Saturday, December 19, 2009

Zombies on zombies

The living dead.
Braaaaain eaters. (Or flesh eaters, depending on who you ask. I don't like to discriminate though.)

The undead phenomenon is catching on. Are zombies actually cool nowadays? I thought this day would never come! Now everyone who laughed at me in high school for wearing George Romero t-shirts can eat it! Oh, wait. They're still laughing at me? Shit, okay.

Anyway, with everyone getting pretty sick of vampires (I think the deathblow was making them sparkle - but that's just me. A lot of people think very differently.), a new monster has sort of risen to the forefront. Zombies.

I'm just glad we skipped right by werewolves. They can have their turn after we're done.

With the popularity of Zombieland, The Zombie Survival Guide, and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies being turned into a movie (no, I am not shitting you - it will be starring Natalie Portman and I can't wait), zombies are taking over as the monster to be in the entertainment scene. Literary and film.

Awww, yeah.

So, for those of you that know me (and by now, all of you should know me), you know that my first two novels are very close to being published. You also know that they are about zombies. What you may not know is that I consider myself something of a zombie nerd, and I've seen just about every zombie movie and read just about every zombie book in existence. What follows is my top 5 zombies movies of all time and some suggested zombie books (besides mine, obviously, which you will no doubt scramble to your local bookstore to buy the moment it is released). If you have any questions about anything zombie related, please feel free to post a comment and I will answer it in a timely manner. (So long as your question doesn't suck - in which case I will be forced to delete it, burn down your house, and punch your goldfish in his little fish face.)

1) Day of the Dead (The original version - without the girl with the fish eyes from American Beauty.)

2) Dance of the Dead (This is a newer one, but it makes the list anyways, and at number 2 because it's THAT awesome.)

3) Night of the Living Dead (What can I say about this one? Classic. Awesome for its social implications and for its zombies.)

4) Dead Alive (Goriest movie I've ever seen. Ever. And I've seen some gory movies.)

5) Shaun of the Dead (A new classic)

Honorable mentions - some new, some old: Day of the Dead 2, Zombieland (watch for Bill Murray in this), Dead and Breakfast, Dawn of the Dead (old one), and though they aren't called zombies, they are technically the living dead, so.. The Evil Dead 2 (this would have made the top 5 were they ever called zombies).

Have I filled your Netflix queue yet? No? Here's some more: Fido, The Mad, American Zombie (this one is ridiculous - a "documentary"), Dead Snow (nazi zombies?! Yes, please!), Braineaters

Okay. I think that's enough to last you for at least a week. If you have any I may have carelessly left off this list, please feel free to give me an e-slap upside the head and let me know.


Now, zombie books are something else altogether. They're few and far between, and unfortunately, there aren't too many with much humor in them. Or too many that are worth reading, for that matter. There is a pretty good zombie anthology that was released not too long ago called The New Dead: A Zombie Anthology (It makes a great xmas present to the zombie lover in every family) with greats such as Neil Gaiman and Max Brooks contributing to it. How could you go wrong?

I also fully recommend and endorse Breathers: A Zombie's Lament by S.G. Browne. It is written in the present tense, which as you know, I normally don't like, but Browne pulls it off and even uses it to his advantage at times (sort of like Josh Bazell - the other exception to my present tense rule, with his book that shall not be mentioned here because it is not about zombies, but you should probably read anyhow so scroll back through my posts for my review of it). Also, he happens to be an awesome guy and one of his "Zombies are people too" stickers currently adorns the back of this very laptop. (Thanks, Scott!) Check out his website!

I've already mentioned Max Brooks. A few years ago, Max started to give lectures on how to survive a zombie attack at universities. It was all done as a joke, but it really started to catch on. Fast forward a few years and you have one of the first best-selling zombie books ever: The Zombie Survival Guide. Fast forward a little bit more and you have World War Z:An Oral History of the Zombie War, Brooks's foray into fiction. It is gory as hell, which is why I liked it. It's done in a style of different heroes from the recently finished zombie war giving interviews to the same narrator. They each have a different story to tell. So technically, this is a bunch of short stories, but we can call it a novel since they all intertwine pretty nicely.

Okay, go, get shopping for those zombie xmas presents. I'm sure your family will appreciate you more than ever!

Seacrest out!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sappy baby picture post

Katelyn and I took christmas pictures of Jack the other night. This is the best one. Well, the second best one. I didn't feel the one where he is peeing all over the train would be appropriate for the internet, though. The last thing I need is to have some idiot try to get me arrested for child pornography for taking cute pictures of my son.

Merry Pissmas.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

NaSWe PraMo - part 2!


This is great. I've seen some really good stuff here. Thanks to everyone who sent in one of their pranks. Just so you know you're not some weirdo off pranking alone, I'm posting my favorite that I've gotten so far. It was sent to me in an e-mail by an old friend of mine, and it's a very good example of pranks getting out of hand.

So, remember, everyone: When pranking, make sure your girlfriend doesn't have a homicidal side to her. Okay? Thanks.

