Hit it!

It’s six days to December. I have 29,000 words to go, few work responsibilities, it’s dark, and I’m drinking decaf.

First Names

What would a really, really old (at least 2000 years) female vampire be named? Would she modernize her name over time, or stick with the original? She has been isolated from mainstream society (but not vampire society) for the last few hundred years.

Need More Computing Power

I’m working with several products from Adobe corporation right now. That means several things: first, getting used to various ‘quirks’ in the user interface that no other company does the same way. I occasionally say, “There’s the Mac way, the Windows way, and the Adobe way.” The Adobe way doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing in different Adobe products, alas.

Second, running multiple products from Adobe, along with their infamous memory leaks, means that my little Mac Mini is severely challenged. Adobe makes big products, and seems much more worried about features than performance. I have an income (made in part from using Adobe products), and can justify upgrading hardware at some point, but then what happens to the old machine? There’s still plenty of computing left in the little guy. It’s actually pretty fast.

Then it occurred to me that the perfect answer would be a second mini just like the first, that I could connect in such a way that they could share the workload. Suddenly my upgrade gets a lot cheaper and I’m not getting rid of a perfectly good computer.

I know that there is a supercomputer built from a bazillion macs all hooked together and sharing the load, so why can’t I get some of that action? What would it take to get two macs hooked together to become a single computer? It seems just too damn obviously a good thing to not exist.

I’m filing this under Get-Poor-Quick Schemes, since it’s probably one of those ideas that looks good on paper but is in fact a major PITA. Still, what a great OS feature that would be.

A Quick Perfume Question

What would be a fairly unusual but not ridiculous scent for a waitress in a bar to wear? Something subtle, perhaps a bit sexier than one would normally wear to work.

Where There’s Vampires…

I haven’t considered putting werewolves into my November Epic, but at the World Fantasy Convention I joked that after I finish The Quest for the Important Thing to Defeat the Evil Guy I should follow with Vampires and Werewolves Get It On (and Oh, Yeah, There’s Zombies Too). Although this book has already been written many times (as has Quest), it’s never been written as honestly.

Secret insider information I’ve received indicates that there is another movie in the reputedly-wreched Twilight series (excuse me, saga) coming out. In it, vampires and werewolves get it on. No word on Zombies. (“Get it on” can mean different things in different contexts; while usually it has sexual connotations, it can also mean to come into conflict. That’s what makes the title so perfect. When they’re not getting it on, they’re getting it on.)

Quest was a title I’d been hoping to drop casually in a conversation with a publisher, get them all excited, and have them give me lots of money. While I did talk to a couple of publishers, I never got to that level of conversation. In one case that was my fault; they were celebrating the launch of a book with a reading, and the four authors weren’t very good. I didn’t stick around. Someone was eventually going to ask my opinion.

So, I still have my day job. I have completely failed to balance work and life; failing so badly that I’m also not getting enough work done.

For NaNoWriMo I’m way, way behind on word count, but thanks to you guys my vampire society is a complex one filled with internal conflict. It creates the perfect setting for someone to do to the vampires what they do to humanity — hunt them for food.

Maybe in one of the blockbuster sequels I can toss in Lycanthropes. And, oh, yeah, Zombies, too. And ninjas.

No pirates, though. That would be crass commercialism.

Undead Employment Agency

Let’s say for a moment that you are a vampire. As a vampire you probably have developed some expensive tastes, you need a secure place in the daytime, and you’ll want some sort of cover to allow you to meet potential victims. In short, even as a vampire you would probably need to find a job.

Obviously it has to be a night job, and paperwork might be a problem depending on whether you’ve managed to establish a false identity or not. (“Says here you were born in 1895…”)

With those considerations in mind (and any others you come up with as well), what job would you have? Or is there another way to pay your rent without working, a particularly vampiric one?

Coming Clean

Today as I showered it occurred to me that not long ago using four different cleansing products in one shower would have been noteworthy. Now I use shampoo, soap, face cleaner stuff (skin’s been healthier lately as a result), and for the beard I use body shampoo (it rinses out better). Yep, there are many ways to get clean.

Bath Desserts has all sorts of flavors of shower gels! Not to mention soaps and other stuff.

Bath Desserts has all sorts of flavors of shower gels! Not to mention soaps and other stuff.

What was noteworthy was one of the cleansing products I used. I happened to be bathing in the luxuriously-scented Raspberry Sweet Tea shower gel made by my close personal fictitious friend Harlean Carpenter. I have to say that some of her Bath Desserts are really awesome—the scents are unmistakeable, but not overdone to the point where my easily-irritated nose takes offense (I can’t even walk into a Hallmark store). I don’t know how she made the cinnamon roll flavor bath cake so cinnamon-rolly. The Kiwi Fruit slices rock, and you can get herbal tea bags to steep in your bath.

