Friday, December 30, 2011

Know Your Goals, 2011 Edition

**Amazon has dropped their price on the Kindle edition of Generation Dead:Stitches to $2.69! That is less than a Venti coffee, I think. don't know how long that price will last, so get yers today!

People who know me well know that I am somewhat fanatical about the setting and achievement of goals. This personality quirk (some would say defect) appears to be at odds with the generally unfocused and haphazard nature of my day-to-day personality. But every year, the week before New Years' Eve, I enter into a ritual of self-reflection where I meditate for long hours on where I am and where I would like to be in life. At the end of this process, I leave the incense filled sweat lodge of my office with a list of goals for the coming year. Every night when my head hits the pillow, i will mentally review this list of goals. This nightly review isn't just a recitation; I will try to bring in sensory detail about the goals I'm shooting for--what it feels and looks like to work towards them, to achieve them, etc. I do this every night, without fail, no matter how tired i am or how many martinis, espressos, or snarky GoodReads reviews I've had before bedtime. And then I fall asleep. Eventually.

I end up thinking about these goals often, consciously and subconsciously, throughout my days. I keep a daily journal, and often I will comment upon some real-world (real, at least, to me) aspect of these goals, and then at the end of every month I check my progress and write a status update for each goal.

Please understand I'm not recommending these practices in a sort of motivational, self-helpy kind of way, or in an instructional "do this and and the secrets of the universe will be yours" sense. I'm not even suggesting the practice is sane. All I'm saying is that it is what I do, and it seems to help me get some positive results.

I had fifteen goals for 2011. Thought about them every night. Every single night, without fail. The Goal Police would be right to point out that not all of these goals meet the SMART criteria necessary for proper goal setting (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time bound). some, you may notice, might actually be just bordering on my sphere of influence. Ah well. I'll work on that for 2012

Here's how I did in terms of accomplishment.

1. Write Three Generation Dead Short Stories
I ended up writing four. Earlier in the year, a reader asked me why there weren't any Generation Dead ebooks. I asked the same question of my publisher, and offered to do a new story for each ebook. After they were out, another reader asked if the stories could be available separately, because she already had all of the books, so I suggested to the publisher that we bind them up and that I would write another new story to include. Stitches was the result; a project that I hadn't even thought of in 2010. Now readers are asking for a physical book. Did I mention I love readers?

2. Write Three Non-Generation Dead Short Stories
I should have this completed by the end of tomorrow.

3. Write Two Novel Outlines
My novel outlines usually end up around thirty pages long. I completed this goal.

4. Finish a Draft of Teenage Monster
This is a novel I began working on last year. I finished the draft and my agent and I are working on it now.

5. Finish a Draft of Another Novell
Top secret. I finished this goal.

6. Deliver Break My Heart 1000 Times to Hyperion
Done. Wrapping up the final edits. We're on track for a Fall 2012 release. I'll post the cover before long.

7. Undisclosed Business Goal
Accomplished, but I can't tell you about it! Sorry!

8. Have a Project Optioned for Film
Accomplished. More about that in the new year

9. Collaborate on a Comic Book Project
Not accomplished. I've had many conversations with my pal Matthew Dow Smith about this, and we keep talking about it, but he is a very busy man drawing Doctor Who and working on a number of thrilling writing projects. Maybe next year

10. Undisclosed Family Goal

11. Increase My Internet Presence
Okay, I'll admit that one is kind of vague, which is probably why I consider it not accomplished. I have a few more blog followers than before, but I blog less. I'm on Twitter, but have very few people following (hint,hint). I'm not on Facebook as much, and I didn't do as many interviews or guest blogs as in years' past. But...I'm really okay with all of that. Weird.

12. Get my Office Together
I'm about 80% to goal. I have half of it painted, most of the necessary equipment is there, I have some art on the walls, it is looking and feeling comfortable. Another round of painting and a trip to IKEA and I'll be all set.

13. Read 100 Books
Arbitrary and doesn't speak to quality, I know. Too bad. I read a hundred and fourteen and will probably finish another tonight.

14. Lose 10% of My Body Weight
Accomplished! Lost 12%, actually. Next year my goal will be a running goal vs. a weight loss goal--I ran 812 miles this year. Running, swimming, basketball and a little weight lifting helped me hit this, because I still eat like a piggy.

15. Undisclosed Financial Goal

So of my fifteen, I hit twelve, made a great deal of progress on one, and failed on two. Not a bad year at all.

I'm looking forward to seeing what targets I will have for myself for 2012....

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Stitch #4: Purpose Statement

Last year I was happy to be involved with the Dear Bully project, which was put together by my friends Carrie Jones and Megan Kelley Hall. The initial idea for the Generation Dead series came out of my reaction to watching a television show about bullying in schools, and many of my story ideas for the world of GD involve some aspect of bullying. "Purpose Statement" is one story directly in that vein.

I foresee myself writing stories about pretty much all of the more peripheral characters in Generation Dead--since writing Stitches I've written one about Mal--and I've wanted to do a story about Popeye since introducing him in Kiss of Life (Tak will take his turn at bat soon also; I think there could be a whole book about him!) and "Purpose Statement" grew out of that desire.

