Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Construction and Slush

With hammers banging all around me (we are having an addition built on the humble Casa Paffenroth), here's the update:

84 TBR
37 Maybe
147 rejections

History Is Dead - BIG Announcement!

A total of FIVE of the twenty stories in History Is Dead have been named as "Honorable Mention" in this year's 21st Annual Year's Best Fantasy and Horror:

Jenny Ashford, "The Anatomy Lesson"
Doug Hutcheson, "The Travellin' Show"
Carole Lanham, "The Moribund Room"
Joe McKinney, "Starvation Army"
Christine Morgan, "The Barrow Maid"

The cover art was also singled out for praise in the "Summation" part at the beginning of the book.

Congratulations! And special congratulations to Christine, who endured months of me teasing her that I had a big announcement for her but couldn't tell her what it was!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Christine Morgan

Two days to your big announcement!

Virtual/Swag Presence at Context

Thanks to John Hornor Jacobs, I was a virtual/swag presence at Context 21!

Paul Newman

A really fine fellow. I don't know where exactly the younger generation looks for its constructions of masculinity, but he gave us plenty over the years, of such variety.

HUD was my father's favorite, and while I can appreciate the power of the performance, the title character is sort of selfishness personified. (The Oedipal dots are easy enough to connect - I believe this was my father's preferred version of masculinity - take what you want and what you can get away with and anyone whose feelings are hurt is just a big whiner and needs to get out of your way.)

My boss at Villanova preferred Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which also suited his life, because Butch was the less flashy of the pair, the brains behind the operation.

And while I hardly pretend or aspire to a Christ figure myself, I think Cool Hand Luke resonates the most with me - the outsider, the loner, never quite fitting in.

And never mind all his work with his line of foods, profits donated to charity. And driving race cars.

College Reunion - First Impressions

Too sparsely attended from my year to be too much fun. Some nice conversations, some boring ones. Not really that exciting overall.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Swag Appearances!

I believe all the swag packages arrived at their destinations, so Kim Swag will be at the following upcoming cons:

Context 21 (http://www.contextsf.org/)
Shreveport Zombie Walk (http://www.myspace.com/shreveportzombiewalk)
Madison Horror Film Festival (http://www.madisonhorror.com/)
OryCon (http://www.orycon.org/)

I'm off to my college reunion, but upcoming appearances are

Fencon - OCT 3-5
Albacon - OCT 10-12
Night-Mares Haunted Attraction, Montvale, NJ - OCT 17
Zombie Fest 2008 - OCT 24-26

Twenty Year Reunion

I guess I'm supposed to say it seems like yesterday, and in some ways it does. On the other hand, some days it feels like I am so old. But the mathematical reality is that 20 years ago, I graduated from St. John's College, Annapolis. And tomorrow I'll drive down there and see some people I knew back then. And it'll be kind of fun.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Biblical Scholars are Zombies!

Well, this guy calls us everything but zombies, but I thought I needed some hook to the main theme of my blog:


What a small-souled man.

As a professor, I am very willing to admit that I and my work are mostly ignored by my students, and by the rest of the human race, for that matter. The couple of times per year when I have a profound effect on a student and change his/her mind or outlook, I am very happy; as for the other hundreds of students, maybe a few have some seeds of critical thinking and knowledge planted in them. For that I find my work very rewarding. Rather than attack me and his other colleagues in biblical studies, perhaps Dr Avalos would feel less bitter if he could learn some humility and rejoice at those students on whom he has some positive effect.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

One Step Closer to World Domination

I now have an agent!

Slush Morning

91 TBR
36 maybe
141 rejections

Monday, September 22, 2008

Slush Afternoon

100 TBR
33 maybe
135 rejections

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Life Sentence on Amazon

First review there, from Dead Mama, uber zombie enthusiast and organizer of the Shreverport Zombie Walk (http://www.myspace.com/shreveportzombiewalk):


And the bump it's giving to D2L! It's at 1726th, which is probably the highest it's EVER been since it came out in April 2007!

Dark Knight - "Morbid Incoherence"

This is one smart analysis:


I had not been persuaded by the "Dark Knight = W" analysis, and this puts it in perspective. The film is more nihilistic than that, but not just nihilistic: there's a poignancy, a doubt, an ambivalence. Even nihilism is somehow certain in its affirmation of nothingness, and this film is not. It teases us with nihilism, only to snatch it away and say, "No, not quite. You can't even have that to hold on to."

And in that sense, it is a very profound piece, I remain convinced.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Amazon Page - New and Improved

They got the cover art up:


As usual with a new release, its Amazon numbers are all over, but it seems to be bouncing higher each time, being at 19,000th at 5:30pm.

Slush Update

110 TBR
32 maybe
126 rejections

(There, I made sure it adds up to 268.)

(Numbers updated at 5:30pm.)

And I still WAIT WAIT WAIT on my own manuscript!

Zombie Sing-a-Long!

