, but it will add a nice little twist that I can feature in my story.

One other bit of good news from Skynet is that sent me a promo code for people to use if they'd like a copy of "Crawl" or "Indigo," both of which can be found here. Use promo code AWESOME305 to get an additional 15% off until September 30th! Tell your friends!

Have a happy (and safe) Labor Day Weekend! It may be the last one we have before the robot overlords take over, so enjoy it!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

An INDIGO Review for You to!

(Picture courtesy of the awesome reviewer mentioned below.)

It's always nice to hear from people who read my stories. Whether they're blog posts, short stories, serials or novel-length fiction, I love hearing people's reactions. In all honesty, it's a dream of mine to be able to sit in a room with a handful of die-hard fans who just want to discuss a particular story/character/scene. So getting this type of feedback in my early days really lets me know how my writing is being translated in the heads of readers. It tells me what I'm doing right and what I still need to work on and, because of that, it's invaluable.

Comments from other readers also help me to convince the uninitiated that, "Hey! These stories ain't half bad!" Let's face it, I could sit here all day and tell you how great I am at putting words in order. But to expect people to put their hard earned cash down on the counter for those words, it helps to have some (more or less) impartial reviews.

Case in point: here's a review of "Indigo" by Nancy at her blog, A Cut Above...Something. As a bonus, her review features a DOUBLE RAINBOW!!! If that's not enough to get you over there, I dunno what is...unless you hate rainbows, in which case you might be more interested in reading "Crawl."

(Disclaimer: "Indigo" has little to do with rainbows and more to do with corporate corruption, a hard-boiled detective with a cybernetic arm and a group of kidnapped children with devastating psychic powers. Take that, rainbows!)

If Nancy's review has piqued your interest, you can buy your very own copy through! Paperback and/or eVersion(pdf) available!

For the record, my real favorite color has always been varying shades of green, but as for the book...definitely Umber! :)


Saturday, August 27, 2011

INDIGO Now Available!

As I mentioned earlier this week, I've been working on getting my adult sci-fi novel INDIGO available for purchase. Well, wait no longer! It's now ready for you to buy through and in only a few short days (or seconds if you buy the eBook version!) it'll be in your hands! Here's a short book description to peak your interest:

In a future where waters have reclaimed much of the land and radiation has soured the rest, humanity exists in massive domed megacities. The richest people live in the shining metropolis of Haven, supported by the smog-choked laborers eking out an existence in the bones of the old city below.

Agent Umber is a man trapped between worlds. Having spent his life protecting and serving the people of Foundation City, he knows how to make sacrifices: the same fire that took his right hand also took the lives of his wife and son. So when the top agents of SPECTRUM recruit him for a special case involving the kidnapping of 12 kids, Umber sees his chance for redemption.

Umber soon discovers that not all agents are allies, not all strangers are enemies and the missing kids might just possess the most powerful weapons he's ever faced. To solve the case, he'll have to cut ties with his old life. To survive, he'll have to uncover the secrets of Project: INDIGO.

Pretty sweet, right? So, I know, you're saying, "Enough talk already! How can I get my very own copy?!" Well, if you'd like a paperback copy, click here! If you can't wait for the postman and you need INDIGO right now, click here for the e-version! As a special bonus, if you buy INDIGO from today and use the promo code SCHOOLED, you'll save 20%!

*Note: The formatting is a little funky in the PDF version. It doesn't interfere with the story but it does tweak my OCD ever so slightly. I plan on fixing this as soon as I find my USB drive (that has, oh I dunno, everything I've ever written on it...)

Feel free to leave your feedback for INDIGO on my blog, Lulu product page, Facebook or Twitter! I'd love to hear what you guys think!


PS: Stay safe, East Coasters! You should probably curl up with a good eBook while you ride out the storm...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Which is Scariest: Earthquakes, Zombies or Literary Agents?

As summer begins to draw to its inevitable close, I'm already looking forward to my favorite time of year: Autumn. The changing leaves, the cool nights, the monstrous beasts lurking in the lengthening shadows on the eve of Halloween...what's not to love?

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Things have been scary enough around here lately. Why just today I survived a devastating earthquake that caused major damage. If that's not apocalyptically apocryphal enough for you, there is mounting evidence that zombie sightings are more occurring more frequently than ever before. The undead are becoming arrogant, brashly stumbling into the midst of two young lovers trying to commemorate their engagement.

It's like they say: "If you can't beat em, join em!" I've decided that my love of reanimated corpses (that didn't come out right...) and passion for martial arts needed to be combined in some way. "BUT HOW?" I exclaimed to the heavens. Enter "Enter the Zombie 3D!" Thanks to director Ben Mathus and this locally filmed Indie, I not only get to perform some Kung Fu, but I get to become a zombie and wreak destruction upon the unchanged!

Earthquakes and zombies aside, there actually is something I'm a little terrified of: literary agents. They've been known as Gate Keepers and Dream Crushers. They exist simultaneously as Fairy Godmothers or friendly genies who will grant all your wishes, yet may just as easily be the Gmork stalking you in the forest, waiting to destroy you at your weakest moment. But I'm more prepared and more confident than ever before. I have a list of 23 agents specifically tailored to my novel "Crawl," which I hope one of the top 6 will like. (Agents, if you're reading this, I'm sorry I called you a Gmork!) After I put the Crawl-bait out there, "Indigo" and "Blackwatch: The Mainspring" will follow suit.*

I've survived earthquakes and zombie invasions; a little waiting won't kill me.


*Keep an eye out for a post on how YOU can get your hands on a copy of "Indigo" soon!

Monday, August 15, 2011

It's Been a Long Time...I Shouldn'ta Left You...

Hi friends, Vinny here! Still alive despite all evidence to the contrary. My alter ego has been very busy with the likes of Comic Con, interstate travel to concerts and other non-writing goings on. If only I could get my work done while he sleeps...

Anyway, look for another update later this week. We have much to discuss, you and I!