While I’m hardly unbiased, I have to say that these soaps and gels would make fabulous and unique gifts. That’s right: fabulous AND unique. Go check them out!

November 1, 2009

Yesterday wasn’t as prolific as day ones have been in the past, not nearly so, but overall I’m pleased with the quality. Here’s the first chapter, which represent a large fraction of my day one output. Now I need to forget about quality for a while and get the dang story out.

Be warned that this episode contains profanity. Deek is not a terribly genteel guy.

Immortal Flesh

Deek lay in his bed, his thin limbs tangled in the sweaty sheets, his skin pale in the light of the moon splashing through the small window high on the wall of his room. His breathing was shallow, his eyes open wide, dark rings beneath them a testament to many sleepless nights. His shortish dark hair poked out at all angles, stiffened with dried sweat and grime. On the apple crate that served as a night stand sat a clock radio, empty beer cans, and a hatchet, its blade rusted and dull in the moonlight, its cracked wooden hand grip poking out toward him, so he could grab it in an instant.

There was a monster under his bed.

He closed his eyes, held them shut, tried not to hear the faint scratching from the Band-Aid box (sealed with Band-Aids), where a severed finger twitched, whether reflexively or guided by a desire to escape its confinement Deek did not know. A sighing sound as a Hefty bag with a slab of thigh in it settled in a new position. A rattling as teeth tried to escape the Altoid box that held them. Furtive sounds, patient, like they had all the time in the world.

There must be fifty fucking containers under there, Deek thought. Fifty pieces of vampire. Probably more. He had tried cutting the pieces into smaller and smaller slices, but no matter how small the pieces, they still remained animated.

How? The energy must be coming from somewhere, some power source unknown to science. There was a fucking Nobel prize under his bed, for someone who could crack that mystery. Probably a lot of Nobel Prizes. Scientists would shit over shit like this.

There would be no Nobel prizes for Deek, however. For him the boxes under the bed meant nothing except a slow and painful death. If there was one vampire, there would be others. And they would be pissed. No doubt they were already wondering about their missing buddy, checking the places he had last been seen, asking about who he had gone home with. Deek needed to get rid of the thing, soon, and he had to make sure it never came back.

Schwik-schwish. Deek jumped. He hated that sound most of all, when the heart in the zip-lock bag decided to beat, even though there was no blood for it to pump.

There was plenty of blood down there under the bed, though, pooling, clinging to the surfaces of the containers that held the rest of the parts. It had a musty smell, a little sweet, that made Deek’s throat tighten.

Deek’s own blood stayed where it had fallen, staining the oval rag throw rug. Mom was going to be pissed when she saw that.

Something in a shoe box—a foot, in all likelihood—started to bump against a milk crate filled with tupperware containers. Bump, bump, bump. Deek could move the boxes and gain peace for a while, but eventually the bumping would begin anew.

Once more Deek put in his earphones and turned up his music. For a moment it helped, but the only thing worse than hearing the shuffling and scratching beneath his bed was not hearing them. What if something got free? Every sound that came from outside his earphones made his stomach go sour with fear.

Deek sat up grabbed the hatchet. He swung his feet over the edge of the bed. Nothing reached out to grab him. He stood and felt safer after he took two steps, over to the microwave and hot-plate his parents had given him when they agreed to let him rent the basement. Not that he ever paid rent.

He opened the fridge, pulled out a can of beer, and popped the top. He took a long drink and started to feel a little better. He drained the can. In the corner was a plastic bag filled with empties; he balanced this one delicately on the pile before getting a new one from the fridge. Almost out. No way I’m going to the store with this thing here, though. No telling what I’ll find when I get back.

Something thumped under the bed, one of the larger pieces. Deek spun and held the hatchet out in front of him, but nothing more happened.

On top of the microwave was a cereal bowl. Inside a thumb twisted and writhed like an earthworm on a sidewalk. Before Deek had gone to bed he had chopped the thumb into a puree. Now it was whole again. Eventually all the pieces stashed under his bed would find a way to come back together, no matter what Deek did, no matter how far apart he could separate them. Then the vampire would find him. It would not be so careless next time.

There had to be a way to kill it. There had to be some way to disconnect the atoms of the undead flesh from whatever force it was that preserved it and gave it the energy to move. Was there intelligence guiding that force? The vampire’s brain was in several pieces, some clinging to the fragments of the shattered skull, others in their own containers. A quarter of the head was in a mayonnaise jar at the foot of the bed, the eyeball popped free from its socket, dangling by the optic nerve. It seemed to be watching him. For a moment Deek thought he was going to puke again. He took another gulp of beer.

How do you kill something that’s not alive? Not alive like he was anyway.

Deek pulled out the big kitchen knife he’d borrowed from upstairs and put the thumb on the stained wooden cutting board. He chopped off a section, the knife severing the bone with a crunch. A drop of blood, almost black, escaped and then oozed back into the larger piece of the thumb. Nothing he had done so far had robbed the flesh of the power that quickened it.