It is one of the darkest tales in the whole series, but Popeye is one of the darkest characters I've written. I realize now that Margi's appearance in the story was to try and bring some light into that darkness. Popeye is one of those people who always feels that the world is against him, but unlike most people, he prefers it that way.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Stitch #3: My Dead Heart

I'm sure I wasn't the only one that felt that Tommy and Phoebe had some unfinished business to attend to after Tommy hit the road in Kiss of Life. "My Dead Heart" is where their story picks up again.

I love working with different points of view; the Generation Dead novels have featured many different POV characters (only one character has been a POV character in all three books--do you know who?), but Tommy, oddly, has not been one of them, so I really wanted to have him take center stage in his homecoming story--especially because he hasn't blogged in a long time!

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Don't forget to save $3.19 of your Amazon, B&N, or iTunes gift cards so you can download Generation Dead:Stitches! And eat a few candy caaaaaaanes!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Stitch #2: Doll Parts

Writing this story was like scratching an itch--I'd left poor Sylvia in pieces at the end of Kiss of Life, and then she ended up on the cutting room floor (pun intended) in Passing Strange after I'd excised a long chapter that more fully resolved her situation than her brief cameo in the final book hinted at. I wasn't pleased with making the deletion at the time, but in retrospect the cut made more sense for the novel, and "Doll Parts" was the easiest of the four stories to write. I knew the tone I wanted, I knew the beginning the middle and the end, so all I needed to do was try to get the order of the words right.

My first publications for pay were horror short stories, and "Doll Parts" is similar in tone. And yes, for those of you who are aware of my worshipful love of Mystery Science Theater, the initial inspiration for the story did come from a movie they spoofed called The Brain that Wouldn't Die. That, and the idea that the existence of zombies would provide all sorts of challenges and opportunities to our medical community, some of which would not be approached with good intentions.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Stitch #1: How's Life

My first writing sale, as in "I send you a story, you send me money", occurred two years before I sold Generation Dead. Although I had a number of stories "on the street", it was the only sale I made that year. I was paid seventeen dollars and thirty-one cents; the publisher paid by the word, much like the pulp magazines of old, a detail that somehow made the transaction seem more concrete and legitimate to me. They paid me on publication via Paypal, so I didn't have the thrill that I've often read about of making the lonely trek to the mailbox on the corner and finding the payment envelope within, but Then again I had the money. I then set for myself a business goal for my writing: I would try and double my writing income every year, so that the following year I would need to make $34.62, the next $69.24, then $138.42, etc. Doing the math out for ten years helped me feel like I had a pretty spectacular career on the horizon. I sold some horror stories and a horror music column the following year, enough to beat the $34.62 goal, and the year after that I was given a contract for Generation Dead and Kiss of Life, a contract that was worth quite a bit more than $69.24, so hooray for setting goals.

While working on those two books, I did not write any short stories. I wrote a few ideas down--I've got a roomful of story idea featuring GD characters-- but it wasn't until I was invited to submit a story to the Kiss Me Deadly anthology that I actually wrote one. I was thrilled with the way "Many Happy Returns" turned out, and writing it rekindle my passion for short stories. Writing the stories that ended up being included in Stitches was a pure pleasure, a nice break from working on novels, and a great opportunity to write different types of stories (one of the Stitches is a straight-up horror story) as well as explore some of the character relationships in a deeper way than I was able to in the novels.

"How's Life", the first story in the collection and the first of the four that I wrote, comes directly from that impulse to explore relationships. One thing that nagged me in the novels was that I didn't take more of an opportunity to work with Margi, especially how she worked to overcome the fear and loathing she has at the start of the series for zombies. It doesn't come out on the page as much as I would have liked, but in Kiss of Life especially I wanted to juxtapose Phoebe's instant acceptance of Adam with Margi's initial rejection of Colette. "How's Life" is a story of the emotional work that friends sometimes have to do to strengthen their friendships.

There was a song echoing in my mind when I was writing the story, "What is Life" by George Harrison. Perhaps wrongly, I've always assumed that song to be about the love between friends and not romantic love, and its tone and the sentiments express match closely what I hoped to convey in my story. Catch me in the right mood and I get all choked up listening to that very beautiful song.

I almost used his title as my title, but then I thought that "How's Life" was something Margi or Colette would be more likely to say to each other. I instead adopted George's no question mark technique in the title; omitting the question mark makes his song a declaration and I've always been in love with that semantic nuance.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I Saw My Skull

I've only had real stitches once in my life--23 of them. Fifteen years ago or so I knocked heads with a guy while playing basketball. I split my forehead open; he got a concussion. Smashmouth athleticism! I literally could see my skull in the curving wound above my left eye; I touched it with two of my fingers. I was a gory mess. 'Cause guess what? Head wounds bleed a lot.

I was conscious and joking around, on an adrenaline high because of all of the slam dunks I'd been throwing down. About have a dozen medical staff gathered around to watch the doctor stitch me up, probably just because it was one of those cool non-life threatening wounds. I never took the Percocet they gave me.*

Stitches the book has nothing to do with that harrowing experience. I called it that because the stories link or "stitch" the novels together; "How's Life" occurs after GD but before KOL, "Doll Parts" happens after KOL but before PS, the last two happen after PS and before...??? Plus I liked Stitches as a title because I picture some zombies as being stitched up, Frankenstein-esque, sewn together by hands less skillful than those that stitched me.

