Sunday, December 31, 2006


My publishing house, Penguin Group, is doing something interesting. They now have a website similar to As far as I know, individual readers have never been able to purchase directly from the publisher before. Penguin even put my book trailer on their site, which is pretty cool. And yes, they call them trailers. (Wonder if they've received a cease and desist letter?)

Penguin Group

my books


Saturday, December 30, 2006

three links

fascinating post here:


thanks to booksquare for the link.

The beautiful, charming, and funny-as-hell Julia Buckley interviewed me for Mysterious Musings. Here you can read her unusual questions, and my attempt at humor:

mysterious musings

thanks, julia!

be sure to check out the archives -- she's interviewed a ton of people!

big pimpin'

i said i wouldn't do it. i hate those myspaces pages that take forever to load. now i've done it. pimped my page.

anne's myspace

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

bill cameron, i'm your biggest fan

i'm a fan of Bill Cameron's and I've been anticipating his debut novel LOST DOG for several months. now i can say I've read an ARC and loved it. below is my honest opinion of the book.

LOST DOG by Bill Cameron is a beautifully written and masterful work of character-driven crime fiction. One of the most fascinating and compelling main characters I've read in a long time. A bad guy real enough to smell. A plot that fits together like a puzzle.

I was starving for a personal story. Give me real people. Give me a story with truth. As soon as I started LOST DOG my heart began to beat faster. This was the book I'd been craving.

Bill Cameron manages to deftly strip away the distance. Not only does he give us a knock-out plot, he gives us real people in real settings. He gives us characters we care about, characters we know and want to know. And like real life, the darkest moments often contain humor. I laughed out loud several times.

LOST DOG is a heart-stopping, tightly-woven debut by a remarkable new crime-fiction writer.

Thank you, Bill Cameron.

Anne Frasier

more about LOST DOG:

Peter McKrall is at a crossroads -- out of work, fighting a klepto habit, and trying to figure out his next move. Life takes an unexpected turn when a search for his niece's stuffed dog leads him to something else entirely: a bullet-riddled corpse. Talking to reporters lands Peter on the local news, which turns out to be a dangerous spotlight. And now Darla, the troubled daughter of the victim, is reaching out to him -- but can she be trusted? When a second murder takes place and evidence is planted in his trash, the cops dredge up Peter's painful history. The only ray of sunshine in this harrowing nightmare is Ruby Jane, whose warm smile melts the winter chill.

An unwitting player in a bizarre chain of events, Peter has no idea that the deranged killer is after him - until he takes a shot at Ruby Jane.

- + - + -

Set against the sodden backdrop of Portland, Oregon, lost dog tells of the intersection of one man's struggle against and another's embrace of powerful and self-destructive impulses

coming April 2007 from Midnight Ink

about Bill


when bad reviews are good

this might be my best bad review to date. the reviewer claims to have read "2 or 3" of my other books, but was unprepared for the violence in Pale Immortal. i don't think this book was as graphic as the others, but i do realize one person can be totally fine with severed heads and necrophilia, but not fine with drinking blood.

Praise for Pale Immortal

"I went as far as tearing the book up and throwing it in the trash so no one else could read it."

amazon reviewer

i wish she'd made a video of that violent outrage so i could have put it on youtube. i think it would have made a nice promotional tool.
i wonder if anyone's done a parody of an outraged reader reading a page, then destroying the book. it's hard to tear up a book, so that could have been pretty funny. kind of a misery thing.

wonder if i should do a contest? with a fairly big prize? oh, this could be fun.... maybe a gift certificate to amazon.
that would be funny, but a cash prize would probably hold more incentive.

Print on demand and the LONG TAIL

very interesting and insightful guest post by Stephen Blackmoore over at
In For Questioning.

if i weren't so stuffed i'd jump in.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Holidays!

1/2 cup vodka
1 - 3 cinnamon sticks
10 cloves
1 teaspoon cardamom

At least twenty-four hours before serving, put above ingredients in container with lid. Shake well, then shake occasionally throughout day.

2 liters of wine. Sangria works well, but any sweet, fruity wine will do.
1/2 cup sugar (more or less, to taste)
Vodka mixture, with cloves and cinnamon sticks strained out.

Put everything in a large pan. Heat well, but don't boil.

