Horror World and the Weekend

I’ll be the featured writer at Horror World in April.  My short story “Senorita” will be live there on the first.  “Senorita” is a very recent story of mine, and it’s one of my favorites.  I like to think it’s indicative of which direction my writing is heading.  There’s some noir in there stirred up with a whole lot of horror.

Sometime within the next 48 hours or so, Thunderstorm Books will announce the first winner of the Personal Injury contest.  I know who it is, of course, but I’m not telling you.  I will say I plan to work on the story while I’m in San Diego this weekend.

There will be five more drawings for the Personal Injury contest.  If you want your chance to star in a short story, head over to Thunderstorm or Horror Mall and grab a copy of Broken Skin today!

Have a good weekend, folks!

A Stew of Thoughts

Lots of stuff going on in my head today.  Thoughts bubble and brew and churn, and I just get to sit here hoping to snatch one or two of them and make them stand still.

Broken Skin is selling very well so far.  After three days, the book has already surpassed my sales expectations.  This makes me ecstatic.  You still have until May 1st to reserve a copy at Thunderstorm Books or Horror Mall, but why would you want to wait?

This weekend I get to fly out to San Diego for my best friend’s wedding.  I’ve known the guy since the fifth grade, and I’m ridiculously happy for him.  Weddings are funny.  They make me want to get married, but a few days later I remember that I’m pretty anti-marriage and Shawna is ridiculously anti-marriage.

Trying with every fiber of my being to be patient.  I write compuslively, but I need to spend more time honing stories to their finest edge.  Emotion is great, but it’s useless without craft.

Looks like I sold another novelette.  Too soon to say anything concrete, but it looks like it may be available about the same time Broken Skin gets mailed out.

Very nostalgic lately.  Doesn’t matter if it’s drinking Hot Damn at Bill Vorbroker’s campsite or walking Short Vine in Cincinnati while waiting for the Hum show at Sudsy Malone’s.  I want a number three combo from Gold Star Chili and to sit on the banks of the Ohio River with the sun on my face.  I want to walk through the woods and sing songs at the top of my lungs.

I need to sit down and get some writing done.  Ideas are eating up my brain like a fire eats dry leaves.

Book Announcement: BROKEN SKIN and the “Personal Injury” contest

Well, Friday’s here, and that means it’s time to announce the new book.  Ladies and gentlemen, my first short story collection…

http://www.horror-mall.com/BROKEN-SKIN-by-Nate-Southard-Limited-Edition-p-19131.html

http://www.thunderstormbooks.com/brokenskin.php

15 short stories, nine of them new. It includes the novella DEEPER WATERS, which takes place in the same universe as my New Dawn story “Scenic Pastures” and introduces white trash magician Charlie Crawdad.  It’s my first affordable hardcover, and it’s available on a pre-order only basis between now and May 1st.

Intro by Brian Keene.  Cover by Zach McCain.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Working the Bag (new)
Digging
A Little Bit of Everything (new)   
Why I Do It (new)   
Insomnia Is My Only Friend   
Guilt (new)         
Captain Jinkies         
In the Clearing Beneath the Firs (new)
Scenic Pastures
His Start (new)
Silent Corners
Of Cabbages and Kings         
Hotbox Blues (new)            
Yellow Triangles (new)         
Deeper Waters (new)   

The BROKEN SKIN “Personal Injury” Contest

Once per week during the pre-ordering period, Thunderstorm Books will draw a name from those who have pre-ordered copies.  That winner gets a short story written by me and starring them bound with their copy of BROKEN SKIN.  Ordering early gets you more chances to win!  Order now, so I can kill you in disgusting ways!

Hookers, Pizza, and Idiots Like Me

No new hint today.  You’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that.  Instead, today I’ll give you another in a long series of essays I like to call, “That Is Fucking Stupid.”

Today’s Subject: Take and Bake Pizza.

For months now, friends have been telling me I have to try this place called Papa Murphy’s.  I’ve heard everything from “Best Pizza Chain Six Years Running!” to “So tasty you’ll think God tongue kissed you!”  Now, I remained skeptical.  After all, this is a pizza chain that sells you raw pizzas and makes you go cook them your own damn self.  No matter how you slice it (heh), that sounds like a dumb idea to me.

However, don’t let it be said I won’t try something once (unless that something is stabbing myself in the eye).  So I decided to give Papa Murphy’s a shot.

I walk in the empty (remember that part, because it’s important) take out place around five-thirty Saturday.  I spend a few minutes acquaiting myself with the menu, and then I place an order for a large five meat pizza.

The helpful and chipper girl at the register rings me up. “That’ll be $12.99.”

Blink.  Blink, blink.

Look, I know I’m taking this pizza home and cooking it myself.  At this point, I’m fine with the fact.  I still have to pay $13 for it, though?  Isn’t that like paying a hooker a few hundred bucks so you can take matters into your own hands?  A large meat pizza at just about anyplace else is only a few bucks more.  And they’ll cook the damn thing for ya.  And a meat pizza from your grocer’s freezer is a whole lot less.

But I promised I would try this stuff, so I smile and pay.

And wait.

