Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Book Review (in progress): These Guns For Hire

I have not finished reading this book. I'm currently half way through it. This is an anthology edited by Joe Konrath.

Even though I have not finished reading this book, I already give it 5 stars. If you're a fan of the crime genre, especially the sub-genre of hit men, then you really need to read this book. There are 31 stories inside from authors you've heard of and some you probably
haven't. Lawrence Block, David Morrell, Ed Gorman, Victor Gischler, Max Allan Collins, J.A. Konrath, and many more.

As of yet, I haven't read a story I didn't like. They range from the most calculating, professional killers to the comical. There's even a story where a lemur is the target of a hit! I know. At first, when I read that, I thought, Really? A hit man is supposed to take out a lemur? How good can it possible be?

Trust me. It's that good! I must admit, I was skeptical when I read that the stories were an eclectic bunch, taking place in foreign locales, involving supernatural elements, and lemurs. As I've mentioned, so far, every story I've read has been stellar. If you haven't already read this book, buy it. You won't regret it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Status update and cover sneak peek

I'm getting very close to finishing an editorial cycle on my hit man novel. I've probably said this many times in several of my posts, but the fact is, editing really sucks. If you want to be an author, it's a necessary evil. I mean, sure, I could just hurry through the process (as many authors tend to do), but that wouldn't be fair to the story or to my readers. When I start writing a book, I have a vision of what I want to say and where I want to take my reader and what I want them to experience. The editorial process is where I'm supposed to polish and fine tune the manuscript, getting it just the way I want it. So, with that said, just know that it should hit virtual bookshelves soon. Here is a sneak peek of the final cover for it:

I welcome all feedback concerning the cover. I think the image works very well at giving the reader an idea of what this book is all about. Well, as much as an image can anyway. Of course, they say a picture is worth a thousand words. It took me nearly one hundred prototypes to get this one just right. Maybe I will post some of the earlier concepts for readers who are curious about what I rejected.

In addition to editing the novel, I'm still working on my silicone mask for Halloween. I received some new supplies this week (gypsum cement, an airbrush, and some Psycho Paint) and hope to get to work applying the plaster some time this weekend. I hope to post some pictures of the mask as I progress. If you're interested in creating your own silicone masks or just curious about the process, feel free to contact me. I've got plenty of advice learned from my own mistakes so far as well as links to video tutorials and material suppliers.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

It puts the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again!

Since Halloween is approaching, I decided to post some truly disturbing things to help get you in the mood. Without further ado...

I hope you enjoyed Loco's New Song. Stay tuned for more atrocities from The Scene of the Crime.

Halloween isn't far off and I'm starting something new

If you didn't already know, Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year. Yes, it even trumps Christmas. For me, at least. I know a lot of people would probably be surprised by that statement, but it's true. I still can't put my finger on exactly why Halloween is my favorite holiday. I mean, there's obviously the trick-or-treating, which I am much too old for now so I just sit at home. The days get shorter, which is kind of depressing to me. I enjoy long sunny days because I feel like I can accomplish more. There are the Halloween episodes of sitcoms I enjoy. Although we're reduced to only seventeen channels on TV because I refuse to pay the cable company's exorbitant rates for hundreds of channels of shit. (BTW, what has happened to TV? Even with only seventeen channels, most of the programming is garbage: hour-long infomercials, dancing shows, talent-less talent shows, et al. Okay, I've digressed. I'll leave that for another post later where I can be a curmudgeon and rant) Schools' Halloween Carnivals featuring games and kids running around in costume having a grand time. I'm not in school any longer and we rarely go to my daughter's school unless we're there to watch her band performance or some other activity she is involved with. Besides, I don't think her high school even has any Halloween event. These are things that come to mind when I think of Halloween. You might be asking yourself, why do I love Halloween if none of those things seem enjoyable to me?

Well, the answer is: that is not everything I think of when Halloween rolls around. In addition, I must say that the aforementioned are things I enjoyed as a kid, things that can't quite be recaptured but they stick with me to this day. Of course, there are also haunted house attractions to visit and I thoroughly love that! Mainly, I think there is something in the air this time of year that gets my mojo flowing. Maybe it's just the ushering in of fall. Fall is also my favorite time of year, when the trees begin changing and the Georgia heat begins to subside. I also find that when Halloween approaches, I become more active with my writing and creative endeavors. For instance, this year I've started to make silicone Halloween masks. Growing up, I was always captivated by the latex monster masks stores would put on display this time of year. They were always too expensive for me to purchase though. As a kid, no matter how cool the masks were, I couldn't convince myself to save that much money, let alone part with it for a single mask. There was always something better looming around the corner that I spent my money on. So, I never ended up purchasing one of those ghoulish masks that can easily be found at Party Cities, Halloween Expresses, and Spencers.