Over the next few days, I will blog about each of the four stories in Stitches, now out at fine ebook sellers everywhere.

*This story is actually mostly true. Except for the slam dunk part.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Generation Dead:Stitches

Out today in ebook! iBook,Kindle and Nook!

"How's Life"
"Doll Parts"
"My Dead Heart" (Exclusive to this collection!)
"Purpose Statement"

This one is dedicated (or is that deadicated?) to YOU. It's true! Buy a copy if you don't believe me!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My Wild Life, Part LXI

Even more to be thankful for

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Next Novel

My next novel is a ghost story; it will be out sometime next year.Yes, I'm in counting down the days mode again.

I took this photo today.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Get All Stitched Up

Available for preorder at many fine e-tailers!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

New Bookstore Alert

You may not know this, but I worked for the Borders corporation for a number of years. So when they closed the doors forever a few weeks ago, my reaction was melancholy mixed with I told you so. But they were mostly happy years slangin' books, and less bookstores in the world can never be a good thing, whatever my personal feelings about my previous employer (”That's for employing me for twelve years!", Homer says as he flips a Molotov cocktail over his shoulder, firebombing the bridge to the power plant as he rides his golf cart into the parking lot the future.


News like THIS makes me very happy. New bookstores rising up from the ashes of the old, very thrilling. If you live within a hundred miles of The Book Frog, please go there and buy some books. Or frogs. Or books about frogs.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Separated at Birth?


Richard Harrow (Boardwalk Empire):


There is a downloadable Richard Harrow mask I found somewhere on the web--you can also get the mark that he wears, so your mask can have a mask, get it> If I wasn't obviously scary enough, I think that I would enjoy being Richard or Takayuki for Halloween.

I'm actually watching a lot of television lately; there's a lot of good story-based entertainment on at the moment, and Boardwalk Empire may be the best of the bunch. Jack Huston is spectacular as sensitive and scarred killer Richard Harrow.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Generation Dead in the UK

Amazon UK and Simon and Schuster UK is having a sale on the Kindle edition of Generation Dead. It is on sale for a mere £1.99!

So if you live in the UK you can get yours


I believe the sale runs until the 1st of November.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Appearances by Me and Other Strange Creatures

I will be at the SW CT Youth Book Expo signing books and hanging around this Saturday with a horde (some would say a ravenous horde) of fellow authors of books for young people. More info is HERE

Also,I discovered that my pet is the rarest of dog breeds. I give you: the treagle!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Young Zombies in Love and Peril

Is there really a difference?

Generation Dead: Stitches

Four short stories:

"How's Life"
"Doll Parts"
"My Dead Heart"
"Purpose Statement"

Release date 12/20/11, initially only in ebook!

With so many of you set to receive iPhones, iPads, Kindles, Kobos, Nooks,and all manner of e-reading devices for the holidays, make sure you save a whopping $3.99 left on your gift cards for this new Generation Dead release.

Just check out these advance reader comments:

"It will leave you in...wait, can I say the title of the book in a blurb? Is that ok? Or is that stupid? Shut up you guys! I've never blurbed before!" --Margi Vachon, Perky (but not Mall) Goth

"It it, I'm not...saying...that. Idiot." --Adam Layman, Hometown hero, zombie of utmost integrity

"My only comment is that I regret the stories won't be released concurrently in physical book form, so that my disciples could build a great pyre of the entire print run. Every copy--and every character, if they are around. There's nothing like a roaring blaze fueled by the bodies of the damned to kindle the holiday spirit." --Reverend Nathan Mathers, leader of One Life Ministries and professional hater

(Menacing Glare)--Takayuki Niharu, bon vivant

"I feel as personal privacy has been...invaded. You had deepest...thoughts...about Phoebe. I will be...blogging...about this." Tommy Williams, undead activist

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Salem Literary Festival

I've been asked by the one of the wonderful editors of DEAR BULLY (click the link for maximum Beiber and info on the book and it's raison d'etre), Megan Kelley Hall (visit her to sit in on a panel promoting the book and the cause at the Salem Literary Festival in mega-awesome Salem, MA. I have an essay in Dear Bully that tells the secret origin of the Gen Dead series. I'm glad to go, because both Megan and Salem* rock.

Also rockin' is Megan's co-editor Carrie Jones, who you can visit at her website here: One thing I know about Carrie is that she really likes Grover. Like, a lot.

The Festival is Sept. 23-25. I hope that I will see you there.

*Special Salem/Gen Dead trivia: both Increase and Cotton Mather had a role in the Salem Witch Trials** I loosely based my arch-bioist character Reverend Nathan Mather on some of their less pleasant beliefs and personality quirks.

**Special bonus book recommendation: track down the Shirley Jackson book on the Salem Witch Trials, a very quick and insightful read. Then read her novels. All of 'em.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dead Kiss

I'm told this comes out next week in the U.K.:

Not a new story, but a compilation of Generation Dead and Kiss of Life. A great, low cost entry point for readers new to the series, or for those who want another flower for their bouquet.

