Posted by: Mark | April 20, 2015


Today I finally reached 40,000 words for the year, 40,083 exactly.

In all of 2014, I only wrote 54,859 words, so I’m feeling okay for a change.


Posted by: Mark | April 19, 2015

Meanwhile, Under the Rock

2015-04-19 17.45.28

I checked under the same rock as I found the centipede and this time two of the gross white grubs were wiggling around. I still don’t know what species they are.

2015-04-19 17.41.32

I saw a bunch of white bugs that according to identification guides are termites. I should have squashed them too!

Posted by: Mark | April 18, 2015

American Gothic

I used to read fiction all the time but, over the last few years , I’ve been reduced to nonfiction and little else.

A couple of days ago I checked out three books by Robert Bloch. I started with American Gothic.  It wasn’t his best work and didn’t completely capture the real-life serial killer it was based on but I read the whole novel in one sitting.

American Gothic is based on H.H. Holmes, one of the worst killers in American history, similar to how Psycho was based on Ed Gein. The trouble is that Holmes was just too diverse in his killing than would fit in a novel. (Gein was too, but Bloch wisely focused on a few specifics for Norman Bates.) If I hadn’t known anything about Holmes, I think I would have responded better,  but the fictional Holmes turned out to be much tamer than the real one.

If I didn’t like the book, I wouldn’t have read it so quickly but it’s a far cry from Psycho.

Posted by: Mark | April 17, 2015

From Beyond

I don’t know how I managed to read Lovecraft’s “The Beast in the Cave” and “Old Bugs” but not “From Beyond.”

I think I saw the movie 16 times back when cable ran it endlessly but I just read the story a few days ago.

I’ve read that if you superimpose photographs of men or women over each other, eventually you end up with a very good-looking man or woman, but to get the absolute best, you take that average and add either a touch of masculine or feminine quality to it.

That’s what “From Beyond” was to me. The textbook example of a Lovecraft story. The language, insanity, physical decay, betrayal, and the alien monsters that live unseen among us, even more than “Call of Cthulhu,” “From Beyond” stands out as the ultimate Lovecraft story.

Then again I have a lot of stories to go. I’ll see what happens with the next one.

Posted by: Mark | April 16, 2015

Resolution Update XVI

A little better this week:

1. Blogging. Goal:  300 posts for the year. What I have: Needed 87.12; this is post #128.

2. Writing. Goal:  100,000 words for the year. What I have: I’ve been lazy but had enough of a lead that I’m still ahead: have 37,787, need 29,031.09.

3. Running. Goal: 2,200 miles for the year.  What I have: Up to 715.1, needing 638.9.

4. Publishing. Goal : 105 manuscripts sent out. What I have: I had another work accepted in my only successful genre, porn. Yesterday I sent out my 54th manuscript of the year, needing 30.39.

5. Video. Goal : five video projects.  What I did: I should work on the third project tomorrow.

6. Weight. Goal : lose 35 pounds. What I did: I’m 13.4 pounds down from January 1, but up eight pounds since the last time I had the nerve to check.

7. Art. Goal: Photograph 100 species. What I did : 46:

Mammal (6): Gerbil, Robo hamster, Campbell’s hamster, Syrian hamster, Rabbit, Gray Squirrel

Bird (21): Budgerigar parakeet, Rock doves (pigeons), Northern cardinal, House sparrow, Mallard duck, Canada goose, House finch, American robin, Red-tailed hawk, Common crow, European starling, Tufted Titmouse, Ring-billed gull, Swan Goose, American tree sparrow, Herring gull, Downy woodpecker,  Red-bellied woodpecker, Northern mockingbird, Mourning dove, Red-winged blackbird

Reptile (3): Red-eared slider, Leopard gecko, European wall lizard

Amphibian (2): Dwarf aquatic frog, Fire-Bellied Toad

Insect (7): Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, Stink bug, Wax worm, Mealworms, Cricket, Hister or Oil beetle, White grub

Crustacean: Pillbug

Myriapod (3): Millipedes, Garden centipede, House centipede

Annelid (2): Canadian nightcrawler, Red worms

Planaria (1): Planaria

8. Kids. Goal : 300 events.  What I did: One trip to the Campbell County Library puts us at a lowly 58.

9. Exercise. Goal : 8,000 leg lifts and 5,000 push ups.  What I did: Needed 2,323.28 leg lifts and 1,452.05 push ups and have–

Leg lifts: 2,160 (164 down)

Push ups 1,497 (44 up)

10.  For my sixth and final H.P. Lovecraft story, I read “From Beyond.” I’ll probably write about it tomorrow.

Posted by: Mark | April 15, 2015

The Completion List: Afterlife

So what’s the best tv series starring Andrew Lincoln where he faces an uncertain existence with his son when the dead return to walk the Earth?