Serve with raisins and sliced almonds. These should be put in individual cups before adding about 1/2 cup hot liquid.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

and the winner of the tarot reading is...

S.W. Vaughn


UPDATE: Madame drew two more names and added two more readings:

madame sosostris

alex adams


Friday, December 22, 2006

thanks, graham!!!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


graham powell is the man behind the aggregator in the sidebar. he came up with this wonderful concept about a year ago, and the impact has been astounding. i can't imagine blogging without it.

graham, thanks for keeping us connected and in touch!

Thursday, December 21, 2006


a friend of mine was having trouble getting the attention of agents, and wondered if i'd read his manuscript and let him know what i thought.

don't start looking around. this friend is not somebody who blogs, so i doubt he'll see this post. If he does, i don't think he'll mind. his backstory: he's been writing several years, has completed a few manuscripts, and has had short stories published in well-known anthologies. so he's been writing seriously for a long time.

i put the ms down at page 90.

at that point i was still waiting for the story to start. he was doing something i used to do and still do -- taking detours that fail to move the story forward. every scene has to push the story. it can't be enough that it reveals character or backstory. it still has to push the story forward at the same time. i'm no writing teacher, so i usually stay away from the nuts and bolts of writing, but i felt compelled to shout one word - PACING. never lose track of the main plot. don't take detours. don't get distracted by a scene that might be fun to write, but isn't pushing the story forward. don't keep us in the dark too long or we will walk away. you have to constantly ask yourself: what is the purpose of this scene? what does it accomplish? if the answer is constantly that it reveals more character or tells backstory -- that's a warning sign right there. you can briefly step out of what's going on now, but you have to be quick about it and you can't do it very often.

this writer was also inserting scenes that were supposed to be suspenseful, but were just confusing. TELL THE STORY. Don't be afraid to tell the story. i have to remind myself of this TELL THE STORY business all the time because i find i want to cling to the heart of the story and save it for later.

we now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

i just spotted a bat in my attic.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The lifespan of a blog

I'm thinking a lot of blogs have a lifespan of about a year and a half. Mine has been a bit stale lately. It's December, but even before that it was seeming a bit on the blah side. I've thought about guest bloggers. About passing my blog to somebody else for a month or a week, but I'm not sure injecting something new into a blog will help, because I'm guessing it's following a natural arc.

So what's next?

I'm starting a new side project. It'll take group participation in order for it to work, and it's not something that will hold interest for very long. I think it will be fun for a month, maybe two. When we're done, it will be something for people to look at and hopefully revisit.

In Memory of Books

Anyway, I need help before the official launch. (Can a blog even be launched?) I'm looking for very specific photos. I'd like to have at least 10 to start.

Send me your images.
These images can come with text or without, fiction or non-fiction. Maximum of three sentences, please. and i'm not talking cormac mccarthy sentences.

I'm looking for intimate images of one person with a book. If somebody sends me something cool outside the guidelines I will probably change my mind, but the photo absolutely must have a book.

If you have an infant, I have an idea for a shot I think would be nice.

EDIT: I thought it would be nice to have a baby in the frame with an adult hand holding a book. Part of book and hand in corner foreground, baby in the background. So the story and focus is the baby and the book.

Feel free to send color, but the images will be posted in black-and-white or sepia.
This is an art project, so do keep in mind things like viewpoint, setting, mood. It can definitely be staged. Photoshopping is fine. I'm not necessarily looking for reality, but real is good too. photos will be credited and you'll get a link in the sidebar. or maybe just a link below the photo. haven't decided. depends on how it works visually. you can also participate anonymously.

Send photos to the email address in my profile. Any and all suggestions appreciated!

Monday, December 18, 2006


the following is something i wrote for a magazine. i don't think they're running it, so i decided to post it here.


Nine years ago things were going great with my writing career when I decided to visit a psychic who'd just opened a little shop downtown. Let's go see her. Won't that be fun? Would I make any bestseller lists? USA Today? Maybe even the New York Times? The psychic did a combined tarot and intuitive reading, informing me I would soon come upon rough times. I would lose my job, but after a period of hardship things would turn around and be better than they were before. I told her she had to be wrong, my career was fine. (I'd just received an unexpected and large royalty check. Things were good. And what kind of psychic gives such bad news?)

Weeks passed and I began to relax. Then I got the call. I'd been dumped by my publishing house. Had the psychic really been able to read something in the cards? Or had she gotten lucky? Was it just a coincidence?