Monday, July 11, 2011

Harry Potter and the Lulu Discount

Unless you've been living under a rock in a galaxy far, far away, you've probably heard that the last installment in the Harry Potter movie series premieres this week. What you probably haven't heard is that online book retailer has a special promotion running this week that'll get you 20% off any order. Just enter the word BIG at checkout and save some green! You can use it to purchase a paperback or eBook copy of my novel, "Crawl" or maybe even some Harry Potter books, if you haven't read them yet (for shame)!

Since it's "All Things Harry Potter" week pretty much everywhere there's some semblance of civilization, I thought I'd join in on the fun. Though they seem to do this every weekend, the ABC Family channel had a Harry Potter marathon on over the last few days. I've heard the titles so many times that they almost start to lose meaning. So as I was watching them for the umpteenth time, I started to think of new titles for them, titles that represented either my favorite scenes or most memorable differences from the books. This is what I came up with:

1) Harry Potter and the Troll Bogies
2) Harry Potter and the Letter Opener (honestly, was Gryffindor a goblin? That sword was barely bigger than a wand!)
3) Harry Potter and the Anorexic Werewolf (or Harry Potter and Doctor Who, if you prefer David Tennant as the Doctor instead of Barty Crouch Ju-nee-or the Death-Eater)
4) Harry Potter and the Boob Hats (makes me laugh like a 12-year-old boy every time)
5) Harry Potter and the Awkward Teenage Groping
6) Harry Potter and the...Wait, Are These Kids Even Going to Class Anymore?
7) Harry Potter and the Death of Pretty Much Everyone Else That Was Still Alive: Parts 1 and 2

What do you think, did I hit the mark? Do you have any suggestions for alternate titles? Leave them in the comments below!


Friday, July 8, 2011

Mad Libs Winner!

Earlier this week, I posted the three entries for the Mad Libs contest. After much deliberation, I have decided on a winner! Here is Keith's entry:

The redundant, rigor-mortis-induced, mottled purple Fairly Oddparent galloped up the hill to visit the feverish Princess. Unfortunately, the Princess was out whimpering over word counts, so the Fairly Oddparent went to Anchorage, Alaska and made some illustrious Starbucks.

While the other two submissions were hilarious in their own right, I had to go with Keith's for two reasons:
1) "whimpering over word counts" made me laugh out loud every time I read it
2) For some reason, I like to think that this is how Sarah Palin got to Alaska

Now, to the victor go the spoils! While I don't have much in the way of swag, I will gladly post a shout out for Keith's blog, "The Midnight Creepshow." From Keith's profile - Forty something, once was Dick Smith student now living the dream with my family on our horse farm. Hoping to be a published writer someday and a collected artist perhaps.

It's a fairly new blog with some promising writing by way of his short story, "Last Stop." And Keith clearly has good taste in horror movies, as his blog post shows. So stop by The Midnight Creepshow, congratulate Keith on his Mad Libs' skills and check out his work!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Vote for the Winner of Mad Libs!

On Friday, I asked for volunteers from the viewing audience to submit ten words to be plugged into a Mad Libs story. I only received 3 submissions, so I'll be able to show you all of them today. I'd imagine most of you had better things to do like visit with family, hit the beach 62 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

America is gross.
Anyway, here is the following basic template I had for the Mad Lib:

The (1)(2)(3) climbed the hill to (4) the (5) Princess. Unfortunately, the Princess was out (6)(7), so (3) went to (8) and made some (9)(10).

And here is my harmless story that went along with it:

The scaly green dragon climbed the hill to visit the lonely Princess. Unfortunately, the Princess was out collecting flowers, so the dragon went home and made some delicious tea.

Perfectly fine, although a bit boring. Now, with a few minor grammatical tweaks by me, let's take a look at what our contestants wanted to do with the Princess:

1) The redundant, rigor-mortis-induced, mottled purple Fairly Oddparent galloped up the hill to visit the feverish Princess. Unfortunately, the Princess was out whimpering over word counts, so the Fairly Oddparent went to Anchorage, Alaska and made some illustrious Starbucks.

2) The swell, scarlet chupacabra climbed the hill to chew the lawless Princess. Unfortunately, the Princess was out painting onions, so the chupacabra went to the barbershop and made some comfortable gillyweed.

3) The voracious, macaroni-and-cheese-colored General Sherman climbed the hill to swallow the pleasing Princess. Unfortunately, the Princess was out stroking fingers, so General Sherman went behind the couch and made some dominating roofie-coladas.

The fun thing about Mad Libs is how quickly they can turn inappropriate.

So now it's up to YOU to determine which version is the best! Please vote by putting your order (Best > Okay > Worst) in the comments section. Also, please let me know if you'd like to do future Mad Libs!

And a happy belated 4th of July everyone!


Friday, July 1, 2011

Play Mad Libs with Vincent Kale!

You may have heard the news that earlier this month that Leonard Stern, co-creator of Mad Libs, had passed away. In honor of his memory (and all the great times I had as a young writerlet filling out pages of Mad Libs), I thought we'd play a version of the game today.

For those poor souls out there who have never played Mad Libs, it's quite simple! I'll give you a list of parts of speech and you pick a word that matches that category. Then I'll use your words to fill in the blanks of an already scripted story. Piece of cake, right? But creativity is key, here. So if I ask for a color and you say, "Yellow," that's fine, I guess...if you want to be boring. But if you say "schoolbus yellow" or "jaundiced-liver yellow," then things will get more interesting. Ready?

1) adjective
2) color
3) noun (creature)
4) verb
5) adjective
6) verb
7) plural noun
8) noun (place)
9) adjective
10) noun (food or drink)

Leave your answers (*with corresponding numbers please!*) in the comments section below. At the end of the day (or weekend, depending on # of responses), I'll post the winner and honorable mentions! The winner gets everlasting and immortal fame on the interwebs! That do anything for ya? Eh, maybe I'll see if I can sweeten the deal a little. Have at it!