So yeah, I read your blog thing and I was like, fucking awesome idea, let's make it prank day. So my buddy Kevin (whom much to his chagrin I sometimes call "Special K") is over at my place, and we're cheerfully working on finishing off this giant box of wine we spent our blood plasma money on. So this stuff is pretty strong yeah? And we're just chillin', drinking our wine and watching the hit Hollywood blockbuster "There's Something About Mary" starring Ben Stiller.
So at some point one of us, probably Kevin, says "You know, this is a little bit gay, us sitting here drinking wine together and watching a chick flick." But I said that the part where you get to see Cameron Diaz's nipples through her shirt had hetero street cred and it was ok. So we argued about it for a little while and I sort of saw his point about how it might look just a little gay if taken out of context, sort of like something from an episode of "Three's Company" or some shit.
So by this point I'm catching a little buzz, I mean about half this 5 litre box o' wine is sloshing about in my tiny tummy, so I figure I'll call Holly at work and take the piss out of her just a little and ask her to bring us some chicken parmesan. So I call up there, and the bitch who answers the phone is like, "No, she just left, she got out early. I think she said she was gonna stop by." So I'm like, fucking light bulb goes on, Prank Time!!!
Well it took me and Special K like four minutes to come up with this idea, but it was totally worth it. We were like, ok, let's strip down to our underwear and lay on the bed all comfy with our wine, and act like we were being bromantic. Pretty clever, yeah, but why stop there? So a few minutes later Kevin was in the shower with the door locked, and there I am laying on the bed totally nude with my boxers on my head and sipping a glass of red wine. Oh and there's a plate of cut up cheese next to me, and some scented candles are lit, real swanky like smelling of pumpkin spice and vanilla. And the coup de grace, so to speak - you're gonna love this part because it made me think of you - I worked up a scary big chubby that was at that very moment at full glorious attention!
So not even like 5 minutes goes by and I hear this timid little knock on the door.
"Oh! Hey! Hold up, just a second.. One sec, ok? I'm not dressed!" I keep this up for a minute until she realizes it's not locked.
Now I can literally see the door knob turning, and I'm thinking to myself, fuck, ok, now I gotta roll with this or I'm gonna look like a total fucking idiot.
So in she comes, and the first thing she does is sort of put her shit down and smell the air like, "Are you burning candles?" and then she looks over into the bedroom.
So there I am sprawled out in like a pervy J.C. pose, and Mr. Happy is doing that thing it does when you're on your back and your weiner is like defying gravity so hard it's curved like a pirate sword, and I have my wine in my hand and my boxers on my head and whatever stupid look that was on my face. So she kind of goes from what the fuck? to just busting up laughing. But then slowly I can like literally see the gears start turning and the hamster start running on his little wheel in her brain, and she goes right back to what the fuck?
"Oh heeeey.. I'm just uh, watching a movie."
She edges closer to the door and sort of peers around.
"You're watching 'Something About Mary'?" "And what the fuck? who was here??"
"Uh, no one, why?"
"There's two fucking glasses, Jonny. WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON???"
So suddenly I get it.. oh shit, she thinks it's another chick! Like damn, this was poorly conceived as fuck now wasn't it?
So now I'm like, ok, I gotta play this thing off and like let her know it's just a joke and I'm evidently real bad at jokes, and we can all have a good laugh. But I don't even have time to form half a thought before - and I swear to god I saw it happen in SLOW FUCKING MOTION - her head turn towards the sound of running water in the bathroom.
Now she's instantly going for the closet, and I'm thinking, damn she's gonna pack up her shit and split. Then I realize, oh no she ain't, she's going for my fucking AR-15! And I mean, she's hysterical, half crying, teeth clenched, and she's just rifling through my shit looking for ammunition, "Where's the fucking magazine?? Where the FUCK is the FUCKING magazine?"
So now I'm up off the bed and I'm like wrestling this gun away from her, and I still have a raging boner and a pair of boxers on my head, and I'm like shit, I wonder if Cops ever films in Findlay because that would be just my fucking luck now wouldn't it?
So I get the gun away from her, and right away she's off like a fucking greyhound towards the bathroom. "You fucking slut! You got nowhere to go bitch, I can wait out here all fucking night if I have to and I'm gonna fucking KILL you!" And she's kicking the door with these little girlie kicks where she only pulls her foot back like a few inches, but I mean, she's livid as hell right, so I don't laugh or anything.
And I don't know what the fuck Kevin's doing, 'cause he's not saying a word in there, and now I'm thinking fuck this shit, just eject and come clean. So I'm telling her "Baby, baby, it's just a joke, we're just fucking with you! Seriously, it's only a joke!" And of course she's like, "A joke?! You think this is a fucking joke?! You fucking asshole, ya da ya da", and there's no talking any sense to her. I mean, she's just being totally irrational at this point and won't listen to reason.
So finally Kevin opens the door, and she's like halfway between the bedroom and the bathroom, and she like senses it opening and she turns and I mean she had this totally predatory look in her eyes that was really fucking scary, and her lip is like curled back and her incisors are gleaming all wicked and sharp, and her fists are bone white around the knuckles and I mean it's just a total mess, and before she can even take one step forward Kevin steps out all slow like, looking sort of meek and scared, and he's covering his weiner with a fucking 2 inch by 2 inch wash cloth.
And this is the weird part. I honestly don't know if at that moment she really genuinely believed I had gay sex with my friend, because she was just like "Oh. My. God." And then to make things even worse, right then on the movie Matt Dillon says, "In my spare time, I like working with retards."
Anyhow, things are better now but I think she might still have some doubts and it could get prett yweird. I'll let you know later what happens.

P.S. The scariest bit of this is when he tells me his erection reminds him of me. Yikes!

