Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, November 23, 2014

First Week Away


A week ago today, All the Turns of Light went live.

It's had a very good week. My Amazon sales have been steady, and since Amazon is the 800-pound gorilla in the room, this is good news for Mug and Meralda. 

Why? 

Because this guarantees Book 3 in the series. And it won't be three years coming, either. The outline is already taking shape. The new Intrepid is being designed. By the way, I need eleven million cubic feet of lifting gas, and six hundred and seventy-four miles of bare Number 3 copper wire. Just in case you have quantities of either lying around.

I'm even building a solar system just for this next book, because yes things are moving out of the storm-tossed skies above Hang and the Realms and the Great Sea, and our heroine will setting out for the vast dark spaces of the heavens in Book 3.

Yeah, Mug isn't thrilled with that idea at all. But he'll go anyway, because I'll finally get to use the tagline below:

In space, no one can hear Mug complain.

And what will the title of this new Mug and Meralda adventure be?

Look at the titles of books 1 and 2 first:

All the Paths of Shadow,
All the Turns of Light

The two lines above almost read as though they form a fragment of a poem, do they not?

That's because they do. This is a 4 book series, and by the time the final book is published, you'll be able to stand the books side by side in order and read the entire poem.

So what is the title of Book 3?

Well, I'm torn between two titles, actually. Because I'm deep-down an awful person, I'll give you only one of my choices for the title of Book 3. If I go with this one, the still-incomplete poem will read:

All the Paths of Shadow,
All the Turns of Light,
Every Wind of Change,
Blankety Blank Blank Blank.

No way am I spilling the 4th and final line this early.





Markhat fans, please don't think I'm giving up on him and Darla, because I'm not! Remember, the new Markhat book, The Darker Carnival, comes out in April. And you'll be happy to know I've started a new Markhat book, entitled Way Out West. 

Which means I'll be working on two books at once, thus running the risk of accidentally dropping Mama Hog in on Meralda, or featuring a scene in which Mug and Darla exchange barbs over her choice of summer hats. Which will never happen. Although it might be funny, just as an exercise...




Sunday, November 16, 2014

Release Day News: All The Turns of Light on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble!


No more delays, no more vague promises of 'coming soon' or 'any day now!'

All The Turns of Light is now loose in the wild. Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble have the book, and it is making its way to market via each bookseller. I set a publishing date of November 19, which is Tuesday, but I'm sure the book will go live for purchase on each site well before the 19th.

A few basic facts about All the Turns of Light:
  • An unusually articulate marmot served as consultant for most of Chapter 5.
  • Two brave copy editors suffered minor injuries in the unfortunate gerund skirmish of October 2nd.
  • The airship Intrepid was constructed to scale and actually flown to enhance the book's realism. I now owe Mastercard 138 million dollars. The Kickstarter funding campaign will commence soon.
  • Film rights for the book have already been secured by Paramount. They haven't, but if enough people spread the rumor Universal might get jealous and snap up the rights, so let's all head to Twitter and stir the pot.
  • At no point in the book does the word syzygy appear, because man, I hate that word. 

BREAKING NEWS -- All the Turns of Light is live on Amazon and Kobo.

Amazon is the first to display a product page for All the Turns of Light!  It popped up while I was writing this. The link is below. 


Grab thyself a copy, if the Kindle is your format of choice. 

Prefer a Kobo version? They too prove swift on the draw. The link to the book at the Kobo store is below!


Both versions are $2.99.

If you missed the first book, All the Paths of Shadow, wait until tomorrow and you'll be able to get it free for the next few days. I'll be adding a Kobo edition of this book to the Kobo collection soon, so if don't read Kindle e-books don't despair.

EVEN MORE BREAKING NEWS -- All the Turns of Light is live on Barnes & Noble!

And the circle of life is complete. The Nook edition of All the Turns of Light just went live. The link is below:


Now What?

The release of a new book is followed by fourteen seconds of rest and relaxation. But no more than fourteen seconds, because after seeing a book go public, every writer I know claws their way to a monitor, pulls up their title, and watches the rankings like some sort of demented, unhygienic hawk.

Will the book sell? Will it get any reviews? Will it get any good reviews? Oh my God, what's my position on the Oxford comma? Did I remember to change the bellboy's name from Jim to Tim at the end of Chapter 12? What am I doing? Really, what am I doing, is it too late to yank the book and take up yak herding? The Amazon ranking just fell by 0.002 percent? People hate it!  People hate ME!

