Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Idol, Again

I keep promising to do a new post that isn’t about me, so here it is, finally, and I’m talking about American Idol again.

Why? Because I’m kinda fascinated by the process. Not the artists, really (though I’ll come back to that in a second) but how people get voted off. For the first time, I really get how people can keep going to horse races with a “system” that they think will win.

(Full disclosure. I started writing this last week, and then I got asked to put up something else to help my friend help me sell some books. So let’s see how I did, shall we?)

But let’s talk about how is gone now, and I’ll get into that.

Pia: People were “shocked” when she was dropped, but you know what? I can see it. She has a great voice. A GREAT voice. And she’s easy to look at. But she does one thing, which is standing in place and singing. If she moves, she looks uncomfortable.

So while I had her in the top three, after seeing her get up on stage and actually trying to move, while wearing an outfit that made it look like she skinned a Dalmatian, to see her go was not a shock.

And really, it played into my new theory: Getting into the bottom three is really, really good for you. Usually.

But back to that in a second.

Paul: Here’s where my theory comes into play.

If you hit the bottom three, it’s obviously because, as they keep saying, “You just don’t have the votes.” But then a funny thing happens. You start to get those votes, because people panic and vote singers up as hard as they can to keep them around another week.

Then they do okay, and fans forget… and then you get cut.

That’s what I think happened to both Pia and Paul, in a way. People forget you for a week, they vote up someone else on the bottom three, and BOOM. Gone.

Ironically, this leads me to:

Stefano: That kid’s been hanging out in the bottom three despite the fact that his performances are mostly just okay. Why? Because his fans NEVER FORGET HE’S THERE.

This can only last so long, of course, and I give the dude credit. He’s using his time on Idol to learn how to be a performer, and he seems to be improving every week.

With that said, he may actually sit for one more week, without heading out. Which leads me to…

(Keep in mind, I wrote this last week Wednesday. And now, Stefano is gone. It’s clear he saw it coming for a while, the look of shock when Pia got the axe gave him away. But he seems really happy to be done. He clearly learned something in his time on the show, the tour is coming up soon, and after that? Well, it’s Bar Mitzvahs and local county fairs.)

Hailey: Eh. I’m bored with her now. I mean, I was bored with her before, and I’m sick of her growl, and she dresses like she’s twelve years old and got into her mommy’s makeup. Somewhere in her psychology she seems to realize she’ll always be perky and cute instead of sultry, and she’s making up for it by wearing outfits that barely cover her lady business.

I suspect, however, that being in the bottom three last week will keep her safe this week.

That means we need a “surprise” cut.

And you know what? I’m going to go with:

Jacob: Jacob appears to have issues. Or at the very least, reporters have enjoyed digging up dirt on the kid. And as a bonus, he sort of turned against the audience and said if they bottom-three-ed him over his song choice, it was because the audience… couldn’t look themselves in the mirror.

Either way, it made me feel a bit skeevy.

(Final “I wrote this last week” note goes here. He and Hailey were both bottom three. Had to happen, no shocks there. He and little H will be the next two to go. There’s no question in my mind.)

The fact is, Jacob has a great voice, and he knows how to use it. But he made the people who vote for him mad, while Scotty gave a shout-out to his grandma. Earlier, I wrote that he’d be top two.

But his little outburst, unfortunately, has done its damage. Sorry, dude. Get working on your gospel album now, and plan on putting out a Christmas record at the end of the year. You’ll be fine. Dove awards for you, sir.

Now comes the hard part – what’s the order after that?

I’ll admit, I’m gonna revise my initial rankings just a hair. But JUST a hair.

Casey – I thought Casey would fall a little earlier, but the sudden removal of Pia will bump him up the number four. He might go one higher, but the three after him have NEVER appeared in the bottom three, and Casey almost got dropped.

I love Casey. I will see him in concert. I will buy his CD, and it will be awesome and somewhat insane. But America doesn’t care about talent. It cares about nice boys and girls singing pretty songs.

Scotty – Scotty and Lauren may swap places as well, but they’re basically the same performer. Young, adorable as a puppy, singing country tunes. If I owned a country label, I’d pick them both up NOW, put out both their CDs in the next six months, and put them on tour together. But I don’t.

