Undead Anonymous

The Writing Life: Fated

September 11th, 2010

The idea for Fated started out as something completely different than what it eventually became. Actually, it was almost an accident. An idea born out of another idea that ended up being somewhat less brilliant than when I initially started writing it down.

Late in the evening of September 10, 2003 (it was actually 10PM – I have the entry in one of my journals), I sat down to write out an idea for a short story that had popped into my head. The entry starts out:

“Story about a man in his late thirties who has spent his life avoiding risks until some supernatural event intervenes.”

This brilliant idea goes on for almost a full page until I realized, and actually wrote down, that the idea sounded much better in my head before I watched SportsCenter on ESPN to see if the Giants beat the Padres. (They did, 7-1.)

At that point, I had no idea where I was going with the original idea. But not wanting to give up on whatever it was that prompted me to sit down and write in the first place, I kept journaling, coming up with an occasional “maybe this” and a few “maybe thats” until I stumbled upon the idea that my main character lived in Manhattan and had first hand knowledge about certain events because he’s Fate. I even had him aspiring to be a writer so that he could tell the truth about the fact that no one, not even fictional characters, control their own fate.

I rambled on a bit with that, trying to figure out if he was human, if he had a childhood, if he socialized with humans, if he went out on dates – throwing out ideas that at the time didn’t really go anywhere but that’s what writers do. Throw things at a target and hope something sticks. Then I turned on the TV and watched the rest of SportsCenter.

The following July, I was sitting on a bench at an outdoor shopping mall, watching people walk past and wondering what their futures held for them. I hadn’t pursued the idea about Fate from the previous September, but as I started writing, I realized the ideas were connected. Five minutes later, I’d scribbled out a narrative on a page of a yellow-lined notepad about a character who can see what everyone will be like in fifteen or twenty years. This would eventually become the opening chapter to Fated.

I didn’t actually start working on the novel until more than two years later, in December 2006, after I’d moved to San Francisco. I wrote the first half of Fated (40,000 words) in three months, struggled for another nine months to squeeze out the next 20,000 words, then pumped out the last quarter of it (another 20,000 words) in January 2008. I finished the first draft of Fated on February 2, 2008, the day before the New York Giants upset the previously undefeated New England Patriots 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII.

I guess they were fated to lose.

To Plot or Not To Plot

August 26th, 2010

My notion of a story is an interesting situation in which a human being has to cope with a problem, does so, and thereby changes his personality, character, or evaluations in some measure because the coping has forced him to revise his thinking. How he copes with it, I can’t plot in advance because that depends on his character, and I don’t know what his character is until I get acquainted with him.
— Robert Heinlein

I’m frequently asked about my writing process. When I write. Where I write. How I write.

When? Mornings and evening, mostly. I like to use my afternoons for running errands and taking naps. Yes, I take naps. Discovered them in college following late nights of, ahem, studying. I love naps.

Where? In my apartment, either at my desk or on my couch with my laptop. I’m one of those rare writers who doesn’t drink coffee. Plus I’m easily distracted. So going to a cafe to write is mostly pointless. And at a cafe, I don’t have my cats curled up on either side of me.

How? I’m like Indiana Jones in The Raiders of the Lost Ark. I make it up as I go.

Generally, I get an idea of how I want to start a story. Or where I want it to start and then I start writing. When I’m finished, it may not begin in the same place or in the same way, but that’s what gets me moving forward.

For instance, Breathers originally opened up with what is now Chapter 2. But after doing some rewrites, I ended up switching things around and beginning the book with a scene that takes place in Chapter 37 and having the first 200 pages be a flashback to explain how Andy got there.

But how he ended up in the kitchen, standing in front of the refrigerator and finding his parents’ body parts in between the mayonnaise and the leftover Thanksgiving turkey isn’t something I planned to have happen. It’s just the way the story developed.

Generally, I don’t know how my story is going to end, or at the very least, how I’m going to get there. I didn’t have definite endings for Breathers and Fated when I started, but rather a vague idea of what might happen. The eventual endings developed from the actions of the characters.