Thursday, June 30, 2011

How Writing Code Can Help You Write Better Books

I have two confessions for you today:
1) I'm fascinated by computers
2) I often use computers to distract myself from things like...editing.
Case in point:

As it turns out, computers are not as complicated as you might think. The general public probably considers their computer to be somewhat of a black box, possibly with miniature elves inside that toil away at your every command. I can assure you, the inside of your computer is relatively simple and elf-free; even I was able to build one from scratch. Programs, or more specifically the programming language, can be completely insane.

Let me stress, I'm no expert in writing code...far from it. The extent of my skills barely goes past "Let me Google that for you." But like I said earlier, this stuff interests me. So the other day I was messing around with a basic tutorial for a programming language called Ruby. At the end of the walkthrough, they have you type in code for a rudimentary program that is essentially a number guessing game. I copied the code exactly. My program failed.

After going over the code again (thankfully it was only a few lines), I found the culprit: a missing space. That's all it takes to confuse your simple minded computer: a space out of place. (Remember this the next time your computer or other device isn't doing what you want it to. The order of blame usually goes: Yourself -> the programmer -> the device manufacturer.) So I fixed the errant space and voila! A number guessing game!

So what does all this have to do with writing better books? Well, I like to think of it this way. If you don't have quite the right phrasing, character or formatting in your code, your computer will just sit there with a dumb look on its monitor and flash you the message, "I don't get it." The program won't run until you get it just right. When you DO get it right, programmer and computer will have that "Aha!" moment.

Now, think about a particular scene or description from a story that really resonated with you. Chances are, that author picked that section of writing apart word by word to make sure they got the intended message across. Or they are just supremely talented and everything that flows from their fingertips is instant gold. More than likely, they had a few editors, fact checkers, assistants, spouses, friends, etc reading along to make sure everything was clear.

This is my new Zen moment when it comes to editing my novels. If I take the time to go through it line by line, my readers stand a better chance of actually understanding what I'm trying to say...unless I get distracted. Ooo, moar kittenz!


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Indigo" Goes to Turks & Caicos! "Crawl" Goes to the Beach (Again)!

You may remember a few short months ago when my friends, who we'll call Mr. and Mrs. Vacation, took a copy of "Crawl" with them to Cancun. Didn't you see this lovely picture?

Well as it turns out, Mr. and Mrs. Vacation are living up to their names! They recently returned from what I'm sure was a stressful and unenjoyable jaunt to Turks and Caicos. Luckily for me, they each took their very own copy of "Indigo" with them. Here's Mr. Vacation with the photographic evidence:

Just to clarify: a) that is NOT me and b) sorry ladies, he is taken.

And, not to be outdone, a copy of "Crawl" went on yet ANOTHER sandy beach vacation without me. This photo comes courtesy of another wonderful friend of mine and her new husband, so I will call them Mr. and Mrs. Honeymoon from here on out. Have a look!

Monday, June 27, 2011

My Review of David Moody's "Dog Blood"

Before reading my review, please keep two things in mind:

1) This is a sequel to the novel "Hater" so the review will obviously be filled with spoilers. You can check out my "Hater" review here or go to the customer reviews on Amazon's product page.

2) As this is the second part of a trilogy, I will reserve my final judgement of the series until I finish the third book, "Them or Us." On to the review!

"Dog Blood" picks up more or less where "Hater" left off. The world is in chaos, all semblance of life as we know it has been erased and the fighting continues between the Haters and the Unchanged. Danny McCoyne is still searching for his daughter, Ellis, who he believes is a Hater like himself. He vowed to find her at the end of "Hater" and the majority of "Dog Blood" revolves around this objective.

While "Hater" allowed McCoyne's character to develop into the Hater that we know and love, "Dog Blood" takes us through his transition from the old world to the new world. Along the way he must once again make difficult choices and decide whether to hold on to the past or embrace this new future. As it was one of Moody's writing strengths in "Hater," the ambiguity of right and wrong is paramount in the sequel. Needless to say, McCoyne's myopic quest to find his daughter anchors his old world role as a father and family man, though all the Haters around him urge him to let the past (and his daughter) go. As with his decisions in "Hater," McCoyne follows his instincts, but rarely makes the right choice in "Dog Blood." Or perhaps, he at least makes some choice in a no-win situation.

Though McCoyne's quest is the heart of "Dog Blood," there is a side story as well. As Moody introduced random scenes of violence throughout "Hater" to show the degrading state of society, in "Dog Blood" he shows us the living conditions of the common people in the days of the war. They live in squalor, stuffed into overcrowded shelters and given meager rations by the army who protects them. These side chapters conjure the negative aspects of socialism, overpopulation and militaristic internment camps. Things are not going well for the Unchanged and the Haters know it.

While the Unchanged rely on their military might to see them through the war, Moody introduces different specialized classes of Haters in "Dog Blood." There are the normal Haters, who I call the "grunts," the everyman soldiers. Then there are the "Brutes," who Moody calls by name. They are seen too rarely, in my opinion, but are unstoppable killing machines that may even mistakenly kill their own kind in their bloodlust. Then there are the upper echelon of the Haters, those who can "hold their Hate." I call these the "brains," like the enigmatic man known as Sahota and, eventually, McCoyne himself. Lastly, there are the children, who Moody stresses throughout the book as the key to the Haters' victory. It's not until the last few chapters that we see how ruthless and relentless young Haters can really be.

"Dog Blood" is a worthy sequel to "Hater," though it does falter a bit in the middle book slump. Unchanged characters are introduced to serve as a reveal for easily the book's best surprise, but there is no payoff for becoming invested in these characters (though that will hopefully come in the final installment).

In my opinion, there were a few missed opportunities that I hope to see explored in "Them or Us." A lot of attention was paid to the deteriorating condition of the common people under this new regime, but I would have liked to have seen a contrast with some well-off people managing to secure a few niceties for themselves. Also, an Unchanged "hero" (or at least a right nasty piece of work), be he citizen or soldier that was more than just a faceless militant, someone to hold a mirror up to McCoyne. Oh, and as I already mentioned, I could have used another scene or two with the Brutes.

