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.