What’s The Deep, Dark, Down All About?

Hey, it’s 1:06 now, but what the hell, right?

I’m going to assume you don’t know jack shit about me and so I’ll tell you: I have three kids. They all think–are convinced, in fact–that they should be able to read my debut novel, Dead Weight.

They’re wrong. That book is not for kids. Some people have taken to calling it young adult, but that’s a pretty loose categorization. That’s like saying It is a book about clowns, or Ender’s Game is a coming-of-age story. Technically true, but what the fuck? For the record, Dead Weight has–and in no particular order–endless profanity, sex, rape, mutilation, graphic death scenes, and murders. Plural. All of those are probably plural. It also features a protagonist in his teens. So I guess that makes it for teenagers?

Sophistication. I won’t even get into it. This book makes Dead Weight look like The Sound of Music.

Point is, my kids can’t read my stuff. And they can’t listen to my stuff, either. So I got to thinking that it might be nice to write a novel that they could read, and that’s when The Deep, Dark, Down was born.

A while back, I started in on it. I do this–juggle multiple books–because I’m a bloody idiot. And after a chapter or two, I realized that, nope, sorry, I can’t write a kids’ story.

Here’s the briefest setup. Three kids and their dog find themselves lost in the woods. For days. And one night, as a massive storm pummels them, they discover something that maybe was never meant to be found. Something wonderful and terrible. And shit goes real bad from there.

That’s as spoiler-free as you’re ever gonna get.

Point of all this is, I’d be a liar if I tried to sensor the thing in my head. The kids are going to drop f-bombs because they’re fucking kids–one a teenager–and that’s what kids do. Also, I do it because I possess the maturity of a child. And there’s going to be violence–some of it gory, most likely–because I’m sick in the head. If that hasn’t been established yet, hopefully this post clears all of that up.

Best Time to Write

First of all, it’s not at 1:04 a.m., which happens to be the time of this post.

I used to think that my best pages would come at night, probably accompanied by a pair of headphones and a warm glass of some dark liquor. These days, however, I’m less certain. Some of my favorite chapters have started with the sun.

I could–or maybe should–wake up early enough to take advantage of that. But then I’d have to wake up early.

You understand my dilemma then.

Couple updates on a few things. Still cranking on Sophistication. Hit a snag for a bit with a story thread, but now I’m humming along again and I’m getting close to the end.

There may be a very sharp deadline in my future. Not an easily ignored self-imposed one, either, but the real deal. If that proves true, I might need to take a week and hole up in some cave, grow out my beard and eat bugs while I race to the finish. A slight exaggeration, perhaps. Maybe a week in a hotel room with no distractions so that I can pull 10-hour shifts. That scenario seems more and more likely–and sorry family.

Eager to discover how the story wraps up. I know it reads like a cliche and maybe it is–I’ll own it–but the truth is, I usually don’t know where my narrative is going. I feel like my fingers get me there, not my brain. And sometimes my brain thinks it has the inside scoop on a big plot twist and then my fingers give it the bird. Figuratively. I can’t tell you how many times I had huge plans for a character and then my fingers killed them off. Gods-damned traitorous appendages.

Anyway, I’m at a stage now where Sophistication feels like it’s writing itself. The words come a little faster every time I sit down and I have to stop myself from pushing forward too fast. I can see the end zone and want to sprint for it, but if I do, I’m gonna get crushed by some overzealous, overgrown linebacker. Except, the linebacker will be a few shitty pages of dialog, or a gaping plot hole.

Then, I’m barely coming up for air before I dive into The Deep, Dark, Down. That’s another post, though.

Diplomatic Immunity

I’ve been thinking that if I had diplomatic immunity, life would be pretty great.

Lethal Weapon 2’s Arjen Rudd, the corrupt South African politician who smuggled Krugerrand into America, used it all the time. To cut in line at the grocery store. To avoid paying tickets. For discounts at Little Caesar’s. Alas, eventually, his privileges were revoked. Unexpectedly, and some might say unfairly–without due process, bare minimum. Still, he had a pretty good run.

diplomatic-immunity-o

Like Rudd, if I had diplomatic immunity, I would carry my authorizations in my wallet so that I could flash proof whenever necessary.