Overall, I think "Dog Blood" is an excellent successor to "Hater." The payoff in the end may not be what you'd expect, but if you've invested yourself in Danny McCoyne's story then I think you will be interested to see where he ends up. I have high hopes for "Them or Us" and I'm waiting for all Hell to break loose!


Friday, June 24, 2011

Vincent Kale Is A Liar!

I know I promised my review of "Dog Blood" would post yesterday and I wholeheartedly apologize for lying to you. Life, as it so often does, has overwhelmed me this week. I had something fun in mind for today, too, but will have to postpone it until next week. (Can you say Mad Libs?)

Have a good weekend and I'll try to get this trainwreck back on track!


PS: Random observation, but two of the ads on this blog were for "Laser Hair Removal" and "50% Off Prom Dresses." So, I either have some very hairy teenage girls that read this site (weird) or some creepy old men who like to wear dresses (weirder...but probably more accurate)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

All Locke'd Up

Hey friends! Long time, no blog!

Lately, there has been so much time devoted to writerly-type things and it has left me with little other time for sleeping, eating, maintaining a general state of cleanliness. Recently, I had to take a micro-break from some writing stuff to take care of things around the house; the place was beginning to look like a bad Tolkien map. There was the Leaning Pillars of Unwashed Dishware, the Stagnant Swamp of Soiled Linens and the Overflowing Wastes of Catbox Canyon. Apparently, in my neglect of all things domestic, there grew the "thing that shall not be named" in the crisper drawer of my refrigerator and the Blind Beast became increasingly destructive due to my inattentiveness. (I've never seen a house cat turn feral so fast! Just kidding, he's rather spoiled.)

So now that my domicile has been restored to some semblance of livability, I can return to the task(s) at hand. I might be putting the kibosh on "Midnight Society" submissions for a few weeks since I'm trying to get my edits finished up, start a new project and really focus on shopping my past projects around. So much to do, so little access to a time machine!

However, while I was busy domesticating, the world decided it still wanted to churn out some pertinent writing news. Recently, Amanda Hocking was in the news for her wildly successful collection of books that she self-published and has sold over 1 million copies through Amazon alone and has a traditional book deal now OH GOD! Well, not to upstage her, but an author by the name of John Locke bumped Ms. Hocking from the self-pubbed headlines for a bit.

No, not this John Locke.

And not this one either.

But this one!

Mr. Locke made headlines for joining the ranks of 1,000,000+ sellers on Amazon! So, of course, I went through the various jealous, proud, desperate, happy and ambitious-wanna-be-like-that-guy reactions. Then I came across a non-fiction book of John Locke's called "How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months!" And I might be a sucker, but I bought it (and if P.T. Barnum is right, at least I'll have a lot of friends). I'm anxious to get into the book and see what advice he has, because, let's face it, he's DONE it already! From what I can tell by his book covers, one secret to his success is putting the bare legs of a lovely lady on the cover. How novel.

I'll post a review of Mr. Locke's advice once I get through it and start crushing my sales numbers. (Also, I'll have my review of David Moody's "Dog Blood" posted tomorrow! I'm very much looking forward to "Them or Us," the last segment in the "Hater" trilogy!)

Ok, more to the point. All this news of self-published authors selling over a million copies with nary an agent or publisher or fairy godmother has gotten me thinking strategy again. Do I go traditional and hope for the best, putting my fate into the hands of strangers? Do I go 100% self-pub and use my limited resources to get my work out there? Or do I do some combination of the two, hoping that my sales increase one way or the other?

I'm leaning towards this last option. But there are two ways (at least) to go about it: 1) Build a reader base through self-publication and hope that the big boys notice and then come looking for you (which is what happened to Ms. Hocking). Or, 2) Keep writing and sending queries and hoping for manuscript requests in the old fashioned model, but setting a time limit for responses to those requests before adding them to the virtual shelves for public consumption.

Again, leaning towards this last option, though I will see what Mr. Locke has to say about it. Perhaps my opinion on the matter will be swayed one way or another. We shall see!

Well thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check back tomorrow for my "Dog Blood" review and perhaps some hints of what I'm working on next. Oh and maybe we can discuss POTTERMORE!


Friday, June 10, 2011

Submitted for the Approval of the Midnight Society, I call this Tale...


Amy feels the urge hit her like a freight train. One minute she was having drinks with the girls, blowing off steam from a long week at the office; the next thing she knows, her whole body is flushed with heat and she has to press her knees together to keep her legs from shaking. She starts scanning the bar for potentials. She needs a man and she needs him now, but not just any man will do.

Mindy had been saying something a second ago, but as soon as Amy felt the change, all conversation had stopped. Rachel had felt it, too. Even without the tell-tale flushed cheeks and shortness of breath, Amy can tell they’re all experiencing the same need, the same hunger. She can see it in their eyes, the eyes that are searching the bar as eagerly as she is.

She’s felt this before, so it’s not unfamiliar to her. But the urge usually comes after a bottle of wine and a romantic dinner, or after a particularly bad break-up when she wants nothing but rough, uncomplicated sex. This feeling is the same, but different. There’s a reason behind it, a true need for it beyond desire.

It’s happening all through the bar, probably outside, too. The women have changed; some are already making their move. A petite brunette and a large black woman are practically wrestling on the ground, handfuls of each other’s hair in their grips. The black woman’s weave comes off in one piece, much to the surprise of the smaller girl. The bigger woman uses the moment of hesitation to slam the girl’s head against the floor, ending the fight.

She stands up and marches directly towards the bouncer, a large black man that was seconds away from stopping the fight. She grabs his crotch in one hand and whispers something in his ear. The poor, bewildered man is too shocked to put up a fight as she leads him outside.

