‘Cage Your Sloth!’

I issued a challenge on Facebook yesterday. I wanted to give away a copy of my first book, Muscle Memory, so I proposed this:

“A signed & personalized paperback copy of my first book will go to the first person who writes a NEW Amazon review of one of my other books. The review must be at least 243 words long, be partially written in a foreign language (different from your own normal language, that is), contain the chorus from your current favorite song, and it MUST utilize the following words in any sequence: CONSTABULARY, SLOTH, PORTICO, TOOLBELT, JEFF, PACZKI.”

I figured no one would take the time and the post would quickly be forgotten. Sometimes, I throw little giveaways out like this without much fanfare or buildup, mostly because I’m bored at work and need to do something to keep my brain from slowly oozing out my ear. But I figured wrong. Within an hour, Scott Pratt responded with this masterpiece, which I would like to reproduce here, with a couple added images.

I present to you, an amazing impromptu review of my book, Samurai vs. ROBO-DICK:

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read! Cage your sloth!, April 24, 2013

By
Scott L. Pratt

This review is from: Samurai Vs. Robo-Dick (Paperback)

sloth and copAs I was reading “samurai Vs. Robo-Dick I looked over to my friend, Jeff the Sloth and smiled gently. He was eating a pazki and jelly had dropped from his mouth onto his toolbelt. I was sitting on the Portico, as the Constabulary walked by. Jeff seemed upset at their presence, and yelled out to them, “Carry on my wayward son There’ll be peace when you are done Lay your weary head to rest Don’t you cry no more”. The constabulary lead halted and stared for a brief second before saying, “Sobald ich stieg über den Lärm und Verwirrung Nur um einen Einblick jenseits dieser Illusion Ich wurde immer höher steigenden Aber ich flog zu hoch Obwohl meine Augen sehen konnte, war ich noch ein Blinder Obwohl mein Verstand denken konnte ich noch ein wütender Mann Ich höre die Stimmen, wenn ich trauma Ich kann hören, wie sie sagen”

I was upset that Jeff confronted the non-military police officers, and told him to tighten his toolbelt and go inside. He obliged, and I continued to read. I was upset that he was being such a robo-dick and distracted me from reading. As I read, I realized that I was wearing a brown shirt and had a stack of junk food at my side. Was the author writing about me? I was more intrigued. Did I mention that my wife is a redhead? Anyway. All was silent after Jeff disappeared into the house. I was able to finish the magnificent book. I highly recommend it to anyone that loves the bizarre. The book is really well thought out, and amazing. Just make sure your talking pet sloth is locked in his cage when the constabulary walks by.

sloth cage

* * * * * * *

I loved this so much, I decided to offer up two more copies of Muscle Memory to anyone willing take on this challenge. If you can match what Scott did, I’ll send out a personalized copy of Muscle Memory to YOU. Tag me on Facebook, or email (lowe435@gmail.com) me the link to the review when it’s posted on Amazon.

And as luck would have it, to aid you in this task, my collection Mio Padre, il Tumore is free for the Kindle until Friday, April 26th.

OPERATION COATTAILS

In case you weren’t aware, Chuck Palahniuk has a new Kindle single out for $0.99. It’s called Phoenix, and I just snagged it for my Kindle iPad app. I would like to suggest you do the same. CLICK HERE TO BUY PHOENIX.phoenix

Here’s the part of the post where you realize this is not a completely altruistic request. While you’re of the mood, CLICK HERE and snag a Kindle copy of my book KING OF THE PERVERTS as well. I’m hoping to create a little algorithmic magic on Amazon. If enough people buy copies of both, KOTP will begin to show up in the Customers Also Bought This Item area. Hence the title, Operation Coattails.

Help me ride Chuck’s best-selling wave like a remora on a great white! You’ll get a weekend of fun reading for $4, and you’ll also be able to say you’re friends with a bestselling author! Total win for YOU!

prunty1Hopefully, Chuck won’t mind because people are buying his story. Double win. And maybe now that you’ve worked yourself into a complete spend-crazy frenzy, consider a couple of these awesome titles as well. Click the pictures to be magically whisked away to Amazon!Let’s start with Andersen Prunty’s THE DRIVER’S GUIDE TO HITTING PEDESTRIANS - “A pocket guide to the twenty-three most painful things in life, written by the most well-adjusted man in the universe.”