Much like Heinlein said in his quote above, plotting out what my characters are going to do before they have a chance to get there doesn’t work for me. I don’t know how my characters will react to certain situations until I put them in those situations, so I can’t tell them what they’re going to do ahead of time until I get to know them. Otherwise, I’m just forcing my will upon them. Instead, I let my characters’ actions dictate where the plot is going to go.

Of course, not knowing where you’re going can sometimes lead to moments of complete and absolute terror when you’re two-thirds of the way through the manuscript and you’re not sure what’s going to happen in the third act. But it’s what’s worked for me for most of the last two decades, so I’m sticking with it.

Slushpile of the Mind, Part II

August 12th, 2010

If I’m trying to sleep, the ideas won’t stop. If I’m trying to write, there appears a barren nothingness. —Carrie Latet

Where do writers get their ideas? In the first installment of Slushpile of the Mind, I told you where I get mine. Below you’ll find five authors who share where they find theirs. Check ‘em out!

Eric S. Brown

Eric S Brown is the author of Bigfoot War, Season of Rot, and World War of the Dead. His novel, War of the Worlds Plus Blood Guts and Zombies, will be released from Simon and Schuster in December and is available for pre-order now at www.amazon.com and numerous other places. His short fiction has been published hundreds of times and he was a featured expert on the zombie genre in Jonathan Maberry’s Zombie CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead.

I get my ideas from growing up reading comics, loving zombies and horror, and having that whole background to draw on. With all that genre knowledge bouncing around in my skull, it’s easy to see something happen in everyday life or on the news and go “whoa, what if this happened but with this?”

Rhiannon Frater

Rhiannon Frater is the author of the award-winning As the World Dies Zombie Trilogy, originally self-published but later picked up by Tor for release in 2011. She is also the author of the modern day vampire novel, Pretty When She Dies and the gothic horror novel, The Tale of the Vampire Bride. Her latest release is The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters from the Little Library of the Living Dead Press.  Visit Rhiannon at rhiannonfrater.blogspot.com.

My nightmares are my primary inspiration. As strange as it sounds, every time I have one, I wake up thinking “Can I use it?” My vampire novels are both based on vivid dreams. Also, sometimes I’ll just have a vivid image come to mind that gives birth to a story. I “saw” Jenni standing on her doorstep in her pink nightgown staring at the tiny fingers of her zombified toddler pressed under the front door and that was how As The World Dies was born. Once in awhile, I’ll hear a conversation start up in my head (yes, I have voices in my head), and I’ll turn my attention inward to discover characters discussing their story. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, being a writer is just a way of being legally insane.

Rain Graves

Rain Graves has been published in the horror fiction genre since 1997 professionally, but she’s best known for her poetry books, The Gossamer Eye (2002 Bram Stoker Winner) with David N. Wilson and Mark McLaughlin, and BARFODDER: Poetry Written in Dark Bars and Questionable Cafes (2009 Bram Stoker Finalist), which Publisher’s Weekly hailed as ‘Bukowski meets Lovecraft…’

I get my ideas from real life horror; crime. Sometimes it’s as subtle as watching a cat toy with a bug and toss it around before killing it. Other times, it’s terrible news stories like the Fritz Lieber trial, or good old fashioned unsolved mysteries, like the Black Dahlia or Jack The Ripper.

Mark Henry

Mark Henry writes just about everything, from horror comedy to young adult fantasy to erotica. His novels include the Amanda Feral trilogy, Happy Hour of the Damned, Road Trip of the Living Dead, and Battle of the Network Zombies. His first short fiction as Daniel Marks will be published this month in the young adult anthology, Kiss Me Deadly: 13 Tales of Paranormal Love.  Check out Mark’s snark stylings at www.markhenry.us.

Where do I get my ideas? That’s a hard question and one I don’t get very often, which puts me in the minority. I think people are worried about how I might answer, like I roll up out of the gutter to do my author events and those damp spots on my clothes might be urine or vomit or…worse. Understandable considering my horror-comedy series is pretty vulgar and very dark. But, oddly enough, I’m not out plumbing the depths of bondage dungeons and funeral home foam parties to put together a story. The answer is simply, the ideas come from EVERYWHERE.