The author reflects calmly upon his work.
The book is out. I thank my readers for their patience and grace, my editors and beta readers and technical support geniuses for their help, and my friends for not quietly blocking me on social media when I blathered about the thing.

And now, if you'll pardon me, I must hunch over a flickering display and click REFRESH until the mouse fails or my finger does...

(image of Mad Man courtesy of Cerenzio of Dreamstime.com)



Sunday, November 9, 2014

Rant Deluxe Redux

A biped similar in biomorphic construction to that of the author prepares to dispense a face-punch.

Rant the First

I have a new answer to the question "What do you write?"

From now on, I shall reply with three words -- "Japanese tentacle porn." I shall speak them loud and proud, and take a step toward the questioner, daring them to offer further comment.

I do this for two reasons. 

First, because I am sick of replying honestly that I write fantasy, only to be met with the furrowed brows and lifted nose which suggests I just offered the questioner a dirty plate of day-old trout. 

Second, because I am nearly moved to murder when I am told "Oh, I don't read that, I only read real books."

Thirdly, because yes I said two reasons but I am vexed and this is not time for numerical precision, because if people are going to express disdain for my genre and walk away I figure my new reply will send them fleeing my presence immediately, without the by-now familiar lecture concerning the error of my literary ways.

You know, I run into a lot of people who prefer sports-oriented reads, for instance. I never say to them 'Why, that's just people handling each other's balls." I don't denounce the aficionados of Westerns by saying 'Why don't you just rent old episodes of Gunsmoke?"

I don't do these things because I make some small effort, at least part of the time, to eschew being a clueless jerk. Too, I realize that there are great stories and great books being written in each and every genre, sports and Westerns and fantasy alike.

I've noticed that as I age, my level of forbearance for rudeness and dismissive behavior by strangers declines at an ever-accelerating rate. So if you're around me at a book-related event -- a signing, a reading, a class, whatever -- and you hear someone dismiss my choice of fantasy as a genre, you might want to lean in closer, because there's a good chance my response is going to be a caffeine-fueled rant aimed squarely at the inadvisability of insulting someone who juggles words professionally. 

There. I feel better. Thank you for your patience.

Rant the Second

Last week, I blogged about the now-famous video in which a woman walked the streets of New York and secretly filmed the abuse hurled her way. I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to comment and email; I learned a lot from you all, and I hope it will help me create more believable characters.

One of the specific questions I asked was this -- would my female readers want to see the inclusion of such a harsh reality in my books? I.e, would a scene featuring Meralda, for instance, being cat-called as she walked to the Laboratory be a positive contribution to my books?

The answer, and I mean it was unanimous, was a resounding NO. Including such scenes would do nothing but remind readers of the awful things they face in the real world, and there is no good purpose to be served by that.

So. Tirlin will remain free of cat-calling idlers. Even Rannit's streets won't see such a thing, and we're talking about a city which starts each day when the dead wagons haul corpse after corpse out of the blood-stained alleys. So Darla won't be confronted by aggressive idlers either, although Darla would just shoot them in the face the instant they opened their mouths. Darla doesn't suffer fools gladly, and neither does she miss.

Meralda and Mug News!




Latest update: The final edit pass is DONE. The book is complete. The cover is ready (has been for months -- another Kanaxa!). What remains to be done?

Conversion to e-book format(s). Acquisition of ISBN number. Submission to the various sales outlets.

So when will All the Turns of Light be on sale?

Today is November the 9th. My plan is to have the book up by Monday, November 17, at least on Amazon. I will keep you posted with a few very short blog updates throughout the week.

But the long, long wait is nearly over. I do hope it has been worth it!

And on that note, back to work!


Sunday, November 2, 2014

On a Serious Note

For the most part, I make a conscious effort to steer away from politically-charged or potentially controversial subjects in my blog.

Today, I'm going to make a rare exception, and talk about something that I saw last week that really bothered me.

I'm talking about the short video a young woman made. It's a simple film, less than two minutes long. She never speaks. She does nothing, in fact, but walk down the street.

Now, let me showcase my social ignorance for a moment. If asked to predict the content of a film in which a young woman wearing jeans and a crew-neck tee shirt just walks around, I'd have predicted she'd receive a couple of random smiles and a hello or two. Because yes, I'm the social equivalent of a hermit crab, and I foolishly assumed that in 2014 people of any gender can just walk around unmolested in North America.

If you haven't seen the video yet, I urge you to give it a look. Less than 2 minutes, but very illuminating. The link is below.