You can also click any of the links on the front page of this site. I wouldn’t, you know, mind or anything.

cameron1No list of anything, regardless of subject, is complete without including Cameron Pierce. Whether you’re a fan of Bizarro or not, every fan of original fiction should be reading this guy.

“The bacon storm is rolling in. We hear the grease and sugar beat against the roof and windows. The doughnut people are attacking. We press close together, forgetting for a moment that we hate each other.”

JRJ1From the man who brought us “The Scatological Elitist Obsessed with Lightning Bolts”, more horrifying stories of things that invade our bodies and minds. Or, as the Scatological Elitist Obsessed with Lightning Bolts might snarkily say, “Oh, look, another story collection about parasites, because you didn’t already drain that well seven years ago. Good job pushing your limits, I’m sure WE SHIT INSIDE YOU was well worth the wait. Excited to see what you come up with next in 2021.” But that guy’s an asshole, so don’t listen to him. Go snag this book.

gabino1“He has a mouth in his gut. An obnoxious, toothy, foul-mouthed, pig of a mouth. Luckily, his girlfriend doesn’t seem to mind. Marie, the one-legged stripper and cyber-prostitute love of his life is very accepting of it. And then a little too accepting. What would you do if your girlfriend cheated on you with the voracious yapper under your belly button? If you live in Gutmouth’s world-a bleak city where gruesome, spontaneous mutations are no big deal, klepto-roaches take anything not tied-down, drugs turn pain into pleasure, consumers are tortured for growing food, and your best friend is a misogynistic rat-man-you might do something crazy. And what if you got caught?”

GUTMOUTH is one of the juciest, slimiest, sleaziest things I’ve come across. Dripping black noir set in a world you can practically smell thanks to Gabino’s excellent descriptive passages and wonderfully whacked imagination. One of the best New Bizarro Author Series books I’ve read.
Those are but a few. Now, what say you? Will you help me make Operation Coattails a success? Go now, consume! Read! Incredible delights await!

Birthday Follow-Up Post: The Best Gift I Got

My birthday was three days ago, but I want to share with the world the best gift I got – this birthday card from Vince Kramer:

Vince Kramer, for those who may not know, is the author of the fantastically over-the-top New Bizarro Author Series book Gigantic Death Worm. If you think this picture is funny, then I guarantee you’ll find Gigantic Death Worm funny. To read Gigantic Death Worm is to know Vince Kramer. It’s a whacked out roller coaster ride of the absurd and hilarious and the hilariously absurd. I promise you, none of this is exaggeration. It would be impossible to embellish the craziness of that book because it goes beyond pretty much anything. And my copy has a personalized drawing of a McDonalds by Vince himself, which is braggable.

The Versatile Blogger Award + Two Announcements

Let us begin this post with a disclaimer: I don’t normally do chain mails things. Not if it’s blogs or Facebook status updates that read “… I bet most of my friends won’t copy and paste this to their own status…” Even if it’s about cancer or kitties, or kitties with cancer, I don’t give a shit. I just don’t do them and generally despise reading them.

SAVE TUMOR CAT - Pass this along or you'll go to HELL!

However…

I’m going to break that vow right here, in the name of promoting fellow authors and other shit I like. All of that being prelude to this: my good friend A.J. Brown has bestowed upon me, for reasons that can only lead to a conclusion of brain damage on his part, the Versatile Blogger Award. If it had come from anyone else, I might have just ignored it as Internet nonsense, but I do love me some A.J. Brown, so the exception has been made. Now, let’s get it on.

What the fuck is the Versatile Blogger Award? Dude, click the link above for more info.

What does one do once they’ve won the award? Besides holding a party in their own honor, getting totally shitfaced, and passing out facedown in the bathtub, they’re supposed to do this shit:

* Thank the award-giver and link back to their blog in your post. (check)

* Include a link to the original blog, The Versatile Blogger Award. (checkerino)

* Share seven things about yourself. (I’ll always talk about myself. See below)

* Pass this award along to fifteen blogs you enjoy reading. (er, no)

* Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award. (still undecided about this part as it seems pretty lame…)

* There is no deadline for responding, although I would imagine that being “fairly prompt” would be the polite thing to do. (DON’T YOU FUCKING TELL ME TO BE POLITE, I GOT POLITE RUNNING OUT OF MY ASS, I’M SO OVERSTUFFED WITH POLITE YOU SONOFABITCH!)

