September 19, 2012

The Unchained Tour: Performer Trivia

Ok, people. It's no secret: I'm super-pumped for The Unchained Tour, which makes a stop with it's awesome school bus here in Charleston this coming Friday! 

If you don't already have your tickets, they're definitely still for sale.

So...as I get all prepped and ready for the event and the after-party, I thought it was time to have some Google time with the speaker/performers, to see what tidbits of info I can share with you about who's coming to see us.

I hope you enjoy!

********

Peter Aguero: A writer, performer and musician, Peter's from my neck of the woods (Jersey), only he's from the southern part of the state, where the Jersey Devil lives and where people inexplicably cheer for the Philadelphia Eagles (*shudder*). I'll try not to hold that against him, though, because I didn't see any proof of his affinity for that dreaded team. 

The most interesting tidbit I found about Peter came from this interview, in which he discusses the twin sibling he apparently "engulfed" while inside his mother's womb.  (*shudder again*)

A seasoned professional, Peter's seems like he's going to offer a raucous time.   

Dawn J. Fraser:  Ok, so not only is Dawn super-pretty, but she's super-smart, too, having graduated from HARVARD with a Master's degree in Public Policy, which is amazing to me.  She's now a humorist, storyteller and public speaker. Sort of sounds like an amazing life, no?

It seems as though Dawn is also a twin, only hers made it out of the womb unscathed.

My favorite thing about Dawn is that she highlights her favorite causes (the Chantal Paydar Foundation, Art in Action, and Global Leadership Adventure) prominently on her web site. I think it's about time I do something like that on my own site as well! Thanks for the suggestion, Dawn!

Neil Gaiman: Alright, it's possible Neil Gaiman is up there on my list of Coolest Writers Ever. Seriously, follow the guy on Twitter and you won't be disappointed. Plus he's married to Amanda Palmer, and I have it on good authority that she's amazing in her own right (I've just begun dabbling in Amanda Palmer Land). 

My new favorite tidbit about Neil? His first book was about Duran Duran.  Don't lie - you know you want to read it!

I don't believe that Neil Gaiman is a twin.

George Dawes Green: Here's another successful writer/novelist/performer in the group. George's books have been made into movies starring people like Samuel L. Jackson (yeah....that's freaking cool) and Demi Moore.  

The coolest thing about George is that he actually founded The Moth, a live storytelling organization that appears in cities around the country.  The name came from his childhood, spent on a small island off the coast of Georgia (state not country), when he'd stay up late telling stories, and moths would gather around the lights.

I love this. Plain and simple. Beautiful image, great organization.

Edgar Oliver:  Ok, ok, I know in my last post I called him the "weird guy" who shows up on the show Oddities from time to time...I beg forgiveness. It's a show I love, and I always am happy to see him on there. So my initial reaction was really due to excitement, and trust me: in my world, "weird" is a compliment.

But a quick Google search of Edgar Oliver reveals an incredible resume. Plays he's written! Plays in which he's acted! Books of short prose and poetry he's given us! The man's a living legend of downtown New York City, and he draws crowds wherever he goes!

And not only that: this year he was written up in Vanity Fair! Incredible. It's entirely possible I might be more excited to see him than anyone else. 

*****

Ok. Have you bought your ticket yet? If not...WHY NOT?  GO!  Do it NOW!! Let it be so!

September 17, 2012

Has everyone gone mad? A rant, I'll admit.

<soapbox>

This has been a weird week, sanity-wise, don't you think?

First, mobs break out in the Middle East over a stupid, ignorant video produced here in the states. I understand followers of Islam everywhere being annoyed by the idiocy of a small group of filmmakers, but to take out that anger on innocent people in US Embassies? 

Yeah, I don't get that.

Also, if you wondered what the actors in the film were thinking, Neil Gaiman posted the story of one of them, a woman with whom he's worked in the past. It's a sad, almost terrifying read - do check it out if you have a moment.