I went on a quest for a deck of tarot cards. I lived in a small town and could only stir up one set -- the Dragon Tarot. I've seen more attractive cards, but I bought them and over the years we've bonded. I guess I felt if I read them on a daily basis there would be no more surprises. I also think I subconsciously felt I could somehow control the uncontrollable.

At some point my luck turned (as the psychic said it would, but such are the ups and downs of a writer's life), and I put the cards away until last winter when I attended a writers' meeting and heard about using tarot cards to help with plotting and characterization. The speaker had a list of techniques and spreads she used for various problems. If she gets stuck on a plot she will sometimes do a whole spread. For a character issue she will pull one card.

I was intrigued by the idea of writing with tarot cards, so back home I dug out my deck. Instead of using it to plot, I once again found myself fascinated by the otherworldly artwork and the cards' evocative darkness. Suddenly I was doing readings, this time online rather than face-to-face. I prefer the online format because I like the lack of distraction and the fact that I can take my time, usually spending a hour or two on readings, most of which are done for writers. Once the reading is complete, I post it on my Madame Sosostris site where everyone is welcome to visit the dark corners of his heart, where no coin is accepted for readings, and no card is ever reversed.

Are tarot cards a door to the past, the present, and the future?

I want to say no. Don't we really just take note of the valid statements and throw out the rest? But I can't ignore or deny readings that seem far too accurate to be simple coincidence. One explanation could be a collective unconsciousness. At one point in our long line of human history, we communicated without words. Is tarot a way to tap into an early method of communication? Or do some people somehow give off an imprint of the future? I've had life-altering premonitions that have come true, so I must acknowledge an unknown element. Not everything can be explained. And how many times can something be a coincidence before it's no longer a coincidence? Still, I'm more skeptic than believer.

For non-believers, what can tarot cards do?

Most tarot readers stress that the cards don't tell you what to do with your life, but they can help guide you. A strong spread can clarify personal problems. People find reassurance in a reading that zeroes in on their situation, analyzes it, points out the recipient's strengths, and brings encouragement in dealing with an unstable future. Some people use tarot cards as meditation and a discovery of the authentic self. The cards themselves tell the enduring story of a protagonist's journey complete with obstacles, lessons, hardships, love, family, and strength -- stories so universal that tarot has survived for centuries and has enjoyed a renewed popularity in the past two decades.

The mystery of history

A massive amount has been written about tarot, but most is speculation and theory. There are few clues and little evidence when it comes to the origins and various personas of tarot. The following appears to be true, although many statements are still argued.

1375 -- Regular playing cards enter Europe.
1420-1440 -- Tarot originates in northern Italy. At this time, the cards weren't used for divination but for a card game called triumph or trump, which is similar to bridge. The oldest existing hand-painted decks come from this period. Art historians have dated them to the reign of Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan from 1412 to 1447.
1530 -- The Italian word tarocchi was used to distinguish tarot cards from trump or triumph cards. The French form of tarocchi is tarot.
1589 -- Records from a trial in Paris indicate tarot may have been used in witchcraft.
1781 --- Occult writers began discussing and writing about tarot.
1909 -- The Waite-Smith deck was created.
1909 -- Tarot cards first used by gypsies.

Whatever you believe, there's no denying that tarot has made a powerful and mysterious journey though history. It has touched cultures and subcultures and been spread upon the tables of gypsies and kings. It has left behind myth and secrecy and questions that will never be answered. Some might call that magic.

Saturday, December 23: a drawing for a madame sosostris reading.

leave a comment right here to let me know you're entering the drawing. this can also be given to someone else as a Christmas gift. Madame will come of out a stupor long enough to read the cards and post the reading on the Madame Sosostris blog. These readings -- which are a combination of cards and intuition, take Madame about two hours, so please don't enter the drawing unless you're really interested.

madame sosostris

Friday, December 15, 2006

a story from me to you

hey, i wrote a little christmas story for you guys over at
Muzzle Flash. the title is SANTA'S LITTLE HELPER, so you know it has to be sweet, right? come on. go read it. it'll make you feel all warm and fuzzy.