“Hey Matt, mind grabbing me a soda if you stop by 7-11?”

“You know, I would, but diplomatic immunity.” Bam. That’s when I’d unleash my credentials and walk away without another word.

“Papa, what’s for dinner?”

“Diplomatic immunity, that’s what. Table for one.”

Inevitably, Murtaugh and Riggs would come for me, but in the interim, what a life, right?

Anyway, this is my first post in weeks. Feels pretty appropriate.

 

Spring Broke

 

Well, shit.

Somehow I’ve got a sore throat. I don’t understand. By all the gods. By all the fucking gods! How, Zeus! How is this possible?

Last night, tried to kill it with Noah’s Mill. Tonight, Booker’s. Bizarrely, these remedies don’t seem to be working. So, predictably, I’ll probably be sick through my vacation, which starts Wednesday. In the interim, no choice but to go into work and spread the infection straight-up T-Virus style.

Despite the fact that I’m obviously cursed by the gods, I wrote several thousand more words on Sophistication and now some of the story layers are converging, which is always satisfying. Lots more work to do, but the calendar on this miserable blog-thing reminds me daily that I’ve only got about 80 days left to do it, which fills me with deep, choking dread.

Also, still modding one of the covers for the book. I really like the design, but a fair amount of people said that the figure on the front looked like a “trash bag.” Needless to say, this book isn’t about a trash bag, so the artist is taking another stab at it. Here’s a quick mock-up of one possible new direction:

sophiseyes

So, couple things. This is a low-res mock created by the artist to give me a quick idea of where we could take it. And I added the Jawa eyes myself because I wanted to see how they read on the character.  The good news is that the cloak no longer looks like a trash bag. That’s a huge plus. Not sure about eyes yet, but I think we’ll get there.

Next time, I’ll post a couple Dead Weight rejection letters and talk about how rejection letters are generally useless to authors.

The Deep, Dark, Down

That’s an alliteration. Also, it’s the title of my third book, which bears no relation to Dead Weight or Sophistication. That’s probably good for my kids, who aren’t allowed to read either of those books. Especially Sophistication.

I might, however, let them read The Deep, Dark, Down.

Maybe.

Anyway, here’s some cool art for it. This might be the cover, but I can’t think about that yet because I’m still not done with my second novel.

DeepDarkDown_Title1

What’s it all about? I’ll let you know when my fingers tell me, and we’re still a few months away. Until then, sit tight.

Ulysses Pisses on You


There are roughly six katrillion apps designed to help writers write. Most suck. Some of them are perfectly serviceable. A couple are even pretty good. Then there’s Ulysses, a mixture of Hemingway’s blood and Neo’s spunk boiled for a thousand years in a witch’s cauldron. Or, I’m pretty sure that’s how they made it, anyway. Fine — that’s just a best guess.

Ulysses is what you use to write when you’re not a gods-damned idjit technophobe neophyte jackanapes. Quote, unquote.

https://ulyssesapp.com

I’ve been using it forever, and it keeps getting better. I like it because there’s a dark mode and I like to work in the dark. And by that, I mean without any knowledge of pretty much anything, writing included. I also like that it syncs between all my devices. And that I can separate my chapters into different page tabs. Or set daily word-count goals. Or view story notes in an accessible side-bar. Plus about six katrillion other things. That’s also a real number.

Here’s what it looks like — and get ready, for I’ve screen-capped a scene direct from my latest book, hashtag spoilers, hashtag nobody cares, hashtag cry myself to sleep, hashtag why am I spelling out hashtag? This is a pivotal scene about a guy taking a dump in a hotel sink. It’s called Sophistication for a reason, people.

sophisticationulysses

Go ahead. Take a moment. Wipe those eyes. It’s all right. All of us are overcome with sweeping emotion at one time or another.