Regardless of whether I’m writing about zombies or vampires or sex-changing demons, I try to infuse the stories with all the little horrors of everyday life. It’s not unheard of for me to sit around in cafes and write down eavesdropped conversations, or draw out people’s horror stories about pus extraction or relationship decay. That shit is perfectly decent fiction fodder, in my book. Food Courts, newspapers, gossip blogs. Books. Reading is a big one. Though I’m rarely inspired by my own genre. I am inspired by “perfect sentences.” Those stretches of words that are themselves self-contained stories. Vonnegut owns my favorite. But I’ll keep it to myself.

Jeremy C. Shipp

Jeremy C. Shipp is the Bram Stoker nominated author of Cursed, Vacation, and Sheep and Wolves. His shorter tales have appeared or are forthcoming in over 50 publications, the likes of Cemetery Dance, ChiZine, Apex Magazine, Pseudopod, and Withersin.  His new book, Fungus of the Heart, comes out in October.  Feel free to visit his online home at www.jeremycshipp.com and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JeremyCShipp.

My creative fire is predominantly enkindled by those beings who elicit a potent response in my organs, from the man who bolts toward my car pointing a handgun at my head, to the kitten who dies in my arms, to the zombified Smurfs in my dreams, to the wife who calls me just to say she loves me. I also find myself reacting creatively to the goings-on on this planet. I make an effort to keep my finger on the weakening pulse of civilization, and I am sometimes heartbroken, sometimes touched by what I learn. All of these people, all of these experiences funnel into me, reflect off the funhouse mirror in my soul, and transform into ideas. The ideas, then, shoot down my right arm, and squirt out of my fingers, octopus-style, and I write and I write until my brain implodes and I have to sleep for a while.

Slushpile of the Mind

August 11th, 2010

One of the questions I and other writers are often asked is:

Where do you get your ideas?

Ideas are funny things. Sometimes they’re as prevalent as Starbucks and other times, they’re as hard to find as good customer service. You can sit in front of your computer for hours and try to come up with a good one without any luck and then have one pop into your head without any warning while you’re standing in line at Safeway.

Or you can sit down to write an idea for a short story in your journal, this great idea that just came to you out of nowhere, one of the best ideas you’ve ever had, only to discover that the original idea you had isn’t nearly as brilliant as what you’d first thought. But while writing down this idea that sounded better in your head than it does on paper, you stumble upon another idea with far more promise, something that doesn’t take shape for another year. Which is how Fated was conceived.

The original idea involved some generic supernatural event that happened to some generic normal guy. I have no idea where I was going with it. But not wanting to give up on whatever it was that prompted me to write down the idea in the first place, I kept journaling, throwing out a lot of “maybe this” and “maybe thats” until I stumbled upon the idea that this character lives in Manhattan and has first hand knowledge about certain events because he’s Fate.

At the time, I didn’t pursue the idea any further than that. But the following July, while sitting on a bench at a shopping mall, watching people walk past and wondering what their futures held for them, I wrote what would eventually become the opening chapter to Fated.

In addition to shopping malls, I’ve had ideas come to me from random conversations, song lyrics, dreams, standing in line at an ice cream parlor, sitting in front of an annoying little girl on an airplane, TV commercials, a Jack the Ripper tour, a newspaper article, an hourglass in an antique store, a trip to a place called Lower Slaughter in England, Greek mythology, a painting by René Magritte, a moment standing by the bank of the Stanislaus River, staring at a poster from the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers, sitting on a bench in New York’s Central Park, and getting stuck sixty miles south of the Mexican border with a broken water pump.

All of the moments and ideas above led to short stories or novels that I’ve written.  As for the idea behind Breathers, that came from my 2001 short story “A Zombie’s Lament,” which you can find in the John Skipp anthology Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry Dead. While I can’t point to any single moment of inspiration for “A Zombie’s Lament,” I just wanted to write a story about zombies that I hadn’t read before. And putting myself inside the head of the zombie seemed like the way to do it.

