The Lonesome October

(Entry title cribbed from Richard Laymon’s novel Night in the Lonesome October)

I tend to get a little melancholy this time of year, and it usually lasts through October.  I’m sure a lot of people get this way, feeling the seasons change around them,.  I’m the opposite, though.

I get depressed because the seasons don’t change.

Growing up in Indiana, Autumn was the best season going.  The wind picked up and cooled.  The leaves turned marvelous shades of red and orange and gold, and the hills looked like they were on fire.  The fair came to town, and I would gorge myself on carnie food.  I’d watch a horror movie every weekend, always ending with my favorite, April Fools Day, on Halloween.  There was Cincinnati Chili and White Castles to be eaten, and long nights at Frisch’s Big Boy, chowing down on burgers and hot fudge cake.

That’s October.  That’s the way it’s supposed to be.  Sure, there was one major problem: trick or treating took place during daylight on the Saturday before Halloween.  How strange is that?  Better yet, how stupid?

Still, that’s October!

Things are different in Austin, however.  The air cools to around 85 degrees or so, and the leaves don’t change color until November, when they turn a color somewhere between caramel and ashes, then fall off the trees within the space of three days.  I live in a big neighborhood, and we usually only get about five trick or treaters every year.  While that does allow me to watch the Dawn of the Dead remake (which has replaced April Fools Day) uninterrupted, it’s still disappointing.

Okay, maybe the food’s an improvement.  It’s not like you can get good barbeque, Chinese, Vietnamese, Italian, or Tex-Mex in Aurora, Indiana.  Hell, it’s not like you can really get good food there at all (at least, you couldn’t the last time I was in town… 2003).  Still, I often crave Cincinnati Chili and White Castles and Big Boy.  You mention any of those to your average Texan, and you’ll get a shit-eating grin and a “That shit ain’t real food!”

Well, this shit ain’t a real Autumn.

Don’t get me wrong; I love Austin with all my heart.  It’s my home, and my only regreat is that I didn’t get here sooner.  Sometimes I miss October, though.

Sometimes that feels lonely.

More Rundberg?

I was recently asked to submit a short story to an upcoming anthology.  I jumped at the chance, since I’d never been invitied to be a part of antho before.  Nope, my only anthology appearances have been through the slush pile.

But what to write?

Well, I decided to write a new story set in the Millwood/Rundberg universe, the first proper expansion of the story.  It takes place almost two years after the events of A Trip to Rundberg, but the ties are pretty close and binding.  With any luck, you guys will get to see it sometime soon.

A link and some other stuff…

Comic Pants is the new comics review site launched by my friends Randy Lander, Dave Farabee, Nick Budd, and Dave Martindale.  Randy has spent the last five years at The Fourth Rail, and Farabee has been on Ain’t it Cool News for I don’t know how long.  All four have a great love of comics.  Hell, I’ve tried more great comics based on Randy’s recommendations than I care to count.  And really, just because Randy has a man crush on the original Captin Boomerang does not mean his opinions aren’t valid, just creepy.

Also, now that I have the laptop (which may end up being my primary computer), I’m thinking about running Linux on it.  I hear it’s like installing God as your OS or something.  I need more info, though.  Specifically, I need to know if I’ll be able to run the following programs on Linux: Word 97, Photoshop 5, Illustrator 7.  iTunes would be a big plus.  I know a lot of those programs are old as the hills, but A) I’m cheap, and B) I have the learning curve of a lobotomized four-year-old when it comes to new software.  So, if anybody can help me out with info or advice, that would be awesome.

New Toys and Other Thoughts

Typing this entry in on my new laptop.  My old laptop was a refurbished Compaq from 1970 or so.  It’s USB port was shot, it had no productivity, and I think Mike Oliveri would have just used it as a paperweight.  Yeah, so now I can do that whole wi-fi thing if I ever get near an area in town with free wi-fi.  I know they have it on the UT campus, but I vowed I’d never go down there again after I graduated.

Watched the Emmys last night.  Kind of a blah night, except for Conan, of course.  Glad Jeremy Piven won, pissed that Steve Colbert and Denis Leary lost, and goddamn I’d love to make out with Megan Mullally!

Preparing to Write

Between 1998 and 2001, during those first years where it was painfully obvious that I was going to be a writer, I wrote five screenplays: three horror and two comedies.  Only one of them was any good, really, and a movie that came out and tanked in the last year pretty much guarantees a lack of interest in that story.

