Posts Tagged With: behind the scenes

Spider Thief Steals Hibernating Tarantulas

pet tarantula

Just because it’s fuzzy doesn’t make it a cuddly pet.

Did you know that there’s a black market for stolen tarantulas?

Or that these spiders hibernate during the winter?

Can you imagine someone crazy enough to break into the dark, cobweb-choked crawlspace under a house and steal a bunch of giant spiders?

Yeah. My thoughts exactly.

Read the full article >

So, real life can be stranger than fiction. But still, I do my best to make fiction pretty freakin’ strange.

The Spider Thief: Omnibus paperback on Amazon >

Categories: Books, Fun, The Spider Thief | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

It Doesn’t Get Easier. You Just Get Better.

how to succeed at new years resolutions or die trying

Where do New Year’s resolutions go to die? Mostly, Cinnabon.

This is the week that New Year’s resolutions die.

I didn’t just make that up, by the way. I read it in The Wall Street Journal.

Also, there was something in there about bonds or treasuries or whatever.

So much for my financial resolutions.

Look, your New Year’s resolutions are doomed. But there’s a better way.

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Categories: Fun | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

The Short, Sad Saga of Mississippi Jones

Don't eat me!

Scary. Freakin’. Fish. That is all. Move along.

Some names stick with us.

Bridget Jones, Holden Caulfield, Nero Wolfe — these names are all indelibly stamped into our literary consciousness.

Those names are evocative. Memorable. Unique.

Some writers are incredibly good at coming up with names.

I am not one of them.

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Categories: For Writers, how to write a book, how to write a novel, Uncategorized, writing, writing a book, writing a novel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Dinner with Satan

Dinner with Satan ... or is it Seitan?

It’s pronounced SAY-TAHN. Yeah, it is.

I recently discovered, much to my dismay, that I had eaten Satan for dinner.

This is a true story. Allow me to explain.

In the midst of a snowstorm, my wife and I decided to try a new restaurant.

We ended up at a brightly lit, very mod, hipster-friendly place that put an emphasis on fresh food.

Hey, I’m cool. I love fresh food.

But what landed on my table bore no resemblance, by any stretch of imagination, to the gyro I had ordered. Continue reading

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The Art of Getting Things Done

Sun Tzu Ruined My Life

Don’t make them get medieval on you!

Sun Tzu ruined my life.

Don’t get me wrong, “The Art of War” contains some gems of insight for anyone engaged in a difficult struggle, like running a business.

(Or fighting a war with chariots and spears.)

But the problem is that Sun Tzu puts a great deal of emphasis on lightning-fast strikes intended to leave the enemy off-balance and lead to a swift victory. He recommends avoiding a prolonged conflict at all costs.

And he makes some good points.

But sometimes, you can only win the battle — or write a book — with a slow and steady application of force.

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Categories: book business, For Writers, how to write a book, how to write a novel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why You Should NEVER Carry a Notebook

Levenger Index Card Holder Pocket Briefcase

Don’t carry a notebook in your pocket. Instead, carry index cards!

For many years, I carried a writing notebook with me everywhere I went. That’s what all serious writers do, I’ve always heard. But in truth, it’s a terrible idea.

Here’s why.

  • First, when you write in a notebook, your notes are locked in rigid sequential order. If you tend to think of things randomly (and who doesn’t?), you’ll spend a lot of time flipping back and forth through your pages to find something.
  • Second, it’s difficult and time-consuming to transcribe your notes from your notebook into the files for each project. I suppose if you’re the sort of person who only works on one story, ever, then this isn’t such a big deal. But I’m always working on a huge list of projects.
  • Third, notebooks get gnarly quickly. They get creased, folded, bent, ink-stained… It’s not pretty.

The Un-Notebook Solution

The secret is deceptively simple:

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Categories: book business, For Writers, how to write a book, how to write a novel, writing | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

5 Jazzy St. Clare mysteries solved

Okay, first, here’s a brand new trailer from the ever-spectacular folks over at Booktrack.com:

Can’t watch the video? Click here to see it on YouTube.

Now, back to the mysteries of Jazzy St. Clare:

Did you know that there actually was a real-life Saint Clare? Me either, until recently. Some other things you didn’t know about this story:

1) The original title was “The Case of the Missing Mummy”. Accurate, but not as catchy.