That whole scenario makes me want to throw my hands up in the air and say, "Knock it off, people! Sticks and stones and all that!! This just makes everything WORSE!"

I also think the video should be burned...and I never say that lightly. You could have probably guessed I'm against all kinds of media-burning...

But....it's always easy to ignore the news when it's happening "over there," which can frequently seem like an entirely different world.

So then, this morning I saw a much more local story about a man attacking a literary agent, possibly because she rejected his submission.

******SCREECH OF THE RECORD COMING TO A HALT**********

What???

Dude.

I read the article, and while it's possible that the attack was purely random and had nothing to do with this woman's chosen profession, something she Tweeted about the even made me almost fall over.

She'd received nasty-grams via email that morning, you see. 

"It was, she tweeted, '[t]he normal I hate you and I want you to die and I'll kill you.'" (Quote from article linked above.)

And....WHAT????

Ok, people, come ON. Are we writers really sending agents threatening emails when they reject us? REALLY?

Because I thought we were all supposed to be professionals here!

Seriously. Am I naive for thinking and HOPING that at least we could all treat each other with a little bit of dignity in this little writing world we've created for ourselves?

I've been rejected. Lots of times. ALL writers are rejected lots of times. It comes with the territory. It's PART of being a writer. The first time I was rejected I cried, but since then my skin's grown thick. Leather-like, even. It's just part of my job.

Look. This event is nowhere near the scope of the events of the Middle East. That's obvious. It's just...I can't STAND people acting so irrationally.  It makes me ill.

So if you ever wonder why I write horror and sci-fi, and create these crazy worlds for my characters to inhabit, here's your answer: I can't stand the irrational, crazy acts of our real world. I'd much rather create my own...at least then I have a little control.

In short: STOP THE INSANITY, PEOPLE!! Treat each other how you'd like to be treated!  It's the freaking golden rule!!!

<soapbox/>

September 9, 2012

Book Review: Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig

This week I read Mockingbird, Chuck Wendig's follow-up to Blackbirds, which I reviewed here.

And now I can honestly tell you: if you're looking for a book to read in the middle of the night, when you've been startled awake by a child in the midst of a nightmare, and adrenaline is coursing through your veins because of the aforementioned screaming child....well, this is not the book for you.

Trust me.  It will keep you up for hours, because you won't be able to stop turning the pages. Because you won't be able to close your eyes and look away.

Mockingbird by
Chuck Wendig
Released August 28,
2012
Angry Robot Books
400 pages
In Blackbirds, Wending offered us a supernatural story in which a psychic woman learned how to change the fates to save a life.  

In Mockingbird, we get a supernatural thriller in which the stakes are much higher. It's not just one life in danger anymore: it's dozens.

Miriam Black, the protagonist of both books, can see the future....but she can only see the exact circumstances of a person's death. Nothing more, nothing less.  When she accidentally touches the hand of a girl at a school for troubled young women, she sees the girl's death: bound and gagged with barbed wire, tongue cut out by a sharp blade, then decapitated by an ax at the hands of a creepy, singing serial killer.  And what's more...when she touches another girl at the school, she sees the same end for her, too.  And then another. It seems to be a plague of violent deaths at the hand of the same killer.

Miriam knows she can change the future, but only with blood.  To save the girls, she must kill the killer. 

But to kill the killer, she must find the killer...no easy feat when her only clue is a swallow tattoo and a modified school bus.

In Mockingbird, Wendig offers a master class in writing suspense and horror. Seriously. I had my guesses early on as to who the killer was, mostly because I am a Cynic and I Trust No One, but not a single character was immune to my doubt in this book, thanks in large part to Wendig's masterful use of little tidbits of foreshadowing.  For a time I even suspected Louis, the gentle giant who loves Miriam, and if you want to find out if he's really as gentle as he seemed in the first book...well, you'll just have to read, won't you?

