Monday, November 26, 2012

Writing and Music: Two Great Things That Go Better Together

When I write, I usually have some background noise to soothe my brain into thinking of only one thing at once. Sometimes it's music, sometimes Law & Order (since I discovered that Netflix has the first eight seasons on Instant Stream...I love me some Lenny Briscoe). I've found that some music can definitely influence what you write though. Sometimes that can be a good thing.

For instance, Meatloaf's Bat Out of Hell albums are so fantastically overwrought that if you can listen while writing and siphon off just a fraction of that emotion, you can construct a pretty damn good scene of despair, angst and, eventually, hope.

I LOVE THIS VIDEO. Shut up. I love it and I don't care who knows it.

Now, I don't like sappy, drooly love scenes. So if my love scene looks like it's getting slobbery, I remind myself to write it straight with The Pretenders.

Need an angry character? Linkin Park. Oh, yes. Linkin Park.

Writing horror? Try Apocalyptica's terrifying version of Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King. It kind of makes you think you're probably not leaving this mountain alive.

But if you're writing epic fantasy, you might to have a listen to...Epica. I actually saw them in concert a few days ago. I hadn't been to a concert since my son was born, and I'd forgotten how metal concerts make the walls tremble and the floor vibrate.

I think my hearing is almost back to normal.

And if you want someone to die in a terribly tragic manner, you can't go wrong with Queen.

And I'm throwing this in just because it's awesome and I think it's hilarious. With as many members as The Black-Eyed Peas has (there's like six people in that band) you'd think at least one of them would have talent. But it's like a perfect storm of suck. This video not only makes them better, but reminds us of how to tell the difference between a human and an android, which will be important to know during the coming machine wars.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Boris Strugatsky Dead at 79

Boris Strugatsky, one (and the surviving) half of the legendary writing team the Strugatsky Brothers, passed away yesterday at the age of 79 (his brother Arkady died in 1991).

They were barely known in the US, but these Russian authors were, in my opinion, among the finest SF writers of the 20th century, writing thoughtful, original, compelling stories.

If you're interested in checking them out, I highly recommend their most famous work, the novel Roadside Picnic (which was made into a Tartovsky film called Stalker). The latest US edition is a trade paperback that includes a fascinating afterword by Boris, describing the novel's torturous route to publication in the former USSR.

The book tells of a slightly-future world, in which aliens have abruptly descended and just as suddenly left, with no explanation of their brief presence. In their wake are large areas in several parts of the world filled with their leavings; strange alien technology. Only scientists are legally allowed into the zones to retrieve items for study, but most of the scientists (and some private collectors) are happy to hire stalkers, men who are reckless or desperate enough to enter and face things that make no sense in a human world and have no application they can figure out. Many of them end up dead, zapped by objects they can't understand.

The novel follows one particular stalker, and through him shows us the most poignant part of the story: that even the surviving stalkers don't escape unscathed; in fact, their children pay the price for their parent's exposure to the zone.We must watch as our main character's daughter slowly devolves (evolves) into something less (or more?) than human.

It's an amazing book, but is also just one amazing story among many the Strugatskys authored. Give them a chance, and you'll be sucked in as surely as I was.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


There's three stacks and another bookcase I didn't photograph, because they were too messy. Even worse than my manga bookshelves there. >sweatdrop<

Friday, November 9, 2012

In the Rainforest, Everything Wants You Dead

Sorry to any arachnophobes who stumble upon this. I used to be a massive arachnophobe until I had a kid and a husband who is rarely home. You learn to get over stuff real quick because you don't want your children to learn your phobias. I still don't LIKE spiders, but I can tolerate them (or squish them if they are unusually large and/or aggressive- I can live with spiders in the corners, but if they're strolling across the living room floor and give me the 'wassup' head nod...that's a little cocky).

All that to say, I have a new story available! "Spawn of the Spider God" is now out in Fantastic Horror's new "Mythos Revisted" issue now on the Amazon Kindle store and in paperback from Createspace. My husband said this story of mine is particularly disturbing because, being a cringing arachnophobe at the time I wrote it, I knew exactly how to describe my beasties for maximum reader discomfort.

What's it about, you say?

Hundreds of men have vanished into the Amazon while searching for the fabled Lost City of Gold. Perhaps that's because...they found it.

The idea struck me while reading The Lost City of Z, a book about famed explorer Percy Fawcett who, along with his son and a friend, disappeared into the jungle around the turn of the century. It's a great book if you like vanished explorers. In addition, after reading River of Doubt (about Teddy Roosevelt's near-disastrous jaunt into the Amazon) I became consumed with the idea that, in the rainforest, everything wants you dead. Every animal, every plant, every bacterium, every speck of dirt that will work its way into a wound, infecting it so you die painfully and slowly.

In my story, the things that want you dead are a little bigger than a speck of dirt.

But enough about me. What do you think of me?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

My Triumphant Return

So I spent Halloween day to this past Monday taking part in the Greatest Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. It was created last year by Misha Collins, who is apparently in Supernatural (he plays an angel or the devil or God or something). The goal was to break the Guinness record for largest scavenger hunt. Well, they did, and it was so successful they did it this year too.

Now, my BFF is a huge Supernatural fan, so she joined up last year and asked me to help with a couple items. The challenges on the list (there are around 200) are insane; last year I had to make a copy of The Last Supper with action figures (Hulk Hogan was Jesus) and take a big bite of a meatball sub with mint chocolate chip ice cream on it. But it was fun, so fun I decided to register myself this year and become an official team member. If anything, the items were even weirder this year than last year, but here are the ones I completed (the BFF persuaded a firefighter to pose in front of a fire truck wearing nothing but a loincloth fashioned from kale, so she's a GISHWHES contributions are as nothing compared to hers!).

One item called for a picture of a flea strip club. FLEA! Get it? I crack myself up.

This diorama is one of the most disturbing things I have ever created, actually.

In another, two people fighting in armor made of kitchenware. Here a friend and I (I'm on the right) go all gladiator and shit.

Here the husband and I kiss with twelve food items between us (Hershey's kisses, harhar).

The last one I'll post (the others have images of my kid, or personal information, or are GISHWHES in-jokes). My conception of what the most secret storage room in Area 51 looks like. Poor Mulder.

So I am back now. And tomorrow I should have a new story available, so I'll let everyone know. Looking forward to GISHWHES 2013!