But speaking of new story, there will be some new Generation dead material soon. Ever wonder what would happen when Tommy returns to Oakvale from his time on the road? I bet it involves Phoebe!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What I Did Over My Summer Vacation

Part of it, anyway. I went to NECon, a Writers' conference held every summer in Rhode Island. I've been going for a few years now with my pal, the writer and artist Matthew Dow Smith (currently working his magic with Doctor Who), and I always look forward to this event and to get a chance to catch up with friends, meet new people, and socialize with some of my heroes. This year I moderated a panel: "Dark YA Fiction: Get Them While They Are Young". My panel was stocked with talent--F. Paul Wilson, Jim Moore, Chris Golden and filmmaker Mark Steensland, whose middle grade debut Behind the Bookcase comes out next fall from Delacorte Press. The panel was just one of the many highlights of a fun an inspiring weekend.

This was another:

Every year I play cards at the con and compete for medals that are designed by the con's Artist Guest of Honor. This years' guest was Steven Gilberts, whose work I adore, and I was lucky enough to win the bronze medal that he designed, above. I also bought one of his prints of a painting called Mechanics of Autumn Discourse. You can check out much of Steve's awesome artwork at Steve's websiteHERE.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Wild Life, Part XIII

It can't be all zombies and ghosts, can it? How about some other strange creatures, like hummingbirds? Two or three of them visit us on the patio at dinner--here's some photos:

Dinner Time

The Approach

Vampire Bird?

Drinking Deep

Bye, Kids!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Other People's Blogs and Giveaway

I did a guest post over at The Bookish Brunette, a blog that--without hyperbole--contains some of the best book blogging I have read of late, especially for YA (the blog in general, not necessarily my post). If you would like a chance to win the signed copy of Passing Strange that we are giving away, or you are curious as to what the title of my first non-GD novel from Disney will be, check out my post at The Bookish Brunette!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

R and R

Passing Strange comes out in paperback next week; don't forget to buy copies for all of your closest friends (and a few of your enemies--maybe the gift will soften their hearts).

I've a number of good news items on the horizon that I'll be posting soon. In the meantime, enjoy this horizon. I certainly did.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wrote it, Can't Read It

But it makes me about seven kinds of happy...

The Turkish edition of Generation Dead, a few copies of which came in the mail today!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Music Recommendation of the Day

One of my favorite musicians, Joe Frawley, has a new CD out. Joe's music is so unique that it defies easy description; both cerebral and emotive, a fascinating mix of fresh composition and found sounds. I haven't yet heard his newest release Carnival, but I have yet to be disappointed with any of his music.

You can check out the new release HERE

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May is Margi Month

Many thanks to Kirsten H., who sent in this lovely artwork of Margi, who wraps up a story on mysocalledundeath. I think it really captures her special spark!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Generation Dead Around the World

Received a bunch of these, the Spanish edition of Passing Strange, in the mail the other day, and they look sweet. Weirdly, they are almost twice as thick as Beso De Vida and Generacion Dead even though the page count is nearly the same. Super thick paper, I guess.

A few quick notes:

**I mailed out all of the contest winners' books last week, so hopefully they should have arrived or will arrive in a day or so.

**A few of you asked about the Gen Dead series for Nook, because those editions were not available the same day the Kindle editions were; they are all available now.

**The Unicorn Conference was a great time, and I met and hung out with a number of fun industry professionals and promising writers. Thanks again to Jan and staff for having me and to Christopher Golden for passing my name along.

**I have become obsessed with acquiring an Apple iPad 2, but have been holding out for a specific one. My friend laughs at me when I say that I will never download a game (did I mention I find video games very addictive?) but I insist it is true.

**Once I have said iPad, I will probably begin using my Twitter account, which I've had for quite awhile but never used before. I don't really even know how to tell you where to find me on Twitter; I think my Twitter ID is WatersDan. I've never sent a tweet before but expect to be chirping with the best of them.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

GenDead Around the World

I am informed by members of the European and South American branches of the After Party that this will be out on April 7:

If you find yourself in a Spanish speaking country, by all means go to the local bookstore and buy two or three copies, just to be safe.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Unicorns, Writers, and Winners

I will be a guest speaker at the Unicorn Writers' Conference at Saint Clements Castle in Portland, CT this April 9th. A Castle? Unicorns? Writers? All that was missing was a troll for under the drawbridge, which was why they called me.

Actually, they called me at the suggestion of my friend Christopher Golden. Chris is multi-talented, multi-faceted author who has produced great work in a variety of genres and styles and you should check out his website href="">HERE

True story--the very first book I was given as a recommendation by an encouraging editor when I began to submit YA work was a book Chris wrote with Tom Sniegoski. My book deal materialized about a year later--coincidence, or conspiracy???

If you are interested in the Unicorn Writers' Conference and perhaps in conversing with a troll ("Answer me these riddles three..."), then visit the Conference site HERE

Regarding the big e-book contest, here are the final three winners from last week:


Jennifer D.!

Carole M.!

Thank you all for your work making the After Party such a success!

With luck, I will mail out the books next week. Also, this weekend I will be picking the winner of the grand prize--the entire Generation Dead series, signed, in hardcover! Stay tuned

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Generation Dead Series E-Books Released!