I always find Wendig's writing bold and unafraid. His prose is crass. His violence is epic. More than once I found myself stepping away from the book to sooth my churning thoughts and stomach. He was able to take something as simple as rain and turn it into a devious character that controls and dictates important pieces of the story.

If I had one critique though, it's this....poor Miriam. She gets beat up so much, so thoroughly, I sometimes had a hard time believing she could possibly get up to receive (or give) the next blow. But then I decided: with her skills as a soothsayer, maybe she's also part superhero? And since, oh man, these books would make amazing graphic novels, I was able to put aside my disbelief and just enjoy.

Especially because, when you get into the nitty gritty of writing craft, Wendig writes much more than a superficial thriller, in my mind. Bird-themed symbolism runs ramant through the stories, sometimes explained (the swallow was considered a messenger of death during the plague of the Dark Ages), other times not (the wren is a tiny bird, delicate, seemingly defenseless).  He weaves his story with much more than just meets the eye.  It's an exploration of life and death, of good and evil, and of when it's ok to become a killer.

I love that about Wendig's books. They're never only what they appear...you can't judge this book by its cover (although...with a cover like this, maybe you can? it's awesome!).


September 8, 2012

A Bedtime Rhyme

Last night, Zoe asked me to write her a story. When I asked what about she said, "Write about what scares kids."

I couldn't have asked for a better writing prompt.

I'm sharing the resulting rhyme here because it makes me giggle.

*************


Why Zoe Cannot Go To Bed

“Mom, I cannot go to bed,” 
My Zoe said to me.
Her eyes were red, and then she said, 
“For if I do…I will be dead.”

“But why,” said I.  “Why do you cry?
What scares you so, my girl?
Your bed is high, your sheets are dry.
And so I ask you: why?”

She perched atop her rocking chair
And gazed around her room.
“All I will bare, that’s if you dare.
My room! It is a witch’s lair!”

“She lives right there, behind the door,
Her cauldron’s back there, too.
And wait! There’s more! At night! The floor!
It glows! And oh! I hear the roar…”

“Of the lion! He’s the witch’s pet!
She keeps him in a cage.
I swear! I met him on a bet 
To see if she would let me get…”

“Up to my bed the other night.
She stood in my way and said,
‘Well, I just might without a fight
If only Leo you will bite…’”

“Bite the lion?” said I.  “Now why is that?”
She shrugged, her eyes grew large.
“Because he’s fat, and wears a hat
And for dinner he might eat our cat.”

“But she likes our cat,” my Zoe said,
“She wants him to survive.
And so she led me to his bed
And then she pulled me towards his head.”

“And Mom!  His teeth!  So big and white!
He opened up his mouth.
His tongue took flight! He licked me right
Across my nose with all his might.”

“I tumbled way back to the wall!
The witch!  She laughed and laughed.
She had a ball! She watched me fall!
She wants to hurt me, and that’s not all!”

“Not all?” said I.  “Do tell me, love,
What else is there to fear? 
A lion’s shove? A witch’s glove?
What’s next? You fear a baby dove?”

“Oh no,” she said.  “The doves are nice.
It’s the monster that makes me cry.
He’s cold as ice and he has lice
And for dinner he eats girls with rice!”

“Oh, come now. Please. That can’t be true.”
Said I, as she crawled to bed.
“If monsters do exist I’ll shoo
Them all out through the chimney flue.”

“The witch I’ll knock out with my bat
And throw her out the door
And when that’s that, where the lion sat
I’ll set our dog upon a mat.”

“She’ll guard your room throughout the day
And keep watch over you.
And soon you’ll say, without delay, 
Our dog! She keeps them all at bay.”

My Zoe’s eyes grew heavy then,
The lids sank to her cheeks
They opened but when they closed again
I snuck out and went down to the den.
  
But as I left her sleeping there,
I heard a growly sound.
I don’t know from where, but I heard a bear
As Zoe dreamed without a care.

That night I sat awake in bed
And through the window I stared
For a bear’s big head, and with fear I said,
“If I go to sleep…I might be dead.”