Monday, December 7, 2009

NaSwe PraMo

Remember April Fool's Day, when you were a kid? Oh, man. I had the time of my life pulling pranks on my family - especially on my little sister. Unfortunately, this is a habit I did not lose with age. Most people call me immature or childish for my love of practical jokes, but then again, most people suck. Of course, you, my faithful readers and bestest BFFs, don't suck. I bet you pull the occasional prank of your own.

So let's see them! Tell me what the best practical joke you've ever played was. Or, if you haven't played it yet but have a good idea for one, let me know and perhaps my little sister will feel the biting sting of your sense of humor! In fact, let's designate December as prank month. Prank as many people as you can all month, and email me your updates. (Only put your best prank ever in the comments here; I don't want pages and pages to scroll through, please.) It'll be sort of like NaNoWriMo, only instead of a daily word goal, you'll have a daily prank goal.

Let NaSwe PrankMo begin! (National Sweet Prank Month) (I know, crappy acronym. I'll try for a better one later. Ideas?)

And so you know I'm participating too, I'll post this little gem I did for my own amusement a few days ago.

Being an author, I have a few "industry" friends. And one of those friends just happens to be a very cool agent by the name of Joanna Stampfel-Volpe. (No, she's not my agent.) If you're looking for someone to represent your work, I definitely recommend her if she does your genre. Almost as much as I would recommend my agent (the amazing Adam "Snapper" Chromy, heretofor known on this blog as "Tha Agent" - with an 'a' instead of an 'e' to denote how gangsta he is, and how he busts figurative caps in the competition). Anyhow, if you're unfamiliar with publishing, or just how the agenting bit of it works, I'll explain it quickly for you:

Agents are the author's voice with publishing companies. They do pretty much everything business-oriented for their authors, freeing up his time to do his job, which is writing. If you're writing and want to get your book sold to a large publisher, these guys are the only way to do it. (Unless, of course, your dad is the CEO of Scholastic or Harper Collins or something - in which case, do you want to hang out?) Authors get ahold of these guys by sending what's called a query letter. These are brief letters describing the author and the project they have done (fiction) or are planning to do (non-fiction). The agent decides, based on this letter, whether they want to read the author's stuff.

Now, agents like their query letters done in very specific ways. Basically, what they want is to know who you are, why you're the best person to write the book, and most importantly, what the book is about. They don't like people who brag too much or who don't have enough confidence in themselves, and a thousand other things. It'd take far too long to list all agent pet peeves, so I suggest you look on my reading list for The Rejectionist. That's a good blog from an agent's assistant.

Getting on to the prank:
I set up a fake email account and wrote an entirely fake query letter to this agent friend of mine, then at the end, typed "You've been had!" which is an inside joke she would know nothing about, so I don't really know why I typed it, and then told her it was me all along. She loved it, cracked up, and told me she's saving it forever. (This is an example of one of my nicer pranks, as it made everyone involved laugh.) Here's a copy of the email I sent her:

Dear lucky agent,

I picked you, yes YOU, out of the thousands and thousands of literary agents I found on some website to represent this once in a life-time amazing idea. I'm a middle-aged guy and I've never really had any interest in books or writing before at all, and to tell you the truth I was in remedial reading classes in high school (I didn't bother going to college - it's for suckers), but once I had this idea I read a book on how to write and BAM! Now you see this amazing author that stands before you today. (Well, sort of stands. More like emails. But still.)

Anyways, you're probably wondering what this idea is. Well, let me tell you. Are you ready? Sitting down? If not, please do so. I wouldn't want you to hurt yourself when you read this earth shatteringly awesome idea. Ready for it? Here it comes.




Right? Right?! I know! Genius! But the awesome train doesn't stop there. Oh no, ma'am. It keeps going right into Grandiose Central Station. Because not only do we have the cutest cuddly kitties around posing in different sexually suggestive positions and dressed like priests, nuns, and astronauts, but the whole thing is written in ancient runes!

It blows your mind, doesn't it? I knew you would like it.

I haven't made the calendar yet, but I drew a picture of a kitty with crayons earlier. I can scan it and send it to you as an example if you want. Also, this is the first in a series. The sequel is dogs and sanskrit. That's right, the gravy train keeps chugging. And I want you as the conductor!

As far as business is concerned, I'm willing to offer you a 3% commission on the sale, as long as you promise not to steal my idea and do it yourself, since it's so awesome. Get back to me by the end of the business day today, or I'm taking it elsewhere.

Faker Von Prank
1110 Richie st
Got you, Good 11020

There you go! You have your mission. Now go, prank!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


In Candy - A Novel of Love and Addiction, author Luke Davies says (through the fictional unnamed narrator, who is played by Heath Ledger in the film--and named Dan) that for every 10 years you're a junkie, 7 of them will be spent waiting.

How true, Luke. It's so easy to tell when an actual junkie has written a heroin book. They get right to the heart of the matter. Waiting. Waiting defines a junkie's life.

And besides recommending both the novel and film versions of this amazing story for their enjoyability, emotion (yes, even I like a little feeling now and then), and realism, I do know something about waiting.

It's been two weeks since my agent (the amazing Adam "Snapper"* Chromy, of Artists and Artisans) started submitting the proposal for Bible Camp Zombies, and I am going CRAZY. I know it's pretty unrealistic to think that a debut author will sell in two weeks, but I can't help myself. It's like I'm querying again. I check my email every couple of hours or so (even though I'm sure Adam would call me if he heard something), read everything I can about the publishing process, and generally annoy the crap out of my fiance, with questions like, "So, do you think there's an editor reading it right now? Do you think this fictional editor I made up in my mind likes it?" It's a wonder she hasn't stabbed me with the pieces of my broken laptop.