Anyway, as you can see, everything looks pretty great. The blurred-out stuff relates to page and word counts, which I’m too ashamed to share with anybody but my psychologist, and also chapter notes, which actually would be spoilers.

Elks Lodge is the Nexus of Time and Space

Elks Lodge #1112.

That sexy name refers to the San Mateo, California Elks Lodge, located on some street near a freeway.

Right? That’s why I write, people. I’m a stickler for detail.

Anyway, this place was built in the year 1200 AD and most of its patrons were old well prior to that.

What the hell is an Elks Lodge? It used to be a place where men gathered and very likely did racist, chauvinistic things, but it’s no longer a haven for old, white men. Now it’s home to old people of all variety, women included.

So once a week, a group of us go there to drink, write, and drink. The place is dusty. The Crypt Keeper would be a young stud here.

elks

Take him in. You know what? This image is ludicrously large for this post, but fuck it. Look at the size of the Crypt Keeper. He’s huge! No way I’m resizing it, though. The upload gods wanted him to be that large, and so it shall be done. I’ll accept full responsibility.

Point is, every aspiring writer needs a place. This is mine. Except, that is, when that ancient asshole opens the door to the library room, shuffles in, and retells the same joke I’ve heard thirteen times already. You know who you are! Luckily for me, he doesn’t know shit about this blog. Or the Internet. Or computers. Or electricity. No, motherfucker, there’s not a hole in my shoe, and I can still put my foot in it, damn you! I don’t know if he’s trolling or if he’s battling advanced Alzheimer’s, but either way, an intervention is necessary.

I wonder if the Crypt Keeper ever has any nice tales from the crypt. (Not a question; more of a thought.) He always delivers that titular line in a dramatic, eerie tone, but what if one of the tales is actually about some guy who did well for himself, lived a long life and died peacefully in his sleep surrounded by family? What then, Crypt Keeper? You still gonna be so gods-damned spooky with your delivery?

Dead Weight Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews

That’s not the best headline I ever wrote, but I’m in the middle of something else and wanted to get this up.

Kirkus Reviews is a highly reputable book review magazine and website whose reviews are featured on the backs of just about every novel you’ve ever read.

From an author’s perspective, especially an aspiring one with no clout whatsoever, it’s also a bit of an oddball entity because you pay to submit your book for consideration. Not pennies, either. Then the Kirkus editors pick up your book and review it. But they can take a monumental dump all over it — call it the worst thing ever printed, in fact — and you’re still out a good chunk of dough.

Thankfully, Kirkus liked Dead Weight all right. Achievement unlocked — first pro review of my stuff, and the end result isn’t a morale-destroying shit show. Gonna call that a huge win.

Here’s a direct link to the full review, which is kinda spoiler-iffic. Maybe don’t read that if you actually intend to read the book. 

And here’s a chunk of text from the review that’s less spoilery.

“In this debut YA thriller, the leftovers of an unexplained apocalypse struggle to survive and find meaning in the wreckage. The great vanishing, while an ever present mystery, isn’t really Zephyr’s main concern as the story goes on, which can make it difficult for readers to see where it’s all leading. However, this also means that Casamassina’s novel avoids getting bogged down by a standard, predictable plot arc. It’s also nice to see such a cynical protagonist in a YA novel rather than one that’s overwhelmed with shock after a calamity; Zephyr often gives sharp warnings that are regularly ignored by adult travelers, often with disastrous consequences. The resulting tone allows the book to delve into darker territory than many other YA tales. Solid apocalyptic fiction that focuses more on its character relationships than its sci-fi elements.” — Kirkus Reviews

 

 

Killing Fran

Spoiler.

There will always be a character named Fran in my books, and that character will always die.

As violently as possible, preferably.

This may be a singular wit. I accept this.

I figure by book three, these death sequences will journey beyond gross into disturbing, and by book 10, I will be on some FBI list.

#worthit

deadd