The Generation Dead Series is Finally available in electronic editions, and each title has a brand new Generation Dead Short Story!

"How's Life"

Order Generation Dead for Kindle from Amazon and get the new short story "How's Life" HERE

"Doll Parts"

Order Kiss of Life for Kindle from Amazon and get the new short story "Doll Parts" HERE

"Purpose Statement"

Order Passing Strange for Kindle from Amazon and get the new short story "Purpose Statement" HERE

Stay tuned to My So-Called Undeath! Margi has an update on her mystery that she will post tomorrow!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Even More Winners! Plus Sneak Peak #3

Sunday's Winner: Shy_yet_Talkative_Girl! A frequent poster, here, there and everywhere--thank you for your work with the After Party!

Monday's Winner: Yes, people really do win on Mondays. Just ask Aamna M., who will be receiving a signed copy of Passing Strange! Many thanks, Aamna!

Release date for the electronic editions is tomorrow, but we're picking winners all week. For details on how to enter, check HERE


"Purpose Statement" takes place after the events of Passing Strange--"life" in the GenDead world continues on! Tommy is back in Oakvale after his world-changing trip across the country and to D.C., where he successfully implored lawmakers to grant the differently biotic some basic rights--including the right to attend school! "Purpose Statement" follows the trials and tribulations of one of Oakvale High's newest undead students--Chadwick Sebastien Appleton, who you all know as Popeye. After a confrontation with TC leads to an after school challenge, Popeye decides he is going to teach him and his fellow students a lesson they won't soon forget.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Winners! And Sneak Peak #2

Friday's winner: Jenyfer H.! Thank you, Jenyfer!

Saturday's winner: Quinn! Thank you for your thoughtful post, Quinn! One signed copy of Passing Strange going your way! Thank you for all you've done for the After Party!

The contest runs through Saturday of next week--plenty of time to get your entries in and win, win, win. See how right HERE.


Just what happened to Sylvia when she went through the mysterious--and horrifying--process known as the Augmentation? What--or who--was going through her mind during procedures that literally took her body apart? Find out in "Doll Parts", the bonus short story that will appear in the electornic edition of Kiss of Life!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

More Free Stuff & Sneak Peak

And the next signed copy of Passing Strange goes to Marie R. Yay, Marie! Thank you for your tireless dedication and work with the After Party!

You can still enter the contest: Details HERE


Have you ever wondered exactly what happened the day that Colette Beauvoir tragically lost her life? And did you ever wonder how she and Margi began to deal with the trauma of her return? How's Life, a new short story that will appear in the electronic edition of Generation Dead, will address these questions, and more. Join Colette and Margi--and many other GenDead cast members!--as they step out onto the thin ice of their new post-life friendship!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Contest Update! And the First Winner is...

And the first signed hardcover copy of Passing Strange goes to After Party founding member Jennifer R.! Many thanks, Jennifer!

I'll be giving away loads (wee, another dozen, anyway) more books--if you haven't entered the contest yet you still can--all you have to do is blog, Tweet, FB, or otherwise post to the magical land of the Internet something about the Generation Dead series being released on March 22nd. Each new release comes with a brand new GenDead short story! OMZ!!!

For full details, see my previous announcement HERE

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Generation Dead: The Movie

The long awaited. This cast is spectacular, but Pete will always hold a special place in my heart.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The After Party and Goal Update

My pal Dee submitted "The Afterlife of the Party" for the "name the Virtual Street Team" contest, which I'm modifying to "The After Party". Free book for Dee! But I think Dee has signed copies of all my books--would you like spanish Kiss of Life, Dee? I think I have a few of those. Hit me on my email!

For those of you wanting to be members of The After Party, there's only one requirement, and it isn't a pulse (pulses are totally optional). All you have to do is tweet, blog, or post somewhere on the Internet that the Generation Dead series is being released in electronic editions on March 22. Drop me a line or a comment letting me know where you've posted, and you could win all sorts of free zombie-ness.

Each one of the new editions will have a brand new short story. Here are the top secret titles, only available to members of The After Party (if you aren't in the After Party, avert your eyes!):

"How's Life" will appear in Generation Dead

"Doll Parts" will appear in Kiss of Life

"Purpose Statement" will appear in Passing Strange

These stories also represent the completion of one of my fifteen goals that I set for myself at the beginning of the year (remember: goals, not resolutions), which was to write three Generation Dead short stories (one of my other goals is to write three non Generation Dead stories). At the time I'd set the goal, I had no idea we'd be including them with the electronic editions; I'd just had such a good time with "Many Happy Returns", the GenDead story I wrote for the Kiss Me Deadly anthology that I wanted to write some more. That was my only purpose at the time I set the goal--to have fun. That I get the chance to share that fun with readers on their nooks and kindles and iPads makes it even more fun.