There is very little posted on the internet about this part of the publishing process. Probably because waiting is extremely boring. A very good friend (and my writing buddy/partner/whatever you want to call her - she's the one who tells me when what I've written sucks) sent me a link to another agent's blog (who shall remain nameless, as he gave a few of my friends form rejections**) about this, and there were hundreds of comments on what to do while waiting. 99.9% of them were completely useless. The .01% that were useful, were only useful to other people. I really don't think baking will help. Maybe eating baked goods. But that would require money on my part, since I don't bake. And I have to sell my project to get that.

Oh what a vicious circle. You were right, Abrasive Wheels***. You were right!

So, if any of you editors are reading this (and I don't delude myself that you actually are), hi! I'm really awesome and will make you tons of money. Just buy the project. You know you want to! Come on... all the cool editors are doing it. Tell you what - the first one's free****.

Now that that's over with - I'm going to be starting my next book soon. Fun, huh? Maybe I'll have a contest to have you guys help pick which one I'll do. (I have a vast list of ideas.) Or maybe I'll just see what you think and then do whatever I want anyhow. Whichever. I'll let you know.

For now, this is Richard A. Kray, saying...
Seacrest Out!

* I have no idea why his nickname is "Snapper". I haven't even speculated. Feel free to come to your own conclusions.

** Just kidding. It's Nathan Bransford. Here's a link: Nathan Bransford's blog (And I understand the form rejections - this guy gets more queries than... apparently I can't make analogies outside of MSWord, sorry, but it's a lot of queries.)

*** A prize to anyone who tells me what Abrasive Wheels is.

**** No it's not.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The sappy baby post

So, my son - Jack Sawyer Kray - was born on 11/11/09 at 9:07pm and he is already the coolest thing I've ever seen. Everyone tells you it's better than you'd ever imagine, and you believe them - but you still aren't ready for how overwhelmingly wonderful having a baby is.

In short, holy crap.

Jack was 8lb 13oz at birth, and 20". He has his father's eyebrows and eyes and his mother's nose and mouth. He enjoys holding the fingers of his various grandparents, making faces that make him look like he is constantly pooping, constantly pooping, being burped by Daddy, sleeping on Mommy, and playing drums in his black metal band, Soul Consumption. His dislikes include: Doctors wielding ginormous circumcision knives, nurses with cold hands, when Mommy and Daddy aren't around, Republicans, and cold bottles.

What an amazing little man.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jack Sawyer Kray

Hello everyone. Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I've been busier than I've ever been in my life lately. Besides the full time job of waiting on my baby to be born and taking care of Katelyn (my fiance, whose lovely countenance you may freely look upon, just swing your eyes over to the right and there's a picture of us there), I've been editing and writing and writing and editing. And sometimes I go to my job too.

So, in the interest of brevity, I'll make a list of updates on my life, for those (all two or so) of you who care.

Jack Sawyer Kray has apparently decided that being born isn't really for him, and he is now 5 days over-due. If he isn't born today, we go to the hospital tomorrow so Katelyn's labor can be induced. After that I will be living in a world of hand-holding and abuse-taking until he's born and my life becomes better than I can even imagine right now. It's very weird how I'm totally in love with a little guy who hasn't even been born yet. Like I said, I can only imagine how I'll feel once I've met him.

Adam, my agent, and I have finally finished up the partials and proposal for the zombie books. The titles we are selling with are Bible Camp Zombies: A Love Story, and Bible Camp Zombies: The Hunger. (I know The Hunger isn't very good, and I encourage you to let me know if you have a better idea.) It's currently with one editor and he's making a list of the other editors he'll be sending it off to. Hopefully it's a quick sale for lots and lots and lots of money.

Unfortunately, Katelyn's grandfather, one of the greatest men I've ever had the pleasure of meeting, passed away two days ago. Jack's namesake, Jack Mulhall will be missed by thousands of people. I'm literally in awe of all the good he's done in his life and I can't think of a better person to name our first son for.

So that's my life in a nutshell for you guys. I'll be posting a little more frequently and I'll bring the funny in these following posts so that my blog is back to the laugh-o-rama you are used to. (Or if not laugh-o-rama, at least a little "heh" every now and then.)

Email me if you want updates on the baby, which, as a proud father, I am only too happy to give, or if you have title ideas for me!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hearing the words "The Swine Flu" makes me hungry - is that messed up?

H1N1 is the new ebola, apparently. People are more afraid of this virus than they are of every book Stephen King has ever written. Granted, most of the panic is due to an over-exaggerating media. Those newsmen do like their panics and epidemics. But every fantasy at least has some basis in reality, right? And guess what? It's a possibility - granted, a distant one, but a possibility nonetheless - that Katelyn and I have contracted this fantastic sickness!


We've been sick the last couple of days. So sick, in fact, that it interfered with my getting my edits done for my agent. It sucks. I finally sent them off today though, so now I'm going to work on the proposal. Exciting! If anyone has any proposal advice, please feel free to comment, because I've never written one before.