Lauren – Why put Lauren here? Eh. She hasn’t done anything wrong, cute as a puppy, etc. I said earlier I thought she’d be gone sooner, but when Hailey’s gone, the “I like girls” votes will fall to her.

I gotta admit, she has a good voice, but nothing she’s done has really stuck with me. On the other hand, bland girl country singers make a lot of money. So maybe the world is looking for the next Taylor Swift?

James – He’ll take this. And he deserves to take it. He’s got an amazing voice, he can sing anything, and every week he puts on a nearly-complete show. I’m amazed the Idol people have yet to tell him no.

And that’s really all I’ve got to say about this. At least, I hope so…

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I Know Awesome People

So I think I’ve finally reached a point where I need to stop talking about myself.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy it. It’s just that if I’m going to fill my blog with info just about myself, it’s going to get dull. I know. Too late.

So instead, I’m going to talk about awesome people I know. Specifically, I’m going to stick to authors today.

Let’s start with Harry Connolly.

Why start with Harry? Because that dude is my hero. He’s writing a great series (Twenty Palace Society) and getting his short stories out there, and back when I was looking for an agent, I’d ask him questions all the time, and he’d answer them.

And his books are so, so, so, good. Don’t take my word for it. Jim Butcher blurbed his first novel.

His web site is here:

And here’s the post where he actually tells people about my novel, which he’s reading, despite the fact that he doesn’t like zombies:

He’s good people. Buy his books. Buy them now.

Up next, let’s talk Brendan Halpin.

Brendan’s first book was one of the best and saddest memoirs ever. It was called “It Takes a Worried Man,” and it talks about his emotional upheaval as his wife tried to fight off breast cancer.

He’s written a lot of books since then, for adults and young adults, and all of them are worth a look.

But if your time is limited, pick up “Forever Changes,” which is technically a YA novel. It’ll make you think about death. And life. And you’ll go, “Oh yeah, high school was TOTALLY like that.” And then you’ll cry at the end, and want to give the book to everyone you know.

Why is he awesome? Well, he’s one of my favorite authors. And when I found out, years ago, that his wife lost her battle with cancer and passed away, I wrote him an email telling him how sorry I was, and how much his book had moved me.

We’ve grown into online friends since then, and when I finished my book and decided to sell it, I asked him to blurb it. And he could have said no. All he really knows about me is I sometimes email authors I like, and that I can sometimes be amusing on Facebook.

But he said yes, and then wrote VERY nice things about my book. (As his aka, Seamus Cooper.)

Go to his blog here:

And buy all of his books. But especially “Forever Changes.”

Finally, I wanted to talk about Lesley Kagen.

Lesley did NOT blurb my book, as she didn’t think she could do much to help my sales. Doesn’t matter. She’s still good people.

She was the one who mentioned to me, over a year ago, that some of her friends were putting their novels out themselves, instead of trying to find a publisher.

Did she say I should do it? No. But it was clear to me that she felt there was merit in it. And when someone who has been on the New York Times’ Bestseller list says something like that that, you listen.

So there’s her web site, and you should go out and get a copy of “Whistling in the Dark,” which is kind of a mystery and kind of about how kids deal with all the crazy things that happen to them, which you don’t think about until you’re an adult and you go, “Oh, man, I really wasn’t ready to handle that…”

You can buy her other books too. In fact, you should.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mercy: An Excerpt

Dear Georgina,
This is a note from your husband reminding you to please, please, please write in your journal this time, so you can tell actual stories about what happened on your mission trip instead of incomplete tales that begin: Well, on Tuesday, or maybe it was Wednesday… no, Friday…
But seriously. I love you, and I will miss you, and so will Mercy, and we will see you soon.

Whoops! Forgot to journal again!
Stuff to remember from Monday:
Seeing the mountains with the mist on them.
Stuff to remember from Tuesday and Wednesday:
“That goat’s gonna have a bad day.”
Coffee ceremony. Popcorn without butter.
How to cook injera.

