Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Phoebe's Phavorite


In Generation Dead I mentioned a number of bands that Phoebe and Margi like to listen to--some of the bands were fictional, some weren't. The Rosedales--whose picture is hanging in Phoebe's locker, are thankfully one of the non-fictional bands. I say thankfully, because if the Rosedales didn't exist, I'd want to invent them--but the invention would never be as good as the real thing. They have a brand new album entitled Once Upon a Season . I've just finished listening to it a second time through and it is, hands down, my favorite album of 2009. And I got a lot of good stuff this year. If I had my way, the Rosedales would be doing the soundtrack for a Generation Dead movie, that's how much I like the Rosedales (of course, if I had my way, there would be a Generation Dead movie already in production).

I'm not going to do a typical track-by-track dissection of the album, I'm just going to urge you to use those iTunes and Amazon gift cards you'll be getting in your stockings this year on the new album. Give "Cold, Cold Heart" or "Nightgown" or "Never Coming Home" a listen if you are skeptical. Heck, give any of them a listen.

Off-the-cuff descriptions I've read typically lump them in with "horror-punk" or "horror-rock"; I first became aware of them from hearing a track on a horrorpunk compilation. "Horrorpunk", typically, is an industry term for "Misfits copy-band". Understand that I love Misfits copy bands--but the horrorpunk label applied to the Rosedales does them a real disservice, because they have a sound that is all their own. Clean, layered vocal harmonies, atmospheric arrangements, haunting lyrics, music that alternates between driving rock (mostly) and a few lush, quiet acoustic moments that are as breathtaking as they are unexpected, as in "Meet You There". And the thing is, your breath has already been taken away by the epic scope and relentless pace of the earlier numbers.

Okay, I admit it. I'm a total fan. But listen for yourself. Here's a video from one of their songs from their earlier release, Raise Your Spirits:

A ten-spot will cover the album download, and leave you a little change left. You can apply it towards the two new Misfits songs that came out last month, if you. Or if your richie aunt gave you the mega-sized download card, get the Rosedales 'Raise Your Spirits as well (less than twenty bucks for the two!); I promise you won't regret it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Few Notes About The Willing Suspension of Disbelief


I don't really like to give writing advice. I love to write about writing; I love to discuss my process and the experiences I have while writing, but I shy away from giving advice, because I don't really think I'm at the point where my advice on writing is valid (I'm a little more free with writing business advice. It isn't that I lack confidence as a writer; it is more that I'm still in a mode of self-discovery and not one where I believe I have real wisdom to impart. I write and I can usually tell where it works, but that doesn't mean I can tell you how to figure out what will work for you. The following blog isn't writing advice, really, but more the sharing of a flash of insight that may or may not help you if you are interested in writing stories.

And it is all true!

I came home the other day and the rest of my family was out, hopefully tracking down the seventy-three items on my Christmas list (I've been nice, not naughty). I filled up a cup with ice and my favorite caffeine-laden soft drink, walked into the living room and picked up the new Stephen King novel (lifting with my legs and not my back) and sat down for what I hoped would be at least fifteen minutes of reading bliss. I saw an envelope addressed to my son on the coffee table, a folded letter beside it. I read the letter and then began to dance around the room, hooting and whooping wildly, so much so that Starro the Conqueror (my beagle) joined in on the festivities.

This is the letter:

I read the letter the second time, and then ran to the computer to scan it in as a jpeg and then email it to a friend of mine. This was going to be the best Christmas ever! Seats on the floor, the week before Christmas! Kevin Garnett! Paul Pierce! 'Sheed! Rajon flippin' Rondo! With the money I saved on the tickets, I was going to buy official Celtics gear for all!

Then I read the letter a little more closely.

I started to think that it was a little odd that the company sponsoring the ticket giveaway wasn't mentioned. I mean, sure, Cormac had purchased a "western cap gun" (yeah, I know. Shame on me for allowing him to have toy weaponry. With explosives, no less. Shoot me), but it seemed odd that the makers of "western cap gun" weren't given any credit. You'd think after selling a 100,000,000 units (that's a lot of western cap guns) they would be a little more on the ball. Of course, the letterhead looked a little strange, and I was surprised they didn't have the NBA logo or any trademarks beyond the big leprechaun. And the signatures did look a little similar in places, but I figured that was probably because they had two or three college interns forge them all.

And then I noticed the phone number only had seven digits.

Visions of high-fiving Ray Allen after getting fouled on a three pointer (and maybe,just maybe, being called from the bench to take his place if he was injured)faded instantly from my mind. Someone was a scam artist. Someone had taken the time to pull a diabolical scam, an insidious prank. Someone had broken the heart of a little boy just before Christmas (my son's, too, I guess). I sent an angry email of retraction to my friend, along with a solemn oath to find whoever it was that hoodwinked my son. And when I found them, I vowed, i would make them pay.

As I sat there fuming, I thought of just how the insidious document had sucked me into it's web of deceit. Someone must have known what a huge basketball fan I was, of the Celtics in particular, and must have assumed (rightly) that my son would by proxy be a fan as well.

My family came home a half hour or so later (a half hour that I could have spent reading pages 11,045-11,082 in the Stephen King book). I met them in the kitchen. clutching the letter.

"Did you see this?" I said, brandishing the letter.

"Did you like it?" Kayleigh, my daughter said, a little warily. "I made it to play a trick on Cormac."

"I wasn't fooled," Cormac, world-weary, said. "It looks so fake."

After I picked my jaw up off the linoleum, I told them about my emotional roller coaster ride of the past hour, and then we all laughed until tears were coming out of our eyes. "Daddy is so stupid!" One of them said. Or maybe that was me.

Daddy may be stupid, but he likes to learn from his experiences. Looking again at her clever forgery, I tried to figure out how I was duped so easily. How had I willingly suspended my disbelief for so obvious a piece of fakery? A letter signed by the whole team? A western cap gun? What was I thinking?

Two key elements must exist for the WSOD to occur.

1. Establishing a reason for the reader to be willing to suspend his/her disbelief is critical.
Front row tickets for four? For my favorite team? Check. I was more than willing

2. There must be some element of plausibility for the reader to latch on to.
Here's the thing--as (retrospectively) silly as the idea of the Celtics giving up front row seats because of a partnership with a cap gun company is, the other part of the premise--my son winning some out-of-the-blue prize, is entirely believable to me. His winning is plausible because his history of winning every possible school and church basket raffle is well documented (I may have even blogged about it). He is the kid that will catch the t-shirt fired from the t-shirt cannon at the local minor league baseball game. he is the kid that will be selected out of the crowd of five hundred to help the magician with his trick. He wins us free pizzas, nights of fun at the bowling alley, and all sorts of promotional sportswear, so the idea of him winning, by itself, was not outside of the realm of the possible. And I have to admit, the "western cap gun" thing struck a certain chord in me, some nostalgic yearning for the days of yore where there were kids' radio promotions and secret decoder rings to be found in cereal boxes. I didn't get to live in those times, but I heard they existed, and they sound pretty cool.

So, writers, think on these elements if you are looking to have readers work with you. Getting your reader to voluntarily turn off the old nonsense detector is key if you are writing about fantastical things like wizards, front row tickets to the Celtics or,um, zombies. And it would be helpful if you could find an audience as willing to believe as my daughter found in me.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Interactivity and Live Chat

I'll be doing a online live chat-y type thing over at the Haunted House this Thursday at 8:00 EST. The wonderful and talented Raschel will be moderating, so be sure and log on and ask me all sorts of potentially embarrassing questions. Not too many people know where the Haunted House is, but you can get directions HERE.

Also, my super-talented friend from Wales, who goes by many aliases but I know her as Yazzie, is looking for volunteers that she can zombify for a Generation Dead photo project she is doing. You can contact Yazzie directly to be zombified at neko-kyuuketsuki at Yazzie did my author zombification!