In the space of the film, she is harassed and accosted more times that I could count. One idiot even follows her, side by side, for four whole minutes just because she wouldn't respond to his clumsy come-ons.

What the Hell, people? Every single male portrayed in this video needs what we in the Deep South call a Class II Ass Kicking (Class II because not only must the offending male be beaten, so must at least one other male blood relative, just to get the point across to the whole wretched backward clan).

Let me back up for a minute.

I'm not the most traveled guy around, but I have been a few places. Montana. Arizona. Memphis. Austin. I work on a college campus in Mississippi.

I've never seen behavior like this, and I'm a careful people-watcher because I'm always on the lookout for fiction fodder.

I'm not saying that what happens in the film doesn't happen. It obviously does. I'm not saying the film was edited, or the incidents exaggerated. Neither is the case.

I'm just saying I should get out more, but I'd better retain the services of a competent criminal trial lawyer first, because it is time we men who are NOT dishonorable cretins knock the ones who are back into the gutter from whence they crawled.

Am I advocating violence?

Yes. Quite frankly, I am, because I don't think a carefully-crafted debate on the proper behavior towards ladies is going to carry the same weight with Mr. Hey Sexy Baby that a well-placed face-punch will.

I suppose I've been sheltered. I don't see this lewd behavior here in Oxford. I do know that if someone addressed my wife in that fashion, well, my newly-retained lawyer and his good friend the bail bondsman would soon be very busy, and I would be contemplating the dubious merits of jailhouse cuisine (protip: never eat the meat loaf).

And it would be worth it. There's a scene, alas deleted before the final version saw print, in which my detective Markhat and his vampire friend Evis are discussing an incident in which Markhat broke a stranger's jaw because he insulted Darla, Markhat's then-fiancee. Markhat spends a long weekend in the Old Ruth, a notorious jail with a less-than-100-percent survival rate among even brief detainees. Evis admonishes Markhat to show a modicum of restraint next time, to stay out of jail, and Markhat responds thusly -- "Any husband not ready to spend a night in the Old Ruth on behalf of his wife isn't ready to be handing out engagement rings."

I still believe that. It's not up to the ladies to weigh themselves down with pistols and pepper spray because some men can't mind their manners. I believe it's up to the men to police our brethren, and make it crystal clear that an insult or attempted intimidation to a random woman on the street is an insult to my wife, my sister, my daughter, my mother.

And some of us don't take kindly to such things. Not kindly at all.

None of you men should. It's one thing to smile and say hello to a woman in singles club (do such things even exist anymore?). It's another to shout down a lady on the street. She isn't there to meet you, or make your day. She's going to work or going home, like the rest of us poor slobs.

To the woman in the video, I can only offer my most profound apologies on behalf of my gender, a large percentage of which is obviously unacquainted with the concept gentlemanly behavior.

And to the morons in that video, you should be two things -- first and foremost, ashamed of your inexcusable behavior. Second, you should be bleeding from a broken nose.

To the guys who saw the catcalls and the intimidation happen, you should be ashamed of yourselves too, for not standing up and speaking out.

I'm not stating or implying that women are fainting daisies incapable of taking care of themselves. Far from it.

I am saying women shouldn't have to teach strange men not to be raging arseholes. Women shouldn't be tasked with conveying that sad message one hundred times a day.

No, this kind of verbal assault and intimidation is a man problem. Each of us dudes is either a part of the solution, or an enabler.

So cut that crap out, you idiots. You might just say something around the wrong wild-eyed southern boy. Maybe I'd win, maybe I'd lose, but that's not the point -- there would be a reckoning.

Okay. Deep breaths. I'm putting my soapbox away, because I do have a follow-up question to all this, that I hope one or two of my female readers might be willing to answer.

I write several female characters. Darla, for one. Gertriss and Mama Hog. And then there's Meralda, Tirlin's lady Mage, about whom I have based two novels and a novella. But seeing the video, and then reading about 'gamergate' and the many instances of outright physical assaults against female cosplayers at cons, I have to wonder if I'm portraying my female characters with any degree of realism at all.

Meralda walks around Tirlin all the time, and aside from traffic cops doffing their hats to her and her apartment doorman saying hello, she never gets cat-called. Darla, Markhat's wife, has faced down vampires and murderous witches, but never endured a mob of idlers on a park bench commenting upon her anatomy.

Honest, such things never occurred to me, because, I assume, I'm a clueless male.

Which gives me pause. I want very much to make Meralda and Darla and all the rest as whole and as believable as I possibly can. I want readers, especially female readers, to feel as if they see some of themselves reflected in my portrayals.