In the next couple of days, I’ll post answers from a handful of other authors as to how and where they get their ideas, so check back for Slushpile of the Mind, Part II.

I Forgot To Eat Again

July 19th, 2010

The last month or so I’ve been doing rewrites on my third book, the follow-up to Fated (coming to a bookstore near you November 2).  These are rewrites based on feedback from my writers group (writers’ group?  writer’s group?  where the hell does the apostrophe go?) that I want to finish before sending the manuscript off to my agent.  And although my first self-imposed deadline has passed, my next deadline is this Wednesday.

Problem is, some of the rewrites have been like chasing a prescription drug cure – one problem solved leads to a side-effect that needs another fix that leads to another problem that calls for another fix. And so on.  And so on.  And so on.

(Quick non sequitur to a Faberge commercial.  And yes, that’s Heather Locklear.)

Back to our regularly scheduled programming…

So this past week, I finally figured out how to fix an issue that had been troubling me, which opened a valve and let this flood of ideas and writing flood on to the page.  (I know, it doesn’t work with the prescription drug analogy, but let it go.  We’ve moved on.)  And when I get in a writing rhythm, or as some people call it, The Zone, I tend to forget about everything else.

I forget to clean my apartment, go grocery shopping, exercise, do the dishes, run errands, answer e-mail, return phone calls, get to bed at a reasonable time, pick up dry cleaning, get my mail, and eat.  I missed at least one meal a day for five days straight.  Which makes it easier when I forget to do my dishes.  And kind of negates the need to go grocery shopping.  So at least it knocks a couple of items off my list of Things to Do.

I also forget to blog.

But with any luck, I’ll actually get the rewrites done by Wednesday and fire off the book to my agent and hope she likes it.  Then maybe I can see about going to Trader Joe’s.

FAQs: To Write Or Not To Write

July 9th, 2010

“All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery.”
— George Orwell

I came across this quote, and some of the concepts that follow, in Jeff VanderMeer’s Booklife. Covering topics from managing goals to networking to maintaining peace of mind, Booklife is a fabulous resource on how to survive as a writer in today’s world. Even if you haven’t had a book published, it’s got a lot of great content for all stages of the writing career and just the challenge of being a writer.

One of the sections from Booklife that inspired me to write this is a short segment on “Reasons to Write.”  Why writers do what they do. What drives them. Why they spend hours alone in front of a computer making up imaginary stories about imaginary people.

There are a number of answers that you often hear, all of which, as a writer, I understand:

Because I can’t not write.
Because I love bringing something to life.
Because I want to share my enthusiasm with others.

I write for all of the reasons above. But mostly I write because it keeps me sane. When I’m not writing, I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing and so I’m not as content. I don’t sleep as well. I get more easily frustrated. I get grumpy.  And nobody likes a grumpy writer.

But I also write because I want to recapture the pleasure of reading. I want to experience what I feel when I read a good book.  I want to to get caught up in the story so that the world outside of the pages ceases to exist.  And I want to share that experience with others.

In addition to his quote above, Orwell said he wrote for several reasons:

1. Sheer egotism
2. Aesthetic enthusiasm
3. Historical impulse
4. Political purpose

Orwell freely admits that egotism is a factor in his writing and he believes it’s inherent in all writers.  I tend to agree. I don’t believe you can be a writer, particularly one who hopes to be published, without a certain amount of conceit.  After all, when you’ve written something and you have the opinion that others would enjoy reading it, how can ego not play a part?

Of course, that’s just my perspective.  So I thought I’d get a few others.

Below are quotes from a handful (including the thumb) of other writers who were kind enough to share their thoughts on why they write.  (To learn more about the authors or their books, just click on the photos or their names):

Amelia Beamer (Author of The Loving Dead):
Every sentence is an attempt to tell a story. Every story is a way to make sense of the randomness in the world.

