Saturday, July 08, 2006

Department of WTF?

Mountain Lion Spotted In Seven Lakes, NC .

Seven Lakes is a big-ass gated community about ten miles from where I live. The area, needless to say, is not known for its mountain lions.

The Hits Just Keep On Comin'

The lovely and talented Tasha Alexander and a few friends band together to join the blogsophere with the newest gang-blog, The Good Girls Kill For Money Club.

Mystery! Suspense! Virtual Cocktail Parties! Hot babes with brains and attitude! Who could ask for more?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Everybody's Doin' the Meme-Bo

Laura Lippman, over at her blog The Memory Project, has posted another one of those meme thingies, which basically consists of asking a lot of nosy questions and challenging people to answer. Originally, I think. you were supposed to demand answers from three specific people, but I'm glad to see people have quit doing that.


1. Have you ever been searched by the cops?

No. Been stopped and questioned a few times. One time I gave the officer a lecture on civil liberties while using the hood of a friend's car as a dais. This is why I don't drink Tequila anymore.

2. Do you close your eyes on roller coasters?


3. When’s the last time you’ve been sledding?

2002. Last snowfall we had here.

4. Would you rather sleep with someone else, or alone?

Is this an offer?

5. Do you believe in ghosts?

Yes. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, no? And what is life but a form of energy?

6. Do you consider yourself creative?

Most of the time.

7. Do you think O.J. killed his wife?

Yes. As Billy Crystal put it, "You got blood in your car?"

8. Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie?

Angelina Jolie. The kind you don't take home to mutha.

9. Do you stay friends with your ex’s?


10. Do you know how to play poker?

Is this an offer?

11. Have you ever been awake for 48 hours straight?


12. What’s your favorite commercial?

Currently, "Stunt City"

13. What are you allergic to?


14. If you’re driving in the middle of the night, and no one is around do you run red lights?

I'll roll them, but not outright run them.

15. Do you have a secret that no one knows but you?


16. Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees?

Sox, baby.

17. Have you ever been Ice Skating?

Yes. It didn't go well.

18. How often do you remember your dreams?

I remember them in the morning but they fade by the end of the day unless I write them down.

19. When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried?

Watching Raising Arizona for the first time, so whenever that came out.

20. Can you name 5 songs by The Beatles?


21. What’s the one thing on your mind now?

Sex. Duh.

22. Do you know who Ghetto-ass Barbie is?

No but I can figure it out.

23. Do you always wear your seat belt?

Yes, otherwise the car won't stop dinging.

24. What cell service do you use?

I refuse to answer.

25. Do you like Sushi?


26. Have you ever narrowly avoided a fatal accident?


27. What do you wear to bed?

Fake antlers.

28. Been caught stealing?

Not yet.

29. What shoe size do you have?

13. wide.

30. Do you truly hate anyone?


31. Classic Rock or Rap?

Classic Rock althought there is some rap I like.

32. If you could sleep with one famous person, who would it be?

See question 8.

33. Favorite Song?

Won't Get Fooled Again.

34. Have you ever sang in front of the mirror?


35. What food do you find disgusting?

Sea Urchin.

36. Do you sing in the shower ?

Yes, but only Gregorian Chants.

37. Did you ever play, “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours”?

Is this an offer?

38. Have you ever made fun of your friends behind their back?

Oh, my friends and I rip on other friends who aren't there all the time, but we share it with them when they show up. It's a guy thing.

39. Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew?

It's what I do for a living.

40. Have you ever been punched in the face?

Is this an offer?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

It's Official: The Countdown Begins

I know it's been accepted and copyedited and all that good stuff but it's still a jolt to see your next book title pop up in, even while the release date is months away. Anyway, book three in the Jack Keller series, Safe and Sound, is now available for pre-order, for those who are worried it'll sell out the first day and don't want to stand in line.

One of Us, One of Us, One of Us...

Congratulations and deepest sympathies to the newest entrants to that time-sucking black hole of despair known as the blogosphere, writers Chris Everheart and Kim Mizar-Stem (the Texas Spitfire), who've just fired up their new blog, Inside the Weenie Factory.

May the Lord have mercy on your souls....

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Hell on Wheels

Latest Newspaper Column

It's small. It's cute. It gets great gas mileage.

And if you get in its way, it will destroy you.

That seems to be the message of a new series of car ads that are out, it seems, to prove that gas-sipping environmentally friendly compact cars are all dangerous and manly and stuff.

One ad, for the Toyota Yaris, shows a small spiderlike creature made up of gas-pump nozzles squealing in terror and attempting to run away before being crushed to pulp, then having it innards sucked up by the Yaris. Then, in an even more ominous development, the vehicle divides into two complete vehicles, reproducing like something from a Grade-Z horror flick.

Another Yaris ad is even more brutal. An unsuspecting little pink piggy bank stands blinking in confusion before the Yaris, which swiftly extrudes a laser on the end of a long metal tentacle. The laser morphs into a whirling buzzsaw blade, then a hammer, all of which combine to reduce piggy to fragments before the tentacle grows fingers and snatches a single coin from the poor porker's carcass.

The car then does its reproducing thing again. I guess the single coin is to show the car is inexpensive or something. That must be it, because I called the Toyota dealer and found out that the car does not, in fact, have deadly morphing metal tentacles that shoot out from under the hood.

I don't mind telling you, I was pretty disappointed. I was looking forward to going all Doctor Octopus on the next jerk that cut me off in traffic.

