Writer's Grove

Disco Fries!

November 4, 2009

Today I learned about Disco Fries. It’s not something you can routinely find in Arizona, or I would have heard about it by now.

Disco Fries are french fries with gravy and cheese on top. In Canada they call it poutine. Here’s the link, son!

I learned about Disco Fries from my agent. I think I’ll have to try some when I go to New York next summer, just to say I’ve had them.

But I have other excellent news: HOUNDED, HEXED and HAMMERED will be audio books published by Random House Audio! Since Random House owns Del Rey, the opportunities for synergistic marketing are strong, and I’m so happy that people in the publishin’ world seem to dig Atticus and Oberon.

Writer’s Playlist

November 1, 2009

I tend to listen to music while I write, and it’s usually the instrumental sort, mostly guitar music of one kind or another.

Here are the artists I listen to most frequently:
1. Rodrigo y Gabriela, anything they’ve recorded
2. Yngwie Malmsteen’s Concerto for Electric Guitar
3. Vinnie Moore, anything I have
4. Six Parts Seven, Casually Smashed to Pieces

Of course, this means I’m often plugged into headphones while I’m writing in public. I’ve discovered that I don’t write well at Starbucks, because they play some awful music at times and they play it loud. Plus they turn on the blenders and the coffee grinders and auuugh! It’s cacophonous.

Yes. I wrote this whole post just so I could write “cacophonous.”

Word Count on HEXED: 37K.

Happy Samhain from Atticus

October 31, 2009

Since the hero of my novels is a Druid, this is a holy day for him. If he were more than a figment o’ my imagination, then he’d want to wish you a happy Samhain. So, felicitous pagan greetings to you from a fictional character!

If you want to return those greetings, well, um, that would be weird.

Kaibab Squirrels are COOL

October 30, 2009

If you have never seen one, do yourself a favor and do a Google image search for the Kaibab squirrel. They have white tails and these awesome little ear tufts, and they only live on the Kaibab Plateau north of the Grand Canyon.

It’s an awesome example of evolution by geographic isolation; their white tails give them camouflage cover in the winters when there’s snow. Here’s the good ol’ Wikipedia link.

I mention the little critters because one of them figures prominently in a short story I’m writing called “Kaibab Unbound.” It’s intended to be a teaser for HOUNDED, featuring Atticus and Oberon getting into a spot of trouble on the Kaibab Plateau.

Short stories take a long time

October 29, 2009

I can write a thousand words a day on my novel, but for some reason a short story won’t let me write more than 400 words per diem.

I’ve rewritten the first page about three times now.

I’ve changed the title five times and I told the last one not to get too comfortable at the top of the page, because he’s going to get revised like all the others.

I’ve written long descriptions of Flagstaff and then deleted it all because it didn’t advance the plot.

I may need to write a thousand words in HEXED and then tell the short story, “See? This is how you’re supposed to behave. Why can’t you be like a novel?”

Yeah. That’ll show it.

On HEXED and burly squirrels

October 27, 2009

My work in progress is called HEXED and I’m just about halfway through it. It features Coyote (not a coyote or the coyote but Coyote, the trickster), a fallen angel, some Bacchants, a nasty coven of German hexen, a tall priest and a short rabbi…amongst other colorful characters.

I have to say that so far I’m kind of cracking myself up during the funny bits. I hope other people will think it’s funny too. I’m also kind of grossing myself out during the gory bits, but I’m not sure if it’s okay to hope other people will be grossed out.

Anyway, HEXED is supposed to be finished in the spring, and HAMMERED, the third book in the American Druid series, will be finished in the summer, featuring nobody’s favorite squirrel, Ratatosk.

“But Kevin,” you may ask, “how can  a squirrel be nobody’s favorite?” According to Norse mythology, Ratatosk lives in the World Tree, Yggdrasil (which isn’t on my daughter’s spelling list this week) and he regularly chats with a great wyrm named Nidhogg. Any squirrel that a wyrm talks with instead of eats has to be a mighty burly squirrel, right? Ratatosk is the kind of squirrel that bench presses guys like Charles Atlas. Ratatosk is the kind of squirrel that would steal nuts from Chuck Norris. Ratatosk will never appear in a Disney movie because he frightens small children and large dogs. I really can’t wait to write about him…but I need to finish HEXED first.

