Saturday, August 27, 2016

I'm Not Even That Caffeinated Today.

I'm taking a break from the book to blog, because what's better for a writing break than...more writing? I don't know how to explain that it IS different. So, while my bloodthirsty eagle soars over the steppe and considers human snacks (in my head, people, in my head), here are some random items of note, none of which are enough for a real post:


  • Someone found my blog by googling "pithy snake" which I find both disturbing and intriguing. 
  • I put out mouse traps because fall = the critters in the crawlspace attempting to invade. Baited with peanut butter. 
  • Fucking ants ate ALL the goddamned peanut butter off both traps in such an efficient and interesting manner (seriously, it's like they had their own tiny highway or fire brigade bucket line) I just let them have it all. 
  • So...Dear Lowes: I need rodent poison for the crawlspace, peanut butter for the traps in my house, and ant killer.
  • The AC guy told me all about his divorce last week while he was waiting for his counterpart to come help him fix the compressor. AC guy is a new one - taxi drivers, plane passengers, library patrons, and all manner of random acquaintances are all on the list of "strangers who tell me all their personal stuff". I am amused. 
  • AC guy totally paid for his listening session by going into the crawlspace to turn the outside water back on, despite having an expressed fear of spiders. He couldn't find the spigot, but did confirm creatures of the furry AND arachnid variety in abundance in the fucking crawlspace. 
  • Dear Lowes: please add a shop vac (for mouse poop and spiderwebs), some sort of Shelob killer, and perhaps a person braver than I am to venture down there. 
  • A couple people have asked in the past why I don't just go get a counseling degree and open a practice. I actually have an answer because I've considered it. Were I to get a degree it would be in trauma counseling, not relationship/marriage counseling. And in general, while I'll give advice if asked I try really hard to ONLY be an ear and let people figure out their shit on their own. I seem to be found when I'm needed by those who need an ear (let's be clear that in the cases to which I'm referring, it's not ME they're looking for, it's a sympathetic and/or non-judgmental human willing to listen), and fuck making a living off that - I'd be exhausted all the time. 
  • In Spam mail I read the subject line too fast and could've sworn the email said "Dental Breast Implants", which I found to be a heartily disturbing mental image, and a seriously funny ad. Sadly, it was really for normal dental implants, no boobs involved. 
  • In all honesty, I took a break from both the book AND the blog to watch this week's episode of Killjoys on SyFy. If you aren't watching this show, what the fuck is WRONG with you? You're missing absolute gold. And OH LOOKY THERE, the whole first season is streaming on Syfy's website. 
I have another couple thousand words to go today, so this is the end of my not-post. There is another goddamned cellar spider in the corner of the ceiling at the top of my stairs. Last time one of those dudes hung out there, a wolf spider the size of my palm came to eat him. No, thank you, 8 legged wonders of horror. I appreciate your function OUTSIDE the house. 

Vacuum, then write. 

PS: It's 5:30pm in August, and it's 66 degrees out. YES YES YES!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Book Review: The Babylon Rite (Tom Knox)

One of the dangers of spending so much time writing in the B&N coffee shop is the lurid attraction of all those unread pages.

Lo they do call to me... *ahem*

And so in the middle of writing the Prometheus book I was sidetracked by The Babylon Rite, a fascinating mash-up of Templar mystery and disturbing ancient Peruvian archaeology. Yes, I was also intrigued at the idea, and therefore got sucked into Knox's fast paced story of an unemployed journalist, a young archaeological grad student, and a couple of dead professors.

Adam Blackwood is writing a puff piece on a famous historian and his connection to Rosslyn Chapel. THE Rosslyn Chapel of The Davinci Code fame: a subject of both scorn and deprecation by the main character, as he makes a snarky comment or two regarding the influx of tourism in the area since Dan Brown's story became popular.

The professor in question, famous for debunking Templar myths, whispers only that it's all real and it's all here before running off and, surprisingly, driving his car into a stone wall in a mad suicide. And thus Blackwood is sucked into an odd mystery by the professor's daughter, a woman convinced her father had been involved in something bigger and scarier and was most decidedly NOT suicidal. Worse, his "suicide" seems to be similar to a string of truly horrific deaths popping up around London.

