Thursday, April 28, 2011

Twitter Update

So I'm learning the whole Twitter thing (I have 12 followers, whoo-hoo) and one of the things it tells you in Twitter etiquette it not to follow too many celebrities, because it's "stalkerish." I say ptooie. I will say, the funnest (yes, I said funnest, because I'm a writer and writers can take license with language, the handbook says so) people so far to follow are Adam Levine, Jill Wagner, and Nathan Fillion. (Because a world without Nathan Fillion is like a world without puppies or beer).

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Voice is Pretty Cool, Actually

Okay, I'll freely admit that I watched the premier of NBC's The Voice last night because Adam Levine is teh hawt, Cee Lo Green is teh cool, and I'm a shallow fangrrl. I had no particular expectations one way or the other, but thought it was an interesting premise.

The show started out with a slammin' cover of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy," that actually worked. (The kidlets, who adore both Maroon 5 and Cee Lo, were suitably impressed and spastically danced around to show their appreciation.)

The four coaches (Levine, Green, Xtina (as the kids say), and Blake Shelton) had great chemistry and were pretty damn funny. The talent, unlike some other reality contests (*cough*American Idol*cough*) was actually talented. And if the coaches were at all disappointed when they hit their buzzers and flipped around to see not-quite-the-package they were expecting, did a great job of not telegraphing it, and instead offered cogent praise.

I even (hard-hearted cynic that I am) got a little misty watching some of these singers perform while their families waited with Carson Daly. You see, being a writer, I understand that how fucking hard it is to put yourself out there, especially in front of talented stars who are actually relevant, and let people stomp all over your dreams.

I actually didn't do much fast-forwarding, which for someone who is so addicted to the DVR and has so little time, is high praise indeed. So and A+ for me. I found it thoroughly enjoyable and am looking forward to the rest of the series.

Also, too, more Adam Levine.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I'm On the Twitter!

Now you can follow my profundity on the Twitter. C'mon, you know you want to, it's what all the kool kidz with the short attention spanz are doing. If you don't, Zombie Easter Werewolf will make a visit to your house, and it won't be with a basketful of eggs. It's

And if you do follow me at, again, Knutson, I can almost guarantee that Zombie Easter Werewolf will not come by while you're sleeping and suck your brains out. Almost.

What You Get for Stealing Holidays

Over at The Blogington, Robert Klimowicz has a remarkable gallery of terrifying Easter Bunnies.

My favorites? The first is not really a bunny at all but some kind of freaking zombie Easter Werewolf. Who the hell thought that was a good idea? The second portrait I would like to title "Dress Up Day at the Institute for the Criminally Insane, With Rollerblades."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Pete-ster!

Pete and the S/O enjoying a post-prandial nap, no doubt stupefied by my perfect Hollandaise sauce and an overabundance of peanut butter eggs.  Sleep is Pete's default state of existence. He likes to sleep best with his paws on your face.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

By Popular Request - Bruno Mars

And by popular request, I mean that since the 5-year-old can't read the blog (first, because he can't read, and second, because I'm prone to salty language), he has requested that I post his favorite video. So here we have Bruno Mars singing Grenade. Nicky does a boffo version in his booster chair in the back seat of the car. (And may I also say that Bruno Mars is so uber-cute, I would like to keep him in a box on my desk.)

Goodbye, Sarah Jane

Elisabeth Sladen has died at the age of 63. She was best known as Sarah Jane Smith, probably the most universally beloved of The Doctor's companions. She was the Doctor's match, and without her you would never have had Rose Tyler or Doctor Donna or Amy Pond.

Though Sarah Jane said goodbye to the Fourth Doctor, she was reunited with David Tennant's 10th Doctor in "School Reunion" and subsequent episodes, a lonely woman who had lived out 30 years chasing after the life she had lost when she returned to Earth.

You see, the truth is The Doctor always leaves his companions, because they grow old and die, and he does not. And you can see that in The Doctor's face when he is reunited with Sarah Jane, that he has suddenly remembered what he tried to forget, that fact that for all but him the hour grows late and time runs down and then we are gone.

