Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Will the Sun Ever Come Out Again? Release Contest!

In a few days, my new collection Will the Sun Ever Come Out Again? will be available. This one’s a big deal for me. Firstly, because it’s a collection of four novellas, which is something I’ve wanted ever since seeing the cover of Stephen King’s Different Seasons back in the 80’s. Secondly, it features an introduction by Laird Barron, which still just barely makes sense to me.  Laird’s a damn hero of mine, and it’s an amazing honor to have him write an intro for this collection.  Finally, this is the first time I’ve worked with J. David Osborne and Broken River Books, something I’m hoping to do again sooner rather than later.

Because of all of this, I’ve decided to celebrate the release of Will the Sun Ever Come Out Again? with a contest.  So listen up.  Hopefully, you’ll think this is as cool an idea as I do….

THE WILL THE SUN EVER COME OUT AGAIN? RELEASE AND REVIEW CONTEST

WHAT IS IT?

At its most basic, the contest is a chance for you to win free shit by doing nothing more than offering an honest review of my new book, Will the Sun Ever Come Out Again?

WAIT…HOW?

Okay, check this out.  Will the Sun Ever Come Out Again? will be available this week.  Once it’s available, pick up a copy and give it a read.  Leave an honest review (seriously, just be honest…I’m not fishing for five stars, here) at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Goodreads, and then mail a link to said review to willthesuncontest@gmail.com. Your review enters you in the contest.  On June 1st, I’ll draw three winners from the entries via super awesome, name-from-a-hat technology.

Prior to this, I will need to buy a hat.

DO I GET ONE ENTRY FOR EACH SITE?

Sure, why not?  If you review on each site, you get an entry for each site.  No cutting and pasting, though!

CAN I WIN MORE THAN ONCE?

No.  Don’t be greedy.

WHAT IF I REVIEW BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY?

Then I thank you for your service. But I’m afraid I’m only counting reviews from the three sites mentioned above.

WHAT IF MY REVIEW IS JUST A LINK TO MY BLOG OR WEBSITE, WHERE I’VE REVIEWED THE BOOK?

Get out of my spotlight. I mean, thanks for reviewing the book, but we’re trying to promote me, here, not you.

OKAY, FINE. SO, WHAT CAN I WIN?

Ah! Now, we’re talking (also, I realize this is just me typing and that we’re not really talking). As I said above, there will be three random winners.  Those winners will, well, win…

FIRST PRIZE

Book package containing the limited, hardcover edition of my novel Pale Horses, signed and personalized; a copy limited, hardcover anthology Is There a Demon In You?, featuring novels by myself, Brian Keene, Wrath James White, and Mary SanGiovanni; and a personalized paperback of my novel Down.

SECOND PRIZE

Book package containing a signed, personalized limited hardcover of my novel Lights Out and a signed, personalized paperback of my novel The Slab City Event.

THIRD PRIZE

Book Package containing a signed, personalized limited hardcover of my novella Like Thunder and a signed, personalized paperback of Pale Horses.

ANY SPECIAL ADDENDUMS?

Star ratings without reviews don’t count. Reviews that make it shockingly obvious you haven’t read the book don’t count.

All right. You have until June 1st.  Go!

So, there you have it.

The Great and Terrible and Awesome and Stupid Food Idea

Anybody who knows me knows I love cooking.  I’m not sure when it started, because, as a kid, I wouldn’t eat anything.  There was even a point when I thought pizza was disgusting.  Maybe it started with my first serious girlfriend.  I didn’t want to be the 22 year old guy who wouldn’t eat his vegetables, so I just tried everything that was put in front of me.  Slowly, I started loving it all.  From there, I guess, it worked the same way my love for reading turned into a love for writing.  Wanting to eat amazing food made me want to cook amazing food.

Flashback to two years ago, when I was seriously considering going back to school.  Austin has a pair of culinary schools, and I thought I’d take a crack at it.  I ran it by my friend Ek, who’s an amazing chef, and he said something that changed my life…

“Don’t go to school for it, man.  Just start working here.  I’ll teach you.”