more crafts

just a few days ago on kelly parra's blog we were all griping about how we don't have time to do the things we used to do. i had no plans to even send cards this year, then i decided to send a few, but couldn't find any i liked. so i decided to make a couple, and a couple turned into about 30. i decorated the photos with glitter glue, then added text -- almost a little story.
here are a few of them. i really enjoyed this project, especially when i decided to add some weird text.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Concrete Maze

Steven Torres was nice enough to send me an ARC of THE CONCRETE MAZE which comes out July/August 2007. I'd read some of Steven's online fiction so I knew I'd like THE CONCRETE MAZE, but wow! This is a fantastic book. I loved the way it unfolded. Loved the characters. Thank you, Steven, for writing something beautiful and unique.

steven torres
crimetime cafe

The Concrete Maze by Steven Torres

Steven Torres writes honest fiction about real people, real pain, real fear, real life.

The CONCRETE MAZE is a sweet, soulful, heartache of a book. I loved it.

Anne Frasier

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

foreign sales

just got the polish copy of play dead. i think i posted the red cover of before i wake about a year ago.

foreign sales are nothing like selling the original manuscript. Normally the contract simply arrives in the mail. i sign it, get a check 6- 12 months later, followed by books 6 - 24 months after that. I never have any contact with the publishing house, and there is such a delay to everything that I usually forget about the sale until the check and books arrive. it's never a lot of money, and once two agents take a cut it's even less. but foreign sales are always a nice, welcome surprise.

the publishing house



By Bill Cameron


I absolutely love Bill's voice, so I was thrilled to find he was the first place winner of the cozy noir contest.
just finished reading his entry, and wow!!! It's wonderful. You can read it online at the above link, or you can download it from the spinetingler site.

Bill Cameron lives with his wife and poodle in the Portland, Oregon, where he also serves as staff to a charming, yet imperious cat. He is an eager traveler and avid bird-watcher, and likes to write near a window so he can meditate on whatever happens to fly by during intractable passages. LOST DOG, his first suspense novel, will be available from Midnight Ink Books in April 2007. Bill is a member of Killer Year, the most dangerous debut novelists of 2007. He is currently at work on his second novel.



By Angie Johnson-Schmit


I read angie's story last night and laughed out loud too many times to count. funny as hell.


Angie Johnson-Schmit currently lives in Arizona with her husband, two dogs and a turtle. A voice actress for Coyote Radio Theater, she spends too much time practicing silly voices.

Angie's joint

and speaking of angie.... i've been waiting for these T-shirts to be made available. woot! 15 bucks including shipping. that's a deal.

Day of the Dead shirts

i haven't read the other entries yet, but i'm sure they're fantastic too.

Monday, December 11, 2006


The winter issue of
Spinetingler is up.

Wow! This thing is packed with short stories and interviews.
188 pages of tingling goodness.

Lifted directly from Sandra Ruttan's

Sweet Victory: Spinetingler is Up

The new issue of Spinetingler proved to be a stubborn issue, but at last the Winter Issue is up, filled with all sorts of scrumptious goodies, just in time for your holiday indulging. There are stories by the likes of Bill Cameron, Stephen Allan, and Angie Johnson Schmit. But that's not all! There are also stories by Vincent H Keen - he of the annoying name that, if I were him, I would just shorten to VINCE KEEN, because that sounds tough and crime writery - and JD Rhoades. And there are others, but they aren't bloggers, which is the only reason I'm not doing a full-fledged list. You'll find all the goodies at the site.

But if that isn't enough to entice you already, try this on for size. I interview not one, not two, but three fantastic authors. And I recommend that you read them all, because names are mentioned and other authors interject on one of the interviews. In fact, I recommend starting with Jess Lourey, then Duane Swierczywonderboy and then Mark Billingham. When you read them, it will all make sense.

Still here? What the hell is wrong with you? Alright then. As though you needed any more enticement, Russel has made an appearance in this issue.

Go forth and spread the word. Seriously, it's another massive issue. The print version will be available for purchase next week.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

page 69 test

Marshal Zeringue at CAMPAIGN FOR THE AMERICAN READER recently invited me to participate in his page 69 test.

CAMPAIGN FOR THE AMERICAN READER is an independent initiative to encourage more readers to read more books.