Monday, April 18, 2011

That's Not a Candygram

One of the most difficult things about raising kids when the two parents have vastly different religious views is how you balance talking about religion. In my perfect world, my kids wouldn't be indoctrinated into any religion, but instead just be taught morals and ethics detached from any religious bells and whistles until they're old enough and discerning enough to be introduced the spectrum of religious beliefs that different people around the world have, say around age 10-12. I want my kids to be kind to others, to share what they have, to stand up for those weaker than them, to be responsible and take care of the earth, to help those who need help. I want them to do this because it's the right thing, not because some invisible friend says they'll go to hell if they don't.

Unfortunately, this is not my perfect world. And because circumstances dictate that my kids attend a Catholic school, it has become a constant battle to separate out the positive messages from what I see as the destructive ideology and to explain why said destructive ideology is destructive in terms that an 11-year-old and a 5-year-old can understand.  I fear I am not threading the gauntlet well, and have ended up with an 11-year-old who rolls his eyes and uses air quotes every time he utters the word "jesus" and a 5-year-old who is bewildered that Mommy is not praising "Jesus."

On the one hand, I don't want to inculcate my kids with my sometimes overly vehement aversion to Christianity, on the other hand, I think a lot of Christianity the way it's practiced by "christians" is poisonous and needs to be called out as such. Misogyny, homophobia, intolerance, racism, and sick ideas about sex are  some of the things I find offensive in Christianity. But instead of saving these conversations until they're old enough to understand the complexities and to be able to discuss it, I'm forced by circumstance to daily walk a tightrope about when to just let something go and when to break out the flow charts explaining why Mom is having an aneurysm. It's so tiring and so needless that it really just sometimes breaks my heart.

To make it more complicated, there are apparently all kinds of "jump-for-jesus" dog whistles that those of who are un-initiated miss. For instance, the 5-year-old has been talking for weeks about the "girl who got her arm bitten off by the shark and got right back in the water!" He asked me, and I told him, yes, I had heard the story. I asked where he heard it, and he told me they were talking about it in class. I found this an odd thing to be teaching kindergartners, but I didn't think that much about it. But he kept talking about it. Seems they're really hammering this little parable home.

So today I catch an article about the movie about the girl, and it turns out it's a "Christian" movie about how Jesus was using a shark to test her family's faith or something.

In the words of the Slate article:

Hamilton's family were evangelical Christians who understood what had happened to Bethany as a personal and providential test of faith, and also saw it as an opportunity to testify to the wider world.

I find that a really obscenely  inappropriate message for a 5-year-old. "Hey, you know your buddy Jesus? Better be careful or he'll send a shark to bite your arm off just make sure you still believe in him!" WTF?

Seems when one of these "Christian" movies come out, religious schools go into promotional overdrive, telling little tie-in stories to encourage kids to beg their parents to go see the movie. We went through that whole bullshit before when I refused to let my then 12-year-old daughter see the torture-porn Mel Gibson was peddling in Passion of the Christ with a gaggle of little fundie girls she knew. That was a knock-down drag-out fight at the time. But in a few months, those same girls were telling her that her mom was working for the devil because she wrote horror books, and that was the end of my daughter's flirtation with religion, without me having to say a word.

I'm not making a big deal of it with the small child. I'm biting my tongue and skirting the edges. He's trying to learn how to read, and he doesn't need Mommy stomping around cursing. But I did tell him that if there was a Jesus, he certainly wouldn't be sending sharks to attack children. I try and tell myself that if I keep trying to be a better example of compassion (even though dog knows I fail miserably often enough when things like this make me screaming mad), the kids are going to come to their own conclusions without me inserting my sometimes very bitter opinions.  It doesn't always work, but I'll keep on trying.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Nancy Pelosi Will Both Drink Your Milkshake and Kick Your Ass

From TPM, this is all kinds of hilarious. The gist?

Panic ensued. In the House, legislation passes by a simple majority of members voting. The Dems took themselves out of the equation, leaving Republicans to decide whether the House should adopt the more-conservative RSC budget instead of the one authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. As Dems flipped to present, Republicans realized that a majority of their members had indeed gone on the record in support of the RSC plan -- and if the vote closed, it would pass. That would be a slap in the face to Ryan, and a politically toxic outcome for the Republican party. So they started flipping their votes from "yes" to "no."