He picked up the smaller piece, a disk of grey flesh with a circle of bone in the middle, and nearly dropped it when he felt the flesh move between his fingers. Mincingly he set it back down, farther from the rest of the thumb.

Tears welled in Deek’s eyes. He was fucked. Well and truly fucked. They would come for him, the vampire’s friends, they would take him and they would exact their revenge and when they were done with him his mutilated body would be discarded some place no one would ever find. No one would even look for him; his mom and step-dad would just breathe a sigh of relief and wonder where he’d got to. His friends might miss him for a while, but then they’d just get stoned and soon he would be forgotten. As if he had never existed.

“Fuck!” he shouted. He stabbed the larger part of the thumb with the knife, pinning it, preventing it from wriggling over to connect with the section he had sliced off. Tears ran down his nose and made dark circles on the cutting board. With an incoherent scream he threw his empty beer can against the wall as hard as he could. It clattered impotently against the unpainted cinder block and rattled down behind the fridge, coming to rest on the condenser coils. A thin stream of foamy backwash drained down onto the floor.

His anger gave out. His knees couldn’t take his full weight anymore; he clung to the microwave with shaking hands, his nose filling with snot, his vision blurred. “Fuck,” he sobbed. “I didn’t ask for this.”

Mojo. Juju. Magic. Deek thought about something he had read once, something about warriors absorbing the strength of their enemies. He looked at the cross-section of thumb, mushroom-colored, quivering slightly, smelling of damp earth. The earth of the grave. An idea took root somewhere in his cerebellum, spreading tendrils through his mind before finally blooming in his consciousness. A laugh escaped his lips, edged with hysteria. “Hell,” he said to the specimen. “What do I have to lose?” He laughed again, a deranged giggle that sounded like a horse whinny.

He opened the fridge once more, pulling out the next-to-last beer, and a bottle of ketchup.

An Onomatopoeia Question

Hey guys! It’s November, and that means the annual tradition of pooping out a novella in a single month is under way. My time will be more limited this year, so I plan to use the bloggcomm as a resource. I’m going to toss out questions here and let you guys mull over things, rather than getting hung up on the details myself. We’ll see how it goes (it may take longer to ask the question here than to think of a good answer myself, but I like the group-participation angle.)

First Question:

If you have a human heart in a zip-lock bag, and the heart is still beating, how would you describe the sound?

News Flash from the Convention Floor

Just a quickie as I sit waiting for my evening plans to materialize — I’m in the lounge of the Fairmont Hotel in beautiful downtown San Jose, having spent the day hanging out with a bunch of writers, publishers, and fans of fantasy fiction. I attended sessions, listened to reading, and


… and that’s as far as I got yesterday. It’s tomorrow now, relativistically speaking, and I’m sitting in the lounge of the hotel, a little bit jazzed, a little bit fatigued, caffeine wearing off and in need of replacement. It’s late afternoon of day two, and there is still a lot of the day left to go. The most important part of the day, some might argue, the part after all the talks and readings and seminars. The schmoozing. Tonight is the night to seek out liquored-up agents and publishers.

Today started smoothly, an easy bus-ride from home to the hotel where the convention is. On the way I had time to read, a rare luxury these days. The morning started with a reading by Kij Johnson, a friend and colleague as well as a rising star in the biz. Hanging out and chit-chatting ensued, which led to lunch with writers both aspiring and established. Good times.

This afternoon I went to a couple of seminars, and I also learned that Tim Powers walks quickly and washes his hands after using the rest room. There’s something that doesn’t show up in his biographies, I bet. He was signing books for a while this afternoon, but the vendors only had his newer stuff, which just doesn’t have the same magic in my regard. Alas, talk of me having one of John’s battered old volumes (one of the ones he loaned me to introduce me to Powers), had failed.

One of the seminars was a panel of writers discussing the concept of reading for fun, and revealing their secret pleasures. The panel ranged from an old-school writer who loves the pulps he grew up reading to a charismatic Australian cracking wise to a Serbian writer who takes his reading deadly seriously: there is a limited amount of life, and and almost infinite number of books. Choose with care. (Yesterday I heard Živković read one of his short stories, and enjoyed it a great deal.)

A few minutes ago I spoke briefly with Gordon van Gelder, Editor/Publisher of Fantasy and Science Fiction, the magazine that shall go down in history as being the first to pay me for my writing. He didn’t recognize me, of course, but he remembered my name and knew I had been in Prague. I’ll talk to him again later at the party his magazine is throwing. The encounter left me disproportionately nerve-wracked. Or maybe it’s all the iced tea I had at lunch. whatever the cause, I’ve got the jitters now, and I’m reminding myself of two things: 1) breathe in and 2) breathe out. There’s a long night ahead fraught with peril and free alcohol, and I need to perform well.

Now would be a good time to come up with that elevator pitch for my novel.