"Marshall McLuhan, the guru of The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), recommends that the browser turn to page 69 of any book and read it. If you like that page, buy the book. It works. Rule One, then: browse powerfully and read page 69."

how to choose a novel

page 69 of Pale Immortal

page 69 ended up being a scene that's always made me cringe and yawn. i explain my feelings about it a bit more on the american reader blog. it's the one area of the book that really seemed forced. i wrote it with other characters, then removed them. then put them back. then removed them. i've even worried that readers would stop reading for good when they reached that point.

I really want to thank Marshal for the astounding amount of time and work he's put into this very cool project. He researches every book in-depth and includes numerous links and reviews. Thanks, Marshal!

Friday, December 08, 2006

more photos

this cheap digital camera does something weird in black and white that i like. intense depth-of-field and an almost painted quality to the foreground.

sometimes people steal stones, cover them with a layer of cement, and write a new name. these blog images aren't very good, so i just added about 40 or 50 pictures to my flickr account which you can find in the sidebar.

welcome to bonaventure cemetery

this is gracie. people claim to see her wandering the cemetery at night.

this is my favorite statue in bonaventure. fantastic artwork.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

on the lam in savannah

2:00 p.m. and i hadn't eaten since early morning. this might be the place to mention that i've always had a fairly severe hypoglycemic problem that's easy to control at home, but not so easy when i travel.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

hunger (never for me.)

nervousness and shakiness
dizziness or light-headedness
confusion (this is the biggest)
difficulty speaking (let's blame it on low blood sugar)
feeling anxious or weak

anyhoo, i spent a couple of hours walking all over bonaventure, and it was actually getting HOT. maybe 75, and i think i was dehydrated on top of no food. ended up finding a parking spot at factor's walk. this is the real tourist area of savannah that i usually avoid, but there are a lot of places to eat so i thought it would be fast. thought there has to be somewhere to get a quick sandwich and something to drink. menu by doors looked okay, but step inside and it's fancy waiters and tableclothes.

just shove a sandwich in my mouth. i don't care what it is.

i was about to pass out, so decided i had to go into one of the fancy joints. found one with a soup special. took about 15 minutes for the waiter to come even though the place was almost deserted. i ordered soup thinking it would be immediate. he comes back about 30 minutes later and says they are making it FROM SCRATCH. It will be a while, but it will be SO GOOD! then he dashes off before i can tell him to forget it. i wait another fifteen minutes. horrible headache by this time. and now i feel like i might both pass out and vomit. or pass out in my own vomit. he brought me a glass of tea, but tea on an empty stomach is not a good thing. last time i did that i ended up sharing a bench in chatham square with a homeless man while the ground tilted and the trees swirled above our heads. the poor guy got up and left and i sprawled out on my back in a puddle of cold sweat.

in these situations i normally avoid surgarloads like powerbars. now all i could think about was the powerbar i had in the car. just kept thinking about it. gotta get that powerbar somehow. gotta get food. need food.

i'm in a goddamn restaurant, and i'm trying to figure out how to get food.

if i could make it to the van i could eat the powerbar then take some tylenol. i wait maybe another 5 minutes, put 5 bucks on the table and leave. was there a total of 45 - 60 minutes. back at at the minivan, i managed to eat some of the powerbar, took the tylenol, and drove to parker's market and bought a turkey sandwich. i'm feeling somewhat normal now. not sure i've ever walked out AFTER ordering. it was kinda fun, and the place certainly deserved it. 5 bucks was too much to leave, but that's all i had.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

i'm not back

the wind chill was 10 below zero when i left minneapolis. arrived in savannah to darkness, light fog, and drizzle, then immediately got lost downtown. pulled into the crack kroger to check my map. guy pulls in next to me in a red and beaten Chevy S-10. window down. he's shouting at everybody who walks past. then he pulls out his crack pipe and starts taking hits.

yep, crack kroger. not just an urban legend.

yep, savannah.

dark, decayed, sad, and scary. oh, and beautiful.

supposed to be 60 and sunny today. don't know if i'll have internet, so i might not be online. or i might find a cafe so i can get MY fix.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow

the manuscript was sent off a few days ago.

i'm taking a couple of days off.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

people doin' stuff

J.A. Konrath is giving away books.

