Friday, February 29, 2008

A Rose for Phoebe

Here's the sweet Simon & Schuster cover for the U.K. edition of Generation Dead. The cover calls to mind a story I recently reread, William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily. In A Rose for Emily, Emily is in love with a guy who is dead. In Generation Dead, Phoebe might be falling in love with a guy who is dead.

Note: Only one of the two dead guys mentioned in these stories is a zombie.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I Likes Them Odds!


I'm guessing it is my inexperience with guns that prevented me from scoring higher.

Take the test here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Jobs Meme for Readers and Writers

I found this on Doug Clegg's fine blog, and Doug found it on M.J. Rose's fine blog. The meme is a reaction to Steve Jobs comment that "people don't read anymore".

The Jobs Meme for Writers

How many books have you written? Well, I've written 11. One will be published in May.

How many copies of your books are in print? I can't count the copies I printed myself, can I? A couple hundred arcs, and there will be between 100,000 and 150,000 of Generation Dead in May, depending on which source you believe.

How many of your books did you write on a Mac? The first six.

When did you buy your first Mac? 1988

The Jobs Meme for Readers

How many books do you read a year? between 120-160
When was the last time you bought a new computer? Last year

When do you expect you'll buy your next computer? Three years

When do you expect you'll buy your next cell phone? Three years

On a scale of 1-10 how important do you think it is that we support reading and literacy? 10

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Curse You, Shortest Month! and the Sky is Falling

I'm sick again--I haven't been sick twice in one year (let alone within one month) since 2003. Ahhhrrg.

What does everyone think about the Navy shooting down the damaged spy satellite earlier this week? Are you relieved that the "bus sized" hunk of space junk won't be landing on your roof? Are you sad that said vehicle won't be contaminating key suburban water supplies with its deadly space gases, thus ushering in the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse? Are you wondering what the government was really up to? Upon hearing the news, were you so relieved that you did a quick Watusi around the room, shouting "U.S.A! U.S.A!" in a Homeresque (the Simpson, not the Greek) voice?

Any or all of the above? Me, too.

Also wondering if my current sickness has anything to do with the release of those deadly space gasses.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The True Cause of Zombiism in America

Among the quotes, song lyrics, and article snippets I adorned my notebooks and laptop with when writing Generation Dead is the following urban legend:

The marketing slogan "Come Alive With Pepsi!" was interpreted in Chinese as "Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back From the Dead".

You can read the complete story here at

Snopes rules. I highly recommend surfing that site, where you can find out if B.F. Skinner really raised his daughter in a Skinner box, if my hero Walt Disney was really put in cryogenic storage, and some interesting facts about Philip Pullman.

I drink an awful lot of Diet Pepsi when I write.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Take a Walk Take a Rest

I've discovered that my perfect circadian rhythm would allow me to go to bed at 2 a.m. and wake up at 10 a.m.--hard to maintain when I need to get the kiddies on the bus around 7 a.m. But they're on vacation this week so I can revert to my old ways, at least temporarily.

Not sure exactly why that is my best cycle--I've kept all sorts of hours in my life. When I was in college I worked until three a.m. four nights a week making sandwiches, and would turn in around four to get a few hours sleep before my ten a.m. classes. When I was a little kid I had a paper route that got me up at 5 a.m. and I probably went to sleep around 8 p.m.

Waking up at ten a.m., I went to the office and rocked the computer. I mean I was slammin'. I'm a hard striker and my fingertips are growing numbed and calloused like they were during the couple years I pretended I could play the guitar. Plus I'm starting to wear the letters off of my computer keyboard, which is really cool.

I took a break and took a long walk around the park, and although I was doing my best to clear my mind with fresh air and heavy metal, I was struck by yet another Brilliant Idea and literally had to run home to start writing it down. I wrote a bunch and will write a bunch more when I end this blog entry.

Two of my favorite terms: "Coping Mechanism" and "Enabling Fantasy". February will be over soon!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

2008:Year of the Zombie?

Publishers Weekly this week had an article that suggests this possibility, and also mentions Genereation Dead. The title of the article, Must...Read...Books... is the single finest article title I have read this year. Love it.

I'm writing a metric ton o'words, still. One in every ten may be usable, we'll see, but I'm really enjoying the story and the characters right now. Could I be more vague? Future is Cloudy/Try Again Later.

I'm very encouraged by my output and my mood right now, because typically this is the most wretched time of the year for me. You've heard of SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as winter depression? I have often thought I suffer from FAD, or February Affective Disorder. No joke. I hate February. Despise it. Most of the the truly traumatic moments of my life have occured in February. Gray, cold, and dismal, about the only things February has going for it in my mind are Valentine's Day and that it is short. I usually cocoon as much as possible and wait for the month to pass, like a stomach ache.