Jonathan Maberry (NY Times bestselling author of The Dragon Factory and Patient Zero):
I write because there have always been stories in my head. When I was little, before I could spell, I’d tell stories with toys. I think in stories. Characters speak in my head all the time. For non-writers this is a serious concern and medical attention might be required; for writers it’s all those stories aching to be told.

James Melzer (Author of Escape: A Zombie Chronicles Novel):
I write because when I was a kid, Stephen King used to come into my bedroom every night to tell me tales about vampires and haunted hotels, scaring the crap out of me. I want to be able to do that through my own stories, and make a living out of it at the same time. So far, so good. It really is the best job in the world.

Jeff VanderMeer (Author of Booklife and Finch):
I don’t actually know why I write now, except that if I don’t write for awhile I get restless and antsy and feel like I am at loose ends. In a sense, I wind up not knowing who I am after awhile. When I started writing it was in part an escape from a family situation that was unhappy, but I think even then there was something else. Writing makes me happy. I was “borned” into it, maybe.

F. Paul Wilson (NY Times bestselling author of the Repairman Jack series):
I’ve been asked this many times and I can’t think of a better answer than: What makes you think I have a choice? For me it’s not art, it’s not examining or defining the human condition, it’s not self expression, it’s love. I love fanciful stories–love conceiving them, love constructing them, and can’t imagine life without telling them.

How to Write Like a Writer

June 6th, 2010

I’ve been asked about my writing habits a lot, as though I need to find a way to break them.

When do I write?
How often do I write?
Where do I write?

As to the WHERE question, it’s in my apartment, usually at my desk, sometimes on the couch on my laptop. But I can’t write in cafes. Too distracting. Even in my apartment, sometimes I put on my iPod to block out the street noise by listening to instrumental music like “Green Onions” and “Comanche” and “Single Serving Jack”.

Plus I don’t drink coffee.

As for the WHEN and HOW OFTEN, that’s a little more involved.

From October 1989 to midway through 2002, I more or less wrote every morning for two hours before going into work, whether that was as a waiter or a driver or an assistant producer or as an office manager.  Two hours.  Every day.  And if possible, another two hours at night.  Sometimes I gave myself the weekend off.  During this time, I wrote three novels and more then fifty short stories.

In 2002, while editing my second and third novels (both supernatural horror novels that had garnered interested from two small press publications), I began to hate what I was writing.  Writing became a chore.  A grinding job.  A tedious two hours of sitting at my desk and staring at the computer and realizing that the words coming out of my fingertips were absolute garbage.

This went on for several months, before I decided to stop writing.  To stop sticking to my two-to-four hours of self-disciplined masochism a day.  To stop being a writer.

I still wrote.  Sporadically.  In fits.  Whenever the mood struck.  But I didn’t go back to the books.  I told the publishers that I wouldn’t be able to send them the manuscripts.  I felt that I’d let a golden opportunity slip away.

A year later, in October 2003, I started fiddling with an idea based on my short story, “A Zombie’s Lament.”  I wrote a few chapters.  Then I didn’t write.  Then I’d write some more.  Not sticking to a schedule.  Not forcing myself to sit down for two hours before work or after dinner.  Just whenever the mood struck.  This went on for the next two-and-a-half years.  Writing for weeks at a time, then doing nothing for a month or so.  Binge writing.  Like binge drinking.  Only without the bar tabs or the hangovers.  Until I finished my book in May 2006.

For the next six months after I’d finished Breathers I didn’t write at all.  Nothing.  Not a short story.  Not a paragraph.  Not a word.  Then in December 2006, I started writing another novel about fate and destiny.  For three months I wrote, at various times of the day, for various lengths of time.  I didn’t stick to a schedule but just wrote whenever I had something to write.  At the end of the three months, I’d written 45,000 words.  Or approximately 180 pages.

Over the next ten months, I wrote sporadically, revising the book as I went, trying to figure out where it was going, giving up on it, coming back to it, forgetting about it, then finally realizing I needed to get it finished.  By the end of December 2007, I’d written another 15,000 words.