How does a writer top a 500 + bookstore marathon? He gives away books. And just in time for Christmas. Read about it on Joe's blog:


or download from his website:
joe's free books

and Sandra Ruttan isn't one to stand still for a second. she has a new and very cool blog:


"International publishers. Smaller presses. Authors to watch for. Underground projects. Contests. E-zines. Email IN FOR QUESTIONING with publishing news. Help us help you spread the word."

move over keillor

I used to read Garrison Keillor years ago, but I reached a point where I wanted more realism to my humor. Some grit. I wanted the person telling the story to know it was real and to have lived it. and then there was that whole lawsuit thing that came up last year when keillor threatened to sue mnspeak for selling t shirts that said PRAIRIE HO COMPANION.

but anyway...

I've always wanted to be a curmudgeon, and was disappointed to find that this is something only bestowed upon men. i find that sexist.

but anyway...

enough about me. there's a new curmudgeon in St. Paul and he goes by the name of Hulles. i don't know if he's old enough to actually be a curmudgeon, but i think with the right frame of mind even a teenager can be one.

but anyway...
this is one of the funniest things i've read in a long time:

funny stuff

and i think it really captures the minnesota state of mind. nothing is a big deal even when it is a big deal.

last chance to see dead people

Body Worlds closes in a few days, so after getting my manuscript finished and emailed i headed for the science museum.

"See more than 200 real human bodies preserved through the process of PLASTINATION, invented by Dr. Gunther von Hagens. Understand your body in a whole new way."

1) it cost too much -- $22.00 -- that's not including Omnitheater.

2) it was so crowded i needed a periscope to see the majority of flat-case displays.

the actual bodies could be seen because they stood on platforms, but the display cases were almost impossible to see. i felt sorry for people in wheelchairs. The rooms were simply too small, so you basically shuffled from one bottleneck to another.

3) i'm not used to rubbing up against so many strangers is such tight quarters.

highlights: fetuses, and horse with rider. i should add that the fetuses were from old collections and hadn't been put through the plastination process. unfortunately plastination makes everything look fake. On a scale of 1 to 10, i would give body worlds a 4. Maybe a 6 if not for the poor layout. should i rate the bathrooms? dirty and no toilet paper in the two we visited.

they're protecting the privacy of the donors and donor's families, but i kept wondering about the personal history. as a writer, i really wanted to know who these peope were. just a paragraph. i even wanted to know about the horse. especially the horse.

Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.

The Graduate

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Rap Sheet and Ali Karim

The charming and dashing Ali Karim has posted an interview with me over at

The Rap Sheet.

Ali Karim is the assistant editor of the e-zine Shots, a contributing editor at January Magazine, writes for Deadly Pleasures and Crimespree magazines and an associate member [and literary judge] for both the British Crime Writers Association as well as The International Thriller Writers Inc; and also helps judge Deadly Pleasures' Barry Awards.

Regular readers of my blog won't find anything new in my responses, but scroll down and check out Ali's next post:

The Surreal Influence of Fate. Very interesting reading.

Thanks, Ali!

Monday, November 27, 2006

my book made me bald

going telogen

a few days after the release of Pale Immortal i started losing my hair and the fallout hasn't let up.

i don't know if any of you remember the shower problem i had at bouchercon in madison. the drain didn't work. apparently every room in the hotel had its own variation of plumbing nightmares, and moving wouldn't have helped. by day 2 or 3 i broke down and actually used the shower. ick, ick, ick!! which meant the tub then contained a foot of water -- along with about a pound of hair. it looked like some poor shih tzu had been murdered.

when the hair loss didn't slow down, i went in for thyroid tests which came out fine. my doctor asked if i'd been under a lot of stress lately. (HELL YES!!!) i demurely said i had, and that the stress was work related. i didn't even bother trying to explain the whole writing thing because most outsiders tend to think of writing as a life of luxury and i knew such thoughts would immediately lead him in the wrong direction. but even skipping hints of cozy cardigans and afternoon strolls on the moor, my doctor didn't think work-related stress would be enough to make my hair fall out.

people who know about hair have asked me the same question: have you experienced an unusual amount of stress in the past few months? and my answer is i've never been so continuously stressed out over a book and its release in my life. the anxiety has been unrelenting. i think because so much was on my shoulders and i had to prove myself for reasons i won't go into here.

so let's examine the life of a hair.

A single hair follicle grows its hair strand over a period of four to six years (the anagen phase). It then rests for two to four months (the telogen phase), after which it loses the "old" hair as a new hair shaft grows and pushes out its predecessor. When the new hair grows in, it does so at a rate of approximately half an inch per month. At any time, 10 percent of your hair is in the telogen phase and 90 percent is in the anagen phase.