Before we go further, I already know I can’t name 15 blogs I enjoy reading, whom I would also pass this thing along to, nor would I do that anyway. That would be the chain-mail aspect about this that makes me break out in a rash. But I will contact the person whom I name as my Versatile Blogger (if I end up doing that) and let that person do with this as they wish. And besides, most of the blogs I like have a large readership and are probably inundated by similar stuff all the time, and I have no interest in spamming them with this. But I will link to them and spread the word and the love around like it was fucking peanut butter. Oh yeah, baby, peanut butter love…

First, I’ll share seven things about myself that you, Captain Reader, may not know:

1. I hate oranges. Hate those fuckers. Can’t stand the taste, can’t stand the smell, don’t like orange juice or orange soda or orange candy or orange julius. Add some vodka and make it a screwdriver? You just ruined perfectly good vodka. Nice going, ass.

2. In January, I self-published a novel under a pen name. I’ve been trying to decide how to market the thing since it’s, you know, published under a pen name, but I might as well announce it here. It’s most decidedly not bizarro, which is why I didn’t put it out under my own name, and I confess to being curious about the whole self-publishing deal. I thought I’d try it myself, if for no other reason, than to get a better idea of a different facet of the publishing world besides just the writing side. The novel is Mr. Flashback by Son Porter (and it’s $0.99 for the Kindle here on Amazon). Don’t ask where the name came from, there is no real significance to it. It’s just easy to remember.

3. Speaking of books, I will have a new one coming out soon. Grindhouse Press will publish my novella King of the Perverts sometime this summer. I can’t tell you how stoked I am about this book, and also about working with Grindhouse. They put out great pulp horror and bizarro and their books look, and are, utterly fantastic.

4. For you horror fans, I make this admission: I absolutely hated Richard Matheson’s book Hell House. Just hated it. I found it to be dumb, cheesy writing and not at all scary. I spent the whole book yelling at the idiot characters. Flame away.

5. That’s two things I hate, so I better list something I love: severe thunderstorms. It doesn’t matter if the tornado sirens are going off, branches are flying through the air, rain is pelting my face, lightning is exploding all around – I’m that dumbass who stands out in the middle of a thunderstorm, hoping to glimpse for myself a tornado. If I had the money, I would take one of those tornado chasing vacations in Kansas or Oklahoma.

6. The first thing I ever wrote was a fully-illustrated fanfic of my favorite cartoon when I was about 6 or 7, Battle of the Planets (G Force). I loved their spaceship, the Phoenix, and always wished I could have found a toy version of it. I never did, but it apparently does exist.

7. I spent nine months of my childhood inside an iron lung.

OK, that last one is not true. I’m actually just a big fat liar.

Now, on to the blogs I regularly check out:

1. AJ Brown’s Type AJ Negative: Lots if introspective stuff about writing and fatherhood, being a husband, and juggling all those things. And as I mentioned, AJ and I have a little long-distance bromance going on, so… (blush)

2. John Skipp is Yer Pal Skipp!: No, this has not been around long, but the few posts Skipp has up so far have been so inspiring and helpful over the past month that I find myself checking regularly to see if he has a new post up yet. That’s why it’s here.

3. John Scalzi’s Whatever: I can’t not read whatever Scalzi posts, because more often than not, he writes exactly what I’m thinking about a particular subject. GET OUT OF MY HEAD, SCALZI!

4. The Cubs-centric baseball blog Bleacher Nation: I’m gonna throw a change-up here (PUN!) and add a sports blog, because goddammit, I gots me some roots in sports writing. And this is my list, so blah.

5. The something of Andersen Prunty, Lowered Expectations: Not exactly updated regularly, but when it is, it is always interesting and entertaining. Currently, he’s holding a contest for readers to create a cover for his upcoming book, Fill the Grand Canyon and Live Forever.

