Notes, notes, notes!

I love writing story notes, character notes, etc. When inspiration strikes, but there’s no time to actually start seriously writing a new idea (especially while still promoting the current one) notes are the key to not forgetting details and moods of what was just inspired. This is how most of my book ideas currently exist – in the form of notes. And guess what? At last count, there were thirty-six of them. A few are trilogies, and I’m counting each installment of them for that sum, but that’s a lot of books to cart around in your head. Facts get mixed up, life intrudes, and soon enough, something is lost. So here’s a bit of free advice to all of the writers out there – write copious notes.

Later, you can rework, improve, or even re-envision those notes. Sometimes I end up with a slew of dates at the top of my notes, under the working title of the story. The first will usually state if it came from a dream or not (a detail I like to remember), and after that the dates are when major edits/adds/fixes were done. My zombie story (possibly a trilogy?) just got a major overhaul to its notes this week. The result? Excitement. It is now going to be vastly cooler than it was. I’d love to get further in actually writing it (as of now only part of chapter one is completed) but the notes will keep it warm until I can get back to it – without a bit of flavor or nuance being lost in the waiting.

"Guilty" Pleasures…

Two things I am addicted to that don’t line up with most of my other, shall we say, darker interests… ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” and figure skating. Why do I love them? It goes beyond the inherent beauty of both sports (yes, ballroom dancing is a sport). I am fascinated with things I can’t possibly do, or flat out won’t do, in some cases, but that I wish I could.

Top of the list since childhood has been ice skating. I tried it once – when my parents went on a kidless vacation and my sister and I were staying with our neighbors. The teen girl who was babysitting us took us to the ice rink (probably in the Galleria Mall, though the memory is pretty dim), and let us give it a whirl. Did I say whirl? More like stumble, waggle, crash. My sister managed to get off of the railing here and there, but I never did after the first spectacular crash. We figured out fast enough that it just wasn’t our thing.

I’ll give myself this much credit, though: most people who try something and suck at it will then tell others they didn’t like it, which is the sour grapes way out of having to admit they sucked. Not me; I love it, I love the very idea of it – and I do admit that I suck at it.

So what’s the alternative? Become the cheering section for others who don’t suck at it. That’s how I became a fan of figure skating, and hockey, too, for that matter, though hockey has the added charm of potential violence. Of course, to be fair, figure skating has had some of that, too.

Ballroom dancing? Yes, I’m afraid so. But we can blame George Hamilton for this one. When I first saw a very cut to ribbons edited version of “Love at First Bite”, I fell in love all over again with George’s version of Dracula. Then he did a fancy dance with his lady in a disco club to the immortal track, “I Love the Nightlife” by Alicia Bridges, and I was mesmerized. To this day I’m not sure I could tell you if it was a tango or not, but I ended up wishing I could do that. As it happens, my balance isn’t the greatest at times, largely due to iffy ankles (hence my practically living in boots). Plus, I just don’t think I’d ever want to go to the lengths it would take to learn the sort of dancing that went on in my head while watching George. Once again, I chose to become the cheering section of those who can do this, and in this case, the voting section as well. Personally, this season, I’m cheering on Warren Sapp and Brooke Burke.

So if I love these things, why call them “guilty pleasures”? Mostly, it’s just to be humorous, poking a bit of fun at my otherwise horror-genre collection of obsessions. I suppose the main point is, if you just aren’t suited to doing something, but you still think it’s cool, cheer on someone who can do it. Lend them your support and your attaboys and let them know you’re hoping they’ll win, or for non-competitions, do well. It lets you be a part of it in some way, and who knows? Your cheers or well-wishes could be the one thing in any given moment that helps that other person to keep on plugging.

Spooky Empire Convention: A Smashing Success!

I’ve had a few weekends to recouperate (not that I’ve slowed down much since) but I am happy to report that the Spooky Empire Convention went stunningly well. I manned three panel discussions, with my book agent and friend Gary Roen being the official moderator for the first two, and yours truly taking the reins for the last panel on Sunday. We had very good audience turn out for all of the panels, and I always love seeing more people who are interested in writing.

The Zombie Walk went well on Friday, and while I never heard an official count, it looked to me like fewer zombies than last year, but the quality was better, including the “in character” shuffle back to the hotel from TGI Fridays.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to get to everything that went on, and I missed the undoubtedly excellent Hellraiser panel, due to them being too close to one of my own. I did catch most of the Phantasm panel with Angus Scrimm and Michael Baldwin, and it was a lot of fun. Mr. Scrimm was a hoot! They were both gracious enough later to grant me interviews, as well.

Two groups I had not heard of before and now can recommend heartily are the Ghouligans (video surfer-monsters humor) and the southern rock band with a twist known as Ghoultown. Ghoultown are from Texas, too, which amused me. I think I was the only person from Texas on their mailing list.

The dealer’s room was jumping and full of awesome goodies, many of which I dragged home with me, and the convention as a whole was primely put together. Hats off to Pete M. and his staff for a job well done!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how wonderful all of the guests were. I’m already devoted to the Cenobites and the lovely Ashley Laurence, and it was an honor to finally meet Angus Scrimm, Malcolm McDowell, Elvira, Michael Berryman, and all of the others, too.

The VIP party on Saturday night was a lot of fun, as it was last year. I met some great folks, and got to see my friends from last year, as well. Hanging out with friends, snapping some photos, and listening to some entertaining karoke numbers for a bit, made for a splendid evening.

I didn’t get to see Voltaire’s concert (I’m not sure it happened at all) but I did catch Ghoultown’s show, even though they got delayed at first from the time they were scheduled to start. The concerts seemed to be the only part with a little bit of trouble, especially in the arc lighting during the band ahead of Ghoultown. Someone kept sending the arc lighting right into the eyes of the crowd, and the sound wasn’t as clear all the way through as it could have been. Ghoultown and especially their trumpet player more than made up for it, though. I promply bought three of their CDs the next morning.

Overall, this is still my favorite convention, and the best horror convention I’ve been to yet. High marks!