The only thing that would have been better was if the Dems had surreptitiously tied all the Republicans shoelaces together so that when the fact that they had been badly played finally dawned on them, they could have leapt from their seats in a rush to change their votes and instead fallen down and begun writhing manically like glossolalia-possessed loons on the dusty floor of a Pentacostal revival tent.

The clown car, it is truly bottomless.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Just a quick look at what I did with obscenely inexpensive cover images and 5 minutes in Photoshop. (The eventual covers will be refined, but this is the basic idea.)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Because I Can't Help Myself...

I am somehow self-obligated to watch all new TV shows. Sometimes it's horrible (Burden of Proof), sometimes it's artistic (The Killing), and sometimes it's, as the five-year-old says, hi-larious. Breaking In on Fox is really funny, like Better-Off-Ted funny. I'll admit my fondness for Christian Slater (because ever since I first saw him in Heathers, he's struck me as slightly insane, and not the bad-charlie-sheen-samuri-sword-in-the-mall insane, but more kind of the matthew-mconaughey-nude-bongo-drum insane), and Bret Harrison from the criminally underwatched Reaper. Also, we needed new catch-phrases at my house. Boom goes the dynamite.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Zen of Pete

Happy Friday from the sub-cellars!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The List

[Cross-posted from the Publishing Yourself blog]

Been busy, busy, combing blogs and websites, arming myself with information, immersing myself in ideas, and playing around with concepts. Dean Wesley Smith, on his excellent blog, has a very informative section called Think Like A Publisher, in which he provides numerous sections about the various aspects of publishing yourself. It's a great starting place to give you an idea about what you need to think about, especially if you're more of the DIY mindset.

Under Production &Scheduling, he suggest making a List, just like big publishers make a List, outlining your now and future "inventory." He says, "This total number of your inventory may surprise you, disappoint you, or scare you to death (as it did with me and Kris). But at least you have a list of inventory now."

I dutifully opened all my electronic folders, improv notes, notebooks, bundles of amassed scrap paper, and after digging myself out from under it, tried to be honest with myself about what I had.

I would say surprise is maybe not as descriptive as "shock." If I'm being honest (counting the four books that are for all intents and purposes close to publication) I have 25 book-length projects that are totally viable. (And by that I mean the concepts are complete, some have multiple chapters already written, they're ready to work on without much further thought.) Beyond that, there's a maybe another 15 good ideas, and at least as many short stories. Like some zombie squirrel, apparently I've been stashing these things away for years and years and forgetting where I put them. The sub-cellar in my head must be very, very full.

Even when I can quit the day job and write full time, I've got enough to keep me busy for the next 15 years. This is both gratifying and utterly terrifying, because what was always at a safe distance is suddenly on the doorstep, possibly like something wished upon a monkey's paw. Now every one of those stories is knocking on the door and demanding to be let in.

You see, for years and years I did the minimum to keep this going. I queried, I got an agent, I went back and forth with publishers, but there was always a safe space, a buffer. I went back and forth for an entire freaking year with a publishing house (which shall remain nameless) over rewrites that they requested only to have the book dropped at the 11th hour.

So over time, while I never stopped writing, it became the act of just jotting down something I fancied on the back of an envelope, whipping out three chapters and then letting a book lie fallow, creating a world full of characters and then consigning them to a closet that I forgot to open again. I stopped producing, because something inside my head told me I could better spend my time doing something that had immediate results, that paid me enough to feed the kids, that got the damned floors swept and the dogs walked.

Sadly, because I let it, my talent and time became expendable. It became something that was not as valued as other people's time. If the kids needed something, that always came first. If the significant other needed something, that always came first. Hell, if the dogs needed something, that came first too. And over the years that default has just grown, because I've got to make a living right now, not next year, and nobody else is doing the laundry or the shopping or the cooking, or most of all the planning and double-checking and coaching that makes everybody else's lives run smoothly enough that they forget what it's like without the woman behind the curtain.

So now I have worlds upon worlds waiting to be set spinning. And I've got to answer the door, because something there is knocking.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Rump of the Season

It's mostly all over but the crying in television season land. The last few new shows are being led out of the stables and put through their paces. In advance of May's upfronts, most of the decisions have already been made and everything I care about (save Human Target, which is still in the fog) has been renewed: BBC's Being Human and Luther, Fringe, Community, all the other things whose fates weren't much in doubt.