Amy goes back to scanning the room. Comprehension is still absent on the faces of the men, though that works to the women’s advantage. She spies a tall, broad-shouldered hard-body with spiky blonde hair, casually refusing the advances of three middle-aged women around him. Amy makes her move. The man is obviously used to being hit on and doesn’t realize anything is amiss. Amy yanks one of the women by the hair and sends her to the ground. She digs a high heel into the back of another’s calf and watches the woman collapse to her knees. Amy shoves the last woman out of the way and presses her mouth hard against the confused man. Her tongue finds its way around his and makes her intentions known without pretense. He’s just starting to get the picture when Amy’s head is yanked back.

At first she thinks one of the women came back to steal her man, but instead of a middle-aged hag, Amy sees the barely clothed bartender standing before her. She’s taller than Amy, with well-toned arms and an ample figure. She’s got maybe thirty pounds on Amy and it’s in all the right places. Something inside Amy’s head tells her that the man is no longer hers; he belongs to this woman now and that’s the way it needs to be. Amy backs away as the bartender jumps into the blonde man’s arms and wraps her legs around his waist.

The bar is in total chaos now. Women fight women until dominance is established or the loser gets knocked unconscious. The men stand staring at the scene in shock. Some are egging the fights on, laughing and hollering until a woman comes by and shoves her tongue down his throat. Mindy, shy, bookish Mindy from accounting, is straddling a man top of a table. She tears his shirt open and buttons fly everywhere. Rachel is tied up with an Amazon of a blonde as they fight over a tanned and athletic looking specimen trapped in the corner behind them.

Amy is no threat to anyone at the moment, but she has already lost a fight and lost her man. The good ones are going quickly; the biggest frames with the strongest chins and the clearest eyes. The average men are staring to thin out; ones with a bit of age or a bit of belly or a bit of baldness to them. The rest cower in the corners; unwilling or unable to approach a woman during a normal night, they’re practically pissing their pants in this chaos.

She finds him. He emerges from the men’s room, blissfully hidden away from the other women once the chaos started. His look of bewilderment is somehow charming to Amy, arousing even. He has a strong jaw and sandy brown hair. He’s well-dressed and well built. Something in his eyes might even suggest a hint of intelligence. He’ll do.

Amy marches up to the handsome stranger before anyone else can. He starts to ask about what’s going on, but she grabs him by the hand and leads him out a side door into the alley. No one notices them leave. She has him all to herself.

Before he can start asking dumb questions again, Amy pins the man up against the alley wall. She silences his mouth with her own. Since his hands are too slow and fumbling, she starts to remove his pants herself. He starts to pull away, but his breath catches as she takes him in her hands. He’s not ready for her, and Amy starts to second-guess her selection of this supposed virile man. She presses herself against him and whispers Take me into his ear. Amy feels him stiffen and the urge within her pulses so strongly it makes her body shiver.

The man reaches awkwardly into his pants pocket and pulls out a small square of plastic. Amy would normally be glad for any sign of chivalry from a guy in this situation, but the thing that drives tells her it’s not the time for it. She slaps his hand away and the condom falls to the ground, lost in a pile of trash. The need is building to the breaking point. She needs him now.

Amy turns around and faces the opposite wall, hiking her skirt up around her hips. She says it again, louder this time, Take me now. Whatever reservations he had before have disappeared completely. She’s acting like a bitch in heat and he responds accordingly. After a few brief seconds lost in unfamiliar territory, he finds her. Amy thinks the urge should start to subside now, but it only grows stronger. She thrusts against him and moans the way she always did in her fantasies. Before long, his heavy breathing slows and his body’s rhythm matches its pace. She feels him soften inside of her and knows it’s done. The urge finally relaxes away.

As she turns to face him, a new emotion takes over. Raw, powerful, primal. More so even than the lust, or whatever it was, that took her and the other women earlier. The other women… This was Amy’s man, they couldn’t have him. No one could.

He smiles dumbly at her, not sure what just happened but happy enough that it did. Amy places her hands on either side of his face as if to kiss him most tenderly. A primitive strength surges through her. She twists his head as if it was no more resistant that a plastic doll. His body drops to the ground alongside the pile of trash; she drops his head on top of it. Suddenly feeling very tired, Amy straightens herself up and makes her way home.


Amy curls up on her couch with a glass of wine. It’s all over the news. Women everywhere are choosing male suitors to serve their most basic needs and then disposing of them afterwards. It makes Amy feel normal somehow to know she isn’t the only one who succumbed to the strange urges. Hell, when she turned the news on there was a live broadcast of the two co-anchors getting it on right on top of their desk. When it was all over, the woman ripped her co-worker’s head clean off and, without missing a beat, delivered the rest of the evening news.

Amy knows she shouldn’t be drinking, but hopes that one glass won’t do any damage this early. If the man in the alley’s seed doesn’t take, she’ll simply go out and try again. If it does take, what will she do then? Where has following these urges gotten her except possibly pregnant and still alone?

As the news continues to roll, footage from all around the world shows a similar sexual uprising. Amy’s fears about loneliness disappear. She finds solace in knowing that the world is full of sisters all ready to help each other raise a new generation of children.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Haters and Lovers

Since the past couple of weeks have been Hater-centric (and since I'm still reading Dog Blood), I've decided to do a little Hater homage as a submission to the Midnight Society this week.

For those of you who haven't read "Hater" or my review of it, it's about a man who experiences a change in society that is turning some people into savage, seemingly mindless killers. Well, for my short story, I went in another direction. What if, instead of giving into our penchant for violence, we succumbed to another primal instinct?

Curious? Check out the next post to find out!


Monday, June 6, 2011

All the News that's Fit to Review!

Perhaps you missed my review of David Moody's "Hater" last week or when I mentioned that I'd be reviewing Alexander S. Brown's short story collection "Traumatized." Well that's ok, cuz I just reminded you!

And while I consider myself pretty awful at reviewing other people's work in a concise and coherent manner, I do ever so love reading about what people think of my own work. Case in point, Theresa Derwin's review of "Crawl" over at Terror Tree. Check it out here!

To give you a taste, Ms. Derwin says, and I quote, "This is an unrelentingly dark novel that left me disturbed in a positive way but so much better for having read it. If you want something that goes deeper into the nightmare, then Crawl is the book for you."