If lots of hair begins to fall out throughout the scalp, it's obviously due to a change in the normal hair cycle: either a short anagen phase or an increase in the number of follicles that enter the telogen phase. When the majority of hair follicles "go telogen" it's called telogen effluvium or stress alopecia. A shock to the body's system, which stresses the hair follicles, is often to blame for this change in cyclical hair events. Two to three months after the stressor hits, up to 70 percent of hairs can enter the telogen phase and commence a massive fallout.

stress isn't the only path to hair loss. other suspects are chemical changes in the body, a new prescription, or even an over-the-counter drug. some say hair dye can cause fallout, but in haircolor cases most experts say the hair will break off, not fall out by the roots. in the majority of massive hair loss, the trigger is never determined. but i'm sure i'll always remember pale immortal as the book that made me bald.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

describe a book in one sentence

One-sentence descriptions seem scary, but they always end up being fun. Kind of like flash fiction. Here's the new one for my current project, plus all the old ones.







Saturday, November 25, 2006

the final stretch

i'm thankful for not getting food poisoning.

i hope everybody else can say that too.

we ended up going to a vietnamese restaurant, then a long walk because it was around 55 degrees here, then home for pumpkin pie which i actually didn't bake myself.

yesterday it was back to work.

i found out my new editor prefers to receive the manuscript by email, so that's given me several more days to tinker.

the above photo was taken a few days ago.

this was the stage where i tag everything that might need attention. the cards contain reminders of things that need to be inserted. i use the scissors to cut scenes and move them to other chapters where i staple them to the adjoining text.

i hope to send it off wednesday or thursday. then comes the period of waiting and high anxiety since not a soul has seen a word of it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

people doin' stuff

a new issue of DEMOLITION is online.

i haven't read all of it yet, but i really enjoyed Russel McLean's and Patricia Abbott's stories.


stephen blackmoore is doing something wonderfully screwy over at L.A. Noir. He's asking for short stories that take their inspiration from mugshots.

email stephen your mugshot story, 500 words or less, and he'll post it on L.A. Noir throughout the remainder of November.

L.A. Noir

Every mugshot tells a story.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

CD release party, good food, surprise band

just got back from a cd release party for the stunnng and signal to trust. this was their fourth lunch show at first avenue's seventh street entry. and yes kids, the rumors were true.

Shellac put in a surprise appearance.

it's daylight outside, but we're standing in a dark, windowless building. black walls, black ceiling, a few blue stage lights, and they start playing this:


steve albini confessed to not having picked up his guitar since September, but that didn't keep the show from being amazing. And the food! the bands prepared a feast that covered bars and tables. a few things: vegetarian chili, BBQ tofu, jerked pork, homemade ice cream, cute, yummy cakes.

but enough about the fantastic food.

buy this album. that's what i'm here to say.

i honestly think it's the best music to come out of the twin cities in several years. the CD is close to perfection on many levels beginning with the unbelievable skill of every single band member all the way through to the recording, mixing, and mastering. the music is unique and impossible to define, with some layers of inspiration drawn from comic books. the end result is a deeply compelling view through a new and amazing window.




read more about the band: SIGNAL TO TRUST

rather than comparing cds to other cds, i thought it would be interesting to compare them to books and movies that evoke similar emotions in the viewer or reader. i haven't yet come up with a good comparison for GOLDEN ARMOUR. here are the first things that immediately streamed into my consciousness:

bladerunner and 2001. both too dark.

as far as a book...

radio planet. i read this book when i was about nine. Then i read it about 20 more times over a period of a couple of years.
again not a good comparison choice, but it was the first thing that popped into my head.

maybe the comparison to radio planet was because i recalled the feeling of finding something completely new and exciting that introduced me to another world. something that evoked an unnamed, undefined emotion i'd never before experienced. i had to read the book again and again in order to revisit that strange, new emotion. hmmm. i guess radio planet is the perfect comparison.