Well, that would be The Walking Dead of course, but Lincoln also starred in a BBC series with a similar premise: Afterlife.

Afterlife deals with ghosts,  not zombies. It is well acted and some of the stories were very creepy.  Unlike The Walking Dead which shied away from killing a baby (as depicted in the comic), no one is safe in Afterlife,  even the main characters.

With plenty of good qualities about it, Afterlife failed on one, and that was enough for me to place it behind Walking Dead (which isn’t too bad).

The Walking Dead has been criticized for its world building but Afterlife’s world had some serious problems.  Ghosts are real in Afterlife.  One, a little girl, kills the pedophile who murdered her. If murder victims can come back to avenge their deaths, would the police even have a homicide division? Would anyone dare commit murder? Would we even have the story of Cain and Abel?

If the ghosts were powerless and unseen, the world wouldn’t look so different but regular people, not just psychics, can sometimes see and interact with them.

This could have been explained away but it wasn’t addressed.

Likewise, Andrew Lincoln starts off as a skeptic. In a world where ghosts kill the living,  skeptics wouldn’t exist.

Can you imagine a scene in The Walking Dead: “Zombies, Darryl? Sure, the folk attacking our prison haven’t kept up their hygiene,  but who believes in zombies? ”

The skepticism isn’t as far gone as in The X-Files where Scully gets impregnated by aliens but still won’t believe in them but given the absolute reality of the ghosts in Afterlife,  it just didn’t fly.

Overall,  I liked the series but some of its rules needed revising.

Posted by: Mark | April 14, 2015

Centipedes All Over

2015-04-14 10.48.24

Yesterday I took a picture of this long garden centipede. Supposedly, their jaws are too weak to break human skin but I still wouldn’t give it a hug.

2015-04-14 10.49.29

I have never seen a house centipede until this morning but here this guy is, crawling through the kitchen. I picked him up with a paper towel and threw him outside. They eat pest insects but I don’t want to step on him during the night.

Posted by: Mark | April 13, 2015

705.4 Miles and Make That the 50 Question Meme

I did a half-ass 6.2 miles on the elliptical machine this morning (the equivalent of running 9.36 feet) to put me at 705.4 miles for 2015.

I meant to answer more of the 100 question meme but realized I was finished.  I guess part of the meme is mislabelling.

Posted by: Mark | April 12, 2015

100 Question Writing Meme: Part II

Continuing from before, my answers to questions nobody really cares to know:

26. Which do you enjoy reading the most: physical, ebook, or both? If it’s not on paper, it seems like a Facebook post, up to and including the Bible and Koran.

27. Which do you find hardest: the beginning, the middle, or the end? The middle.

28. Which do you find easiest: writing or editing? Writing.

29. Have you ever been published? Not as much as I’d like.

30. How do you feel about friends and close relatives reading your work? Once it’s written, I’m okay with it.

31. Are you interested in having your work published? As Dr. Johnson said, no man but a blockhead ever wrote but for money.

32. Describe your writing space. A chair that doesn’t fit with the desk.

33. What’s your favorite time of day for writing? Usually the evening when my kids give me time.

34. Do you listen to music when you write? I used to but not anymore with my brat kids around.

35. What’s your oldest WIP? I had to look up the definition of “WIP.” If it’s “women in prison,” I guess it would be Caged Heat II. If it’s “work in progress,” it would be a story about mute aliens I started in college but never finished.

36. What’s your current WIP? Either Orange is the New Black or a novel about dimension hopping.

37. What’s the weirdest story idea you’ve ever had? I’ve had a lot of these. One is about a killer severed penis. That’s probably more coherent than most of my others.

38. Do you ship your own characters? I had to look up the meaning of “ship.” If it means thinking of romantic scenarios for characters, then no.