Also, don't worry, the exciting conclusion to My Interview with a Vampire is coming soon. I've been working too hard on my mss to put it up. I'll get it done tonight or tomorrow. You guys are the best readers ever for waiting so patiently. I could hug every one of you. (Except maybe Stu - I hear he smells like onions.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Episode 6: Return of the Spam/It's not really an episode/If it was it wouldn't be number 6/Why I'm posting less frequently

Hey all. So I haven't been posting very frequently lately, and for that I'm very sorry. Katelyn's due very soon and most of my time is devoted to her. After that, I've had edits/re-writes to do from my agent, so I've been very busy trying to get these pages ready for the publishing houses to see. It's all been pretty time-consuming, and unfortunately for you guys, the blog gets pushed to the back. Sorry!

But in apology, I'll bring back an old favorite. I recieved a spam email the other day, so I decided to post it, along with my reply, here. Enjoy!

The subject line was: I love the Cubbies!!!! (Maybe the spammer thought I lived in Chicago or something? No idea.)

Privet, my gentleman

When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody,
you want the rest of your life To start as soon as possible. This
twenty-first century letter is for my twentieth century soul. My love,
it does not matter that we never met in real world, never talked,
touched or even hold hands. I feel like I know you
already and you are the one for me. In my imagination you are just
perfect and I am dreaming about you all days and nights. We have to
patient in order to get what we want. So I am waiting for you here,
my sweet love

The best of luck


Dear Vall,

It's so weird that you felt this connection with me. The
last few days I have had an emptiness in my heart, and
I knew, simply knew, that it could only be filled through
someone who loved the Cubbies who would send me an
e-mail. You, as George McFly would say, are my density.
Here is the thing, though. I pray you are not foreign. For
if you are not a true, red-blooded American, I shall be
forced to hunt you down like the second-class citizen
you are, take you, and before killing you slowly, rip your
limbs from your body in a nasty way, and mail them to
your family members. Because, you see, God speaks to
me. And he has given me a holy quest. To see all other
nationalities, all those not native to the good ol' US of A,
burn in fiery fire. How would I find you, you may ask.
That is a good question. The answer? Magic. I'm sure
you were not aware when sending this email that you
have contacted a great wizard. The greatest American
Wizard of all time. So, in closing, stop email spamming
me, please.


Monday, October 12, 2009

The second writing post

This post is about writing, and I'll stick to writing this time. I promise.

Okay, so I just finished part of a MS to give to my agent and I'm extremely proud of it. The next step is to edit another MS and wait for his edits to come back on the first one. Then I will do his edits while I send him the other edited MS, then wait for those edits to come back and do those. Hopefully those will be the last edits there are.

The reason I'm telling you all this is because I don't think anyone really realizes how much editing and hard work writing is. Yes, anyone can do it, but it isn't just a sort of "I always wanted to write a book one day" kind of things. Writing a book takes a little more effort than just one day.

One of the hardest parts of writing for some people is coming up with ideas to write about. (Why do you think one of the number one questions asked at author Q and A's is "Where do you get your ideas from?" Unfortunately, there's no one answer for that. Luckily, I've never had much trouble coming up with a concept for a book, it just sort of happens. (I got the idea for the zombie books while making fun of Twilight, believe it or not.) I sometimes flounder on the story, but never enough to make me call it quits. I'll usually live in agony without being able to write for a day or two before I'm doing some mundane task and it comes to me.

Then comes the editing. Endless editing is the way I write. It's the way I suggest anyone looking to begin a writing career write. A lot of people do a first draft, second draft, and polish. This is pretty much the standard, as far as I know. What I do is read the last 10-15 pages I did before I start writing every day, fixing everything I come across that needs fixed, tightening the loose bits, and balancing the awkward sentences, phrases, and paragraphs. After that, once I've totally immersed myself in my "writing mindset" (as I call it) as well as my story, I write. I usually try to set a writing goal, but I never really stick to it. I write until I run out of the idea I'd thought of, or keep going if I get more as I go (which is usually the case), normally only stopping when life calls. (Having an almost bursting pregnant fiance makes that the case most of the time these days, and I'm sure it will be even more frequent once our son is born.) That's why I try to get a lot of writing done late at night or early in the morning, while normal people are sleeping.

After I finish the entire manuscript that way, I will do a second draft, then a polish. Sometimes, due to my heavy editing during the first draft stage, the second draft isn't much more than a polish, and the polish is more like a once-over, but there you have it. There is my process.

But wait, there's more! After that it's off to the agent, who will give me stuff to edit after going over my work with a fine-toothed comb. Then I'll do those edits. Hopefully he won't have any more after that, but it's very possible. So then I'll do those edits. Then more. Then more. Until it's absolutely perfect. (Absolutely perfect being it looks like it wasn't edited a trillion times, and I've made this tough process look easy.) Then my job takes a break for a time while my agent does his stuff.

So there it is. The second writing post. Now you know how I write my novels. Pretty exciting right? Hah.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Something more than a little irritating

Katelyn and I like to shop at Wal-Mart. And to all you Wal-Mart haters out there, I have this to say. Nyaahh nyaaaah! No, really, Wal-Mart is not as evil as one would think. Actually, they're not nearly as evil as some other big corporations, like McDonald's and Pepsi and a host of others. Don't believe me? There's a show called Penn and Teller's Bullshit. Watch the episode on Wal-Mart and learn some actual facts.

Anyhow, so we were at Wal-Mart the other night, and one of the things I love most about this store is its 20 items or less line. We never have more than 20 items, so it's a very quick way to get out of the store, because (even if I have a good book with me) waiting in line just plain sucks.