Other cool things abounding on the Internet:

An interview with me as conducted by writer and editor Alethea Kontis, HERE. Alethea also has a beautiful new website and you can check it out at

I read a lot. Such activity is encouraged at one of my favorite book blogs, The Book Smugglers. They invited me to partake in the feast of Smugglivus to discuss some of my favorite books of the past year and I did. You can check it out HERE. Next up, the Airing of Grievances!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Multimedia Fun Day Part Two

The Kiss of Life book tour took me to the World Fantasy Convention in beautiful San Jose this past Halloween weekend. Among some of the highlights: meeting new friends for breakfast (Hi Lita and George!), sneaking off to go tour the Winchester Mystery House with my friend and sometimes mentor F. Paul Wilson, and buying too many books in the dealer room.

But I also was given the opportunity to participate in some of the programming, including two panels. The first of these panels was recorded and the audio is up at what has long been one of my favorite websites,which is Rick Kleffel's The Agony Column, which to my mind is just about the best website covering speculative fiction out there, and has a huge archive of interviews and podcasts with many of my favorite authors in the field.

At WFC, I had the privilege of being on the "Invention vs. Tradition" panel alongside John Kessel, Richard Lupoff, Beth Meacham and Delia Sherman.

Here's a link to an article with a downloadable audio file of the entire panel discussion. You can find it at the bottom of the 11-20-09 article, just before the article on S.G. Browne's Breathers. I met S.G. (Scott) at the convention, and he is truly a rock star and a great guy.

Among the brilliant things that my illustrious co-panelists' say, you
will get to hear me hold forth on:

* why I would like to buy Stephenie Meyer lunch

* the profound impact the remake of 13 Ghosts has had on my life and work

* what I think of as my favorite zombie novels

* the thrilling origin story of how I became a YA author

* just what parents' think about me trying to corrupt their impressionable children

Put it on your iPod today!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sheffield Rocks!

Look what I got in the mail today, all the way from the U.K.:

An actual Sheffield Children's Book Award! Generation Dead was named "Highly Commended" in the Longer Novels category!

I'm touched and honored, Sheffield! Thank you!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Passing Strange

Once again designed by the brilliant and talented Elizabeth H. Clark!

Coming next June! Pre-order at will!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Still More Pretty Pictures!

This one is yet another from Evilwarlordgu, the incredible artist whose "Wall of the Dead" art was posted here a few weeks ago. This was the envelope--the envelope!--that Evilwarlordgu sent the original of that piece and a few others. I now have the originals framed and in my office.

The envelope! Incredible!

Thank you, Evilwarlordgu!

PS--speaking of PS, I'll be posting the cover of PS, or Passing Strange, this weekend plus some other stuff! Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Generación de Muertos?

I received word the other day that my agent has sold Spanish language rights for the first three Generation Dead novels, thus fulfilling one of my top writing goals: to have written a book that I myself cannot read. So i have been having fun with Google translator just to get a little flavor of what the book may contain--i apologize if the translations are inaccurate--I've plugged in different pieces of text into the translator at different times and gotten very odd results. I'd been sent a Portuguese language review of GD which seemed to be positive, and a Romanian review of my work which appeared to call for my house to be blasted from the earth and the ground salted afterwards so that nothing may ever grow there again.

But I can't wait to see the books translated, and maybe I'll even be able to teach myself a little spanish by reading up on the adventures of the bióticos de manera diferente (differently biotic). Maybe I won't be able to figure anything out until El Beso De la Vida or Pasando Extraño come out, who knows?

Oh and hey I was sent the prototype of the cover for Passing Strange...does anyone want to see it?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Still More Pretty Pictures

Thank you, Paige, for your beautiful portrait of Phoebe!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kill the Wabbit

The other day a friend of mine (I'm reconsidering his status, BTW) gleefully forwarded a link to a secluded corner of the Internet. Now granted, I love secluded corners of the Internet and visit them often. But he reason he found this one so amusing was because it was a message board thread actually calling for my death!

Har har har! Ho Ho Ho! High hilarity ensues!

As far as I could interpret this call for violence against me, it appeared that the thread mavens were upset over my portrayal of "zombies" as anything other than shambling brain-eaters. It was hard to tell exactly, because no one on the thread seemed to have read either of my books. But the general idea was that zombies were for shooting and not anything else.

Anyway, it wasn't the first time that I've heard people call for my utter annihilation, and I'm sure it won't be the last (especially as my children grow older and begin wanting things like cell phones, drivers' licenses, and dates). But it did get me thinking: if I was taken out by some Zombie Purist fanatic, would I come back as a zombie? I know I'm a little past my teen years and all, but maybe I'd get a special dispensation for writing the books?

All I know is that if I do return as a zombie, I hope I do so as the brain eating kind. Although it might be pretty hard to scrounge a meal in certain secluded corners of the Internet.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

More Pretty Pictures

I have a lot to write about--namely the thrilling October Kiss of Life tour and some other cool stuff--but frankly, I'm exhausted. So here's some pretty pictures, courtesy of Stephanie:




Thanks, Stephanie!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Multimedia Fun Day--Cool Pics and Podcast Interview!

First, some cool pictures sent in by Stephanie:




Thanks, Stephanie! I'll post more from Stephanie later--she did just about the whole cast of the books! I wanted to post these first, though, because these characters don't get as much "press" as the others.

Also, this is kind of cool--my first podcast interview! Conducted by the lovely and talented Jackie of and also the Free Beer and Hot Wings Show on the radio in Michigan. The show will also be on Podomatic and on iTunes! Sweet! WARNING: TOTAL GENERATION DEAD SPOILER IN THE INTERVIEW! But you also get a tiny sneak peak on Passing Strange--which is actually available for pre-order on Amazon! Yay!

If I figured out how to do it correctly, you should see a little audio player gadget thingy on the right.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Kiss on Tour

Yes, Kiss is on tour. I actually saw them a few nights ago, with Buckcherry as an opening band (love Buckcherry). Kiss can still bring it--Paul has had two hip replacement surgeries and still dances in platform heels.

Kiss is also on tour, as in Kiss of Life. I'll be at the Davis-Kidd bookstore in Memphis at 6:00 this Friday, and then I'll be in Nashville at the Southern Festival of Books on Sunday. Check out the full program HERE.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Wall of the Dead

Nothing in this world compares to writing and being read.

But experiencing artwork based on something that you've written comes awfully darn close.

Many, many thanks to Evilwarlordgu (is that your real name?) for this incredible piece from one of my personal favorite scenes in Generation Dead. The amount of detail that you put in the Wall pictures is stunning--illustrating many of the photos and scenes mentioned in the book, as well as a whole host of others--you really took my breath away!

But, um, not in a Tommy permanent sort of way. Thankfully. Click on the above image to be able to experience all the fine detail.

Love, love, love Phoebe Phan Art. I've been given permission by a few artists to post some more, but please feel free to send me stuff directly at WatersDan at aol dot com.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Connecticut Author Trail

When I was first got the invitation to be a part of the Connecticut Author Trail, I misread the email and thought it said "Connecticut Author Trial". I was actually pretty psyched, because I thought that Generation Dead had finally been banned by a library or a school. There's few better ways to ensure that your book remains in print forever than to get banned by some institution of higher learning.

Alas, GD was not banned, but instead I got to be a part of the equally cool Connecticut Author Trail. From the CT Author Trail website:

"The Connecticut Authors Trail consists of a consortium of Libraries in Eastern Connecticut who love our local authors and continue to be amazed at the variety of genres and diverse styles of writing among the authors who live in or are associated with the Nutmeg State. Beginning July 16th, 2009 until September 24th, 2009, we will be inviting local authors to showcase their books and share their stories."