Friday, November 17, 2006

creating memories

i keep saying i'm not cooking anything this thursday, but they don't believe me.

this isn't a new thing. the holiday protest happens quite a bit, and nobody ever believes me. my favorite time was when we drove around looking for a place to eat, couldn't find anything open, and ended up at Bobby and Steve's Auto World in Minneapolis.

was that easter? i think i was easter. We left with boiled eggs, giant pickles, and pop. a memory to cherish.

edit: okay, i realize this makes me look really bad, so i have to tell the rest of the story.
at the time of the bobby and steve family event i didn't live in the twin cities. i flew in to see my kids. they picked me up at the airport and we drove around looking for a place to eat. could not find one freakin' place. so the siblings start arguing about who should have been on top of the restaurant thing, and maybe someone should have actually thought about PREPARING a meal. the argument continues as the car flies up and down a deserted EAT STREET. we were the only people alive in all of minneapolis. if you really want to check out a place, do it on a holiday because it's apocalyptic.

but lucky for us bobby and steve's is open all day, every day.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

helen mccloy/mwa mystery writing scholarship

What Is It?
The Helen McCloy/MWA Scholarship for Mystery Writing seeks to nurture talent in mystery writing -- in fiction, nonfiction, playwriting, and screenwriting.

Who May Apply?
The scholarship is open to U.S. citizens or permanent residents only. Membership in Mystery Writers of America is not required to apply.

How May the Scholarship Be Used?
The scholarship may be used to offset tuition and fees for U.S. writing workshops, writing seminars, or university/college-level writing programs.

What Is the Scholarship Amount?
MWA will present two scholarships for up to $500 each in summer/fall 2007.

Submission Details
To be considered for the scholarship, applicants must submit the following:
Scholarship application form
Copy of official description of writing workshop, seminar or class printed by the institution/sponsor of program
FIVE COPIES of a mystery writing sample (e.g., 3 chapters from a novel with a synopsis, 3 short stories, 3 pieces of short nonfiction work, 1 screenplay, or 1 play script)
Two letters of recommendation (usually from teachers who can speak to the applicant's writing ability)
Short (300 to 500 word) essay on the applicant's interest in mystery writing
The scholarship committee may also require a syllabus or other documentation from the writing program to be attended.

Submission Address
Submit all materials to:
Helen McCloy/MWA Scholarship Committee
PO Box 16319
Saint Paul MN 55116-0319

Application Deadline
All applications must be postmarked by February 28, 2007. No late applications or emailed applications will be accepted.

Contact the Helen McCloy/MWA Scholarship Committee at the address above or e-mail

scholarship info

Monday, November 13, 2006

feed your head

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~~~kicking antidepressants~~~

The hardest thing to walk away from was a sleep as deep as death and the incredibly vivid and cool dreams sleep brought. I was living my emotional life while I slept, and my sleeping life while awake. There was a nice thick wall between me and everybody I encountered. But don't try to disrupt that wall because the drug also gave me a new hair-trigger temper.

I moved through the days in a fog, got my work done, but had very little memory of the day once the night rolled around. Because a better world existed in my sleep. But the dreams started to diminish after several months, and I had to increase my dosage to bring them back. I remember a point where I didn't think I was dreaming at all. That's when the weird shit started. I would be doing something really normal, some tedious chore, and I'd suddenly have what can only be called a waking dream. One recurring waking dream involved an ax, a person, and a lot of chopping. When that popped into my head for the third time I decided to quit the drugs. But you have to cut back gradually. And deep sleep in the first thing to go.

Now, eight years later, I still miss that sleep and those dreams and that world.

In my particular case antidepressants really screwed up my sleep/dream cycles.

Very simply and unscientifically put, antidepressants artificially replace serotonin so your own body gradually quits making it. Once you've weaned yourself, it can take your body up to a year, sometimes more, to produce serotonin at the pre-drug level.

I want to add that I'm in no way doing a Tom Cruise. I like drugs, and antidepressants are a little like legal acid.

I'll probably take antidepressants again at some point in my life, but I think people need to know the facts before taking them without a damn good reason. Life sucks quite a bit of the time. That's just the way it is.

An interesting article:

paxil is forever

and of course we know about the fish and can all guess what the tadpole on the right has been snorting.

fish story

White Rabbit - Jefferson Airplane
One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don't do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she's ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you're going to fall
Tell 'em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
Call Alice
When she was just small

When men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go
And you've just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving low
Go ask Alice
I think she'll know

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen's "off with her head!"
Remember what the dormouse said:
"Feed your head
Feed your head
Feed your head"