So far, that is the only of the fifteen that is completed. Does that mean panic has begun, with two months of the year (including my arch nemesis February) expired? A resounding "no!" as I've made signifigant process on ten of the remaining fourteen. I've read fourteen books towards my "Read a hundred books" goal, most recently a biography of the cartoonist Charles Addams and If I Die in a Combat Zone by Tim O'Brien. Another goal is to "lose 10% of my year-end 2010 body weight by the time we open the pool"; I'm happy to report I'm 7% lighter with a few months to go. As far as writing goals, I think I'm going to finish the draft of a new YA novel by the end of March, which would allow me to scratch another item off my list.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Chat with Shels

I'm not sure if you are aware of these facts, but I am available for interviews, guest lectures, conferences, school visits, trivia contests, voiceover work, avatar photos, bat and bar mitzvahs, workshops, kissing booths, dunking booths, pickup basketball games, furniture moving, weddings, dance contests, critter evictions, dj'ing, poker games, chats, and general clowning. Serious inquiries only.

Here's a recent interview I did with Shels on the Walter Rhein blog: Click me! Click me!

GENERATION DEAD EBooks in just 19 days!!!!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Virtual Street Team and CONTEST!!!

Next month, the Generation Dead series will finally be available in electronic editions in the U.S., and I'm hoping that you (yes, you--the one with the cute hat, and also you there in the purple, and the one who had the Cobb salad for dinner, and you, who always sits on the left hand side of the bus near the window in the third seat--all y'all, actually) will help with the "launch".

I will be giving many wonderful prizes to randomly selected people who blog, tweet, Facebook, or post info about the upcoming editions. Any old post will do. "I read a moldy dead tree version of Kiss of Life and I liked it, and now it is coming out on the Kindle" or "I'm really excited to read the new ebook edition of Passing Strange" or "The GenDead series made me wish I was dead, and not in a zombie way, but you should think for yourself and give the new electronic editions a chance on March 22." Anything along those lines. I'll be googling "Generation Dead series ebooks", but you could post a comment here on my blog or on my Facebook page to make it easier to find you.

Also, one mention would be nice--two at the most; one prior to launch and one on launch day. I'm torn between my desire to "get the word" out to reach new readers vs. creating an obnoxious spamtastic (spamsmodic?) advertising campaign. If I see a book recommendation pop up from a writer or a Facebook friend or a blogger I read it makes me happy and I may act on the recommendation. If I see the same recommendation from the same person every day for two weeks, I assume that they have been replaced by a Pod Person and I never take their recs again. So if you are so moved--I'd appreciate a quick plug. But please, no spamination.

As far as the goodies go:

I'll be giving away a signed copy of Passing Strange every day during the week the ebooks launch to randomly selected members of the Virtual Street Team (which needs a cool zombie-themed name--a signed copy of PS to whoever gives me the best one!!!).

One Virtual Street Team member will receive the complete signed GenDead series in hardcover!. I haven't decided how I'll pick the winner of that one--most clever post? The post that gets the greatest number of responses and comments? Someone I like?

And to help you help me help you help me, here are some interesting facts about the new releases:

Each title will contain a special, brandy new GenDead short story written just for these editions! Wow!

All three books--Generation Dead, Kiss of Life, and Passing Strange--drop on March 22!

Each edition will contain all of the zombie-riffic words that were in the print editions (unless we find any mistakes that need correcting)! Plus as noted above, brandy new short stories!

These new editions will be completely impervious to your little brother leaving abig Cheeto thumbprint on them!

So again, if you want to help with the launch, blog, post, text, status update, vlog, IM, chat or otherwise Internet-thingy "Generation Dead series ebooks" and "March 22". Wonderful prizes await!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

GenDead Around the World

And here I'll take a break from posting paperback covers from my library to posting one of my own covers. Here is the cover for the Turkish edition of Generation Dead, out this month from Artemis:

Great Paperbacks I Have Loved-- the Work of Shirley Jackson

I'm still loading up Expedit, reordering, re shelving, etc. And reading. Reading, reading, reading.

Today I'm posting images of the editions of Shirley Jackson paperbacks I love. My first introduction to Shirley Jackson was through the works of Stephen King; when I was a young reader I loved King, and I wanted to read what he read, and so his book Danse Macabre was like the Rosetta Stone of horror (and to a large extent, science fiction). He was the first author that I would hunt around for every scrap of writing, every review, and every interview, and Kind was always extremely generous in sharing his passions about what he read. The reading list from Danse Macabre was where I started, and one of the first books I read on the list was The Haunting of Hill House, which to this day remains one of my favorite novels, and created a life-long love of haunted house stories. I'll read just about any haunted house story that comes my way, but few even come close to the perfect gem that is The Haunting of Hill House (I just finished writing a haunted house novel, hopefully coming soon to a bookstore near you.

This is isn't the edition I first read, but it is my favorite of the three I own. The cover is a still from the movie The Haunting , which I thought was a pretty good adaptation of the novel. I read this edition again every couple years.

I posted the cover of We Have Always Lived in the Castle last blog, but The Sundial is a close third for me. Nothing like an end of the world dark comedy to cheer one up:

Here's the psychedelic cover of The Bird's Nest, a novel of split personalities:

I just this moment realized how much it reminds me of the cover of Ssssh by Ten Years After:

Groovy, Man.

Here's Hangsaman:

Which someone smarter than me could draw parallels with Catcher in the Rye, except in this Holden is a girl, and instead of doing madman stuff actually does insane stuff.

Hmm, I still haven't found my neat old copy of The Road through the Wall, and I can't find the cover online--I'll scan it when it turns up!