Did I mention seriously disturbing archaeology? That too. While all the drama is occurring in the UK, Jessica Silverton is in Peru with her (rather stereotypical) lover and boss, the head of an archaeological excavation of the Moche. Her story, seemingly separate from Blackwood's, follows what happens to a person who discovers the "mythological significance" of ancient paintings depicting people severing their own limbs or having sex with sacrifices (that would be during said sacrifice and immediately after) and/or animals was not mythologically significant at all. They weren't allegorical images: they were accurate recordings of real events.

The way their plots eventually intertwine with each other is really well done: the idea that Moche civilization is in any way connected to the secret Templar initiation rite is pretty inventive and not at all implausible when the mystery is revealed. However, I personally found the big twist that actually tied them together fairly disappointing. To be completely fair, that's likely because I rather enjoy the whole ancient conspiracy theme, and so I had an expectation I perhaps should not have entertained.

Also, while Knox has an excellent knack for writing really creepy violence, he doesn't do a lot to develop the characters themselves. I think the torturous villains would've been more effective if I gave a hoot about any of the main characters, but really none of them were much more than cardboard cutouts. I actually got the impression that there was development behind them, but that it had been edited out of the story to try to make it more fast-paced, because Knox's writing is truly evocative. I was disappointed to find myself ambivalent in places I wouldn't have been if I'd been vested in the character's worlds. Interestingly the back cover blurbs include something about this being a tale "peppered with sex" which is horrendously incorrect. There is a truly awful rape scene (yes, dear author, rape is still rape even if the victim's body responds...a comment which made me want to hit something), and there's a myriad of inventive violence. Decidedly not a story for weak stomachs.

All in all it wasn't a book that left me thinking hard about the world, the characters, or even the awful things that happened after I put it down. But I'd read another of his works for an afternoon escape anytime I'm feeling like an alternative to an action movie.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Death Chicken

So, I'm working on a series of Four Horsemen books ("working on" = 3 outlined, one in progress, all on hold pending completion of the first draft of a Prometheus book that I've decided will be done by Halloween).

Anyway, my mind does weird shit. Really weird shit. I have NO IDEA where some of this stuff comes from. This morning while the dogs still snored and the pre-dawn was just starting to invade the room, I hovered in that half-awake/half-dreaming stage right before getting up. This scene played out in my head. It's not enough to be a short story: it'd be a fun cartoon if I could draw worth a damn, but since I cannot I'll post it here and keep a copy for Death's book when I get to him.

I'm sure he'll be thrilled.


Someone had turned the TV on in the kitchen. Death shook his head and popped another Dorito in his mouth. Even here, at their parents' estate in the middle of fuck-all nowhere, the news could be found via satellite. Mom's tuneless humming, the 6pm BBC News anchor's droning announcements, the girls' laughing in the pool, burgers on the grill: what a perfect day off. Death dozed comfortably and let himself relax.

"And announced today, Archaeologists have discovered a previously unknown civilization buried in the jungle. Three of the seven tombs found so far have been opened, and artifacts including pottery shards and jewelry have been dated to six thousand years ago."

"Seriously?" Death grumbled with his eyes still closed. He heard War's low snicker.

"Scientists aren't sure yet what the meaning is of the six foot tall gold chicken, particularly as it appears to have been carved wearing a cloak and an extremely malevolent expression, but it is believed to have great ritual significance." 

War's snickers erupted into fully belly-laughs. "GREAT RITUAL SIGNIFICANCE," he gasped, wiping tears from his eyes.

Death rolled his eyes wished yet again for just a smidge of his mother's talent for staring people to stone. He wrangled his way out of the anti-gravity pool chair, carefully put his plate on the tile floor, and stood over his brother.

"You. Suck." He pushed War into the pool.

"It's NOT my fault! You took the bet, dumbass. It was only a month. Fair's fair," War sputtered. "How the hell was I supposed to know they'd worship you in that form just because they were on Plague's to-do list and you had to visit every day that month?"

"Asshat." Death slipped his Hawaiian shirt on with as much dignity as he could muster and walked in the kitchen for more alcohol.

Family gatherings. Sigh.

War hooted from the pool: "DEATH CHICKEN!"