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UK Review of TEC

Just a pointer to a nifty little review on the Guardian Unlimited site:

“Somers’ relentlessly hard-nosed future, a world where “you had to hit people first, never let them think you were soft”, is an exhilarating example of powerful and entertaining storytelling.”


I’m Damned Interesting

Every morning for the past few days I’ve been awakened via low-voltage cattle prod wielded by a masked man in a three-piece suit.

He’s huge, busting out of his ill-fitting suit, and he wears one of those Mexican Wrestling masks. Why? I don’t know. You might as well ask why the cattle prod, instead of, say, a sharp stick, or a rabid monkey shoved enthusiastically under the sheets.

The reason behind this new indignity, of course, is my lack of blog production. There are good reasons for this. Number 1, I’m in the last stages of revising the sequel to The Electric Church. The contract was signed and now I’m legally obligated to either deliver an acceptable manuscript or repay my advance monies and be beaten with table legs until I expire. Or something. I am admittedly a little vague on the actual contract language. When I signed, I was immobilized after drinking some seriously suspect liquor, and my wife had to guide my hand to form my ‘mark’. But I was assured it was legally binding.

The sequel is pretty much done; it’s just the finishing touches I’m doing now. The exhausting thing is, the finishing touches can go on for a very long time, and sometimes the finishing touches involve deleting three chapters and writing new ones. Simple stuff like that.

The second reason I’ve been lame about posting to this blog is I started reading The Mirror Crack’d by Agatha Christie. I am a sucker for mysteries, and usually have an expression of immense stupidity on my face when it’s all said and done. I got kind of wrapped up in this one.

I love these old mysteries—Christie, Sayers, those sorts. There’s something magical about the time period (early 20th century). I always find myself surprised how like the modern day a lot of it is—and yet there’ll be a moment here and there that reminds you the story was written almost 80—100 years ago.

One thing that always strikes me about these stories is how everyone who had any money at all had servants. Cheerful, industrious servants who know their place and don’t seem to mind it, who accept the fact that their employers are higher up on the food chain than them and are okay with that. I know people today still employ servants, but I’ve never known anyone who does. I suppose someone I know out there employs a cleaning person or a nanny or something and I’m just not aware of it, but that’s not quite the same as a world where it is assumed that everyone who is anyone employs, for example, a parlormaid.

When I have ruthlessly sold out to Hollywood—spending idyllic days in a drunken haze while my secretaries write my scripts for me, like Faulkner—and am rich, I will, of course, have a whole household of servants to attend to me. Mainly to my grooming, which has declined shockingly in recent years and probably requires a team of experts by now anyway.

So, there you have it: Watch the skies for the TEC sequel, and I am stinky. But devastatingly handsome. Once you get through the grime, of course.

We Hates Wikipedia

Friends, I used to have a Wikipedia page. It was a thing of beauty.

Okay, I created it myself. I certainly can’t be the first self-centered author to go ahead and create his own Wikipedia entry. I mean, why shouldn’t the world be blessed with knowledge of: Me? That’s right: no reason. So I created my own page. It was restrained, bare-boned, and merely provided information about me to those who had a bizarre desire for same.

And then, one day not too long ago, someone tagged it as unnecessary on the grounds that I was not a “prominent” writer, and after a few weeks it was culled.

I didn’t get involved with the debate over whether to keep it or not. While I had no qualms about creating my own page, I didn’t think it seemly to go in there and actually campaign to keep it–let the Cosmos decide, I figured. And then the Cosmos did, indeed, decide–and my WP page was no more. Damn you all.

I mention this for no reason, of course. I have a blog to fill if I want my corporate masters to feed me, after all–in a few weeks this will be filled with laundry lists, diary entries in which I do nothing but write diary entries into this blog, and, finally, random poundings of the keyboard which I will refer to as ‘poetry’. I would never try to incite the three or four people who actually read this blog into creating a new WP for me. That would be pathetic. And one thing I struggle day-in and day-out to not be, is pathetic.

I sometimes fail, of course, in that struggle. Especially after some liquor.

Meanwhile, Internet miscreants around the world have discovered the official site for The Electric Church and are emailing me for clues to the puzzles therein. This is fun. I know all the answers, of course, but unless someone is willing to fly here and buy me some drinks, I ain’t talkin’.


Hola: Just a quick note to anyone who actually checks this blog on a regular basis to let you know the official site for The Electric Church is now live. Go check it out, see if you can suss out the puzzle(s), and let me know what you think!

Travel Sucks

For the last week and a half I’ve been playing a little game, hiding from my Minders when they come to deliver food and other supplies. In the past I was handcuffed to the toilet whenever they came into the room, so I just started to hide from them. I also stopped bathing or engaging in any other kind of personal hygiene.

This morning they came for me, handcuffed me to the toilet, and forcibly shaved me.

Apparently I need to be spruced up a bit for public consumption, as Big Things are going to happen concerning The Electric Church, and since I might actually be viewed by the reading public at some point it was thought I should resemble Grizzly Adams a little less. And smell a little better, if at all possible.

Las VegasI haven’t posted much because I’ve been travelling. Travel, as anyone who knows me already knows, is on my list of things to never do unless forced by a higher power–usually my surprisingly strong wife. A few months ago she decided she wanted to go somewhere for her birthday, so Las Vegas there we went.

It was hot. Triple digit hot. I don’t mean to whine about it; we’re Northeastern folks and we walk everywhere. We walked out to the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign and I think I lost fifteen pounds or so just getting there. I mean, it was hot.

Plus, I have a bunch of writing projects on the griddle, and lost a week on all of them. The TEC sequel, the new issue of TIS, a few odds and ends–the trip seriously ate into my work schedule. Sitting on the plane for four hours before we even took off on the flight home didn’t help, either–it’s a 4 hour flight and my laptop battery goes about 3 hours, so I dared not turn it on lest I be without MP3s the whole flight, which leads to madness.