I'm unrelenting! NICE!

I'd personally like to thank Ms. Derwin for the review and I encourage everyone to check out her own work at Terror Tree!


Friday, June 3, 2011

The "This Post is Postponed" Post

Sorry, friends; no Midnight Society submission today. My brain has the creativity and consistency of a bowl of runny eggs at the moment. I seriously considered whipping up a tale about a fruit fly infestation (because they are frickin everywhere in my office right now!), so in this case, no story > awful, awful story.

Til next time!


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Review: "Hater" by David Moody

As I mentioned last week, I'm currently neck deep in "Dog Blood" by David Moody. As it is the sequel to his novel "Hater," I felt that I should review that first and bring people up to speed. But don't take just my word for it! Check out a ton of other reviews here!

A quick reminder: make sure to tune in to the blog tomorrow morning for the latest installment in the Midnight Society! I think a Creature Feature is in order this week, don't you?

And now, without gilding the lily and with no more ado, my review of David Moody's "Hater":

Have you ever felt like there was something wrong with the people around you? Not anything you could put your finger on, but just And have you ever felt that these people, for whatever reason, didn't deserve to live anymore? If you have, you might be a Hater. If you haven't, then I'd suggest you find a safe place to hide, because the Haters are coming for you.

In his panic inducing lead-off hitter of the "Hater" trilogy, David Moody drops us into a world quietly nudging toward the brink of chaos. Through the eyes of Danny McCoyne, a well-meaning, blue-collar family man, we discover that all is not peaceful and serene in our civilized world. Old ladies are attacked for seemingly no reason, one schoolgirl bashes her best friend's head in with a rock without a moment of hesitation and perfect strangers become mortal enemies in an instant. As Danny McCoyne tries to hold his family together while navigating the perils of this new, unhinged society, it's slowly becoming apparent that there are two types of people out there: the Haters and the Hated. As to which side Danny comes out on, well you'll have to read the book to find out!

With expert pacing, Moody delivers fistfuls of gore alongside a gray moral ground fraught with impossible decisions. Should McCoyne risk his neck in the lawless streets to rescue his arrogant father-in-law? Should he beg, borrow and steal whatever is necessary to provide for his family? Can he trust his family at all or is it possible that one of them may be a Hater, locked in on the wrong side of the barricade?

McCoyne, as a character, is instantly relatable: he's an every-man with a bitch of a boss, a go-nowhere job and an unappreciative family that just won't give him two seconds of rest. He experiences equal moments of bravery and cowardice as he attempts to figure out what's going on in his city. The government is all but worthless and the tenuous truce among strangers soon degenerates into paranoia and suspicion. Only near the end of the novel does McCoyne finally find his clarity.

Though the narration from McCoyne's perspective is limited, Moody adds an "off stage" incident every few chapters, highlighting the brutal and arbitrary nature of the Haters. While this gives the reader a good overview as to what's going on in McCoyne's world, it can also become frustrating to the point that one wishes McCoyne would just hurry up and figure it out already! But frustration in this case is a good thing, as it keeps the pages turning faster and faster to find out what the Haters are all about. The sustained tension throughout the story is resolved with a satisfyingly chaotic ending. "Hater" ends, not on a cliffhanger, but on a moment of realization that would serve well for a standalone novel, but provides the perfect bridge for the sequel, "Dog Blood." The stage is set; will you be a Hater or the Hated?


PS: If I ever get the chance to be a Hater, I will most likely rage to this song:

Friday, May 27, 2011

Submitted for the Approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story...


It’s Sarah’s birthday today. I need to get her something nice…something no one else could get.

It can’t be anything I could buy. What kind of boyfriend would that make me? Any idiot can buy a thing, but what happens when that thing runs dry or breaks?

I can’t make it for her. She’s spurned those attempts in the past, and rightly so; they weren’t good enough for her. Sarah deserves better and I know that. I’ve punished myself for those mistakes and won’t repeat them.

I’m waiting in the park. It’s a rare warm and sunny day and all manner of people are about. There’s a coalition of hippies gathering at the top of the hill. Everywhere they walk, a cloud of dust seems to trail along behind them. The ones already settled begin playing drums, enticing others to join them. They pound out a tribal rhythm that turns the sloping greens into a primitive hunting ground.

There is a Chinese family playing catch. The children’s coordination is no better or worse than their father’s and I imagine that not once in their lives will they be mistaken for being athletic. I commend the father for trying, but the mother seems to know it’s pointless. She lounges in the shade of a tree, watching their futility.

A group of what might be sisters troops up the hill. One of them lays out a blanket, clearly too small for the three of them to share. They argue and giggle over the lack of relaxation space, struggling to squeeze themselves onto the fabric square, as if the surrounding grass is boiling hot lava. The one I assume is the oldest adjusts her top, her breasts threatening to spill out. She sees me watching her and smiles. I turn away. I’m here for Sarah, not myself.

A young man and woman take up a wide space in the center of the hill. They remove their shirts in the blazing sun. She has a tight jogging bra clamped down over her rail thin frame. He wears nothing but his skin and a faded pair of basketball shorts. He’d been in shape once, I could tell that. His girlfriend probably pined for the days when he played high school ball, before his well-conditioned muscles began to melt, to be coated in an ever-expanding avalanche of greasy fat.

The man knows his athletic days are behind him, so he makes up for his less-than-impressive physical performance by belittling his girlfriend and reliving the past. Sure, he missed that last catch by inches, but he had made the play at the plate in the 1999 state championships. Of course he could throw it harder, but he’s afraid he’ll hurt her if he does. He could play all day, but she looks tired, so they’ll stop.

He’s not Sarah’s type.

Two young men saunter up the hill, purposely shirtless, flipping a football between them. They’re athletes, that’s easy to see; cocky, too. They look like models that have walked off a Guess billboard, and as such, are very out of place in this park, on this day. They are tanned to perfection, artfully and artificially crafted. They each possess the body I could never have, as I lack the youth, genetic predisposition and the bull-headed tolerance to pain that would be necessary to achieve it. But…what Sarah wants, Sarah gets.