6. Nathan Bransford: More of an occasional read for me, but regularly updated with interesting news and insights into publishing and writing. Worth the time.

7. JA Konrath’s A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing: The always interesting but equally annoying Konrath expounds on sticking it to the man through self-publishing. I like his transparency and willingness to share numbers and info, but am equally enraged by his insistence on posting in the third person. That just bugs Lowe.

8. Caris O’Malley’s Hipster Librarian: There is never a time when Caris fails to make me laugh. A great majority of that time, I’m laughing at him, but still, you can’t argue the results!

9. Kirk Jones’s bizarrojones: Kirk likes to examine bizarro and horror art and literature through a scholarly, professorial lens. I like to read Kirk and pretend I’m smart like him.

10. Redneck bizarro robot genius, David W. Barbee: Goofy fun from a bizarro son of the south. God Save Us, George W. Foxworthy!

11. College football fun from EDSBS: OK, one more sports blog. If you’re not a college football fan or observer, you probably won’t get much of what’s here, but if you are, and you do, then this shit is gold, more often than not.

12. Um… hmmmmmmmmm… There are other blogs I occasionally read, but I think I’ll stop this list here. I will reserve the right to come back and add to this list when I inevitably remember the ones I forgot to include.

If you made it all the way through to the end of this, then I now have one question: why? If you can answer that question in no fewer than 200 words, I will email you a free copy of Son Porter’s dynamic debut novel Mr. Flashback. Send your essays to: lowe435@gmail.com

OK, bye bye!

Why I do this – a sincere blog post (for once)

I woke up at 2:30 AM today and really couldn’t get back to sleep, so I’m feeling a bit philosophical right now. If the following makes it seem as though I’m under the influence of some mind-altering pharmaceutical, it’s not that. I’m just a little punchy. But I promise, every word of this post is completely sincere…

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future lately. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about my future as a writer. I’ve spent the past year marketing and selling my first book, focused almost to a fault on reaching a specific goal. After spending so much time among the trees, now that this year has passed, I’ve had occasion to step back and look at the forest again. I won’t know for certain what the future holds until next week when I head out to Portland for BizarroCon, but until then, I’ve been able to refocus on and reaffirm a number of things.

I’ve also put to words what I want. What my goals are. I wrote some of those things down, and those words have been stuck in my mind since. It’s easy to think you know what you want, what you’re about, what your goals are, but it’s another thing to actually put those ideas to words. To crystallize them in your mind and lay them down on paper, as if you’re making it official. Until then, you’re subject to change, maybe a little unsure of the specifics, that what you think you want might turn out to be different from reality. I thought I’d share these with you because the more I read these words, the more firmly I believe in them, and the more resolute I am to prove them true.

First, some thoughts on what I try to accomplish with my writing:

I tend to focus my writing around interesting characters, first and foremost. I think strong characters trump everything else when it comes to what makes a book entertaining and memorable. I understand and agree that title, cover art and concept play a huge part in catching a reader’s eye and opening their wallets, but if you don’t deliver a story that holds their attention, gives them characters they can believe are real, and entertains them, then you don’t gain fans or build a readership that will run out to buy your next book. Story and characterization must be as strong as concept, otherwise a writer’s readership won’t grow.

That leads into the next point, the specific reply to something I’ve been asked many times, and perhaps never given as succinct an answer as this until now – What are my goals as a writer?

My main goal as a writer is to entertain and connect with readers in a meaningful way. I want readers to come away with something that stays with them after they’ve finished reading my stories. I want them to remember the characters and wish their time together did not have to end.

Pretty simplistic, really. But there’s not a whole lot more to add, at least not at this point. People change, life has a funny way of altering your opinions and perceptions, but at this point, it really all boils down to that statement for me. If you believe in what motivates you, what drives you to succeed at whatever it is you’re going after, it doesn’t have to be a long-winded dissertation. Goals can be simple and clear. At least mine are. No extraneous bullshit needed. I want to write books that you have to read, and I want them to be books that you will remember.

I hope to continue doing this for a very long time, and I look forward to sharing the experience with all of you. To everyone who has read my stories, bought my books, told people about my work, and especially, told me personally about what they took away from it, I want to again thank you.