2) The sound effect of the lioness’s hiss is actually a recording of an air leak. Listen closely and you’ll hear it.

3) I used the same swing music from The Case of the Green-Eyed Werewolf to give Jazzy a theme song. Because every good detective needs a theme song.

4) My ever-creative wife came up with Jazzy St. Clare’s name — and she names most of my characters. Which is good, because I tend to come up with names like Agatha Whistlethorpe. And “Jazzy” is just so much cooler.

5) The Case of Mummy’s Secret is a 2013 Litquake winner. Yay! Okay, so, you’ve probably heard me crowing about that before. But I’m just tickled pink whenever I win an actual hard American cash prize for one of my stories. I dunno, maybe I got one too many “certificates of participation” as a kid.

Now, back to you.

What are you curious to see next from Jazzy St. Clare? Want to see her solve a vampire case … explore the Black Lagoon … go heel-to-heel against Spring-Heeled Jack? Now’s your chance to chime in. Leave me a comment or email me.

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Where does Neil Gaiman get his ideas?

Where do you get your ideas?

Need inspiration? Think small. The monster in my next book was inspired by an electron microscope.

Every writer gets asked about ideas. Where do they come from? How do you find them? What inspires you?

Uber-cool author Neil Gaiman suggests that you should ask yourself questions and start filling in the blanks:

– What if ___ ?
– If only ___ .
– I wonder what/why ___ .
– Wouldn’t it be interesting if ___ .

A classroom full of seven-year-olds once asked him, “Where do you get your ideas?”

Here’s what he told them:

“You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.”

Finding ideas in weird places …

I often find ideas in images. Last night, I realized that my new novel needs a super-creepy H. P. Lovecraft-ish creature. You know, something with flailing tentacles and far too many eyeballs.

But where could I find something like that, and still be fresh and original?

Try an electron microscope. I’ve found that its images often have a creepy, otherworldly look to them. So I browsed through an archive of super-magnified pictures of bugs (not something I recommend doing just before bedtime).

Eventually, I hit paydirt. An image of a wolf spider’s foot. Unlikely, maybe — but freaky!

So where do you get your ideas?

(Source: http://www.neilgaiman.com)

Categories: For Writers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Greatest American Hero creator Stephen J. Cannell dies

A moment of silence, please, for the passing of author and producer Stephen J. Cannell.  He wrote a ton of 70s and 80s action TV shows: the Rockford Files, the A-Team, Hunter, Hardcastle & McCormick and others. All favorites of mine.  He was also the bestselling author of the Shane Scully novels.  As cheesy as it sounds, that little film clip at the end of his shows, with him typing furiously on a typewriter, helped inspire me to become a writer.  He’ll be sorely missed.

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AlphaSmart Neo: the writing tool I freakin’ love

In an age of smart phones, iPads and Google Docs, there doesn’t seem to be much of a place for an old-style word processor.  Unless, of course, you happen to be a writer.  Nothing’s worse than struggling to write a heart-wrenching scene of your next Great American Novel on a cramped keyboard, only to watch your battery dwindle and die.  Then, ergonomics and battery life take on life-or-death death urgency. 

Enter the glorious AlphaSmart Neo.  (Cue applause here.)

Take a laptop and subtract everything not absolutely necessary to writing text.  That’s an AlphaSmart.  I own several of them, of different generations, and they all do exactly what they’re supposed to: enable you to write quickly and trouble-free, anywhere, anytime.

The keyboard is, in a word, perfect.  The battery life is unbelievable: 700 hours.  Or more.  Just minutes ago, I replaced the three double-A batteries in my Neo for the FIRST TIME.  I’ve already written two complete novel manuscripts on this thing, plus emails, letters, and yes, even this blog.  All of that, out of three ordinary batteries.  Freakin’ outstanding.

If you’re a writer, and you want a simple, durable writing tool, check out the AlphaSmart Neo.  Got questions?  Ask me.  I’ll be happy to tell you about my experiences.  In fact, you might not be able to shut me up. 

After all, I’ve got another 699.9 hours to go.

Categories: writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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