Around 2000, I started writing more comics scripts.  If I couldn’t pull together the cash to shoot a film, I’d pull together the cash to publish a comic, by God!  Obviously, this tactic worked better than my screenwriting efforts.  When 2003 rolled along, and I started writing short stories, I rolled with the punches my writing evolution brought with it.  On January 1, 2005, when I began writing my first novel, A Family Matter, I knew I was doing what I was supposed to.  It took me two-and-a-half months to finish the first draft of A Family Matter, about the same amount of time it used to take me to write a screenplay.  It was a great time, and I can’t wait to get started on my second novel in the next month or so.

But how does somebody get ready for that?

Let’s not kid ourselves, here.  This is a big commitment, a large chunk of time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears we’re settling down for.  How do we do that?

Well, here’s how I do it . . . or how I used to do it.

First I write an outline, a bunch of numbered bullet points, one for each scene, running down no more than three pages.  I’d love to be able to write like Stephen King, starting with a blank page and just marking down character names as I create them.  I’d love to work like Brian Keene, using an outline no longer than a single paragraph.  I can’t do that, though.  I’m not there yet.  I need that framework. Now, I’ve never actually stuck to that framework; veering off is half the fun, but I have that sucker printed up and taped to my wall before word one gets typed.

Used to be, I’d take two weeks off at this point.  I wouldn’t write a single word.  By the time I was ready to sit down and write, my fingers were itching to pound the keys. It’s a great exercise, and I wish I could still do it, but I’m writing enough now that I can’t afford to take that time off before each project.  Besides, I’m in a relationship now, and it would be tough to explain to the girlfriend why, after two weeks of sitting on my ass, I decided to start writing on the day she wants help cleaning the house.

These days, I’m forced to create mood.  I usually do this through movies, music, and comics.  All are forms of fast entertainment, and I can use them to start thinking in the general theme or mood I want to write in.  Jail story?  I’ll read the Hard Time collection of Hellblazer issues and watch a few episodes of Oz.  Small town story?  I’ll listen to Guy Forsythe’s Hometown Blues.  Creating mood, y’dig?  It’s not always easy, but it can be very fun.

And on that note, I have some music to go listen to…

Horrorfind 2006, Sunday

Sunday was a whirlwind of activity and memories, and not just because I was about to pass out from exhaustion all day.

We began with Shrews’s reading, which was well-attended despite it’s squeezed in nature.  Shrews read from Black Ribbon of Josephine and King of the Bastards.  The Bastards reading was entertaining for Shrews almost busting a table with his fists (forcing me to scrap a planned table-climb from my reading).  I never get tired of listening to Shrews read. 

I spent some time wandering the dealer and celeb rooms, and both were more than a little depressing, with the crowd dwindling and the various vendors and celebs packing up.  I witnessed the bizarre spectacle of a woman in zombie make-up dancing around with a skull and singing Alanis Morrisette’s “You Oughta Know” at the top of her lungs.  Yup, long weekend.

From their I went to see Marcy Italiano and Tom Monteleone read.  Marcy was great, reading a very touching journal entry from when she was stuck in New Orleans post-Katrina.  There were few dry eyes in the room.

And then Monteleone stepped up to the plate.

I’d heard that Monteleone’s readings were can’t miss functions, but man!  Tom read his story “How Sweet it Was,” a story that blends a love for old Saturday morning television shows with the Cthulhu Mythos.  He kept that room spellbound for forty minutes, prowling the aisles, stopping to read only to this person or that.


A few hours later, it was time for my reading.

Jim Chambers had more people turn out than I did, so he was kind enough to let me read first.  I read the first chapter of Run Like Hell and “An Absurd Story About Demon Summoning,” and the reaction was soooo much better than I had hoped it would be.  People were immediately asking what they had to do to get ahold of Run Like Hell, and I happily told them who they had to get in touch with and beg to publish it.  I also sold out of the last of my graphic novels, after giving some copies to Jim and Nikki.  Jim read a story from the Hardboiled Cthulhu anthology, and it was incredibly entertaining.  Jim gave me a copy of his recent collection, and I can’t wait to devour that sucker.

At this point, it was time for dinner (the one I forgot to take Wenchie to) and then back to the bar to drink the end of the con down.

Our evening of drinking was a blast.  We listened to a reading of Snow White that had been rewritten as Snow White and the Seven Well-Endowed Dwarves.  Shrews did his King of the Bastards reading again.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t paying attention to the glasses on the table this time, and one exploded, peppering his hand with shards.  It took about ten second for the entire area to be coated with blood, and only two additional seconds for Shrews to proclaim his hand “fine,” all while blood dripped from it like water from a tap.

Chad Savage summed up the event best when he said “It only took Shrews a few second to go from entertainer to social catastrophe.”

And really, is there anything better to end on than that?

Ah, my first Horrorfind.  An incredible con, one I’ll go to year after year, although next time I’ll clear the table of all glassware first.