Dear, um, Journal…
Well, I blew it again - I promised Rob that I would totally keep a journal this time, and he even wrote me this really sweet note that I didn’t read until Wednesday, when I finally got this thing out of the gorgeous waterproof bag Rob packed it in, because it’s the rainy season in Ethiopia.
In a lot of ways, this mission trip was better than the last one.
I’m tired, though, so I should probably scrawl some more memories down before I fall asleep. At least I’ve got dates this time, which hopefully will help me to organize my stories.
And I took more pictures, too. So that’s something.
But now it’s after midnight and I’m sitting on a plane that’s headed to Germany, and I can write more in the morning when I’m awake.

Slept for nine hours, finally starting to feel a little less like the living dead.
Lucked out on the last flight, though, because I was by myself, in a two-person row, and no one was in the other seat, and none of the flight attendants stopped me when I curled up against the window and stretched my feet out.
Maybe they figured that if I was sleeping they wouldn’t have to give me any service. Whatever works.
So now it’s morning and I’m flying from Germany to Chicago, which is a long time in the air, so maybe I can flesh out some more of what happened during the week.
I guess I’ll tell the injera story, because it’s short and I’m still tired and I think they’re going to bring out breakfast soon, and after that I’ll be all warm and full and sleepy again.
So the injera story. Now that I’ve been to Ethiopia three times I figured that I really should finally sit down and learn to cook some of the traditional Ethiopian dishes.
I talked to M, who had some cool Ethiopian name that I kept saying wrong so I just started calling her M, but I’ve got her information somewhere, so I’ll fill it in later.
I wanted to learn to make injera. So I asked M if I could watch the cooks before dinner, and she said, “Sure,” but gave me a kind of strange look.
Which I totally understood once I got to the cooking area.
Injera, before you get to eat it, is made like a huge pancake. They pour it out from the edges to the middle, and then cook it until it’s solid all the way through. But the thing of it is, they don’t make it on a stove, or over a fire.
They have this HUGE thing that looks like a big, round griddle (actually, it reminded me of a kiln, like I used to use to fire pottery in art class) and that’s what they cook the injera on, which is why it’s so huge.
So there’s a mystery solved, but I was kind of embarrassed for asking to see it cooked because that’s all I saw - them cooking these giant pancake-looking things.
Maybe you had to be there.
I see the food cart moving, so I’m going to put this journal into its really cool waterproof holder in case I spill something on it, and then I’m going to eat and sleep and try to wake up in time to see one of the movies and I’ll write some more.

My name is Georgina Fulci, and I am writing this all down in hopes that even if I don’t see my husband Rob and my daughter Mercy again that somehow this book will find them.
If you find this journal, and if the world hasn’t fallen apart, please send it to the address on the inside front cover.
Thank you, anonymous person.
(I’ve noted the date, but I’m only kind of certain it’s accurate.)
I don’t know where to start, so I guess I’ll just list some details about our location.
I don’t know where we are. No one does, really. On TV shows and in movies, when a bunch of people are in a plane crash, there’s always a doctor and a ninja, but we don’t have a cartographer here that I know of, or anyone who knows the ocean that well.
We’re somewhere in the Atlantic, between Europe and the United States.