Well, I was invited to be one of those local authors, and I spoke at the small but mighty Janet Carlson Calvert library last month to a congenial crowd of about thirty people and had a blast.

The 2009 Trail ends on Sept. 24 at 6:30 at the Mohegan Sun Casino, when a number of the CAT authors will be participating in an event/signing/tasting--yes, a tasting. The final two CAT authors, Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough are chefs promoting their current new cook book Cooking Know-How and and apparently are making snacks.

The full program runs from 6:30-10:00 and I plan on being there for the whole time. Better come early though because I tend to massacre buffets.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


A year ago today, a hero of mine took his own life. I wrote about it, inadequately,Here and Here.

Celebrate your life today.

Monday, September 7, 2009

For Amy O. and Her Son

A special "Back to School" Greeting from Puddin' Tater Jones!

Here's ole P.T.J. heading out to recess after another delicious meal in the school cafeteria!

Is every one as psyched as he is for another school year? I know I am!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I Declare....Rocktober

Kiss on tour!

Yes, folks, Kiss is on tour again. I noticed that for $995 you can get a VIP package that includes a meet and greet with Kiss at the Mohegan Sun Casino in beautiful downtown Uncasville (I actually saw Kiss in Uncasville a few years ago, and they provided me one of my all-time favorite concert moments when Paul Stanley yelled "Hello! Are you ready to rock...Uncasville?" Classic! At least he didn't try that "I heard that Uncasville audiences were the loudest audiences..." nonsense!). Of course, you won't meet Peter or Ace unless they are at the bar.

But actually I was talking about the Fall leg of the Kiss of Life Tour: Check out all of these fine events and establishments I get to visit:

Oct. 9 Davis Kidd Booksellers, Memphis Tennessee
Oct. 11 Southern Festival of Books, Nashville Tennessee
Oct. 17 Cornerstone Bookstore, Salem Massachusetts
Oct. 24 Austin Teen Book Festival, Austin, Texas
Oct. 29-31 World Fantasy Convention, San Jose, California

Unlike Gene and Paul and the other guys, I have elected to waive my usual $995 VIP package meet and greet fees! And no extra charge for my signature, which I will gladly place on any book that I've written! I also draw little zombies that look more like sloppy Rorschach blots but I try really hard!

However, I do not have Buckcherry as an opening act, either. I must warn you that the Kiss of Life tour is a "without makeup" tour, so if you were hoping to see "classic" Kiss of Life you might be disappointed. I will, however, be singing "Strutter","King of the Nighttime World", and "I Was Made For Loving You", all while wearing 7 inch leather platform heels.

Disclaimer: There will also be no actual kissing on the Kiss of Life tour. Sorry!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Phoebe Phan Art

Today's artwork courtesy of my daughter! Yay!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

World's Lousiest Comics

It probably comes as no surprise that I'm a great fan of comic books. A geek, if you will. I think I probably mentioned at some point how waiting for each issue of Watchmen to come out and then reading them was literally a life-changing experience for me. I used to horde my lunch money (sorry, Mom)so I'd have more money to buy comics. I bought comics right up until having a family impoverished me so much that I couldn't even afford to keep up my complete run of The Avengers.

Kidding! I'm kidding! Sort of. The comic book line was one of the first to be eliminated from the family budget, but at the time it was an easy decision because most of the comics that were out my opinion...stunk. Reeked. Were awful. This happens to me every five years or so, where I read a comic that send me in such a rage that I literally quit reading comics for months or years at a time.

As my kids grew older, though, I wanted to share with them the joys of comic reading, and my son really caught the fever. I'd make frequent trips to the basement to get him stacks and stacks from "the vault". He likes the superhero books mostly, like I did when I was his age.

His interest got me buying new comics again, something I've been doing for a few years now. And initially, the old thrill was there, and I started dreaming once again of doing comic book scripts (comic moguls, take note). My artist friend Matt Smith and I keep threatening to collaborate on a graphic novel, something that I would love, love to do. All these thoughts and experiences, and the look on my son's face when we read the new issue of JSA conspired to make comics fun again.

But last week I read a comic book so stupid, so insipid, so morally vacuous my tiny little world is put in a tailspin yet again. Every so often a comic comes along that seems (again, just my opinion) to exist solely to insult the intelligence and taste of what is typically a very loyal readership. The comic was so bad that it made me angry, and worse, it made me sad. The comic was just plain disrespectful, to readers, to characters, to story.

I feel old today. I think I'll wish that comic book to the cornfield.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions

I'd like to address a few frequently asked questions, not because I don't want your emails, but because I'm sure you get tired of waiting around for me to answer them!

1. Will there be a third book in the Generation Dead series?

Yes! There will be a third book in the Generation Dead series (and a fourth and a fifth, if I have my way). The third book will be called Passing Strange. I'm working hard on it as we speak to try and get it in shape for a May release, and as usual I'm making things far harder on myself than usual. But I love the story and I hope you will, too. I don't like to show my cards early, but I will tell you that a different character takes center stage for this one...

My lovely and talented editor told me they did the cover shoot last week!

2. I think Generation Dead would make an awesome movie. Why don't you make a movie of it?

First, I totally agree that Generation Dead would make an awesome movie. But that piece of things is out of my hands. I just write the books; I don't make movies, audios, downloadable editions, dramatic stagings, or merchandise. The film rights to both books are still available, so if any of you have deep Hollywood connections, make sure you let them know and get that ball rolling. And for those of you who have sent me pictures requesting a part as Phoebe, Karen or Margi, I promise I will email you as soon as I hear about casting calls. Good luck!

3. Will you be doing any signings in(my town)?

No, unless you live in Memphis, Nashville, Austin, San Jose, or visit the Calvert Library here in CT! Yes, Disney-Hyperion is kind enough to be sending me on a Fall book tour, where I'll be in Nashville at the Southern Festival of Books, The Austin Teen Book Festival, and the World Fantasy Convention! And something TBD in Memphis, I'll keep you posted. How sweet is that? I'll have a busy, busy October and hopefully will be meeting many of you.

4. Is your Facebook Avatar really you?

No, it is actually a customized action figure. But the resemblance is striking!

5. Were you a goth in high school? I can't say I was straight up goth, although one of my favorite albums at the time was the Damned's Phantasmagoria, which is cited by many as being one of the main albums that started the movement. I had all the rare Bauhaus singles, too.

But I think instead that I was an almost perfect blend of the five personality types from The Breakfast Club. Well, I was more Basket Case than Princess, and more brain than jock, and not much of a criminal although I did sport fingerless gloves and a trenchcoat and listened to Slayer. Maybe it was more 30%, 10%, 25%, 20%, 25%. Although I really didn't do anything princess-y, except I was a little spoiled.

Ah, heck with it. I was a goth.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

French Kiss

Ok, my sabbatical is over. Actually I fled the country (under a cloud of suspicion, as usual), making my first excursion abroad as classier people than me might say. This year is a round number birthday year for my wife and I and so a trip to France with the kids was our gift to ourselves.

We had an unbelievably spectacular time.

One personal highlight (you know, after all the museums and great artwork, incredible churches and architecture, stunning views and the Eiffel Tower, etc.) was going into the WH Smith's in Paris on the Rue de Rivoli and finding the U.K. Kiss of Life on display. It is a very pretty and flowery cover and looks like this:

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Internet Sabbatical

I'll be taking a sabbatical from the internet (not a sabbatical on the internet, that would just be weird) for a couple weeks beginning on Tuesday. As I very painstakingly moderate all of the posts, none will appear until I get back no matter how many times you try. Sorry!

But if you are surfing and looking for things to do, you can check out Joe Frawley's music, which I referred to in my last blog. You can take the zombie quiz at You can go buy some beautiful comic book art from my good friend Matthew Dow Smith at his blog matthewdowsmithoriginalart. A surfeit of wonders, that Internet.