It's been a pretty lackluster midseason, end-of-season, whatever-we're-calling-it-season, and the "replacement series" have been pretty atrocious. Bye-bye The Cape, Mad Love, Mr. Sunshine. The Chicago Code was well-liked by people with taste, but I skipped it as a sacrifice to the TV gods, and am not invested in it's eventual fate.

So that leaves us with the last few dribs and drabs, most of them pretty drabby. Dana Delaney deserves better than the earnest-exposition-fest that is Body of Proof. I don't know if it was an effort to give watchers something to hang onto, but the pilot was full of people just talking and talking and talking about themselves, what I call the "stuck on the airplane" syndrome, where you're strapped into the airplane seat next to someone who say's, "Let me tell you absolutely everything about me!" Trouble was, even with all the fraught backstory, I didn't care. I had literally seen everything it had to offer, and it had been offered far, far better. Blah.

If you blink you'll miss Chaos on CBS. Great cast: Eric Close (my beloved Mr. Wiseman from Now and Again!), Freddy Rodriguez (Six Feet Under, Planet Terror), James Murray (Primeval), and Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou?). The four leads are fabulously charming, but they've got nothing to work with. Cute in spots, but ultimately disappointing and sadly doomed.

(Yet to come, but still on my radar are Breaking In on April 6th, and Fallen Skies on June 19th.)

That brings us to the one show that, for the most part, DOES work. AMC's The Killing debuted this weekend to pretty great reviews. Based on an immensely popular Danish series, The Killing follows the investigation into the brutal murder of a teenage girl. I'll admit the first hour didn't really drag me in. It was pretty, but cold. I found Mireille Enos as the lead detective on her last case before leaving too quirky and stoic at first. She could have been wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with, "Get me, I'm an Enigma!"  (And what the hell was she looking at washed up on the shore in the opening?) Also, is it just me or is Billy Campbell basically the same character no matter what he's in? I kept wishing for him to fall into one of ubiquitous bodies of water and drown because he bores me that much.

But the slow build didn't matter, because another episode followed, and it made up for it. Enos finally clicked and was terrific. But the standout for me was Joel Kinnamen (a Swedish actor I was previously unaware of). As the ex-narco cop come to take Enos' job , he looks like nothing more than a redneck meth-head. I found myself assuming that he was going to be the useless counterpoint to Enos' efficiency. I was wrong. 

There's a scene at the high school the murdered girl attended, and Kinnamen stays behind, even though the kids are a stone wall. Out behind the school, he lights up a joint and starts flirting with two cute teenage girls. It's a really a scene where you don't know what's happening, where you feel like anything could happen. It's both creepy and compelling.  But when he gets the one hint of information he's looking for, you can watch in his face how those girls become instantly irrelevant to him. In less than a minute, everything you assumed about him is totally changed.

I like a story that surprises me, and so far this one has. Now if we could just shove Billy Campbell into a closet somewhere.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Inching Forward

Not much to say. My daughter's workplace has changed locations (actually to another town) which adds roughly 40 minutes more drive time to each day, which was already roughly 6 hours too short already. I would say something witty or snarky about this new development, but I have run out of both wit and snark. Those qualities may not make an appearance anytime soon.

I'm revising the three finished novels ever so slowly in preparation to try my hand at formatting. In the meantime, I've been mocking-up cover concepts for the mystery series. I came up with a basic concept last week that I liked until I spent the weekend studying roughly a billion other covers, after which I didn't like it anymore.

The mystery series is about an aspiring Hollywood actress who works at an aging movie palace named the Orpheus, but spends more time solving crimes than acting. (Which is a terribly lame description. Did I mention I am tired and more tired?)  (DISCLAIMER: these are rough ideas I did in Paint and in no way reflect the finalized type of work we'll be doing in Photoshop, they are concepts only. Which explains the horrible typefaces in the first one.)

First Concept (Now abandoned)

Second Concept (Which is a lot bolder)

So that and $83 from freelancing is all I have to show for three days....  I must have been very bad in a past life. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Spring has Sprung!

Meet my retirement plan, since the whole lottery ticket thing is not panning out. The kid just needs an agent. And some cleats.