Dr. Xerox and the Low Toners

October 23, 2009

I am the lead singer of a band that must now be considered defunct.

De-funked, perhaps.

We were Dr. Xerox and the Low Toners, but alas! We lost our drummer over a year ago and haven’t played together since. I kept hoping another drummer would come along, but we seem to be cursed, like Spinal Tap, when it comes to drummers.

And now our bass player is afflicted with agues in his right hand.

Though we were naught but a cover band ere the departure of our drummer, we had dreams of putting together original material; we even had a song written called “Happiness is Caffeinated.”

I don’t wanna be sedated
Chillin’ out is overrated
By now it’s been clearly demonstrated
That happiness is caffeinated.

Lyrics never look as good as they sound; I thought it sounded mighty fine.

And so I’m going to pour a little out for my homies, and also for my music that will never be birthed, slimy and wailing, into the world of public opinion. I do have novels to write, and that should keep me satisfactorily occupied on the creative front.

But to my Low Toners: Rock on, dudes. It was a pleasure shredding with you.

19th-Century Handmade Amish Swimwear

October 20, 2009

That’s a snippet of imagery from a song by the Dead Milkmen that I can’t seem to get out of my head. It haunts me with its absurdity, yet upbraids me with my own tunnel vision about Luddite society…

It never occurred to me, before this song, that the Amish might swim. They churn butter and make quilts and raise barns; they are not avid swimmers in the popular imagination. I could more easily imagine the Amish starting a death metal rock band than I could imagine them frolicking in the water.
I want to meet an Amish triathlete now, just to say I’ve shaken hands with such a creature. Does one exist now, or has one ever existed?
I think about these things on Tuesdays.

Papyrus is evil and must be destroyed

October 18, 2009

There was a time—for about a month after its release—when Papyrus might have been a good choice to use for whatever design thingie you had to complete. Then everyone started using it for all possible purposes—for menus and garage sale fliers and real estate developments and dental offices—and it was ruined by its very ubiquity.

Aside from its abuse by the general public, it is probably the most poorly kerned typeface I have ever seen. It should be flushed on that reason alone.

The reason for its popularity had much to do with the fact that it was included in Microsoft’s software, and it wasn’t Times, Helvetica, or Comic Sans. (And the fact that it’s not Comic Sans is about the only thing it has going for it.) Now, however, it simply needs to go away. Don’t believe me? Want to help? Check out the links below.

  • If you’d like to get in on the ground floor of a new flickr group,  you can add to the photos at PapyrusSucks.
  • There’s an extensive site of submitted photos broken down into categories called PapyrusWatch. The link will take you to logos, but there are additional links on the right side of the page that will show you examples of Papyrus abuse in packaging, calendars, etc. 
  • You can click here and look at the god-awful kerning between the capitals and lowercase letters, and notice how the studly hardhat man doesn’t seem to fit with the Egyptian-y font. On this company’s trailers in Arizona, the kerning between the T and the rest of the word is so bad that it reads like T roon instead of Troon.

Are you ready to take the pledge? Do it! I have, and now my soul feels as pure and white as bedclothes in a detergent commercial.

One Man’s Everyday War

October 16, 2009

There is a pestilent practice proliferating amongst the hoi polloi—and no, I speak not of unnecessary alliteration—that persists in spite of my railing: it is the careless use of “everyday” in retail signage (and essays) when “every day” would be proper.

OPEN EVERYDAY, or LOW PRICES EVERYDAY, is what I see most often in shop windows. These same people do not proclaim that they are OPEN EVERYNIGHT, nor would they ever say they are open EACHDAY, but apparently they are comfortable with a certain level of cognitive dissonance.

I shall not let it stand.

I am making stickers that simply say EVERY DAY, and I will place them over offending signs when I see them. I will not add “you idiot!” or any other pejoratives, however appropriate; I will simply correct that which is incorrect and go on about my business.

Perhaps it is a silly line to draw in the sand, but we must do what little we can to promulgate the notion that we are a literate society. Come, my friends! ‘Tis not too late to seek a proper sign! Sticker those windows and trucks and whatnot—correct them every day!

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