It's a sign, I guess, of just how far out of the mainstream I really am since I just don't get most car ads. I never did understand the cars that bragged about having a "driver-oriented cockpit." What exactly does that mean? All the instruments are oriented so the driver can see and reach them? Well, I would hope so. That's like saying the car has "road-oriented wheels."

A recent ad for the Ford F150 pickup puzzles me as to exactly how it's supposed to make the truck something you'd want. It shows a swarthy, male-model-looking guy in a pickup who encounters a tree fallen across the road. He goes off-road around the tree, then grabs his tow chain and pulls the tree out of the road so this dorky guy in a convertible with a hot-looking girl in the front seat can get past. The girl bats her eyes at Pickup Truck Man and murmurs "Gracias, Manuel." Pickup guy tips his cowboy hat and drives away. Dorky guy asks hot girl, "You know that guy?" and she answers, "He's my ex-boyfriend."

OK, let's review. Dorky guy drives off in convertible with hot girl. Pickup guy drives off alone. And this is a commercial, not for the convertible, but for the pickup. Are they trying to tell us that pulling trees out of the road is better than hanging out in convertibles with sultry babes? I would respectfully beg to differ.

One of the funniest things about that particular ad is the bit where pickup guy pulls up and notices the fallen tree. Across the bottom of the screen, you see the usual disclaimer: "Professional driver. Closed course. Do not attempt." Don't attempt what? Finding trees in the road? It's not something I do deliberately, believe me.

Actually, that's one of the silly things about most big truck and SUV commercials. They show the vehicles climbing near-vertical rocky hills, blasting through mud bogs, generally doing all sorts of cool stuff and then there's that darned killjoy disclaimer at the bottom reminding you that while the truck can do all of this, you can't. Nyahh.

Another one that leaves me scratching my head is the SUV commercial where the guy kisses his wife goodbye, steps out of his house in a suit with his briefcase, and parachutes off a sheer rock pinnacle to his SUV waiting below. Am I the only one who wonders how the guy gets back up there in the evening? Am I the only one who remembers the commercial but can't for the life of him remember which car it's for?

Some car ads are so awful, I've actually wondered if they might be made by the company's competitors to send you away from the car. Take, for example, the horrendous new ad for the Mustang that features the world's most annoying band singing a song about "you love to go BEEP BEEP!" I love my Mustang, but that commercial made me seriously consider trading it in.

I guess this is why I never made it in advertising.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Dry Heat, My Ass

I learned a lot of things this past weekend at Thrillerfest. I learned some valuable techniques for writing dialogue from David Morrell. From James O. Born, I learned what cops really say when they draw weapons on a suspect (contrary to what you may think from the movies, it is not "FREEZE MOTHERFUCKER!") I learned that Lee Child really is as cool and laid back as everyone says. I learned how to pronounce John Lescroart's last name. But the biggest thing I learned is that I apparently spend WAAAAY too much time on the Internet. At least a dozen people came up to me, read my nametag, and said "hey, I know you from (blog name)." And it was all different blogs.

But at least that's how I got to meet face to face with the extremely funny Stephen Blackmoore, Mike MacLean, Lee Goldberg, Ali Karim, Toni McGee Causey, Elaine Flinn (who totally kicks ass, BTW), Janine Wilson from Seattle Mystery Bookstore, the Divine Miss Sarah (Weinman), and many many more.

I also had a great time hanging out with Irish thriller writer Pat Mullan, who shared a wealth of one-liners, funny stories and fascinating information about the new Ireland.

My nomination for Best Panel has to be the one moderated by Steve Berry on "Sex and Booze in Thrillers" which featured Barry Eisler, M.J. Rose, and the aforementioned John Lescroart. Not only was it a fun and informative panel, they provided Screaming Orgasms for everyone (that's a drink, in case you didn't know). In fact, that may be my nomination for Best. Panel. Ever.

A major thanks to all the volunteers who helped make the conference run so smoothly, including my buddy Chris Everheart, who I met at Mayhem in Omaha and who's got a hell of a future ahead of him as a writer.

Thanks as well to Blake "Ringo" Crouch, J.J. and Bette Lamb, Louise Ure, and David "It's An Honor Just to Be Nominated" Terrenoire for making our Sunday morning panel a success. And thanks, of course, to the fans and fellow authors who turned up at that ungodly hour to hear us.

On the subject of fans, Lee Goldberg talks on his blog about how it seemed more of a writers' convention than a fan con. I'll grant that there was a smaller fan to author ratio than you see at some others. Since everything was so well run and so professsional, it's easy to forget that this was, after all, a new organization putting on its first con. Give the word of mouth time to spread. And I did get to meet and/or hang out with some great fans, such as the incomparable Annie Chernow, Rae Helmsworth, and my newest buddy from Charlotte, Ruth Castleberry.

The Arizona Biltmore, where the conference was held, is a wonderful place. The architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright combines the familiar with the slightly strange.The end effect, however, is very peaceful and subdued, sort of like a monastery on Mars. At least till I got to the bar. The service was impeccable and the food was great, if insanely overpriced. I mean, really...$12.75 for a Reuben? It was a helluva good Reuben, don't get me wrong, but dayum.

I've been to a lot of conventions this year, and my credit card balance shows it. I may have to cut back some in 2007 unless I start making Dan Brown money. Even so, I'm keeping Thrillerfest on the short list.