But then, there's this:

Great title, great cover. Think I'll read it again.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Unpacking My Mind

Today my son and I built Expedit from IKEA. I got the one that is four by four squares, and the squares are pretty deep, too. Perfect for my monstrous and somewhat absurd paperback collection, which has been mostly boxed up since we moved this summer. I started unpacking and shelving, as part of my mad plan to have the ultimate basement office, but I have to admit that it wasn't too long until I got, um, sidetracked by some of the great books I've collected over the years. Every book I have tells two stories, to me--the story within the pages and a piece of the story of my life when I was reading it. Books like this one:

That's the original title. I love cover art and book design, and when the story is great as this one is, well then, everyone wins.

Ah, Raymond Chandler. As much as I love this edition, which I found at a used bookstore for a dollar this year, I actually like these better:

Mainly because those were the editions I read when I was a kid; I love the Deco-ish lettering and cover art. I picked one up because I was watching the Philip Marlowe shows on HBO starring Powers Boothe and I instantly was hooked, for life, on the stories.

Then there's these, which I have a couple hundred of:

I've often said that Stephen King, Gary Gygax, and Bill Gaines were the three most influential men that I wasn't related to in my life when I was a kid.

I've got over a hundred of these, too:

Still not a complete set, though. I guess I could get the few I'm missing off ebay, but where's the fun in that? Used bookstores and yard sales for me.

Although I did get this one off Amazon or abebooks or one of them:

Jack Yeovil is actually Kim Newman, who is one of my favorite writers working today. I think this is his first novel.

And then there's this:

What a cover! Unlike my Mad and Doc Savage collections, I do have a complete set of old Shirley Jackson paperbacks. I'll buy any of the old ones that I see because I give them away often (and read them to death, it turns out). Her ouerve, although not huge, had a huge influence on me.

Every book I unpack is like a brick, or cornerstone, of the city of my mind. I first read Czar of Fear, above, when I was about ten, and read it again in my twenties when I got it in my head that it would be a good idea to read them all again, in order. I read The Bedside Mad at least a hundred times between the ages of eight and fifteen, and probably a dozen since in various formats. The one I read the most though wasn't this one but the one with the Norman Mingo cover. I read the Yeovil/Newman book late 2009, after I went on a quest to read everything that he's written (still working on it, but The Original Dr. Shade (and other tales) is supposedly in the mail. Jackson and Chandler I read very young and re-read every few years.

I'm about a third of the way unpacked...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Two Questions

I recently heard a profile on NPR on a new biography of one of my literary heroes, J.D. Salinger, and during the segment it was mentioned that he tromped all over Europe--and into combat--during WWII while carrying the manuscript of Catcher in the Rye with him. I came across an article regarding the new book, and the article mentioned that on a few occasions ole J.D. sought out Hemingway to discuss writing (as well as mentioning a recollection of J.D. taking cover under a table during a shelling so he could keep typing!). Those stories made me intensely happy, the first because it is an insight into the obsessive and passionate nature of my hero, a nature I believe is required to create art, and the second because I believe it is an insight into the humility and desire to learn that is required on the path towards creating art.

I can picture Salinger going to the by now widely published, and highly regarded Hemingway--what was going on in his head, what he hoped to learn, what he hoped to share. I can picture it because I've done it myself, time and again, not with Hemingway of course but with a multitude of writers whose work I loved and respected.

I don't believe for a moment that Salinger went to Hemingway with the intention of asking him how to get published, or if he could recommend a good agent, or if he could provided the names and numbers of contacts who could truncate his path to publication. These topics may have come up, but that would not have been the reason why Salinger went to Hemingway.

Salinger's questions would have been around the work itself--how did you create what you've created? What was going through your head, and how did you get it on the page? Why did you write it? And there would have been an exchange; it would not have been Papa pontificating without Salinger taking the time to discuss his thoughts on process, on story, on work habits and on why he needed to carry that manuscript around with him, through the explosions and the flames.

Okay, maybe my romantic notions spill all over reality and their conversations weren't anything like what I just described. Maybe the little vignette I just related, stitched together from radio and print fragments, is just a fantasy that allows me to point out the differences in the questions that aspiring writers, like Salinger was, like I was, (heck, like Hemingway himself was), ask of those who are professionals: there is a world of difference between "how do I get published?" and "how do I write something great?".

One of those questions is everything to a writer. Figure out the answer to the important question, and the answer to the lesser one will arrive before too long.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Flying High Again

Flew home from San Diego this morning, leaving my hotel room at 4 a.m. I am not a morning person. Fortunately, I fell asleep at seven the previous night.

Good thing I did, too, because I woke up ready write. Once I checked in at the airport, I ate a bunch of eggs. And I wrote. And I wrote. And I wrote. Then I boarded the plane, bidding goodbye to weather so beautiful it hurt. Then I wrote. And I wrote. I listened to music, and I wrote.

Eventually I landed in Atlanta, where I ate a sandwich and wrote. And wrote. Boarded the plane, wrote some more. I've been handwriting lately, something I haven't done in about five years. For whatever reasoin, it is really working out for me. At the end of the day I had fifty yellow legal pad pages--the drafts of one new short story, and another chapter or so of a new book I'm working on.