Some zombie enthusiasts put this together:


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dante Quiz

Christine sent this quiz along. Not surprisingly, I ranked among the Gluttonous, with some affinity for the Lustful and Wrathful as well:

the Third Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)High
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Low
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Very High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)Low
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

Slushy Morning

129 TBR
29 maybe
110 rejections

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Reminder - Life Sentence on Amazon

Just a reminder:


It's at 216,000th, which isn't bad for a preorder debut, but I know the shambling hordes of minions can do better.

Even if I've already promised you a free copy, why not stock up for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza?

Speaking of Querying...

Must resist temptation to email the agent to whom I sent Valley of the Dead...



Will... fading...

Insecurity... rising...

World Is Dead - Please Don't Query!

If you sent it, it is almost certainly in the inbox. And if it is there, I will definitely get to it, barring death or some other disaster. I know it's taking me longer than I thought, but I'm still pretty sure I'm turning them around much quicker than most any other market out there.

Oh - and not to be critical, but you might want to watch out: if someone asks for it in MSW, don't sent it in RTF. And don't send your subs for other anthologies to one address and think the editor will just pass them along, especially not if they're several months late for the other antho.

Life Sentence - Now Available on Amazon!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Slush

150 TBR
25 maybe
100 rejections

Hit the "Send" Button

That's what I did a couple hours ago.

I'd been over Valley of the Dead. The betas had been thoroughly over it. (Thanks, guys!) It was as good as it was going to get. So off it went. Into the ether.

You can send things at very nearly the speed of light. But the waiting time is pretty much exactly what it had been since time untold - as long as it takes for someone to get around to it.

And speaking of which, back to slush in the morning!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Don't Poke the Troll!

Okay, so I won't. Not by name. Don't need the aggravation. But maybe he'll sniff this out, since he goes after the same couple people over and over and over, for years. Might have Google Alerts set up to tell him when any of his favorite enemies/tormentors are mentioned. (I very much doubt it, as he seems a little more technologically illiterate than I.) You can't fault the boy for determination. So I'll just say a few nice things about his favorite targets.

Brian Keene - a gentleman, generous with his time and help and advice to fellow writers. Does not suffer fools gladly, from which one should conclude - Don't be a fool!

Christine Morgan - a very talented writer on her own, and also very generous with her time. She has done an amazing job reading through my latest manuscript. Deft and eloquent. She has real skills and those will soon be recognized with a little award, and I think with much bigger things in the near future.

Louise Bohmer - very good editor. Did a thorough job with an earlier manuscript of mine. Totally professional.

So, the moral is - treat people nice, and for the most part, they'll treat you extra special nice!

Westbrook Pegler

This is the kind of thing that needs to get out there. I'll take it from no less conservative a rag than the WSJ:


The guy was also a "casual" anti-Semite. (I guess a "professional" one actually makes money off their anti-Semitism. Perhaps we should be optimistic that Palin did not quote one of those, like Julius Streicher.)

Wake up, people! Like Cheney's smirk - which fills me with rage every time I see that loathsome monster sneering at all the misery and death he's created - they're not even bothering to put lipstick on their faux populism as they ask you to grab your ankles. They won't even say please or thank you, or buy you dinner first. Okay, so they don't abort their fetuses and they carry around guns and they go to church - good for them! Those are all very nice qualities. That does NOT make them your friends. They'd no more have a beer with you, or piss on you if you were on fire, than they'd gouge out their own eyes and eat them.

Okay. Back to work. Finally read through of Valley of the Dead. I might stick in a few more Republican stand-ins.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Slush Update

All right, the TBR number was off before, as I was reading the bold number next to "Inbox" and not the total number in the inbox. So here goes

156 TBR
95 rejections
23 maybe

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Well, not perhaps as much in the athletic or sexual senses as I might like...


I was declared today to have met the criteria for Active Member Status in the Horror Writers Association! So, I can like vote for the Stoker Award and hold office and everything!!!

Valley of the Dead Map

Here's a neat little map I asked Bob Freeman to do, showing Dante's journey through the valley.

Valley of the Dead

Complete! At 84,500 words.

To the betas this weekend, then the real task of getting an agent and/or publisher begins on Monday!

Full speed ahead!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Knowing Is Half the Battle!

Valley of the Dead - Penultimate Chapter!

They finally met the Satan character! It was cool!

82,500 words!

One more chapter of denouement, where Dante can behold the stars, and this one is history! Epic, awesome, ground-breaking history!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Just hit 80k, so I'm officially at the length I wanted it to be!

Just have to resist the temptation to type "THE END" and give short shrift to the last two chapters!

Dream - A Doozy!

I dreamed I was at this kid's birthday party with my daughter and my wife. Everything was going wrong at the part. The lady running it wouldn't give my daughter a separate plate of chicken nuggets, but made her and the girl sitting next to her share a plate and they were fighting. Then the woman wanted me to pop the layers of the birthday cake out of the cake pans. I made a joke and said, no, I'd rather not, but she kept insisting. My wife, who in real life would somehow intervene at that point, kept on chewing on chicken nuggets. I finally lost my temper and said no, I'm not popping the fuckin' cakes out of the fuckin' pans, lady. I went to leave and my father was walking in the door, soaking wet, like he's just swam there. He said his girlfriend's dog was sick. I said I'd help him with it and followed him out the door.