In line in front of us, however, was an evil greater than anything Wal-Mart's ever done. These two women, in an unusual display of sheer, unadulterated gall, had 40 items in their cart.

That is not in the spirit of the 20 items or less lane.

It seems they had cooked up a scheme where they would split their money in half, and then each would pay for 20 items. Thus circumventing the whole spirit of the 20 items or less lane.

Except they forgot about one thing: Richie Kray was behind them.

With a look to Katelyn that I refer to as my "Oh no she di'int look," I said, "Excuse me ma'am, don't you think you have a few more than 20 items there?"

She replied, grinning, "Naw. We's both got 20 items."

Ignoring her terrible grammar, I pressed on. "Yes, I'm aware of your little scheme. It seems only right that you go to a proper lane for people with more than 20 items. I would hate to have to get the store's manager and fill him in on the situation."

They left the 20 items or less lane without another word, their heads hung in shame.

Score one for people with an honest shopping agenda.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Richie Kray - Keyboard Destroyer

So, I've come to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe I might, in the teensiest way possible, write entirely too often. The proof of this is the poor keyboard attached to my little Toshiba Satellite laptop. For a month or so now, certain keys have been worn out, becoming very hard to press. (My quote key, for instance, takes a good half a second to hit. And if you don't think this is annoying when working on your manuscript, think again, dear reader. It is a freaking nightmare.) Today I woke up, and after making sure my beautiful fiance was doing okay (she is pregnant and about to pop, and also was not feeling well yesterday), I sat down to write as I always do. Except I noticed a teensy little problem.

My space bar had betrayed me.

I don't know why, or how, but my space bar no longer responds to me. I hit it (I hit all things I want to obey my desires) and nothing. I press it down, holding it there for a good 10 seconds, sliding all over its lanky surface, and still nothing. Why hast thou forsaken me, o space bar? O grand key of keys? O king of the keyboard, o savior of laptops? Why?!

Then I came to the conclusion that I must be a mythological beast from Ancient Egypt or Rome or some other less heard of civilization, sent into the future to destroy writing as we know it. I will ruthlessly inter each and every keyboard I come across, regardless of race, or sex, social standing, or creed. I will be methodical in my destruction. Never tiring. Always waiting to pounce on that next unsuspecting set of keys with the ferocity of a dragon with a hangover.

Either that or I really need a new computer. One of the two.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The First Writing Post

So, one of the goals of this blog, when I was convinced to start it (and let me tell you, it took quite a bit of convincing), was to post about writing. My process or whatnot, what inspires me, how I do it, all that kind of crap. I've never really thought that I was the sort of writer who got inspired though. I just sort of came up with ideas and wrote them. Simple process, right? (Hardly.) I was talking to a writing buddy of mine today, and she told me that, while she has written every day for the past month, she hasn't read ANYTHING. That's when I realized that I do get inspired. I get inspired every day.

From reading.

That's right. Everything I read, I take in. And I get inspired by it. I notice this even during a long writing session. I'll go to take a smoke break and of course I bring my book along, because I need to do something besides just sit there, right? I notice that after I'm done smoking, I'm even deeper into my "writing mindset" as I call it. I'm enthused about writing and I know I can do it. Sometimes, I'll even notice neat little literary devices or something and use something similar in my own book.

So, if anyone is an aspiring novelist, I have only this to say: Read, read, read, read, read! I go to the bookstore every other week and spend more money than I really should. I'm constantly asking everyone I know if they have any books they can recommend, and I'm always looking on the internet for something that strikes my fancy. (Yes, I just said "strikes my fancy". What are you gonna do about it? Huh?)

I guess my love of books and reading is what made me want to write in the first place. I think the first time I read a book (I won't say which, just in case it somehow gets back to the author) and thought, "Oh wow. I can do better than this" was a tipping point. What a cool thought. I stopped writing my (terrible) short stories and started work on my first novel. Which I gave up on 30 pages in--but still, the inspiration was there. Very soon after that came the day I thought "What? Vampires in high school? How lame. Zombies in high school. Now THERE'S a book." And thus my work was born.

Anyhow, this is a post about books I haven't written, and as such I'll give you guys a recent reading list and a very short review on each. Maybe you'll like them. And maybe I'll make this a regular bi-weekly or monthly post or something. A sort of reading corner, except it's not a corner, because the internet doesn't have the appropriate properties to have an actual corner, does it? Namely, dimension. We'll be sort of like the Oprah's Book Club. Except not anything like it.

Beat The Reaper by Josh Bazell
This book is just phenomenal. I'm not usually for books written in the present tense, as I think they sound too urgent, but Mr. Bazell here pulls it off like a champ (plus there is plenty of flashback and past tense in there too). It's about an ex-mafia hitman who went witness protection and became a doctor. The voice is amazing, honest, straight-forward, funny, and gritty--right up my alley. The story (really stories, since he has two storylines going on in here) is really good as well, and doesn't let up at all. Also, Josh Bazell is an actual doctor, and wrote this book while doing his residency. All in all, if I were to rate it out of five, it would get a five point two. It's that good. Even if it makes me never want to go to a hospital again.

Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez
This was another great book. Aside from my natural aversion towards southerner characters and books based in the south, I loved it. It's about a vampire named Earl and a werewolf named Duke who are buddies and pull into a diner one night. There's some zombies attacking said diner and Earl pretty much beats the ever-loving shit out of them (with no small amount of help from the woman who runs the place). She hires them on to help solve her problem. Except it can't be solved, because it's escalating? Why's it escalating? A teenage girl trying to bring demons to our dimension. I won't get more into the story, because I don't want to ruin it for you, but let's just say it has everything you want in a book: Hilarity, werewolves tearing shit up, zombies being zombies, ghost sex, a possessed magic eight ball, and a character named Sheriff Kopp. AWESOME BOOK.

Breathers by SG Browne
First person stories about a zombie happen to be a weak spot of mine (as you may know). This is the only one that I've come across that I haven't written. In Browne's universe, corpses happen to reanimate sometimes. And you'd think the corpse would be stoked on this, as I did, but you're wrong. It sucks. People, as it turns out, really dislike the living dead. Andy, the main character, attends an Undead Anonymous support group every week and he meets a girl there. I don't want to give any story away here either, but I highly recommend this book as well. Plus, the author is a great guy. I've emailed with him a lot and he even signed my copy and sent me a "Zombies are people too" sticker, which is currently adorning the back of the monitor on this laptop.

I've read a few more, but I've made this post long enough. Maybe I'll put them in another post, maybe not. These were the top three though, and I highly recommend all of them. Go buy them and then we can talk about them, Oprah-style (or not - I refuse to talk like Oprah).

Until then, Seacrest Out!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Interview With a Vampire - Part 2

"Why in the world do you want garlic powder?" Katelyn asked, which seemed like a pretty reasonable question. I mean, it's not exactly in my daily routine to ask her for garlic powder.

"Uh, vampire slaying purposes," I replied. I am always honest with Katelyn, no matter what. That means if I'm trying to slay a vampire, I let her know as much.

"Okaaaay," she said, stretching out the 'a' in 'okay' like it was Mr. Fantastic's leg. You'd think she would question me further, but she didn't. She simply reached up into the cupboard and grabbed the garlic powder for me.

"Thanks baby," I said, and gave her a kiss on the forehead, then rubbed her belly (Katelyn was 8 months pregnant at this time) and ducked my head into the living room.

"Anyone want a drink?" I said, looking directly at Desmond.

"I'll have one, thanks." Janine.

Desmond shook his head. Janine said, "He's sort of a picky person."

Yeah, I'll bet. Too bad we don't have any blood on hand.

I put a few dabs of garlic powder along the rim of Janine's glass and poured her a Pepsi. Then put a few shakes in the soda itself just for luck. I was capping the garlic powder back up when I felt a tap on my shoulder.

"Um, what are you doing?" Katelyn asked.

I shrugged. "Hunting vampires?" I tried.

That wasn't going to work twice though. "Oh, really? Please, elaborate," Katelyn said.

"Well, I think Desmond may be a vampire. And I'm going to slay him."

"I see."

"Yeah, so now Janine will drink this garlic and he'll kiss her and get like, sick - or whatever vampires get from garlic. What do vampires get from garlic? Do you know?"

"Richie, you know there are no such things as vampires... right? Are you feeling okay?" She put the back of her hand to my forehead, checking me for a fever, apparently.

"I'm fine, baby. I need to strike a blow for righteousness, though."

"Please don't slay our friends, Richie."

"Oh, um... since you put it that way..."

Katelyn was smiling.

"Wait a minute! The vampire has you under his spell! I knew it! The vile fiend! He shall pay for using his evil magic on the woman I love! I shall avenge you, Katelyn! I shall avenge you!!!!"

With that I took off through the kitchen door with Janine's drink. Katelyn just shook her head as I went and went back to preparing the rest of the dinner. She was used to this sort of thing with me by now. Also, just so you know, I don't really believe in vampires. I wasn't about to let a little thing like reality bother me, though. Why should I? I had a blow to strike for the cause of good! And besides, it obviously doesn't bother Desmond.

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion - My Interview With a Vampire - part 3, which will definitely have at least one person stuffing a whole onion in their mouth for little to no reason whatsoever!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mash ups!

So I haven't been this excited about a literary trend in a long time. It started with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (and its "sequel" - Mr. Darcy: Vampire) and then Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters. Two pretty good books. Very fun and way better than the originals. (Or, rather, what I guess the originals would be. I haven't actually ever had a desire to read Jane Austen.)

I've heard there are a lot of these coming out and I thought it would be fun to write one some day. In the future though, I have way too many original ideas to do it now. But here are some that I would either like to write or see. Either one would work for me.

To Kill a Mocking Bird... and a Vampire
The Catcher (crossed out) Werewolf in the Rye
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Demon Hunter

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My interview with a vampire - part 1

Last week I ran into an old friend from high school at the gas station. Things like "Great Gay Jesus on a Fucking Pogo Stick! You look so different!" and "Wow, Richie, you still look like you're fifteen" were said, though I won't say who said what. We had one of those awkward should we shake hands or hug moments, told each other to keep in touch, and then went on our merry ways. I thought nothing of it. It wasn't even important enough to fill Katelyn in on. I never thought I would hear from her again.

I was wrong.

She found me on Facebook the next day and added me to her friends (of which she had a steadily growing number). I accepted, not really thinking much of it. It was a little weird, yes, but we're all a little weird, aren't we? So we became Facebook friends and she posted something on my wall about how we should hang out some time and she would love to meet my fiance and I should meet hers (we did talk long enough at BP to find out both of us were engaged). I was under the impression this was just empty talk, like most Facebook wall posts saying as much are, so I agreed to it. I had no idea she was serious. How could I?