I didn’t mention in my last entry that I love my husband and my daughter, so this is me saying it.
My brain is fuzzy from multiple days of eating… whatever it is we’re eating. Or maybe it’s the water, which tastes fresh, but when you really concentrate, has a salty undertaste to it. So it’s possible we’re all dying of dehydration.
I was going to try to pick up from where I left off last time, like no time has passed, but, time has passed.
I got called away by one of the other people on this island. One of the living ones, anyway. Because…
I need to stop getting ahead of myself.
The person who called me over was the stewardess. Or rather, the flight attendant. Her name’s Sharon.
My hand is going to cramp. I’ll come back to Sharon.
This is what happened on the plane, as near as we can tell. I’ve talked to the other people on the island (those who can answer, anyway) and we put this story together.
It started with the pilot, we think.
We had two of them, and one of them was a little bit of an older guy, with something of a belly. Sharon, the stewardess, says that she kind of knew him and kind of liked him, or rather she said “He was okay, I guess,” which is code for “I knew his name and he never did anything I disliked.”
Since nobody here is a doctor, the best we can figure is that he had a stroke. Or maybe it was an aneurism. It had to be something that was instant, something that would kill him before the other pilot could stick the plane on autopilot and yell for a doctor.
Maybe that’s what he was doing, because Sharon said the door at the front of the plane opened a bit, and then closed a bit, like maybe a pilot was coming out to use the bathroom and then changed his mind, or something.
I have my own theory. I think the dead guy grabbed him.
I think it went down exactly like this:
Bob the pilot had a stroke, and died just about instantly.
Chuck, the other pilot, watched it happen, and maybe he set the autopilot, or maybe he panicked. I think he panicked and forgot. And maybe he shook Bob a little bit, on the shoulder.
And then he got up, and went to open the door, to look for a doctor. And Bob grabbed him, and pulled him back into the cockpit, and bit down on his neck as hard as one human can bite another.
I can’t prove that. Bob and Chuck were the only two people in that cockpit, and both of them are dead, for whatever version of dead passes for dead, now.
Chuck pulled free and ran out into the plane, with blood shooting from his neck. That’s when Sharon saw him for the first time.
She said he looked like he was screaming, but that there was no sound coming out. He didn’t make it far, maybe three or four aisles into the plane, where a bunch of first-classers were sitting and drinking their mimosas as blood shot out of Chuck’s neck and hit everyone and everything.
People a few rows back tried to get up, but planes aren’t really designed for fast exits, and anyway, there’s nowhere to go but farther back.
I remember hearing screams. That’s when I woke up, with a few blood-spattered passengers running back into business class.
Sharon was pushed into the laps of a couple of passengers as people tried to get up - her drink cart kept her from running down the aisle, she told me.
Chuck collapsed onto one of the rows, covering passengers in gore. A couple of people started to laugh, maybe thinking it was a joke. Or maybe it was that scared laughter you get when you know that something has gone wrong, and there’s no way to fix it. Because it’s so impossible.
Like when you find out that you have cancer, maybe, and less than a week to live.
It’s so absurd.
That’s when Chuck bit one of the passengers he was lying on.
Sharon doesn’t remember much more. She heard the woman who got bitten scream louder than she already was, and then the plane lurched.
That much I remember. By then there was screaming in my section, too, as the passengers back in coach tried to shake information (sometimes literally) out of the blood-spattered refugees who were in our section.
After that, things get more and more hazy.
I remember the plane lurching.
I remember people trying to hold on while the plane spiraled down at an impossibly hard angle.
I think I remember oxygen masks, but by then, people were sliding down the aisles. You could see who had their seatbelts on, because they weren’t falling out of their seats and hitting the ceiling, or the walls, or landing in the laps of their fellow passengers.
I remember closing my eyes.
I remember a loud bang. Maybe it was the sound of us crashing. But I crawled out of my brain-pool of black just long enough to hear something so loud that I stopped hearing again.
I remember trying to hold onto something, anything.
I remember being in water. Floating, maybe.
Thinking I was going to drown, even though my head was above water.
I remember someone floating by me. Something floating by me. Something dead. But not dead. Its arm was missing, and it was sinking, and looking at me. Trying to get to me, looking like it was hungry.
My hand is tired and it’s hot and my head is hurting and none of this makes any sense.

To Read On:

Mercy on the Kindle

Mercy on the nook

At Smashwords

Free Kindle Apps for PC, Mac, Smart Phones, and the iPad

Monday, April 18, 2011

Two for One

Just a quick note - I promise to get away from reviews soon, I do, I do, but I've got one more:

I was most impressed with the fact that there is a great storyline surrounding this novel; it’s not your run of the mill zombie story, and I highly recommend reading it!

I think that marks my first semicolon...

Also cool - the same blogger liked my novel so much they bought a copy of Fairy Godmother-In-Law, my short story, and loved that as well.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Two New Reviews

First, the shortest review, ever:

...well... Joshua... I loved it.. And you, my readers will as well.

Read the rest of the review if you want to see the majority of the letter I sent when asking folks for reviews.

