Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Likes and Dislikes (aka, Scare Me!)

What do you guys like to read?

For the most part, I like books that scare me. Now, I read a lot of different genres, but if I get a shiver while reading a book, or if I am thinking to myself “Don’t go in that room CHARACTER, you’re gonna regret it!” then I’m happy as a pig in…well…you know the rest. Southern colloquialisms…ya gotta love ‘em.

I also like some fantasy. It has to be done a certain way, though. I used to love the Xanth books, but I had to stop reading somewhere around The Color of Her Panties. I just couldn’t get past all the puns. For my fantasy book-buying dollars, I’ll take Margaret Weis and Tracey Hickman, R.A. Salvatore, Robert Jordan, and Terry Goodkind (although Goodkind does get a little long-winded from time to time).

Then there are thrillers. Yeah, I like those, too. Michael Crichton, James Rollins, Lisa Gardner, Alex Kava, and Robert Liparulo are just a few of my favorites in this genre. There are also some up-and-comers like Jeremy Robinson and Scott Sigler. Anytime you can read about a character getting eaten by a creature that hasn’t existed on this planet in several hundred million years or so, you have my undivided attention. Aaaah…good times. Goooood times.

But what most of those books have in common is that, at some point in the book, they creeped me out or even scared the poo outta me. THAT’s what I like. Like in Scott Sigler’s Ancestor when that fetus attacked a camera while still in the womb. Ooooh…shivers. Or in Steven King’s The Stand when a group of loincloth-clad black soldiers led a rebellion of sorts against the rest of the company, executing all of them in game-show fashion (the set up resembled The Price is Right). I still have nightmares about those two scenes.

One of my proudest moments as a writer (especially since I’m not published yet) came when one of my beta readers told me she had to sleep with the lights on after reading a scene I wrote. Big smile in McAfee Land that day. Shortly afterward, another beta told me she actually had nightmares about the same scene. Ooh! I scared TWO people with it. You can insert the theme from Rocky here, if you want to.

Alas, that book was not able to snag an agent, for all its charms (personally, I still love that book…but what do I know?).

But these things are selective, aren’t they? I mean, watching an unborn prehistoric animal fetus stare at a camera and attack it (with a mouth full of razors…a frickin’ FETUS, mind you!) might not have the same effect on some of you as it did me. So you guys tell me….when it comes to horror (or thrillers with horror elements), what does it for you? Are you a creep-factor reader? Do you like to read about some heretofore unknown critter chomping down on people’s vital organs? Maybe you like the psycho in the bathroom with a butcher knife theme. Or maybe you just pass on that stuff altogether in favor of Mitch Albom (who is friggin’ GREAT, BTW) or Nicholas Sparks.

You tell me. What floats your boat?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Egads! I've Been Double-Tagged!!

Yo-Ho, me hearties, Yo-Ho!! Ok, why did I say that? oh, I know, it's because I've got the lovely and talented Adrienne Kress on the brain. That's why. And as we all know (and if you didn't know, you should have known...what's wrong with you, anyway?), Adrienne is the author of Alex and the Ironic Gentleman, which is a phenominal book about a clever and resourceful little girl named Alex who has a remarkable adventure that involves...oh, life and death, treasure and a huge talking octopus (that's Extremely Ginormous Octopus, thank you very much), and...and...what else? Oh, yeah...Pirates! Right...that's where the Yo-Ho comes in. Ok, full circle now. I got it. Anyway, the book really is great, and if you don't have it you should go buy it. Right now.

Seriously, go buy it. I'll wait for ya.

You back? Good.

Now, where was I?

Oh, yeah...double-tagged. Well, the other person to tag me with this is Michael from Avatar Lore. While Mike didn't write Alex and the Ironic Gentleman, he did write Sanctuary of the Mind, which you should also go and get if you haven't already read it. Hey, and it's free, no less! Go. Go now. I'll wait (again...yer such a slacker for not having these two books already...sheesh!).