See you later!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Phoebe's Playlist Part II

A few blogs ago I linked to my guest spot on, where I was able to write about some of the music that I listened to when I wrote Generation Dead, music that coincidentally would likely be on Phoebe's iPod. Pretty much everything in that column is uptempo, loud music. So what does Phoebe like to listen to when she's in a quiet, reflective mood? When she's pensive, thoughtful, or relaxing? (Phoebe, for the record, never "chillaxes", btw. Well, yes, she listens to that loud stuff when relaxing, but she also has moments that create a more soothing aural space. The three This Mortal Coil albums help create that space, especially the unbelievably good Filigree and Shadow, and there's an album called Space Age Freakout by Glide (Will Sergeant of Echo and the Bunnymen) that we quite like. During the editing of Kiss of Life I was introduced to a recording artist by the name of Joe Frawley, and he's recently released a CD with called Emperor of Daffodils with an ensemble that I (and thus, Phoebe) have fallen in love with.

Joe's solo work defies easy description, drawing from a number of genres and styles, usually incorporating "found sounds" to create amazing sound collages. This is music that takes you places; often to places you've likely never been.

Here's what Joe has to say about the inspiration for the album:

Artist's Statement
I came across this You Tube video- and apparently there are others like it- of a young woman doing her makeup, talking about which eyeshadows she likes, how she puts on lipstick, etc. And then people would comment back saying "you're so pretty", "that shade looks good on you". It occurred to me that a web cam functions something like a magic mirror to some people, as in: "Who's the fairest of them all?" And it wasn't just one video, she had dozens of them. A lot of the samples you hear on this project come directly from that source. This was the initial fascination, which then lead to further explorations of the idea, from slightly different angles, including the male perspective. I have always found it fascinating, for example, to watch a woman put on makeup. It's a whole world I know nothing about, and have no place in- the world of feminine beauty rituals. This is what lead to the idea of an Emperor of Daffodils (that is of narcissists- the flower in French, narcisse, is named after the mythic figure). I imagined it as a fantasy for a man to have dominion over an empire of self-loving beautiful women, a fantasy which could easily turn dark, as you can imagine. This CD has been the most strictly programmatic work I have made, and I found working within the limits of the concept to be creatively liberating. I am encouraged by the results of this recording and hope to do more collaborative work in the future. –JF

Definitely something Phoebe would want to check out. You can check it out and listen to excerpts of the music at Joe's site Eight bucks gets you the new limited edition CD--only fifty made! And I have one of them, so you might need to hurry!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Introducing...Puddin' Tater Jones

We received over 100 suggestions, but my kids have decreed that Puddin' Tater Jones is our zombies' name. Many thanks to thedarkone443 for the suggestion. Send me an email, thedarkone443, and I'll send you the UK edition of Generation Dead!

One of the suggestions was George, after the "old school" zombie introduced in Kiss of Life. We couldn't use George because the kids named this guy George years ago:

"Dad, we're going to ride our scooters!""Okay, put George out.""Dad, we're going to play basketball!""Okay, put George out." We live on a...heh-heh...dead end, and sometimes cars zip in and out at fearsome speeds, but the sight of that faithful protector, George, usually encourages folks to slow down.

I wonder if the sight of Puddin Tater Jones will encourage them to speed up?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Life Continually Provides New Metaphors

Or would that be, like, similes?

Awhile ago I wrote a blog about how no one ran in the same direction I did at the park, evidence of me living clockwise in a counter-clockwise world. Well, after a brief hiatus from running, I was back at the park this weekend, and this time there were a pair of joggers running the same route I was--and they passed me like I was standing still!

There's a lesson there too, I think.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Phoebe's Playlist

I'm sometimes asked via posts to my blog or at book events to talk about what I like to listen to (or, even more often, what Phoebe and Margi like to listen to) when I'm writing. My usual answer--"almost anything"--may seem like a cowardly dodge, but considering that there are currently 33,422 songs on my iPod, I assure you it is a true statement.

That said, I tend to have certain things on in a heavier rotation during certain projects. I'm listening to a lot of Miles Davis and Flying Saucer Attack for something I'm working on now, for example. GD and KOL were written while under the influence of a number of specific songs and albums, and I got the chance to write about a few of them for the wonderful blog LARGEHEARTED BOY, which, in addition to reviews and news about music and literature, also has two great sections, "Book Notes" and "Note Books", featuring authors writing about songs, and songwriters writing about books, respectively.

Click the link to read about what I listened to at the start of writing the GD series--I guarantee that both Phoebe and Margi have these songs on their iPods!--but budget your time, because you are going to want to click around and read what all of the other great writers and musicians have to say about the works that inspired them.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Three Cheers for Necromancy

Necromancy Never Pays, that is, one of my favorite literature blogs. I first came across the blog when I was obsessively googling myself (insecure egomaniac that I am) in the months that followed the publication of Generation Dead. Jeanne wrote an essay/review of the book entitled Fiction and Lies. I've been a fan of Jeanne's commentary ever since. I think I'd even enjoy her blog if she slammed my books, she's so interesting.

Okay, that's a lie. The enjoying it if she slammed me part, not the part about her being interesting. I'd probably start sniveling and have to jog an extra mile the way I always do when someone sends me a lousy review (I really don't google myself anymore!). But check out Fiction and Lies; she doesn't let me completely off the hook but then again she accurately nails so much of what I was trying to do I don't mind.

She's also written a review of Kiss of Life that you can find by clicking the first link above, but don't stop there--click around and discover some of the best writing on writings available out on the blogosphere.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Supercool Art of the Day

This was sent to me by Trad Chik, and I love it! I think that she has captured essential elements of each character's personality, don't you?

Name that zombie! A week from today the judging will take place!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

And This Concludes The Tour...For Now

The final stop on the Spring Kiss of Life Tour was in one of my favorite towns, Salem, Massachusetts. I had an excellent time at the excellent Cornerstone Bookshop. A personal highlight was meeting Michelle, a librarian who writes Tempting Persephone, one of my favorite book blogs. Michelle, although she didn't realize it, was very dear to my heart because A). she wrote one of the first, and kindest, reviews of Generation Dead to hit the web and B). she picked on an intricacy within the book that few before or since have commented on, and as I am a shameless egomaniac that really meant a lot to me. Turns out that she is as cool as her blog, which is to say very, very cool indeed.

And she's giving away a signed copy of Generation Dead at her blog now, if you know anyone that wants one! Read about it HERE

Speaking of contests, Zombie Waters is still without an official your suggestion to the blog for your chance to win the U.K. edition of Generation Dead!

Despite having been to Salem about 72 times in my life, I'd never visited the House of the Seven Gables, which is odd because the book that bears its name is one of my favorites, as is the author of the book, Nathaniel Hawthorne. Well worth the trip if you find yourself in Salem and are looking for something a little less witchy to do.

There's still some witchy connection there, though. Nathaniel changes his name from "Hathorne" to "Hawthorne", because he wanted to dissociate from certain relatives, especially John Hathorne, a judge during the Salem Witch Trials, as he was ashamed of his family's role in the trials.

You know who else was involved with the Salem Witch Trials? A minister by the name of Increase Mather. His son Cotton Mather, also a minister, had influence on the trials as well.

Wouldn't it be weird if Reverend Nathan Mathers also changed his name, adding the "S", to distance himself from his illustrious ancestors? Hmmm.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Zombie Name Contest?

Thanks to all of you who have sent in entries! My kids are having a blast with this!

I have to tell you that I was very close to cancelling the contest in favor of naming the zombie Kanye. As in Kanye West. Mainly because of this delicious quote:

"Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed," West said. "I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book's autograph. I am a proud non-reader of books."

That just sounds like the comment of someone who is in search of braiiiinns. But I realized that I'd be doing a disservice to my new buddy if I named him Kanye, so hopefully one of you will provide a better name.