39. What do you do when characters don’t follow the outline? I don’t outline so this isn’t an issue.

40. Do you enjoy making your characters suffer? Yes, for ones based on people I hate but that’s fairly rare.

41. Have you ever killed a main character? I’m like the second coming of George R.R. Martin in that regard.

42. What’s the weirdest character concept you’ve ever come up with? I’ve had a lot of serial killers, cannibals, and sex offenders. A lot of religious fanatics too.

43. Describe your perfect writing space. A clean desk in a mansion, surrounded by stacks of money.

44. If you could steal one character from another author and make then yours, who would it be and why? No one jumps out. Maybe Tolkien’s Smaug.

45. If you could write the next book of any series, which one would it be, and what would you make the book about? Robert Asprin’s Myth Adventures series. I’m at least two books behind so I’m not sure what it would be about.

46. If you could write a collaboration with another author, who would it be and what would you write about? Again, no one springs to mind. Maybe George R.R. Martin because I can write faster than him.

47. If you could live in any fictional world, which would it be? Definitely not Westeros.

48. Which is your favorite genre to write? Fantasy.

49. Have you ever written fan fiction? Back in 1986, my first published story was for the Myth Adventures fan club.

50. What’s your favorite character name? Lord Floriolax.

Posted by: Mark | April 11, 2015

100 Question Writing Meme: Part One

I know that doing these memes is something that a 13-year-old would do in 2009  but I’ve developed a weird yen for them. The latest is so long that I broke it into quarters.
1.When did you first start writing?  In the fourth grade, I started a comic called The Super Schnauzers. I might have done stuff before that but, if so, I didn’t keep it and don’t remember it.

2.What was your favorite book growing up? From what my mom tells me, it was Robert the Rose Horse. (I should have known that parents are now complaining about the use of guns in the story.)

3.Are you an avid reader? Not as much as I used to be but I try.

4.Have you ever thrown a book across the room? I’m pretty sure. I’ve read some really bad books.

5.Did you take writing courses in school/college? Many. For what it’s worth.

6.Have you read any writing-advice books? Yes. I’d recommend Stephen King’s On Writing for its accessibility.

7.Have you ever been part of a critique group? Both in school and out.

8.What’s the best piece of feedback you’ve ever gotten? It’s been so long that I can’t remember.

9.What’s the worst piece of feedback you’ve ever gotten? I do remember this: I had anti-genre (SF, fantasy, horror) students push me to write more mainstream. I tried but I don’t think it helped.

10.What’s your biggest writer pet-peeve? When I can’t get a description right or just can’t get the words to match what’s in my head.

11.What’s your favorite book cover? The one that comes to mind is Keith Laumer’s Chrestomathy.

12.Who is your favorite author? I guess Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, Frederick Brown, or Mike Resnick.

13.What’s your favorite writing quote? “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Ray Bradbury

14.What’s your favorite writing blog? I guess Mark Evanier’s News from Me.

15.What would you say has inspired you the most? Dealing with people and things I dislike and thinking of revenge.

16.How do you feel about movies based on books? Unlike some elitists, I don’t have a problem. Some books are hard to adapt but many make better movies than books. The Godfather is an undisputable example of a movie that was better than the book.

17.Would you like your books to be turned into TV shows, movies, video games, or none? Eating Ramen noodles has made me less of an artistic snob. If someone was willing to pay licensing fees, have at it.

18.How do you feel about love triangles? They lead to trouble in real life. I guess they’re useful in writing (that Shakespeare fellow seemed to have success with them) but I don’t think I’ve ever had one in a story.

19.Do you prefer writing on a computer or longhand? I don’t think I could produce much in longhand anymore even though that’s how I used to write everything years ago.

20.What’s your favorite writing program? I’m not sure if this refers to a school program (I hear Iowa’s is top rate) or a word processor (I still prefer Word Perfect to MS Word).

21.Do you outline? No but I always have a detailed sense of where the story is going.

22.Do you start with characters or plot? Usually plot.

23.What’s your favorite and least favorite part of making characters? I don’t think I have

24.What’s your favorite and least favorite part of plotting? I usually have a good sense of the beginning and end but getting them together is murder.

25.What advice would you give to young writers? Money is always helpful.

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