I know she’d leave me for someone like this in a cold heartbeat. Luckily for me, her heart beats slower than most, if it beats at all. As long as I can keep her happy, she will keep me by her side. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

The muscle men throw the ball back and forth with effortless confidence. One sends a toss seemingly out of reach, but the other dives and makes a perfect catch, coincidentally landing near the big-breasted sisters huddled on the blanket.

The girls’ eyes follow the men’s every move. The girlfriend of the past-his-prime athlete steals secret glances at them, eyeing greener pastures. The Chinese woman watches them shyly, knowing her children would have had more than a proficiency in math and computer games to look forward to if one of these men had been their father. Even the hippie drum circle seems to play to the rhythm of the men’s movements, threatening to break the restraints of civility and drive the women into an animalistic frenzy.

While the women watch the kings of the mountain, and the men flirt back with the women, none of them notice me. This is how it’s always been. I’m not one, nor the other; not either. It’s what Sarah sees in me. It’s why I can do what I do.

It’s dusk and the men are finally leaving, alone, much to the women’s collective disappointment. The sisters will go home to their boyfriends or solitary fantasies. The rail-thin girl will go back to her boyfriend’s dorm and suffer under his sweaty bulk for a blissfully short period of time. The wife will return to the suburbs and perhaps put the kids to bed early. Each of them will be picturing the handsome, well-built strangers from the park, seeing them in their lovers’ faces.

Neither of these men will make it home. It’s Sarah’s birthday after all, and I promised her a present. Both delivered at the same time, perhaps? Or should I keep one as a spare? Whichever one I chose, Sarah will be pleased; such pretty playthings. I only wish she didn’t finish with them so quickly.


Thursday, May 26, 2011


Hey folks! Welcome back to those of you who took a trip to Crazytown for the Rapture! Don't fret, I hear we have another shot at it on October 21st.
Anyhow, here are a couple quick updates:

Yesterday, I received a copy of Alexander Brown's short story/novella collection, "Traumatized". I'll be posting a review once I'm done reading it, but in the meantime, I'll let the man behind the book explain it! And check out his site here!

Today, I'm finally picking up my copy of "Dog Blood" (which you can buy by doing a clickityclick on that fancy button up there!)! For those not in the know, "Dog Blood" is the sequel to "Hater" by David Moody. I'm very excited to start this book and I'll let you know why in my upcoming review of "Hater." For all things Moody, check out his site!

A beta copy of "Indigo" is once again traveling (much like "Crawl" did) to exotic locales and dream destinations well before its author will (sad face). But, I do love the support and enthusiasm that Mr. and Mrs. Vacation are giving my work and I will continue to force them to read it until they agree to take me with them!

In editing news: I suck at editing. The. End.

But really, I'm struggling with a rewrite of "Blackwatch"
, mostly because I'm being lazy, watching a lot of Dexter and playing a lot of Fallout 3. I know, I know. I'll get back to work soon, I promise!

Which brings me to my 2nd and 3rd phases of 2011: querying and writing NEW STUFF!

Querying agents is a brutal, nerve-wracking and time-consuming task, but I feel I'm much more prepared and competent than I was with my first attempt. Live, learn and query!

Writing new stuff, however, is what I live for. Fans of "Crawl," and even those who've read "Blackwatch" and "Indigo," may be surprised by what I've (probably?) chosen for my next project. More news on that in the coming weeks!

For now, make sure you check out my summery short submission for the "Midnight Society" tomorrow morning and then have yourselves a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend!


Friday, May 20, 2011

The Rapture

Well followers, if this is the last time I get to talk to you, it's been nice blogging with you!

Word has it the world will end tomorrow. I'm okay with that. Here's hoping the Earth's crust shakes open and countless, shambling souls are released from Hell to walk among us. I'll be out there with weapon in hand, grinning like an idiot, ready to send them back.

Won't you join me?


Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story...

"What's Owed"

As soon as I walk in, I recognize the man I’m looking for, even though we’ve never met. He’s seated at the bar, elbows propped up, with one hand around a rocks glass and the other around a nearly empty bottle. His head is sunk down below his slouched shoulders. He looks like any one of a hundred desolate drunks that blow in and out of Sally’s every week; but this one is definitely my mark.

“Rough day?” I ask as I take a seat on a bar stool a couple spaces down from him. He looks at me with red eyes, bleary from crying or drinking, it’s hard to tell. He nods, finishes the glass and fills it up again with the most of the bottle’s remaining contents.

I order a bottle of something I can’t pronounce. The bartender raises an eyebrow at me and disappears for a few moments. When she comes back, she leaves a dusty glass and an equally dusty bottle of dark liquor that pours like smoke.

“To women,” I say, raising my glass in a toast. The man makes a sound between a grunt and a cough, then drinks down a portion of his liquor.

“To hell with em,” he says, topping off his glass. “Always taking, never satisfied, taking, taking, taking,” he says as the honey-colored liquor spills over the rim. “Taking til there’s nothing left.” He slams the empty bottle on the counter as if making his point. I already know his situation better than he thinks.

“Can’t live with em, I guess,” I say.

“Sure as hell can’t live without em either,” he replies. “Wouldn’t want to.” He heaves a heavy sigh and pounds his drink down again. He nudges the empty vessel towards the bartender, but she shakes her head and walks away.

“Here, allow me,” I say, taking his glass and pouring a pair of smoky shots. He’s drank enough to get flagged, but not so much that he could turn down a free drink outright. He eyes the smoking liquid suspiciously.

“The hell’s this stuff?” he asks, taking a sniff.

“You seem awfully young to be so distraught over women already,” I say, pretending not to hear his question. A stretching of the truth, that. This man is 36 years, eight months and two days old, to the minute. Long past his due.

“Mister, you don’t know the half of it,” he says. “I’ve only ever wanted one, just that perfect one. No matter how close I get, they always seem to just slip away.”