Ah, but now I am back. Which means. . .nothing, really. The Day Job starts sucking my time immediately and I am never one to just dive in and start working. I need Waste Time. This sometimes appears to be singular to me, this need to just waste two hours for every one I work. I need to surf the Intarwebs, play video games, read from the 6 books I’ve started–that sort of thing–for a while before I can relax and get into my writing costume. Which is really just a big chicken costume, but I call it my writing costume. Tell no one. It’s too embarrassing. If it took you twenty minutes just to get into your writing costume (thirty if I’m sweaty) you’d put it off as much as you could too.

Now, it’s “Welcome back to the land of the living. . .now pick up a shovel and get to work!”

You Don’t Know Me

After my mini blogging-rebellion last week where I tried not blogging for a while to see what happened, my Corporate Masters have been sending me little reminders of my place in the world every morning. They come on little engraved cards slipped under my door. The one this morning read “We have your book, no one knows what you look like, we could hire Richard Grieco to play you at readings and no one would know better.

This is sadly true. Back in 1999 when I sold my first novel, the unlamented Lifers, I thought I would be famous almost immediately. This did not happen. When Lifers was reviewed in The New York Times Book Review in 2001, I thought, well, this is it: Better prepare for fame and paparazzi.

Again, nothing.

Recently I signed up for World Fantasy Con in Saratoga, New York because my publisher will be there and has promised to buy me drinks. Buying me drinks is the one sure way to get me to do anything; even the wife now offers me liquor in exchange for small chores at home. I got the mass email from the organizers asking if I wanted to be part of any panels or if I wanted reading time, and I emailed back saying, probably no to the panels–who wants to know what I think, anyway?–and yes to reading time if there is any. I didn’t expect to be added to the bill, to be honest, but they asked a question so I answered it.

A day later, I got a puzzled email from one of the WFC honchos saying, in effect, no offense old chap, but who in hell are you?

Such is the life of an unknown, albeit published, author. I’ve got a blog no one reads, a forum no one uses, and a book no one has yet heard of. Yet the glamour quotient people assume is connected to being a published writer continues to be way out of proportion–everyone expects me to be living the Hemingway life. Or at least the Dave Eggers life. Or possibly even the Dave Barry life–all of which assume no day job, a nifty income, and plenty of book tours to keep one busy.

I don’t want to be famous, and occasionally consider measures to stop that from happening. What I mean is, I don’t want to be recognizable. Famous in the sense of everyone buying my books and talking about me at parties? Sure. Bring that on, and quickly, because my wife The Duchess has set a very high income bar for me to achieve before I can quit the day job. But what I don’t want is to be on or something like that. I want to move through my life with my hideousness blurred from the world.

Whenever I consider measure to ensure this, however, I quickly realize that so far no power has been strong enough to break through the thick layers of obscurity that surround me, so I am probably safe.

If you ever do recognize me, as Tom Hanks says in the new Simpsons Movie, please leave me be. Just send over anonymous drinks.

Edit Me

I haven’t posted to this blog in a few days, and this morning a stern note arrived under my nailed-shut door threatening dire consequences if I don’t get on the stick. Apparently I have to come up with a post that’ll make Digg’s front page or they’re going to burn my house down, as stipulated in paragraph seven of page 345 of my contract. They say they will try their best to avoid loss of life, but can make no guarantees.

I haven’t posted for a few days because I’m busy, kids. Well, there’s been some napping and boozing, sure, but at those times when I’m not drunk or asleep or drunk and asleep, I’ve had shit to do.

Like, for one, getting my computer ready to play BioShock. I ditched Microsoft Windows long ago for the saner pastures of Linux (actually I started with FreeBSD back in the day, which was insanity, then migrated to Mandrake [er, Mandriva] and now exist in Ubuntu’s space) (and if you understood all that, hail fellow Geek) which makes playing games difficult. I bought a souped up rig from System 76 last year which has the muscle to play games (Doom3 runs like a charm on it) but sadly most game makers ignore Linux. My wife bought me BioShock for my birthday, though, so measures had to be taken, so I threw an extra Hard Drive into the box and installed Windows on that, so now I have a place to play my First Person Shooters.

Aside from that, I’ve been working on a book. I won’t say it isn’t a sequel to The Electric Church. I’ve written the first draft and now various minions are poring over it and handing me suggested edits, ranging from your obvious typos to subtle things like repeated words and plain old garbled storytelling, infodumps, possibly places where I’ve attempted to write drunk and inserted paragraphs of screeds against mine enemies. That last one happens more often than you’d think.

Trust me, this is a necessary step–I’ve never understood anyone, no matter how successful or famous (or not), who resists a brisk edit.

Some people think editing is all about someone telling you how to write. They imagine that you create this pristine work of art, hand it to an editor at a publishing house who proceeds to tell you how to re-write it in order to please the Entertainment Industry. This is a crock–editing is all about fixing the bullshit you’re too close to the story to see. Anyone would benefit from a good edit.

So, while I’m doing my own read-through, I’ve got the minions sending in their comments, and I’m feverishly trying to pull it all together. The first draft was pretty good, but who wants a pretty good book? We want greatness. Or possibly beer. Probably both.

Well, back to work, I suppose. Unless I can find a booze hiding place my wife hasn’t found yet. . .

At absolutely no one’s request…

. . .there’s a forum.

That’s right—-now you can register and post insults and other abuse! And possibly discuss my books and other exploits, if you were feeling charitable. And I promise I am not at home all the time madly clicking “refresh” to see if anyone is talking about me. And it never crossed my mind to create dozens of fake people on the forum to carry on discussions about my greatness.

Check it out and do your worst!