And hopefully, booksellers around the world will read Kanye's quote and recognize it for what it is, a call for illiteracy, a celebration of anti-intellectualism, and lose his books in the backroom.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Name That Zombie Contest

I went over my Dad's house yesterday to pick up my kids and he told me that he got me a gift to commemorate the publication of my second book. I knew I was in for something special when I looked over at the kids, who were giggling over in the corner with their grandmother, who was shaking her head.

You see my Dad, he's a little...different. The good kind of different. He's spent a good portion of his retirement literally travelling the globe to ride roller coasters. Yes, seriously. He's been to Japan, China, Korea, Russia, all over Europe and America. I guess there's a website where you can keep track of the number of unique coasters you've ridden, and he's ranked somewhere in the top ten. So yeah, he's a special kind of crazy.

But he's also extremely generous, having supplied my youth with bushel baskets full of comic books, records, and science fiction novels, so I knew when he had a gift for me--and that look in his eye--it would be something special. It wouldn't be a bottle of wine, another copy of Oh, the Places You'll Go!, or a coffee cup with that ubiquitous Thoreau quote.

Instead, it was a zombie.

That's him bursting out of the tomato patch, in case you couldn't tell.

I don't know what I find more hilarious, the fact that he bought me a zombie, or that he actually bought it from Sky Mall! I don't think I know anyone else who's ever bought anything from Sky Mall.

The kids, of course, instantly fell in love with the new addition to our happy home, and we decided that this was a great opportunity to have a blog contest:


All you have to do is post on the blog and let us know what you think his name should be. The winner will get either the UK edition of
Generation Dead or the US paperback edition, winner's choice. My kids are the judges, and we'll pick the winner June 15th.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


I LOVED Houston! Thanks again to Blue Willow Bookshop for sponsoring me, and to Hastings School for having me.

In not particular order, a few of my favorite things about the day I spent there--

1. The kids--the kids at Hastings had all read the book, and asked some of the best questions on the books and on writing that I've had yet!
2. Meeting Danielle, and Danielle, and Danielle's Dad. Danielle writes a great book blog called The Book Blogger and you can check it out HERE. Yay, Danielles!
3. Meeting Facebook friend Amy. Hi, Amy!
4. Coming off the plane and seeing a sporting goods store named after Clyde Drexler. Clyde the Glide is my all-time favorite basketball player.
5. Along those lines, watching Houston beat the Lakers when in Houston was pretty cool, too.
6. Meeting Raschel! Raschel is the administrator of the Generation Dead message board over at THE VIRTUAL HAUNTED HOUSE, and I did my first video interview with her while at Blue Willow! Thank you thank you Raschel!
7. I had dinner at the Galleria, which is this block-long megamall near the hotel I stayed at. I ate at a Mexican cafe overlooking the ice rink--yes, the ice rink--where people were skating, including an adorable six year old girl who did a show. Mmm, cilantro. I do love the cilantro.
8. Lisa the Hastings librarians' pralines!

Note: I did have toast in Texas, although I don't believe it was Texas toast.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

New Website! Plus, Zombies...On Tour

Having a lovely time--many thanks to Kennedy Jr. High and Traughber Jr. High in Chicago and Hastings Jr. High in Houston for having me. And also to the wonderful staff of Anderson's Bookshop for having me. I go to Blue Willow Books tonight!

I'll probably write more extensively about the trip when I have more time (and more sleep) but here are, in no particular order, a few of the best things about my time in Chicago:

1. The kids
2. Seeing my friend Martel, with whom I ate my first Chicago deep dish pizza in a few years.
3. Meeting Delaney the Undead, one of the first and most frequent posters to my blog! Yay!
4. My media guide Judy, with whom I had my second Chicago deep dish pizza
5. Chicago deep dish pizza
6. Everyone at Anderson's. I went home with two books from Anderson's--Oblivion by David Foster Wallace, which they gave to me as a gift!--and The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008, edited by David Eggers.
7. Seeing that the new website that Hyperion created for the Generation Dead series is now live! Check it out!

Click the link:


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Please Release Me

Kiss of Life came out today, in fine stores everywhere. At least I hope it did--I haven't visited any fine stores today because I flew to Chicago. I did have a fine deep dish pizza, though. I wrote for awhile at the airport and on the plane and listed to the new Bell Rays CD which is quite good. I've got a great hotel room, and earlier I was watching some guys play Bocce on the lawn under my window. I was never a big fan of Bocce, I'll take a Frisbee any day. Or Jarts. Does anyone remember Jarts? I think they are illegal now. Basically Jarts were lawn darts, these foot long fleched missiles with sharp tungsten tips that were designed to bore through concrete. The idea was that you'd lob the Jart in the air and try to land it in this yellow hoop which was maybe a foot in diameter, but usually you killed your dog or your kid brother instead. I think in 1979 alone there were 62,342 human and 179,331 canine Jart related deaths. And those were just the accidents.

Tomorrow I get to speak at two schools and then talk and hopefully "move some product" (e.g. sell books) at Anderson's Bookshop. Then--and here's the fun part--I get to wake up at 3:30 a.m. to catch my flight to Houston the next day so I can speak at another school. The zombie author might actually be a zombie author after getting up at 3:30 a.m. I'm not known as an early riser.

But that's why the good Lord encouraged man to invent coffee. And Texas Toast. What would a trip to Houston be without Texas Toast?

Zombie or not, I intend to have big, Texas-sized fun. And Texas Toast.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Different Kind of Tour

I'm feeling a little ragged today, as I was up way past my bedtime last night at a concert--76% Uncertain, Electric Frankenstein, the Bell Rays, and the Damned. I've written before of my love of the Damned, and once again they did not disappoint. I was at the front of the stage, right between Captain Sensible's monitor and Dave Vanian's mic stand, and I was instructed by the roadie to help the good Captain with the song titles on the setlist because "he's blind as a bat". The show went out over the inter-waves yesterday via streaming video, so I'm interested to see if they archive it. They played many of the best cuts off the new album, as well as a few older favorites like "Blackout", "Love Song," and "A Brand New Day".

And the Bell Rays! Holy crow, the Bell Rays. Absolutely phenomenal.

Speaking of tours, mine begins in just a few days. In addition to a few school visits, I'll be at

Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, IL at 7:00, May 13


Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, TX at 4:30, May 14

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Contest! And, All My Innermost Secrets....Revealed!

Not really. The secrets, I mean...there actually is a new interview with me posted HERE at the Imperial Beach Library Teen Blog, which has a number of fantastic reviews and interviews with YA authors. Check it out on this rainy Sunday. Unless it isn't a rainy Sunday where you are; in that case go for a bike ride and save the blog for a rainy Monday.

But either way, enter the contest! The winner gets a copy of the soon to be released Kiss of Life!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Tour Stop #1: The Whitman Library

The Whitman Library was a blast. A number of people showed up in costume, including one girl who came as Phoebe! Yay! She was an adorable Phoebe and if I was filming a movie I would have cast her straightaway. A woman that I went to high school with also came, which was awesome--we hadn't seen each other since high school which was...which was a long time ago! Very cool! And I spoke and we ate nachos and I broke a window and they asked me questions and we had vegetarian ice cream and and and...

It was a great event, and a great way to kick off the travels. Many many thanks to the Whitman library and Becca and Becky for having me.

And check this out--here's Becca and Becky bookending a couple teen readers that Becky zombified. The guy is "I" from I am Legend and the girl is Bella from Twilight as zombies! Har har!

I guess they are Romero-type brain eating zombies, judging from the chin blood. Maybe the feasted upon my brains? Which would explain why they still look hungry.

Thanks again to every who came to the event.