So -- by omitting this aspect of being a woman in 21st century America, have I damaged my fictional people?

Conversely, do you women even WANT to see such things pop up, especially since I write fantasy, or would you rather fiction be a safer place, a bastion of reason, if you will?

I am genuinely interested in hearing your thoughts.

So that's it for this week. Next week I'll try to get back to ghost hunting and funny stuff.

But sometimes even hermit crabs should speak out.

Peace out, fellow babies!











Sunday, October 26, 2014

Halloween Costumes for Writers

© Embe2006 | Dreamstime.com - Halloween Background Photo

Halloween is nearly upon us. I'm too old to trick-or-treat, according to at least one judge and the content of a sternly-worded restraining order, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy the holiday.

Maybe you're an author, or married to one, or keeping one chained up in your basement in the hope that she'll finally finish that final book of the trilogy that you've been waiting for since 1998. If so, here are some Halloween costumes you might consider trying, because each is designed to strike fear into the heart of an author (note: if the author lacks a heart, as is so often the case, these costumes will also impact liver function, or what little remains of it). 

Enjoy!

HALLOWEEN COSTUMES TO SCARE HELL OUT OF WRITERS

Conan the Grammarian -- The Grammarian can spot dangling participles, split infinitives, comma misuse, or tense shifts in your manuscripts even after they have been corrected. The Grammarian will ring your doorbell, present his treat bag, and then deliver a scathing appraisal of your writing skills so virulent and brutal you will later be found unconscious, bleeding from your ears, unable to speak or distinguish between its and it's for weeks.. 

The Wicked Slush Reader of the West -- The Wicked Reader will appear on your steps holding your most recently submitted manuscript in her green clawed hands. Before you can comment upon the inaccuracy of the published response times, she will read aloud the first paragraph of your work, cackling with insane glee as you realize how hackneyed and trite that hook you were so proud of sounds now. She will then order her Flying Red-Ink Monkeys to storm your house, marking up any works-in-progress with the classic 'We regret that this work does not suit our needs at this time' kiss-off. 

William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White -- The authors of the legendary writing reference book The Elements of Style simply stand in your doorway, shaking their heads in silent yet profound disappointment.

Ebook Pirates of the Caribbean -- This clown ain't Captain Jack Sparrow. And he's not here for treats -- instead, he steals your ebooks, distributes them through shady 'subscription' ebook sites, and cuts your legitimate sales in half while claiming to do you a favor. "Arr, it's free advertisin' for ya, mate," he cries, as he speeds away as fast as his thrift-store rubber dinghy can take him. "Information just wants to be free."

Count Genre Snob -- It doesn't matter what you write. Somebody you know hates that genre, and this collective disdain is personified by Count Genre Snob, who reveals his face with a flourish of his cape before remarking '"Ven are you going to write a real book? No vun vants to read that <insert genre here> vut you write, blah!" The only way to dispel the Count is to confront him with royalty statements cut into the shape of the New York Times masthead. 

AmaZombies -- You've seen them. We all have -- they roam the Amazon ebookstore by the tens of thousands, and more appear daily. You know them by the awful Microsoft Paint do-it-yourself covers, the complete lack of any editing, the haphazard formatting, and the instant and furious response to even constructive criticism. Alone, each AmaZombie self-published upload is harmless -- but if your book is surrounded by thirty thousand of them, they are a terror indeed. Barricade your house and begin immediate rationing of your Halloween candy.

Happy Halloween, everyone! Stay safe, and keep reading!





Sunday, October 19, 2014

Big Mug and Meralda News!

The author, upon being served decaff.

Here we are, slap-dab in the middle of October, and I haven't posted a single 'Things That Go Bump' blog entry yet.

Truth is, it's been an extremely busy October. I've barely had time to deal with the living, much less the dead. My Tesla radio sits inactive. My new parabolic mic hasn't been used since that hot day in August when we drew curious looks from the Oxford Police Department. And I'm still not done with the new ghost hunting device, which I hope will measure truly minute changes in local magnetic fields.

But I have accomplished one thing, in the last few weeks.

Drumroll, please....

The last re-write of the new Mug and Meralda book, All the Turns of Light, is DONE.

I have an ending I'm happy with. And a beginning, and yes, a middle. The book is complete. The tale is told. 

Of course there is still proofreading to be done, and the mechanical process of turning a manuscript into a book is yet to be complete. But these tasks are small compared to the Herculean task wrestling this book into shape turned out to be.