So I did.  For six weeks, I staged (basically, kitchen intern) at Ek’s place SPIN Modern Thai.  I picked cilantro, chopped onions, cooked rice, and made tempura batter a few times a week.  It was an excellent beginning, a good starter course on how to get around in a kitchen.  Sadly, infrastructure problems killed the restaurant, but I learned a bit, and I fell in love with the work.

Six months later Ek was helping his sister reopen her restaurant Titaya’s Thai Cuisine.  I had the silly idea to submit a resume (job experience: six weeks staging at your brother’s last restaurant).  Honestly, I just wanted to stage again, to keep learning.  I even said as such when I interviewed with Titaya, who is one of the hardest working and most terrifying people I’ve ever met.  When she started talking about pay at the end of the interview, I was stunned.  I’d just sat there and told her I didn’t really know my ass from a hole in the ground, but she was still going to give me a shot.  When Ek told me a few weeks later I’d start out working the wok station in one of the city’s most popular Thai restaurants, I thanked him for the vote of confidence before going home and having a three-day panic attack.

Training happened the night before we opened, kitchen manager Bob (or Pop…he answers to both), stood by the woks with Michael (another SPIN alumn, and a great cook) and me and said, “Here’s how you make pad thai, here’s fried rice, here’s a regular stirfry…everything else is pretty much the same.”  Wait…what?  I didn’t have time to panic for another three days, so I went home, curled into a ball, and screamed for an hour or so.  The next day, I went to work.

Opening night hit Titaya’s like a goddamn tsunami.  Packed dining room, lines out the door, and me standing over a wok, sweating my ass off and hoping I did everything right.  Michael saved my ass more than once, as did Ek, and I can’t tell you how thankful I’ll always be for not telling Titaya to just shitcan me right away.  For weeks, they coached me along with their mix of support and shit-talking.  Fun story: a month ago, I asked Michael how good he thought I was.  I wanted an honest opinion.  A drunk Michael hemmed and hawed a bit, then said, “You’re starting. You work part time.  You’re as good as you should be.”  Very true, and, honestly, as close to a compliment as I deserve.

After four months, I left Titaya’s to follow Ek to his new place, the Thai/Southern Comfort place Kin & Comfort.  I’ve learned even more there, the benefits of a smaller kitchen and closer staff.  Since June, I’ve been there, usually popping in a night or two a week to make sauces.  It’s been great, and the food’s been amazing.  Do yourself a favor and stop by either place the next time you’re in Austin.

All of this new experience has led to a lot of thinking.  See, a while back I got an idea for a novella that would take place in a food trailer.  I still haven’t gotten around to writing it, because I decided the first thing I’d do is come up with the trailer’s menu.  I spent almost two weeks tinkering with that damn menu, a menu for a trailer that doesn’t exist.

Then, I did something I didn’t expect.  Instead of starting the novella, I started testing out the menu items.  I tried a few every weekend, playing and tinkering and refining.  I used some of them for a holiday meal for my ex and her family, used them again for a friend’s going away party.  They went over well.  Shockingly well.  This past weekend, I experimented a little more, and everything clicked into place.

Holy shit.  Do I want to start a food trailer?  At the age of 38, do I want to throw every ounce of my life into opening a goddamn food trailer?

No, I couldn’t.  It’s a terrible idea.  I’ve spent one year working in restaurants part time.  My chops aren’t where they need to be. I don’t have anything resembling start-up cash.  Diving in would mean me leaving my job with its livable wage and health benefits and paid vacation.  I’d be so busy, I don’t know what would happen to my writing.  And food trailers fail on a daily basis.  It’s a terrible, stupid idea.

But it’s also an awesome and inspiring idea, the first thing that’s really excited me in years. It’s scary (hell, terrifying), but it’s something I think about more and more every day.

And I can’t seem to stop thinking.  Weird….