You are why I do this.

Obligatory ‘Writer Blogging About NaNoWriMo’ blog post

Am I doing NaNoWriMo?

No.

Well, sort of, but not really in the technical sense that I’m following the rules and all that shit. I am writing, but I have no clue if I’ll finish my story this month. What I do know for certain is that it will not reach the mandatory 50,000 words and therefore will not be a true NaNoWriMo book. Because the NaNoWriMo snobs will rebuke me.

I can’t be rebuked. Not right now. I’m fragile. My psyche is much too frail. I have house issues, you see. Major house issues. Along the lines of several-thousand-dollars-worth-of-absolutely-necessary-repair-work sorts of house issues. And once all that repair work is finished, I will still be left with cleaning up and rebuilding about 1/4 of my dwelling, both inside and out. Flooring has been ripped out. Concrete is being jackhammered. Trenches are being dug. Landscaping is being raped. Walls have been skeletonized. It’s a fucking mess.

This will be me. Admire my matching sweatsuit.

 

So, yeah, I’m writing, but I’m also going to be insulating and drywalling and mudding and chopping and painting and tiling and wood-flooring and shower-installing and all of this sort of thing for the forseeable future. Trying to force out 50,000 words this month just ain’t gonna happen. And BizarroCon will have me in Portland from Nov. 17-20. That will be a much-needed break from my real life Money Pit.

I may just wear my teal sweatsuit all four days out there and do nothing but sit and pour beer down my neck. That would be perfectly acceptable, right?

Something Wicked This Way Flops

Note: The following was originally posted on June 26, 2009. No names have been changed to protect the innocent, because there was no innocence to be had in this butchering.

I received this weekend, as a well-intentioned gift for our garden, a bucket of dead fish, courtesy of my sister, Sara, and her burgeoning brood, Nathanael and Cassidy. The fish were intended to be planted. No, dear reader, not to grow more fish as I initially mistook, but to be buried as fertilizer to assist in the abundant growth of our vegetation, a tradition, my elder sister assured me, dating back to the American Indians. As a history major (and apparent good student, though details remain sketchy), I took her at her word.

In advance of this new gardening task, as I was not familiar with theproper way to prepare and bury dead fish in the ground, I placed the offering, bucket and all, into our chest freezer for a later date. With Tuesday’s rain washing out the sporting contest I was scheduled to cover, I seized the opportunity to plant my fish, but first, like any good journalist, or gardener, or responsible home, pet, car, and child owner should always do, I turned to the Internet for research. My findings were shocking.

Like a latter-day soothsayer bewaring me the Ides of March, the Internet showed me a sinister world where fish are not our friends, or mere morsels of delicacy or even fertilizer, but rather a race poised to attack us at our weakest moment, when we least expect it. Long have we known of gilled creatures that prey on human flesh, but until now, these attacks have occured mainly in maritime settings. However, led by fiends the likes of which many of us can hardly imagine, the day is coming when fish will take to the land and reap their revenge upon us. In this hour, it will be every man and his family for themselves. All the more reason to plant your garden now and await the coming apocalypse. Therefore, I took this as an opportunity to prepare.

I retired to the yard with my bucket of frozen captives, an axe, my children armed with the camera, and our morbidly obese beagle to prepare the carcasses for internment in our yard. I will save the more faint of heart in the crowd the specifics, other than to note that within 10 minutes, my bucket was filled again with an assortment of thawing fish hunks. Holes were dug around a foot deep in three separate areas of the garden. Fish parts were tumbled in and covered over with soft, packed Earth. Each spot was marked with a pile of rocks. While I toiled, the obese beagle scoured the grass for any overlooked remnants of the axe-wielding carnage that I wrought. I would like to say that I took no pleasure in this gruesome task, but that would not be truthful. You see, these desiccated interlopers from the sea have more than one purpose. As fertilizer for our garden, yes, but also to serve as a warning for the future invading hordes:

Abandon hope, all ye fish monsters who enter.

With this task complete, I must now go bathe said morbidly obese, and smelling awfully of fish, beagle.

NOTE: Over two years have passed, and Northern Indiana has not had a single recorded incident of dryland fish army attacks in that time. I do not consider this a coincidence.