On February 2, 2008, a week after I received an offer from Broadway Books to publish Breathers and the day before the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII, I finished the first draft of Fated. 80,000 words in fourteen months.

45,000 words the first three months.
15,000 words the next ten months.
20,000 words the last month.

How’s that for consistency?

Then, for the next eighteen months, I didn’t work on another major project.  I edited Fated.  I wrote a couple of short stories.  I blogged.  But I didn’t have a schedule.  I didn’t commit myself to a set time or a set amount of words per day.  I just wrote whenever it suited me.  And I spent a lot of time promoting Breathers, which came out in March 2009.

In August 2009, I started working on another novel.  Correction.  Three novels.  See, I had three ideas and I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to write, so I started writing all three of them at the same time.  For a few days I’d work on one, then get an idea that worked better in the other, then get tired of that one and work on the third. It was like dating three women at the same time and trying to keep all of them happy.

I went back and forth like that for six months until I finally decided I really needed to commit to just one book.  So I picked one and forged ahead, plucking a few paragraphs and pages out of the ether until, at the end of March 2010, I had about 30,000 words of my new novel, or about 120 pages.  And it had taken me more than six months to get to that point.

Wanting to finish my novel before the Crypticon Convention in the middle of June, I created a writing schedule.  Actually, more like a word count goal.  1000 words a day minimum.  Six days a week.  However long it took me to get those 1000 words.  So for the next two months, I stuck to that schedule, writing 27,000 words in April and another 28,000 words in May and the first week of June, finishing the first draft of Lucky Bastard on June 5.

So as you can see, over the past twenty years or so, my writing habits have been kind of all over the map. I’ve done what has worked for me at different times in my life with various work ethics, but what matters is that I’ve been happy with the results.

H is for High, Hitchhiking, and Heartshaped

June 2nd, 2010

Actually, that would be an interesting way to make your way across the country. Though I’m not really sure about the heartshaped part. Maybe that just means you’re full of love for mankind. Or else you’ve got some serious physical abnormalities.

Some titles that didn’t make the final cut for my favorite book titles that begin with the letter H include The Hobbit, Hocus Pocus, Hunchback of Notre Dame, and The Hunt for Red October.  Come to think of it, I never read that last one.  I just saw the movie.  Which, admittedly, I do a lot.

On to the winners…

Best of the best:
High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
Although I saw the movie first and loved it (I’m a big John Cusack fan), I thought the novel about a neurotic record collector and his failed relationships was an excellent read. Well-written, entertaining, funny, and populated with characters that I enjoyed getting to know. As far as first novels go, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Second best:
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
Another instance where I saw the film before I read the book. While I haven’t read the other novels that comprise the rest of the story, I had a lot of fun with this, enjoying the premise and the social commentary and the humor, as well as the excerpts from the Hitchhiker’s Guide. And I have to say as far as the movie goes, Alan Rickman was the perfect voice for Marvin, the cynical and depressed robot.

Best of the rest:
Heart Shaped Box, Joe Hill
I don’t know if Joe Hill admits to the influence his famous father had on his writing, but for me, Heart Shaped Box is a chip off the Richard Bachman block. Bachman, of course, being the pseudonym of Stephen King, who tended to write a little darker and edgier and with a more feverish pace than King. This is probably the best horror novel I’ve read in the past five years.

Series of books I never got into:

Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling
I read the first few chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and then stopped. I found the concept of muggles and wizards more interesting than when Harry went to Hogwarts and the story ended up being all about the wizards. But then, I don’t have as much money as J.K. Rowling.

The Glamour of Book Touring

February 26th, 2010

You wake up at 6:00am PST Wednesday morning in San Francisco.  You spend all day running last minute errands and packing for a 10 day trip and trying to get all those bright yellow Post-It notes with reminders off your desk.  You catch the Super Shuttle, which arrives 10 minutes early and deposits you at SFO two-and-a-half hours early, but at least you saved $30 by not taking a cab.