But this February, I'm doing really well. Having a good time, even. I'm working hard, having fun, and spending lots of time with the family, all of which bodes well for March. March, BTW, is typically one of the best months of the year--some of the happiest moments of my life happened in March, including the births of my children. And me! We go every five days, me, then Kayleigh, then Cormac. Lots of parties and presents. Exeunt winter, like a lamb. Throw in some corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day and you've got all the elemenents of a great month. I dig March.

Maybe I've beaten FAD this year, though. Sometime during this rare prolific February burst, I've written a couple short stories featuring a few of my pals from Generation Dead, which was really strange, because unlike the books I'm working on, they were unplanned. The stories just short of showed up without a lot of prodding on my part. Not sure really what to do with them. I think I'll push on them a bit more, but right now they make me very happy just sitting on my desk in two tidy piles.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

I noticed the other day that someone had tagged Generation Dead as "Paranormal Romance" on a book retailing site. This made me smile.

Why? Because it reminds me of my own long held belief, one that was firmly fixed in my mind as I was writing the novel. Namely, the belief that all true love is paranormal.

Whether it is for one's spouse, significant other, pet, parent, child, or friend, love is at base essence inexplicable, unquantifiable, "not scientifically explainable", to quote my Webster's definition of "paranormal".

Thought for the day:

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace."
-Jimi Hendrix

One last thought, now that I have revealed my Inner Hippie. I haven't blogged for a week, and yet I have a huge stack of freshly inked manuscript pages from a new novel on my desk! Coincidence, or conspiracy? You know how I'd vote!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Jump in the Fire

Just a quick follow-up to my earlier post this week. I've narrowed the field to three, and one of those three has officially Caught Fire. Which is good, because I feel like somebody tripped my lead horse--my wife brought home some new YA books from home and one of them had a first chapter that had some eerie similarities to events in my first chapter! Not cool, not cool at all. I was fifty pages into that horse! The writers' story and mine veer sharply from the openings, but I think I'm putting that horse out to pasture all the same. Or maybe I'll just cut it loose to run with the wild mustangs in Oklahoma (I recently watched Hidalgo, which might explain all the equine rambles I'm having lately). If it truly loves me, it will come back. Or not.

Ours is still an abundant universe...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Ours is an Abundant Universe

OK, no trips to foreign lands or exotic meals on the calendar this week. This week it's nothing but writing. Work, work, work.


I'm endlessly fascinated by different writers' approaches to the process of writing fiction. I devour writers' memoirs, notes, and "how to" books by the score, and I know this is an essential part of refining my own process. Looking at what has worked for others, I experiment and figure out what works for me.

For instance: I've always worked on multiple projects at once. Usually two or three ideas at once, I'd go back and forth between them, sometimes quitting mid-page on the first to pick up where I left off on the second when I was starting to feel stale. And so I'll go, as though riding multiple horses in a race, until one of those horses catches fire and I've got to take it,now, over the finish line.

Yesterday I took inventory of the various novel ideas that I'd been working on, off and on, lately. There were eight of them, not including the new one that if floating around the offices at Hyperion. Eight! Was this a race, or a round-up?

Eight novels in various stages of completion. And I like all of them. I don't think there's a runt in the litter. Some of my literary heroes, like Shirley Jackson, did not write eight novels in their entire careers.

I spent some time yesterday corraling those horses, because I don't think I can effectively run a race that large. I also wanted to make sure I had enough down on paper, character descriptions, notes, etc., so that if I did have to stable a horse I'd be able to hit the track at a gallop with it when it was the proper time.
Taking stock, I found out I had no saddle for one, no shoes for another, and one needed a good rub down and a rest. Some of the others, though, were chomping at the bit and ready to run.

I can't predict which is going to reach the finish line first. I haven't even narrowed the field to three yet. Regardless, I'm looking forward to the race!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Back in the New York Groove

The wild and wooly pre-pub tour continues...

I love New York City. I love taking the train from New Haven to Grand Central Station. I love walking in cities, and yesterday was a rare January day custom made for walking, so I walked to the Hyperion offices and got to meet all of the great people I'd previously known only through email and their work.

We had lunch(mmmm, lunch)with some folks from Barnes and Noble, and they were a very sharp group of witty, charming people and a great time was had by all, especially when the cookies (mmm, cookies) came along with tiny glasses of hot chocolate, compliments of the chef. I am not exaggerating when I say it was the finest tiny cup of hot chocolate I have ever had, and it was the perfect compliment to the pistachio biscotti (mmm, pistachio biscotti).

On the trip home, I wrote and looked out the window, but not at the same time. I made it home in time for my daughter's basketball game, which they won.

Mmmm, victory.