Recently, I visited a few websites that sell silicone masks. The masks are top-notch quality and fit so well that the mask moves with your facial expressions. Instead of spending hours trying to get a latex special effects appliance to fit on your face, transforming you into some ghoulish creature, you can simply slip the mask on and become what you want. Of course, these masks aren't cheap. The prices range anywhere from one hundred dollar to five or even eight hundred dollars. You definitely get what you pay for, so you can imagine how silly the cheaper masks look compared to the more expensive masks. Last year, I managed to purchase two pairs of prescription theatrical contact lenses that I wanted to use this year. I picked a silicone mask that was an evil clown and waited before making the purchase. In that time, I managed to talk myself out of parting with five hundred dollars for the mask. What if I wanted to be something different the next year? Hell, I'd be stuck with the clown mask and out half a grand. It just didn't seem practical even though the mask does look super awesome.

I did some research and found some people making their own silicone masks. There were even tutorial videos that some teens had posted on YouTube. I looked into the supplies needed to create the masks, etc. It was cheaper than the single mask I was prepared to buy. Not to mention, I could create whatever I could dream up. I could be an evil clown this year, next year, I could be a rotting corpse, or whatever. So, I took the leap and bought a gallon of Dragon Skin FX Pro silicone, eight pounds of modeling clay, an armature, buckets of plaster, and various solvents needed. I commandeered my wife's dance studio and shut myself away to create a half-face mask.

I learned a lot from the process of creating that mask. The first lesson, don't use silicone for a half-mask; it's much too flimsy. Next time, when creating a half-mask, I'll use either latex or a urethane rubber. Even though that first mask was unusable, I still have it as a keepsake. It feels and looks just like human skin and is very pliable. I was lucky enough to have mixed the coloring pigments just right. I felt it was time to try my hand at a full-head mask, just like the one I was thinking of buying. I molded the clay on my armature, built retaining walls, poured the plaster, and demolded it. Unfortunately, the plaster molds cracked during the demolding process. I had purchased the wrong type of plaster, a plaster that was not hard enough for creating mask molds. Fortunately, my sculpture came out with very minimal damage and I was able to repair it. I've since ordered some Ultracal 30 gypsum cement to create my mold.

Until then, I am trying to edit my hit man novel that is nearing the editorial phase. I hope to have it out soon. While my favorite holiday is fast approaching and I'm getting excited about making scary masks, I don't want to take my eye off the prize and let my novel languish. So, if you're interested in mask making or scary monster masks in general, check back often to see my progress. I promise to post pictures of my creations. Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Savannah and Tybee Island, Georgia

After nearly forty years of living in Georgia, I finally visited Savannah. While there, my wife and I also ventured out to Tybee Island. If I'd known how awesome Savannah is, I would have made it a point to visit much sooner. The city is rife with peaceful squares, monuments, pubs, restaurants, and plenty of photogenic wonders (some of which I wanted to share in this post).

Whether you believe in the supernatural and want to embark on a ghost tour or you simply want to get away from the hustle and bustle of your mundane life, Savannah and Tybee Island are locations you must put on your to-do list. We spent two days in Savannah and an additional day on Tybee. I took my camera with me the majority of the time so I have hundreds of pictures. Here are a few:




Sprawling Live Oak

Serene Sidewalk

Fountain in Forsyth Park

One of Many Monuments

Building with Nightlights



Beach Boardwalk

Beach Flower

Beach Grass

Hungry Birds

Boat and Dock

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What the ???

Okay, so I'm one of those authors who Google themselves and their books to see whether my SEO keywords are working. I'm not sure of a better way to track this and how well my books are doing out in the wild. Today, Amazon and B&N reset the monthly sales figures, so I wasn't surprised to see that I had no sales when I checked. Although I will admit it's disappointing to see zeroes or that stupid beige line that Amazon displays.

So, I Googled "An Adverse Anthology" and saw a link to some site called I've visited it before and was shocked to see that my collection was #97 in the US. Of course, it had dropped to #109 or something, so yeah, that's just my luck. Nothing to get all excited about.

When I clicked it today, the chart reflected that I had entered the Canadian chart at #18! EIGHTEEN! What?! (You should be able to see it here.)

I was shocked and so happy to see that, but then reality bit me and I knew that this had got to be short lived. After all, it just entered the chart. By tomorrow, I'll probably be off of it at a position greater than 100. Or, whoever is in charge of such things might realize the error of something they did and I'll be replaced by some big-name author.

Oh well, anyway, I'm going to bask in the rays of my current position while I can. Even if it means I just post it here on my blog where no one seems to visit, which brings me to another thing. When I began writing, all of the advice was about how to finish writing a book, that people wanted to do it but didn't have the fortitude. Well, I will tell you this: writing the damn book (hell, even editing it) is cake compared to marketing the blasted thing! But, I digress. That's a post for another time. If you've wandered over here and read to this point, THANK YOU! Please, leave me a comment, or if you've read my work or purchased my anthology, leave a review. I'd surely appreciate it.