You board your 11:40pm flight and get as comfortable as you can, hoping to catch some sleep during the five hour flight.  But you’re not sitting in first class, so you know that’s not going to happen.  Especially since someone a few rows back thought it was a good idea to bring their two three year old boys on the overnight flight and one of them screams and throws a tantrum every twenty minutes.

You land at Ft. Lauderdale at 8:00am EST, awake now for twenty-three hours, and rent your car from Budget and get on the Florida Turnpike to drive up to Orlando for your book signing later that evening.  As you drive on the Turnpike, you blow through the SunPass lanes, the prepaid/pre-registered lanes that avoid the hassle of having to stop and pay the tolls or dish out exact change.  You do this because the guy at Budget who checked you in told you that was how it worked and the credit card you rented the car with would get charged for the tolls.  As you blow through toll after toll, you read the sign that says $100 per toll violations and wonder if you’re racking up a lot more than toll charges.

You get to Orlando at noon and spend a few hours having lunch and hanging out with Tommy Castillo, zombie artist genius and karaoke god (who sang “The Rainbow Connection” in the voice of Kermit the Frog in Winnipeg) and eventually realize you’re about to pass out, so you crash on his couch but can’t sleep because his two dachshunds have decided they really, really want to climb all over you and lick your face.  So you rest instead.

At 6:00pm, after a shower and a change of clothes, you’ve been awake for thirty-three hours, so you drink the 5-hour energy drink you bought at the airport and head over to Barnes & Noble in Colonial Plaza for your 7:00pm signing.  Geoff and the crew at B&N make you feel welcome and have up great displays and there are actually people waiting there for you and you talk and read and sign and it makes the fact that you haven’t slept in a day-and-a-half worth it.

At 9:00pm, you get on to the I-4 to Tampa because you’re booked at the Hilton in St. Petersburg, courtesy of the editors of Zombie St. Pete, the zombie anthology you wrote the introduction for and the reason you’re in Florida in the first place.  You get on the Interstate and see the EZPass lane and blow through the gate, the same you’ve been doing all day long, only this time under the red light instead of the words DON’T STOP it says WAIT FOR GREEN.  You don’t notice this in time, so you don’t stop.  An alarm sounds behind you and you wonder if you’ve just earned yourself a ticket for running a red light.  But at least you can write it off.

At 10:00pm, you pull off the freeway to use the bathroom at Burger King and because you haven’t eaten in eight hours, you cave in and order a BK Big Fish value meal.  You decide that the BK Big Fish is considerably superior to the Filet of Fish from McDonald’s.  You also realize you’ve just used the word “superior” to describe fast food.

At 11:00pm you check into the Hilton in St. Petersburg and you’ve now been awake for thirty-eight hours.  Before you go to bed, you get on the Internet to post a few comments to Twitter and to check e-mail.  Only the Hilton doesn’t provide free Internet service and because this annoys you, you go downstairs in your jeans and bare feet to sit in the lobby instead.  The next morning, you cave in and pay for the Internet service.

Zombie St. Pete

January 26th, 2010

I know I mentioned this in passing at some point (though exactly when eludes me and I’m too lazy to look back at my posts for reference), but I’ll be flying out to Florida at the end of February to attend the release party of the zombie anthology Zombie St. Pete – a collection of zombie tales that take place in and around sunny St. Petersburg, Florida.

Although I didn’t contribute a story to the anthology, the editors were kind enough to invite me to write the introduction.

The event kicks off at 5:00PM on Saturday, February 27, at the St. Pete Pier and will include signings by yours truly and the contributors to the anthology, readings from selected stories, live music, and Thrill St. Pete’s reinterpretation of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”  It should be a zombie good time.  So if you’re in the area and can’t get enough zombies, come on by and join the fun.

In addition to the release party, I’ll be in Florida a few days before appearing at bookstores in Orlando, Sarasota, and St. Petersburg.  You can see the details and schedule of the release party and my signings on the Breathers page under Next Scheduled Resurrection.

Hope to see you in Florida!