You back? Good. Now no more interruptions.

Shit. I got lost again...wait...let me reread what I've written. Gimme a sec...

OH YEAH! Ok. Hey...I said Yo-Ho. That could get me slapped under some circumstances. But y'all forgive me, don't ya? Please? I knew you would.

But anyway, thanks for bearing with me ( you think bears ever get offended by that phrase? I mean, no one ever says "Please, onion with me" or "Hey, rhino with me for a moment while I collect my thoughts."). As I said a few minutes ago, I've been tagged! Twice. With the same tag. Yeah. Me. Mr. Quiet. Go figure.

So, the rules are thus:

1. Grab the nearest book of 123 pages or more.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the first five sentences and write them down.
4. Invite five friends to do the same.

I am going to cooperate with rules 1-3, but I'm gonna leave 4 alone. Yeah, I know...spoilsport, right? So, hey...if any of y'all feel like joining in, consider this your open invitation. IOW - TAG!

But for the rest of us, here we go...

The book closest to me is Dawn, by the late, great Octavia Butler. I actually have not read this particular Butler book yet, but I doubt the 5 sentences will ruin the book for me. So here we go...the first five sentences on page 123 of Dawn (I should note I am going to do the first five FULL sentences...the rules were vague on that part):

She really was bright; she had memorized poetry, plays, songs - her own and those of more established writers. She had something that would help future human children remember who they were. The Oankali thought she was unstable, but not dangerously so. They had to drug her because she injured herself trying to break free of what she called her cage. She had broken both her arms.

Wow. That sounds cool, doesn't it? Ok, now I have to read it. What's her name? I dunno. I like this exercise. Thanks Mike and Adrienne. Try and imagine me slapping the palm of my hand on my monitor in an impromptu high-five. I say try and imagine it because (A) you wouldn't see if it I did and (B) I ain't actually gonna slap my monitor. You crazy? Darn things are expensive...unless you steal one. But then you go to jail and have a big ugly cellmate who thinks you're "Mighty Purty" and so I guess it ends up costing you anyway, No monitor slapping.

Sheesh, how do I get so sidetracked? Must be the crack.

In any case, thanks for stopping by, folks. Thanks Mike and Adrienne for chiming in and tagging me even though I've been in strict lurk mode online the last few weeks. Feels good to be included. :)

A'ight, all. It's bed time for moi. Y'all have a great night and a great tomorrow!

See Y'all!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I Just Wrote A Scene That Is Going To Haunt Me

Howdy all. I'm back. Sorry for the long's been one of "those" months. Mike - I saw that you tagged me. I wasn't ignoring ya. I'll do the tag in my next post. Promise.

So after a very unproductive last 4 weeks, I sat down tonight to write a scene I have been dreading. Not because I didn't think I could write it, but because it's something that, in striving for authenticity, I knew I was going to be writing something that would turn my stomach.

My current WIP involves the spirit of an adolescent African American boy who died in the rural south not long after the civil rights movement. What bothered me about it is the boy's death. It's bad. he dies at the hands of a group of white supremacists in a time and place where there just isn't much law. Now, the nature of his death is supposed to be violent, that's part of the story and a primary motivator for revenge, but damn it all...I didn't want to write it.

Not the least concern was the language. We all know the kind of filth those folks spew, and I have to say I found the prospect of writing any of it down to be one of the most distasteful things I've done as an aspiring writer. But I guess that's kid of the point, isn't it? If I, the writer, can make myself cringe, then the reader should get just as angry, right?

Well, that's what I was going for. I dunno if I pulled it off. But I do know I am going to have some ugly dreams tonight. That's probably my cosmic payback for thinking up this darn scene in the first place. This poor kid's death is just so damn wrong. LAPD with less restraint.


As an aside - Thank you Tyhitia, for the "sorta" pep-talk about this scene. I took your advice.

Now I need to go wash my hands.

See Y'all!