Monday, September 08, 2008

Valley of the Dead Update

77,400 words

Getting really close. Thursday or Friday at the latest.

Killer Kittens from beyond the Grave

Welcome to this newest member of the League of Tana Tea Drinkers:


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Old School Wrestling

Please understand - the last time I watched wrestling with any regularity, Andre the Giant was on most weeks.

I haven't been mildly curious about wrestling since WCW merged with WWE.

But this TNA on SPIKE is the BOMB! You have GOT to watch this!

Girls! Fights in the parking lot and locker room! Double-crosses! And the heels are all totally old school: they're either foreigners, pretty boys (or girls), or caricatures of "rednecks." That is really old school wrestling stuff. (And yes, I know stereotypes are bad, but it was always part of the wrestling world, at least when I started watching in the 80s). It's amazing!

Valley of the Dead - Word Count, Home Stretch


Now that feels really good.

That and that cold breeze, remnant of a hurricane that just blew in.

News: RNC to be Held in 8th Circle of the Abyss!

Not surprisingly, all the recent "red meat" rhetoric of our Republican friends has found its way into the speeches of the damned I'm putting in the 8th circle of hell. Here are a few choice phrases:

We don’t really like strangers hanging around here too much.
You see what we do with trouble makers.
Ideas are bad.
You just make do. That’s what me and old Bert do.
Bert and me don’t bother anyone, and we expect others to do the same! And if they don’t, well, that’s their bad choice! That’s on them!
Damn foreigner with his filthy, heathen ways.
They’re all the same. And not for normal folk.
Telling the workers how God wants freedom for all people. Have you ever heard such foolishness? Have you ever seen where God wants things different than the way they are?
No sense stirring things up and making people all upset and making them act foolish. Good common sense, that’s what we need. And these boys here just didn’t have any.

I guess I shoulda had a sexy mom uttering such damnable phrases, but we can't have the parallel be too exact!

EDIT: Okay, I'm going to go all the way and have one of the damned call one of the people they've tortured to death a "philosophicator"! Now that is a simple pleasure.

The Great Books - Zombie Versions

The whole time I've been working on Valley of the Dead, I've been wondering what other Classics could work in zombie versions.

Certainly Ahab hunting the zombie horde that tore his leg off. Macbeth could have a zombie army at his disposal.

But today I got the real deal.

The whole zombie enchilada.


Sitting down?

Flannery O'Connor stories with zombies in them. The Artificial Zombie. A Good Zombie Is Hard to Find. Good Country Zombies.


I mean, 3/4 of her characters are freaks/monsters/living dead as it is! It practically writes itself!

I don't know if it's going to be as fun to party with Flannery as it is with the Florentine. I can imagine her stomping around the house like Hulga, asking me where I keep the damn mint tea and calling me a filthy protestant dog.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Valley of the Dead - Simple Pleasures

Part of the fun in the project is how much I get to put one of my most beloved, idolized authors into normal (well, okay, "normal" if you overlook the fact there are zombies about!) situations and have him react like a regular guy with emotions. And sometimes I come up with just a really straightforward reaction, and I see the humor in it. Today's line in that category would be:

"The man’s girlish giggle and the way he looked at her made Dante want to punch him in the face."

I mean, it's Dante - you don't think of him wanting to punch people in the face! But that's what makes it fun!

Valley of the Dead - Word Count Update


Feelin' strong, feelin' proud

Slush Update

156 TBR
21 maybe
80 rejections

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Door to Hell!

Thanks to JohnG for directing me to this:


It's definite book cover material!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Worse Review of Orpheus and the Pearl!

Not nearly as detailed as the other, and really rather nasty throughout, but it's nice to have a little something sitting around to bolster one's humility from time to time!


Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Yes, I hit 67k words in Valley of the Dead!

I have six of what I call "narrative elements" left. They don't quite match up to chapters, and they don't quite match up one-for-one with the cantos of Inferno. They're more like boxes I have to check off, plotwise, for the story to proceed. Each one should (if I'm following my present pattern) take about one or two chapters to cover, and take up about 2-3k words. So even if I come in at the low end for each of those with the word count, I still should hit 80k. (I'm always worried about the size of the novel - though I can take 2k words describing somebody putting on his socks, I really can't keep a narrative going for too much over 75k. I just kind of run out of steam.)

Monday, September 01, 2008


After consultation with the brilliant people over at The Other Dark Place, I think that soothsaying can be depicted as wrong in my Dante novel because it is hubristic (over stepping the bounds of human knowledge), potentially hazardous (giving gullible people bad advice), and charlatanry (bilking people out of money for dubious advice).

I have one little soothsaying trick to put in, but it sure would've been nice to have tarot cards, too, but I just learned those were not introduced to Europe till the end of the 14th century.

World Is Dead Update - Day One After Deadline

Deadline is past, so this should be all I'll have to deal with:

170 - TBR
21 - Maybe
70 - rejected (I overestimated it last time, since I just look at my "sent" file and estimate how may were rejections)


Triumph of The Walking Dead