After a moment, chipper register girl tells me I can have a seat while my pizza is assembled.  What?  Seriously?  You’re supposed to be getting ready for a dinner rush, I can see four other employees milling around in the back, and you don’t have one of your specialty pizzas ready to go?  I mean, I can see a cooler behind you, and I can see pizzas in it.

So I sit. And I wait. For ten minutes. I mentioned I was their only customer, right?

This is where I start having problems.  See, I worked in a pizza place for several years, so I know it takes a large pizza eight minutes to travel through a pizza oven.  Add on the two minutes it should take to assemble a pizza for the only customer you have, and you’ve reached your ten minutes.  Ten minutes for slapping sauce, cheese, and meat onto dough is not acceptable.  A stoned chimp could build a pizza faster.

So after ten minutes I’ll never get back, chipper register girl wraps my pizza and goes over the baking instructions with me.  I smile and nod until she gets to the bake time.  She says, “Seventeen to twenty minutes,” and I bite back the urge to scream in her smiling face.  By now I’m positive I’ve let myself be hoodwinked.  Somewhere, my friends are laughing their asses off at how they tricked me into overpaying for a pizza I could have made myself.

So I went home and cooked the pizza, and it tasted okay.  Not amazing, not horrible.  Okay.  For context, imagine I payed a so-so looking hooker $400 and then she watched TV while I was forced to pleasure myself.  I’m sure there are better ways to spend the money.

So, no.  I won’t be returning to Papa Murphy’s anytime soon.  I think next time I’ll just grab some ingredients and make my own pizza.

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

UPDATE: My next book will be announced and available for pre-order on March 20th.  There’s an awesome contest that goes hand-in-hand with the book.  It’s a lot of fun, and I promise it will be worth the (short) wait.

Last weekend I attended and helped out with STAPLE!  This indie comics convention is one of the highlights of my year, a chance to connect with folks I haven’t seen in awhile.  I was a little more quiet this year and even snuck out early.  With almost a year of sobriety in my pocket, I still don’t function in social settings.  Still, I had a good time.  I received theme sketches from Rob Osborne, Ryan Yount, Josh Boulet, and Jason Chalker.  If I had a scanner, I’d share them all with you.  Hmm, I should maybe get a scanner.

Monday hit, and the with it came the 30th allergy season of 2009.  I have no idea what pollen is floating through the air right now, but it has left me with a fever, the sweats, sore muscles, and a lovely assortment of things dropping out of my sinuses.  I’m pretty sure I coughed up a dead mouse this morning.  Man, I love Austin, but this allergy bullshit has got to go.

The next week and a half will be spent preparing for the book announcement. I wish I could tell you more about it, but I’m under an oath of secrecy.  I suppose I could give you a hint, though.

So there you go.  I’ll see you all soon.

Writing like a shark

I didn’t write much last night.  I’d just finished one short project and was waiting for notes from pre-readers.  I worked a little on some cover copy for an upcoming book and rules for a contest that goes with said book (more on those soon).  All in all, it took a little less than an hour and didn’t involve a single word of fiction.

It was horrible!

As the night wore on and shifted into morning, I felt antsy.  I had trouble sleeping.  This morning, every last one of my nerves is jangling.  Because I haven’t written.  Because I feel like I’m wasting precious time.

Want to know why blog updates haven’t been as frequent?  I’ve been writing.  If I’m not at work, sleeping, or eating, I’m usually writing.  It’s a compulsive need.  I couldn’t stop if I tried.

Sharks need to keep swimming or they die.  Writers need to keep writing.  Trust me, it’s not a situation we demanded or anything like that.  We’re not really useful for anything else.  We can write, and that’s about it.  It’s not pretty, but there it is.

I’ve been think a lot lately about how to make this writing gig a career.  The odds are ridiculously long with the economy the way it is, but I remain optimistic.  And I’m going to keep writing no matter what.

Why?

Because I can’t stop.

I’m always running into idiots

I don’t know why I keep finding idiots at the local Barnes and Noble.  It feels like common sense that bookstore employees should be, at the very least, marginally intelligent.  The only way I can make sense out of it is to tell myself they’re all morons who wanted a “deep” job and couldn’t get hired by Starbucks.

Case in point…

Last Friday I went shopping for Tom Piccirilli’s latest crime novel, The Coldest Mile.  Now, I know this books is out and available.  I have friends who are currently reading it.  A trip to Borders turned up nothing, however. 

With time running out before I needed to meet friends, I ran to the nearest Barnes and Noble and walked right up to the Customer Service desk.

“Hi.  I’m looking for a book called The Coldest Mile.”

clicky-clicky-clicky.

“Tom Piccirilli?”

“Yes.”

“It’s not out yet.”

“Really? It was supposed to be out Tuesday.”

“It was.  It’s not out yet.”

“I know people who have copies.  Can you check the other stores in town.”

“They don’t have any copies.  The book hasn’t been released yet.”

By this point, I’m thinking there are three possibilities for this employee’s insistence that this book hasn’t been published yet: 1) they think I’m lying 2) they’re a malfunctioning customer service android 3) they’re an idiot.  Strong odds point to possibility number three.

I decide to take the high road.

“So, do you have any copies ordered?”

“No.  It’s not out yet.  Is there anything else I can help you with?”

And that was my Friday.  Good times.