In other news, the Salem, MA event is a go--I'll be at Cornerstone Books at 7:00 on Friday, June 5th. Hope to see you there in one of America's spookiest towns!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More Beautiful Artwork

Today's art is from long-time poster Watching! Thanks, Watching!

Reminder--I'll be in Whitman, MA at the Whitman library tomorrow at 5! There's a costume contest and make-up tips for the undead, too! What a perfect way to celebrate Walpurgisnight! Hope to see you there!


Friday, April 24, 2009


I'll be at the Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, TX on May 14th at 4:30. Sweet!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Face Made for Radio

Whoah! Check out the book trailer for Kiss of Life!

See if you can figure out the exact moment I am replaced by a Disney animatronic!

***OOOPS! I forgot to mention that the website mentioned in the video, isn't live yet (but it is awesome!) Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I'll be doing a talk/signing in Norwich, Connecticut at the Otis Library on May 21 at 7:00. Many thanks to the awesome Jen, one of my favorite librarians in this world or any other, for the invite.

Or did I invite myself? I'm like that.

Monday, April 20, 2009


I will be visiting Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville on May 13th, at 7:00, doling out many a Kiss of Life, I hope. The book, that is. Not actual kisses. That would just be weird.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

From the Tomb!!

A special thrill for me is having GD reviewed in #27 of From the Tomb magazine, out now. I haven't even read the review yet; it could trash the book for all I know, that's how happy I am to be in this magazine's pages! FTT is an oversized, graphics-heavy magazine published in England that covers all sorts of horror and science fiction goodness from the past, with articles on great and obscure comics, pulps, books, and other cultural curio alongside interviews with the people who made them great. My favorite issue was the "Invaders From Mars" issue, which not only had an article on the original Mars Attacks cards from 1954, it had a couple of covers from the comic book Mr. Monster, a Michael T. Gilbert classic that was the publication that gave me my first rejection letter! I submitted a couple comic scripts back when I was a wee lad. I still keep over my desk decades later!

Anyone interested in subscribing to From the Tomb or buying an individual issue can contact the publisher Peter at Peter.Normanton(at) Be advised, From the Tomb occasionally contains rated R-ish material!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Art is Cool

Today's awesome art is from Anna-Tommy-Lover, who also likes owls! Thanks, Anna!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Library Appearance

Click on the photo to supersize

I'll be visiting the Whitman Library, in Whitman, Massachusetts on April 30, from 4:30-6:30, where I'll be speaking, signing, hanging out, etc. But there is also going to be a costume contest! And a seminar on Cosmetic Tips for the Living Impaired! That's what I'm going for! And snacks!

Many thanks to super librarian Becca for the invite. Hope to see some of you there...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It is Surprisingly Easy for Professional Writers to Stay Humble

or, Why I Rarely Leave My House

Loveschach's Journal, April 8

(BTW, my alter ego Loveschach wears a mask similar to the much tougher ((but shorter)) Rorschach, except mine looks like the inside of a lava lamp with red lava, and it bubbles asymmetrically just like a real lava lamp. And instead of a trench coat, Loveschach sports a full length velour smoking jacket with fake fur trim. PS: Neither he or I actually smoke)

Drove to nearest chain bookstore to ensure new GD paperback prominently displayed. Long drive. Flurries. Last gasp of winter for angry gray sky, flakes turned to water on impact with windshield. Listened to Sandinista! by the Clash. Sometimes cheerful proto-dub music undercut by remembrance of Strummer, gone now some years.

Parking lot empty, first to arrive. Allow band to finish Police On My Back before exiting vehicle. Bargain books in carts in front of the store, cold to the touch. Some bear the marks of rough handling; torn covers, bent edges. What the call distressed I call atrocity.

Sidetracked by Cultural Studies section, discover three books. Necessary for secret project. Write off? Must call accountant. Flow like liquid into YA section, clerks busily scanning, shelving. Check new paperback table, no GD in evidence. Scan new release shelf with same result. Find two hardcovers under "W", rearrange to face out.


Pleasant woman at info desks, asks if she can help. Help Loveschach? Unlikely.

Ask when she expects paperback of Generation Dead. Much typing. "Generation what?" she asks. "Dead." "What?" "Dead." This is actually quite a common experience. Finally understands after spelling "Dead". More typing. "We don't have it," she says. "We have eight copies on order."

Thank her. Turn to go but she isn't finished yet.

"It says that it came out yesterday, but those aren't usually solid dates, except for popular books."


Let her live. Going soft? Gnashing of teeth heard all the way back in back where the pet books are. Thank her for providing exceptional customer service, walk to cash wrap to pay for books.

Console self with delicious early lunch at Panera. Tuna salad on sesame semolina, with Swiss cheese. Don't carry provolone, or beans. Favorite soda brand; free refills. Brought notebook--the fiction one--to work on secret project, but restaurant is mobbed even at eleven, people trudging inside in constant, twisting stream. Give up seat to hungry young mother with stroller, round-faced tot strapped securely within upscale stroller. Finish pickle first. Walk to car.

Universe has no order save that for which we impose. Heated bubbles lengthen and rise, only to cool upon nearing the top, and in cooling, sink to the bottom and pool once again, seeking warmth. Sometimes bubbles resemble animals, or funny celebrity charicatures. Sometimes big round frowny face.

Will try again next week.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dear Sir or Madam...Would You Take A Look

Generation Dead is now available in paperback at fine retailers and etailers everywhere. The Oprah-approved book now contains these special bonus features:

* TWO intriguing chapters of Kiss of Life, which will be released in May!

* All-New ISBN numbers!

* The distinctive Disney logo! The hardcover was printed way back in the day by "Hyperion*DBG", whereas the modern paperback is put out by "Disney*Hyperion" Neat, huh?

* Three pleasant blurbs from reputable reviewing sources! Including one of my favorites, which from Kirkus Reviews that begins "Stephenie Meyer meets John Green...". How cool is it to be the literary love child of two authors who are both actually younger than me (not by much, though--I ain't dead yet)? Wowzers! Side note: I met and partied like a rock star assuming the rock star was, say, Morrissey during his reclusive years) with John Green in San Antonio, and I found him to be a wonderfully gracious and charming guy. We look nothing alike, however.

But wait! There's more...

* The book is PACKED with EVEN MORE zombies than ever before! Hoo hah, is there lots o' zombies! An all-new zombie character is right there in chapter two of the bonus material! It's zombtastic! You know how when you are playing XBox or Wii and there's all these super-cool unlockable characters? This is just like that, except in convenient book form!

Get yers today!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

School Library Journal Article

Here's a link to a very nice article concerning, from the new issue of School Library Journal:

Blogging From Beyond the Grave

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Foolish, Foolish Heart

I've come to the realization that when I go running at the park, no one else is travelling in my direction. Almost everyone that I meet while tromping along the 1.5 mile asphalt loop around park and pond is going clockwise, whereas I go counter. Weird. The realization was one of those paranoia inducing moments out of the Stepford Wives or The Body Snatchers, where first you begin to doubt your own sanity, and then you begin to doubt everyone else's--which is really the same thing, when you think about it.

Speaking of paranoia, here's a couple of pages out of my Rorschach-style running journal (got to get me a cool mask like his and a new moniker--Loveschach, maybe?).

Friday, March 27, 8:00 a.m.: Ran three loops, walked one. Listened to Monsters of Rock Playlist on random, heard many post-Peter but pre-makeupless Kiss songs.

Sunny day, light frost on grass and mist like demon breath on pond. Passed eight people, all going opposite direction. The man who wears Caulfield-style red cap with ear flaps. The cute elderly couple who feed squirrels. Lone stationary fisherman. D&D coffee guy. The two women who talk with their hands. A parks and rec guy I never saw before.

Was hissed at by Canada goose. Mate a few feet away on the shore. Protecting nest. Progeny to follow, more birdies to be laid against the foundations. Cute elderly couple scattered seeds on walkway; squirrels slow, almost obstinate, about getting out of the way. Glad I wore my gloves.