I also had no idea who her boyfriend was.

After trying a million ways to back out and getting reprimanded for each one by Katelyn (who told me I shouldn't just do that to people - it's mean), we set up a date for them to come over to our place for dinner. It was last night.

This is the very short story of last night (I think they call it flash fiction when it's fiction - what do they call it when it really happened?)


Katelyn and I sat on the couch, watching season two of Animaniacs on DVD (one of the best cartoons of all time - if you don't remember this cartoon, look it up), laughing at Wacko, Yacko, and Dot's crazy animated antics. Everything had been set up earlier (Katelyn's idea - I'm notoriously lazy and bad at things like that) so we had some time to kill before our guests arrived. Well, almost. We still had to pour drinks and pull the roast out of the oven, but that wasn't for another half-hour. They were due in fifteen minutes.

Who was due to be there? Well, it's sort of an awkward story. To make a long story short, I got forced into having a girl I went to high school with, as well as her fiance, over for dinner. I hadn't liked her much in high school and this whole forced dinner thing was not doing much for my opinion of her now, but my own fiance wanted to do it, so I relented - I am still a sucker for making her happy.

Katelyn got up to check the roast. Of course that would be when the doorbell rang. I sighed, setting my drink on the coffee table, and got up.

"Hey Janine. How are you?" I said. I stood aside and she came in.

"I'm fine," she said, removing her coat and handing it to me, even though I hadn't asked or made any gestures that would have led her to believe I wanted to take it.

I looked back through the doorway, seeing something odd and completely unexpected. A small goth looking guy in a long black trench coat, sporting greasy brown hair and a goatee stood there in the light drizzle.

"Uh, hi. I'm Richie," I said, holding out my hand for the oddball to shake it.

He took my hand and shook it. "Desmond," he said.

I stood aside for him to come in, but he simply looked up at the sky, as if he were asking God's permission before coming in.

"There's no one up there, you know," I said.


"Nothing. Are you coming in or what?"

Desmond just stood there.

Janine leaned over and whispered in my ear. "You have to invite him in."



She nodded, a sort of "please just do it" look on her face.

"Um, won't you come in, Desmond?" I said.

Desmond smiled and came in, taking off that big trench coat and tossing it directly on top of Janine's coat, which was currently draped over my arm. "This is a nice house you guys have here," he said, his eyes scanning the entryway and living room like some kind of goatee'd bird of prey.

Katelyn called in from the kitchen then. "I won't be but a minute, guys. Richie, take their coats."

"I'm on it," I called back, shrugging. I headed to the bedroom, where I balled the coats up and threw them in the corner, then shut the door behind me and laughed uncontrollably.

I've read enough books and seen enough episodes of True Blood to know what this guy is - or rather, what he thinks he is.

Then I get an idea. Maybe tonight won't be so bad after all. Maybe I could have some fun.

I go back in to the kitchen and ask Katelyn if we have any garlic powder. be continued.

P.S. For those of you looking, the posts have been deleted from my facebook and names have been changed to protect the innocent here. So don't bother!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Spam email scams

So, I woke up this morning and checked my email, as I always do. I have a pretty good spam filter and to tell you the truth, normally I have a completely empty spam folder. (Unless something I forgot to click "don't email me about" comes from Facebook, that is, then it fills up really quick.) I get the occasional email disguised as being from some mysterious girl from some mysterious dating website, where she tells me - not so much in poor grammar as a complete slaughter of the English language - that she is looking for a soul mate to love her and marry her. (Or, as she puts it, a sole double to loves me like I loves myself and being with forever, like romance.) I have heard of people getting all kinds of other stuff, like male enhancement ads and scams to send money to other countries and all that, but I had never gotten one of those.

Until today.

Apparently, the President of a small African corporation would like to use my bank account to hold his 22.5 million dollars in. All I have to do is send him 10% of it for expenses, and give him my bank account info, name, and social security number (of course), and then he'll put it in my account. So naturally, I wrote a check and emailed all the info back to him as soon as I picked my jaw up off the ground.

Oh wait. I'm not completely brain-dead. I didn't do that. I wish I would have thought to not delete that email so I could post it here, but unfortunately it has gone to spam hell, never to return again, thanks to the mighty power of my delete button. I did send him a reply though, and I get a sort of kick out of it. How about you?

Dear Mr. Islamali,

Thank you for your generous offer of 22.5 million dollars. How wonderful of you to think of me when looking for a bank account to put it in. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to pass at the time, owing to the fact that my bank account is so large that I couldn't even fit another five dollars in there, let alone, 22.5 million. Of course, being so rich, I'm sure you know how it is. I encourage you to send me any more email scams you come up with though, and maybe one day we can meet up in person and swim through our large piles of money together like Uncle Scrooge from Ducktales. Is it a date? What do you look like?

Love always,

I sure hope he replies!


So, I've finally arrived in 2009 and started a blog. How about that? It's funny - whenever I used to hear the word, a shiver would run up my spine and my teeth would chatter. I wanted no part of this new fad called "blogging." Even the word made me feel oddly embarrassed.

Times, however--as BoB Dylan says--are a'changin'. Though I am not nearly as cool as the folk hero (who is considered the absolute king of cool), I can get on board with that. So here I am. Blogging. I doubt Bob Dylan ever had a blog, but whatever.

So, without further adieu, here is my blog.