“Alas, the tenderness of youth feels the sting of heartache most acutely,” I say absentmindedly. He looks at me sideways for a moment.

“You a poet or something?” he asks, still not sure he wants the drink I’ve offered him. I’ve forgotten the language of this particular time and place. Casualty of the job.

“No, no. Just an errand boy. My boss is, something of a collector,” I say with a hint of a smile.

“My boss is something of an asshole,” the man says, laughing heartily for the first time during our conversation. I take the opportunity to raise my glass in a mock toast.

“To our bosses then!”

He raises his glass, but something in the mirror catches his attention before he drinks.

“See that girl back there, standing by the door? She looks like El, first love of my life,” he says. A chestnut-haired college girl stands near the front door of Sally’s, waiting for a table, a friend, a boyfriend. It doesn’t matter. I know it isn’t El.

“El was the one, Mister,” he continues. “You ever have the one? The one that got away?”

I grunt and nod to him, suggesting that, like any other man, of course I had.

“She was perfect, through and through. It was like someone had made her just for me, ya know? Like we each knew what the other was thinking. Made conversations great, made fights short. There is no one on this Earth quite like her,” he says, swirling the smoking contents of his glass. “And you know, I don’t mind saying it, but when she left, I really feel like she took a big piece of me with her.” And he gets to it at last.

“Surely there were others?” I ask, urging him on.

“Oh sure, sure. None of em quite like El, though. They were bits and pieces; she was the whole package. Only thing they had in common with her was they all up and left eventually.” He keeps swirling the glass. A strange grin parts his lips.

“Had some good times, all right. There was this Japanese girl, used to work a sushi bar by day and a Go-Go club at night,” he says. His grin widens as he recalls their private moments. “Then there was this bookish little thing, all shy and reserved on the outside. But turn the lights out and,” he snaps his fingers, “watch her go wild.” He leans back away from the bar, feeling better now, reliving his glory days.

“There was the pixie-haired girl I met during an airport layover; oh, and I spent a drunken night with a friend of mine from college, though both of us pretend that never happened; can’t forget my best friend’s sister either, not that he knows about it,” he says, laughing to himself. He seems to have almost forgotten that I’m even there.

“Funny thing, though,” he says, all the happiness in his expression ebbing away, “no matter how much or how little time I spent with them, I feel like each one of them took a piece of me with them, a piece I can’t get back.” His body slouches forward again and his hands curl around the smoking glass. He turns his deflated face toward me once more.

“Mister, do you think I can ever get those pieces back?” he asks. I smile my own smile at last and raise my own glass.

“To the next one,” I say. To my relief, he finally picks up his own drink.

“To the next one,” he says, barely smiling. We down our Plutonian shots. He shudders.

“Colder than I expected,” he says, smacking his lips. “Like I can feel it all-”

His eyes shock wide open. He stares at my reflection in the mirror behind the bar, at something strange that only he can see.

I change. A friend’s sister. A college companion. A traveling pixie. A bookworm. A Go-Go dancer. A chestnut-haired vision of perfection.

When he looks back at me, I’m as he saw me before, as everyone around us sees me.

“You’re spent, Larry,” I tell him, putting money down on the bar. “And even though I’ve arrived a bit late, I’m here to collect what’s owed.”

I stand. A shiver runs the length of Larry’s body. His hands are shaking. I touch his shoulder and he is calm, recognition dawning in his eyes.

“The next time you offer up your soul for the perfect woman,” I tell him, “be sure to be a little more specific. Come on, it’s time.”

I lead him away from the bar. I’ve found that reclamation is best done by leaving a bar or restaurant; no one inside expects you to return, no one outside expects you at all.

“Will it hurt?” Larry asks me as I reach for the door. It opens and reveals nothing beyond it but unbroken light. I keep my hand on his shoulder.

“Not half as much as your life has.”

I guide him through the door and we pass into a place where no man desires to go, but all men must.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Zombies Ate the CDC!

So I had originally prepared an in-depth look at the time and effort it takes to write/polish/produce a book these days, but then zombies attacked the CDC.

Or, rather, the CDC posted a disaster plan in case of the zombie apocalypse. Obviously a joke on their part to prepare people for hurricane season and generate traffic to their site. Well, the second part of that plan worked like a charm, as so many people checked out the zombie page that it crashed! Here's a snippet:

So what do you need to do before zombies…or hurricanes or pandemics for example, actually happen? First of all, you should have an emergency kit in your house. This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp (or in the event of a natural disaster, it will buy you some time until you are able to make your way to an evacuation shelter or utility lines are restored). Below are a few items you should include in your kit, for a full list visit the CDC Emergency page.

Water (1 gallon per person per day)
Food (stock up on non-perishable items that you eat regularly)
Medications (this includes prescription and non-prescription meds)
Tools and Supplies (utility knife, duct tape, battery powered radio, etc.)
Sanitation and Hygiene (household bleach, soap, towels, etc.)
Clothing and Bedding (a change of clothes for each family member and blankets)
Important documents (copies of your driver’s license, passport, and birth certificate to name a few)
First Aid supplies (although you’re a goner if a zombie bites you, you can use these supplies to treat basic cuts and lacerations that you might get during a tornado or hurricane)

Notice they didn't mention stocking up on guns and ammo or learning how to wield melee weapons, so this is obviously tongue-in-cheek. And I appreciate their efforts to get people prepared, whether it be for the ever-present natural disaster or the impending zombie apocalypse. The CDC also takes a second to reassure us that they won't be roaming the city streets with automatic weapons, taking out shamblers and survivors alike. (That's the army's job.) But I've seen enough movies to know not to trust those brainy, courageous and oh-so-handsome scientists!*

Until the day comes when the dead walk the Earth (which might be this Saturday), it's good to know the CDC is prepared to handle the less zombified emergencies.

Tune in tomorrow morning to see this week's installment of the Midnight Society, which is devoid of the undead...more or less.


*Disclaimer: I may or may not moonlight as a microbiologist when I'm not writing...