Saturday, March 28, 1:00 p.m.: Ran four loops, walked one. Loops two and three in exactly the same time according to iPod stopwatch. Still listening to MOR on random; but randomizer played songs three and four from side one of Iron Maiden's Powerslave in sequence. Evidence of ordered pattern to universe? Probably not.

Beautiful day, if one judges such things according to warmth and available light. Counted thirty two different people in travels today, only one going same direction. Young woman, walking swiftly, seemed to flinch when I passed her on the right.

Saw Holden Cap guy, D&D coffee guy, and other elderly couple who pick up trash, absent Friday. Community service, removing trash from park. Can never remove enough. Signs at entrance of park say no dogs, no wheels. Nearly crashed into by family of four on bikes. Two just learning to ride. Unleashed Pekingese leaves two piles of waste equal in mass to Pekingese on walkway; pair of leashed children restrained from petting dog. On third lap, saw both piles with waffle-weave tread in center. A plethora of strollers, only half of which with visible babies.

Monday, March 30: 7:45 a.m.: Ran three loops, walked one. Listened to Blast!, playlist of fast songs. First song Misfits' "This Island Earth". Significant?

Gray day, damp. Passed eleven people. Elderly couple that feeds squirrels, elderly couple that picks up trash, D&D coffee guy, Old Holden, talks-to-himself guy, two parks and rec guys working on the gazebo, one of the two women who talk with their hands, woman who I've never seen before. No other runners, but there aren't usually in the mornings.

All moving opposite me; lone boat beating against the tide. Metaphor? Or big hill avoidance strategy on their part? Cluster of squirrels on third hill, second loop little furry balls of resentment. Many are missing tails. Canada goose does not hiss; we've reached an understanding. Pekingese piles squashed flat by waffle treads, hard scabs on skin of the world, resistant to all elements. My side itches. Passed talks-to-himself-guy three times in one loop. Possible? Or some type of tachyon interference? Even elderly couple who pick up trash seem sullen today; greeting on each loop increasingly awkward experience. Wonder what's for lunch?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Entertain Me

The month of March was rife will sickness for the Waters household, which is kind of strange because Fenbruary is usually the plague month for our household. I think about half the month was spent with me either taking care of sick children home from school or being sick myself, or doing something birthday related--the kids and I, my brother, and a few of my closest friends all have March birthdays. I find I can't work when one of my kids is home sick (even if it is just the sniffles); it just seems wrong to lock myself in the office while they lay about the living room quietly suffering.

So I ended up being highly entertained instead of working. Television, DVDs, etc. A few days rest and relaxation is great, but I am the sort of person who gets very edgy and cranky--irascible, even--when I go longer than 24 hours without working. I love work. Actually, I love writing, and I should get in the habit of calling it "writing" instead of "work" because it honestly doesn't seem like work to me. It seems like fun.

As a side note, such admission might get me kicked out of the Suffering, Heroic Organization of Writers (If they even consider me a member; I was recently denied membership in a "professional" writers organization!), because there are many writers out there who would have the reading public beleive that life as a writer is a life of pain, heartache, and despair, of repeatedly smashing one's head against a brick wall until all the ideas leak out. They'd have you believe that electing to be a professional writer is to court poverty, to invite public disdain and enmity, and to seriously weaken one's mental health. The will talk of long lonely hours, of crossing out and then rewriting the same word on the same page for twenty minutes, of self-doubt, of the sudden urge to set fire to the 90,000 word manuscript that not twenty four hours before seemed like a pretty cool thing.

And of course, all of these statements are true. But writing is also Fun, capital F.

Sure, it can be hard work. Waa, waa. Maybe people are afraid that if they admit to having fun while working, they won't get paid for what they do anymore. I think the reverse is true--those that have the most fun and therefore the most energy end up doing the best work and therefore ultimately get paid in just about any profession.

Anyway. I was doing my best not turn into Mr. Crankypants while taking care of the kids, enduring a constant steady stream of entertainment. With my daughter, it was mostly What Not To Wear and other fashion shows, Full House, and some fine Disney channel programming. With my boy, it was Spongebob, America's Funniest Videos, and various cartoons that even I, a lifelong lover of cartoons, found thoroughly incomprehensible. My kids are both great readers normally, but who wants to read with a headcold and various other ailments? At night when they went to bed I found that I wasn't able to jump into the writing like I hoped, so I ended up watching even more "entertainments" (note:I didn't actually find much of what I watched, with or without them, to be entertaining). I watched Tales of Terror from Tokyo vol. 1-3 and some other things I got from Netflix, music biographies and other Asian horror films mostly. I watched some basketball. I did manage to read a few books-- The Gum Thief, I am Legend, When You are Engulfed in Flames, The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. A dozen magazines. Two dozen comic books. I snuck away to see The Watchmen at an IMAX theater, I bought a bunch of new CDs and listened to them. I played half a short season of EA Sports Basketball with a custom team on the XBox. I went to see Denis Leary with my father and brother. I've been entertained, entertained, entertained. Shoot me now.


I also started working on a new book at the end this entertainment gluttony. Prior to being a big time member of SHOW, I worked for a cleaning company, and it was there that I learned the concept of "dwell time". Certain cleaning products need time to begin the chemical processes neccessary to remove soils and stains, and I thought this was a great metaphor for the time I need to take for an idea to properly take hold in my imagination. I need dwell time (and here I picture caustic brain-acids eating through cellular walls, gobbling up objections, reacting with memories, exploding synapses, etc.)for an idea before I can properly begin to work on it. Maybe watching all that stuff and reading, being entertained, helped with the dwell time. We'll see.

I'm really, really excited about the new project, though. And I'm really, really sick of being entertained. Let's hope everybody stays healthy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Kiss of Life Sneak Preview

There's a sneak preview Kiss of Life at the back of the paperback edition of Generation Dead, which will be out in a couple weeks. Now, it is a little-known secret in publishing, but the key to high book sales isn't actually big money ad campaigns, high profile reviews,or even brilliant writing. All of those things help, but the real key to sales is to have your book seen in the hands of attractive, interesting people. So here's where y'all can help me out--I know from looking at the avatars of folks who follow this blog and mysocalleduneath that there are hundreds of attractive, interesting people who are interested in Kiss of Life, so if you find yourselves in a bookstore, I'd ask you o pick up the paperback of GD, flip to the back, and read the into to Kiss of Life--at absolutely no cost to you! (Although, it would be even better if you bought say an arm's length of the paperbacks to disburse to all of your friends. I can't say I'd mind that at all.) Once everyone else in the bookstore sees Generation Dead in the hands of an attractive, interesting person--well, just be careful--I wouldn't want you caught in the inevitable stampede that will follow.

As always, thanks for your support.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sick of Easy Fashion

Spent the last week sick and/or taking care of my sick children. Which is to say, I watched a lot of television. I don't normally watch a ton of television at the moment, which isn't to say I'm one of those TV is the end of civilization as we know it folks, either. My TV watching waxes and wanes. I'll overdose for awhile--years, sometimes--and then walk away with barely any TV at all. Right now there aren't any shows other than the Simpsons that I watch even close to faithfully. Except maybe Ghost Hunters, but I fast forward to the reveal so I can see and hear all the EVPs, MVPs, LEDs and full-body apparitions in approximately 37 seconds. Yes, I'm aware how lame this is, and in fact have been told by a close friend how lame this is, and I don't disagree with him. But I have to tell you, for those 37 seconds I'm absolutely terrified!