Maybe I should just turn my office into a guest bedroom, hang out in airports and fly all over the country. I'd probably get more done.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Complex Math Problem

Here are the facts:

I have 888 songs on an iPod playlist I call Blast! that I play on shuffle. This is the playlist that I workout to.

I workout on the treadmill for an hour about five times a week (since Thanksgiving).

I run somewhere between 5.5-6.0 miles during that hour.

The songs on Blast! range between 1 minute 23 seconds ("Walk Among Us", by The Misfits) to 11 minutes 15 seconds (Black #1, by Type O Negative).

All but 19 of the 888 songs on Blast! are the finest hard rock, punk or metal songs from my vast, vast collection.

In the interest of full disclosure, many metal purists would call quite a few of these songs "false metal".

At least seven of the 888 songs are cover songs. Of these, two of the originals also made the playlist.

The newest song that I've added to Blast! is "Say You'll Haunt Me" by Stone Sour, which is Corey from Slipknot's other band. The name of Slipknot's fan club is "Dead Generation". I am not a member.

Conundrum: How is it that, invariably, I listen to exactly 16 songs during my workout?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

This Year Will be Different, part XLII. And Also, Please Help Me Out With This

2011 is already giving me every indication of being a banner year, writing career-wise. The first week of the year is just over I've already had a couple of pieces of good news regarding some future publications that I'll be blogging about in the near future.

I did my usual year-end review of the past, and decided that it was a pretty good year overall, goal-wise. A few of the goals I knocked off last year: selling our house, buying a new house, and moving (about 98% of the credit for these accomplishments goes to my beautiful wife, who was able to handle contractors, realtors, inspectors and an insane husband with grace and aplomb). I was also able to scratch "Foreign language publication" off my list, in a year that saw Generacion Dead and Beso de Vida released in Spain. I was thrilled to have a short story published in the Kiss Me Deadly anthology, fulfilling yet another long-held goal. I didn't hit my whole list--in fact, I failed miserably at a number of the things I wanted to achieve--but, onward and upward. Bury your dead (unless they are differently biotic dead) and move on.

The second part of my New Years' ritual is the annual gaze into the future Looks bright, very bright. Note to self: buy sunglasses, wear sunscreen. I try to project what I want my year to look like and what I want to accomplish. I delivered my goals for the next year to myself (I'm a stern taskmaster) a few hours before the ball dropped. Or the Snooki dropped. Whatever it was we dropped this year. I reviewed what I had submitted, and we decided that the fifteen goals that I'd submitted were good ones. A nice mix of creative, business, family and personal goals, a few of them were holdovers from last year that I didn't accomplish--I'm determined to do a film project and a comic book/graphic novel project, and although I've done a lot of blah blah blah about both, nothing has happened yet.

I enjoy this process, I really do. And it always seems something like magic to me when one of the goals clicks into place--last week, just a few days after writing them, the mechanism to complete goal #4 clicked into place, clear out of the blue.

Anyhow, here's where the "please help me out" comes in. A bit of patience, if you please.

One of my goals, #14 is

"Renew focus on my Internet/Blog/Social Media Presence"

What does that mean, exactly? And why is that a goal for me?

Well, here's what it means now:

A.Continue to answer all reader emails and Facebook posts (I do pretty good with this one. I might miss a few, but I try my best)

B.Blog on at 52 times this year (I did horribly last year; 23 blogs in 2010, down from 77 the year before)

C.Have Tommy and the gang blog on 26 times this year (again, horrible--12, down 28 from last years' 40)

D. Update my status on Facebook three or four times a week (I probably do something like that now)

E. Continue to do the occasional online interview/guest blog when invited and schedule permits. I think I did a dozen or so of these last year, the most recent of which is Here at The Book Smugglers and is about my favorite YA book of the year.

I guess that is actually a bunch of little goals within the bigger/vague-er goal. So, why? Why do I want to commit myself to doing all that work this year?

Mainly because of something I realized when I went weeks and sometimes even months without blogging:

I miss it.

I miss it. I like blogging, and I love the interactivity of blogging; I said a lot of what I wanted to say about the topic in this School Library Journal Article Here and I'm kind of shocked, embarrassed and disappointed with myself for being such a slacker. Yeah, Inner Voice #8 is saying, you moved, you took a job, you have pre-teen kids, etc. etc. And then Inner Voices #3 and #7 say, "Shut up, inner voice #8. We don't make excuses here. And will you please put the cap back on the soda bottle tightly?"

So, a plea for help. Help keep me honest and on track with my goal. And if you are so inclined, let me know what you like me to blog about, and what bores the heck out of you. Let me know wheat it is that you like in your "Internet Relationships" with other authors, and what you don't (I should mention that I'm a little scared of Twitter; let me know if I need to get over that fear. Should I do a newsletter? Write about what I'm reading? Write about writing? Offer a free story here and there? Write about writing about writing? Create humorous videos? More dog photos (we have a second beagle now). Music? As I type this, "The Living Dead" by the London Suede is on, appropriately enough. That song nearly always moves me to tears. I'm thinking I should pretty up this site a bit, too. What else should I be doing? What do you think?

What do you think?

I'd like to end with a shout out to Brendan Halpin, who's blog Here directly inspired my fourteenth goal.