And on Amazon, I've got a couple reviews that made me all happy inside:

Amazon Reviews

My current favorite quote: "I lost precious hours of sleep while reading Mercy - not because of nightmares induced by the frightful imagery Patterson presents flawlessly, but because I was so engrossed in the story that I couldn't put it down."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Talking Idol, Again

I’m going to admit, I’m mostly here to gloat that I called the next two to go down so easily.

I wasn’t sad to see Thia go, as I think she gave us everything she had to offer. I hope she has fun on tour, and perhaps with a few more years of life behind her, she’ll learn how to emote.

Naima, though. Man. Sorry to see her go, but not surprised. And while I loved the idea of a reggae take on “I’m Still Standing,” the accent was a poor, poor, poor idea.

As for the rest of ‘em, a friend of mine said I should consider a reshuffle. I think I’ll leave the names in the same order, and just update my thoughts.

James – The man puts on a show every time. While everyone else plays it safe, he’s giving James In Concert. I do wonder if he might be too much of a goofball to win, but no one is having more fun.

Jacob – This boy is reigning it in, and good for him. If he keeps at it, I think he may just overtake James.

Pia – Fast songs or slow, the girl doesn’t move. That’s cool. But it’s not “winner” cool. Still, man, what a voice.

Lauren – Now that all the saves are gone, Lauren’s fate is sealed, because there’s no one to save her when she tumbles. She’s a sweetheart, to be sure, but she’s got a Thia problem – she just hasn’t lived long enough to really pack an emotional punch.

Casey – I still love Casey, and I’m more than a little shocked that voters turned against him. I don’t really buy in conspiracy theories, but I wouldn’t be at all shocked if, twenty years down the road, someone didn’t admit that the vote was rigged because the show was getting boring. Still, he’s an odd dude, and I can’t see him winning.

Scotty – Scotty may last longer than I originally thought, but he’s one-note. People love that note, though.

Paul – Hit the bottom three last week, and a friend of mine thinks he’ll be gone next week. Nah. Too many fans at this point who love his voice, even if he isn’t the greatest singer. He’s got another couple weeks to go.

Stefano – The dude is trying to learn not to close his eyes, and failing. Lovely voice, but he’s been hanging around the bottom for a while and I don’t see much in a way of signage for him. He’ll be gone soon.

Haley – My wife likes the growl. I think the growl is lame, and one-note. If I had to guess, she might make it through this week based on last week’s performance, which was pretty good. But… probably not.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Reviews, They Roll In

So, let’s see…

Book is now officially launched, as far as the world is concerned. And I’m starting to see some reviews show up.

First, Word Nerd, who was kind enough to blurb the book in advance. The review is actually even better than the blurb, I think:

“This is what sci-fi should be; normal people operating in extraordinary circumstances, relying on what makes us human to prevail.”

And I got some kindly words from

“Overall, I would recommend this book for zombie enthusiasts and those who enjoy looking at a more heartfelt version of a normal zombie tale.”

Also over the weekend, I got a couple more people ask to read and review it.

Which means I also need to get back to work filling up my bookstore with more stuff to buy…

Friday, April 1, 2011

Today’s the Day!

(An aside: You can read the first ten pages of Mercy here.)

Well, kind of. According the information that I sent to a whole lot of bloggers, today is the “official” release date of “Mercy.”


Apparently, the internet is celebrating by buying copies of my short story, “Fairy Godmother-In-Law.” Not that I’m complaining. A sale is a sale.

Is there anything else worth sharing today?


I’ve got one more person who wants to do a review. I’ve got a blog interview that I need to writer answers for because it’s going up next week. And I’ve got another blog guest post that I need to think about writing, like, right now.

But otherwise?

I guess today is helpful hint day.

If you want to buy my book, here are some links:

Mercy on Kindle

Mercy on nook

Fairy Godmother-In-Law on Kindle

Fairy Godmother-In-Law on nook

And if you’re saying to yourself, “Self, I don’t have a Kindle or a nook. If only I could read the book on my iPad. Or iPhone. Or Android. Or PC. Or Mac. Or some other place…”

You can!

Free Kindle Apps

Free nook Apps

And there you have it. Every possible reason to go buy “Mercy.” Heck, it’s $2.99. That’s less than coffee at Starbucks.

Plus the effect is the same: Keeping you up late at night…