So I started watching one of my daughter's favorite shows with her to pass the time, a show called What Not To Wear. For those who are unfamiliar, What Not To Wear is a show hosted by two super snarky fashion gurus, Clinton and Stacy. The idea is that there are many non-fashionable people in the world who must be corrected on their non-fashion, so what will happen is a "friend" will set an intervention of sorts in motion by narcing on the "fashion victim" to the fashion police. Clinton and Stacy will send out spies who actually go film the fashion victim, with the victim being completely unaware they are being filmed! Once enough evidence of sartorial wrongdoing has been amassed, Clinton and Stacy will swoop in like two impeccably groomed and coiffed hawks to confront the offender, usually in their place of work. In the 27 episodes (or so it seemed) I watched with my daughter, I was able to see the public humiliation of teachers, lawyers, hairdressers, actors. It was great!

One thing that I noticed was that Clinton and Stacy, both of whom are filled with a wonderful, Wildean sense of humor, with their quippery as sharp as the creases in their clothing, had a tendency to reserve their most venomous comments with those that fought back against their advice. Those who went with it, or were clearly lost sheep left dazed in the aftermath of their trip to the pillory, were granted hugs, kind comments, encouragement. Those who claimed to have a good fashion sense (and to be fair, they were sadly mistaken--all the participants I saw were either formless frumps or showoffs confused "provocative" with "ridiculous") or worse, actually questioned the fashion choices made by Clinton and Stacy, were all but eviscerated by their sharp tongues and pointy shoes.

After being mocked for awhile by their hosts (all of their clothes are thrown in a big bin, my daughter says, and then are then given to charity) the guests are sent out onto the streets of New York with a $5000 credit card. This gave me pause to reflect, because I think that, except maybe the two suits I've bought over the years, I think it is actually possible that I haven't spent 5 grand on myself for clothes in my entire lifetime. I actually started adding this up, starting with all of the basketball sneakers I've owned over the years. I have one pair of Air Jordans, from his second year with the Wizards, but I got those on clearance for something like sixty bucks. I had a nice leather jacket but that was a Christmas gift. I paid a hundred bucks for a pair of sunglasses once--do sunglasses count?

I started writing all of this stuff out (meanwhile onscreen a hairdresser was buying a two thousand dollar Prada dress, and an earlier episode had a man whose first outfit, a nice casual affair, something you'd wear out to a movie or party with friends--was said to cost $550) and then my daughter tells me that I should be on the show.

"What?" I said, instantly suspicious, wondering if she and my wife have been having me filmed. What would What Not To Wear's producers uncovered something with their P.I. work? A murder, or a conspiracy? A mother of two who spends her evenings knocking over headstones at the local cemetery?

"You should be on this show. Look at that shirt."

I did. It was my Charlotte Hornets t-shirt, the one that I bought when they drafted Larry Johnson.

When they drafted Larry Johnson twenty years ago. My God.

"It has holes in it, Daddy," she said. And she's right. Three of them, two completely irreparable. But twenty years of hard use has warn the threads down to that perfect grain of comfort and...

Who am I kidding? The shirt is almost twice as old as my daughter, is twice as old as my son.

"You have to go out in public now, Daddy."

By public, she meant more than just being a fixture at hers and my sons' basketball games, where I can conceal the holes in my shirt with a heavy coat because the gym where they play is actually pretty cold.

"Couldn't...couldn't you and Mommy just get me stuff? I'll pay!" The only decent clothes I own are those that she and her mother have bought for me, usually just before we go on a family trip where they can't bear to see me in the same stuff that I wore in college.

"See how they talk about proper fit?" she says to me. I bought the Hornets shirt when I was considerably heavier than I am today. What actually happened was I left college pretty heavy, lost a ton of weight immediately after, gained a little of it back, then had kids, messed up my back in a car wreck and took a job with a lot of travel, three factors that helped me balloon up again. I was heavy throughout most of my kids' lives until last year, when I dropped a big chunk of weight and got in shape again. And yet somehow managed to keep basically the same wardrobe throughout all of these changes, from endomorph to ectomporph to endomorph again, and now I'm fairly mesomorphic. With the same clothes, only older and shabbier (the clothes--but yes, me, to a lesser extent).

"Proper fit, right," I said. "Got it."

"I could help you." My daughter loves to shop. This might be one of my greatest failings as a parent, I don't know.

They could be deadly sarcastic, in a very Mean Girls way, but at the end of the marathon I decided that I liked Clinton and Stacy. Maybe it was because they gave the teacher an extra grand to spend and then donated 2G's to her school, or maybe because when they spoke with conviction about how appearance can contribute to a positive self image (which they said was achieved through proper fit and use of color, rather that a specific designer label, although they didn't exactly look down on the designer labels), but they won me over to their 'cause'. I've always had a pretty cynical outlook towards the whole "live better through conspicuous consumption" school of thought, but somehow I got the sense that they believed in their work. That they weren't just removing blights from our collective landscape; they really seemed to believe they were improving people's lives.
Some of the people they had on really were transformed in a way that seemed to precursor important beneficial changes in their lives--they were on the cusp of getting the job, the promotion, the more meaningful relationship.

So I believe in their sincerity, anyhow. That isn't the same as not believing that their entire enterprise is a sham, though, or that people should be able to derive self-esteem from something other than personal appearance. Inner beauty is what counts and all that. But, in the two or three times I actually looked good out in public, I have to admit that I felt good as well. Maybe they have a point.

I just hope I can do it for less than 5 grand...

"I think Clinton could really help you," she says. Giggle, giggle.

She might be right.

NEWS FLASH: I just received copies of the paperback edition of Generation Dead and they look sweeeeeeet. Tell all of your friends who were too cheap I mean too impecunious to buy the hardcover. In fact, you may wish to buy a couple copies for yourself, just in case. Just in case what I'm not sure, but I'd really appreciate it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Danny Talks Zombocalypse

Today on this blog I'm blogging about blogging on someone else's blog. The wonderful Sharon of the wonderful Sharon Loves Books and Cats asked me to write a guest blog about a zombie apocalypse. You can read it HERE, and if you want to you can leave Sharon a comment there or a leave me a comment here or both. We don't mind.

I noticed that yesterday Tommy went over the five hundred subscriber mark on, meaning that he is nearly five times as popular as I am. But I'm not bitter; that is as it should be. I certainly like him more than me!

Thanks to everyone on Facebook and here that made comments regarding my Magical Mystery Tour. Your comments might actually influence where the tour goes at this point, so keep 'em coming. I'll go anywhere. Even this one town I used to have to go to every so often that I hate that I won't mention by name because I think it is the armpit of the nation. Being an amateur glutton, I'm especially interested in visiting towns that have unique regional foods. Last year Hyperion was kind enough to send me to Louisville, Kentucky where I stalked the elusive Hot Brown and to Minnesota where I was able to sample (makes it sound like I had one or two instead of a bucket full) cheese curds. Does your town have anything different and delicious?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Grandparents: Decidedly Pro-Zombie

Here's another piece of genius artwork from Bryony. I love how Bryony works the UK cover art into every piece. Thanks, Bryony!

This was a nice surprise-- named Generation Dead one of their ten best books for children for 2008. Check out the rest of the listHERE. This is cool for a number of reasons, one of which is that grandparents are generally much more in tune with what kids want, because they spend most of their time giving kids what they want. And also, again generally, they have more money to spend on things like Generation Dead for their grandkids than say a parent does.*

*The italicized opinions above were formed by conducting an informal poll with the children in my household, and should in no way be construed as being the actual opinions of the author of this blog.

Now that that's cleared up, the news. There is snow on the ground. A lot of snow. I haven't seen any yetis yet. Yetis have yet to appear. I won't be running for a few days, it looks like (I fear snowplows and knee injuries) but I did get some exercize running the snowblower and shoveling the walk. And that's the weather and sports. In national news, I get to go on a book tour! Wheeee! I love traveling across this great nation of ours. Don't know where I'm going yet, but wherever it is, there I'll be.

I'll post the dates and locations as soon as I know...