So, for all of you who have waited so patiently for the continued adventures of Mug and Meralda, your wait is nearly over.

There was another decision to be made, when the book was finished. Should I shop it around? Try to get an agent?

After much internal debate, I've decided to remain a so-called hybrid author, and publish this one myself. Hey, if Samhain (the house which publishes The Markhat Files series, and does a darned fine job of it) handled light fantasy, I'd send Turns their way in an instant -- but that's not really their cup of proverbial tea. 

So I'll handle this one myself. 

I've paid to have it edited, by seasoned professionals, who by the way were literally invaluable in shaping the book's final form. I also commissioned an original cover, one created by the same fabulously talented artist who created the covers for Brown River Queen, The Five Faces, and now The Darker Carnival. You haven't seen Kanaxa's cover for All the Turns of Light yet, but I'm looking at it now, and it's beautiful. 

Why am I going the self-published route with this new book?

Time. Let's say I decided to start shopping Turns around -- heck, I believe it would sell, but I also believe the back-and-forth demanded by the markets would add eight months or a year to the process of getting the book out there for sale.

Now, if I was a complete and utter unknown -- just for the record, I rate myself as 'mostly unknown' -- I'd take the year, and like it, because a publisher brings with them marketing and placement and promotion I simply cannot achieve on my own.

But All the Paths of Shadow has had a pretty good run, sales-wise, and that means there's a small but eager audience out there already. 

Thus my decision to go it alone, this time.

So get ready. I plan to maintain my hard push, and get this book out in a month, no more. I'll be pricing it at $2.99, which I think is still a bargain.

Turns isn't a novella, either. Final word count is 85,000 words, give or take a dozen. 

As soon as Turns is out, I will be diving back into a new Markhat. It's tentatively entitled Way Out West, and it sees Markhat, Darla, and Cornbread hopping Rannit's new steam locomotive for a trip out to the western frontier.

Does Markhat strap on a six-shooter and don a Stetson?

<Insert John Wayne drawl>

You better believe it, pilgrim.

So, wish me luck and speed as I try to make up for lost time and get this book out there at last!


Oh, and happy October to you all!






Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Darker Carnival cover reveal!

Few things are as much fun for a writer as seeing a new book cover, and realizing it is the perfect cover for the book..

So we're both in for a treat today, because the cover for the upcoming Markhat book THE DARKER CARNIVAL is done. The book goes on sale next April, but I don't see any reason to make you wait. So, here it is -- another Kanaxa masterpiece!



I don't know how she (Kanaxa) does it. She captured the essence of the book perfectly, she gave Markhat the perfect vampire-built revolver, and Darla has the perfect expression of elegant self-assurance. Even the shadow over Markhat's eyes embodies one of the book's more subtle themes.

I don't think I'm engaging in the forbidden art of spoilery by suggesting The Darker Carnival might be set in a carnival and that the carnival might be evil. Might be. Of course, like a magician's stage show, what you perceive and you actually happens could be two very different things.

Like so much of life, experience is often a matter of perspective. The wondrous acts of the magician are revealed as mere sleight-of-hand trickery if one steps out of the audience and observes from behind the stage.

And, on rare occasions, the mundane, rote day-today routines of life give way briefly to miracles.

You just have to be looking at the right place from the right spot to understand the true significance of either.

I hope Markhat fans will enjoy this new entry in the series. It was fun to write. Who doesn't love a traveling carnival, evil or not?

All our old friends are back, and a new face might even wind up added to the cast. But I'm getting carried away, so just scroll back up and have another look at that gorgeous cover.

April really isn't that far away.

If you haven't gotten around to reading The Five Faces, the latest book in the series which is now on sale everywhere, now is a good time! And check out that cover too. Amazing!



Sunday, October 5, 2014

Welcome October!

© Marilyngould | Dreamstime.com - Halloween Pumpkin & Ghoul Photo

Finally.

It's October.

I'm not a big fan of summer, with its relentless heat and merciless humidity.

Springtime? Meh. Pollen and thunderstorms, with a side order of restless rattlesnakes, fresh from their lairs and none the more cheerful from having slept all winter. 

Winter? Here in the South, winter is just one long grey drizzly day, with the odd ice storm tossed into the mix to keep tow trucks and body shops busy.

No, I don't care much for autumn's cousins. 

But October, I like.

It's the breaking of the summer heat. The retreat of the stifling humidity. The blazes of orange and gold that engulf the treetops. The crunch of falling leaves, the first hesitant ghosts adding chills to the air.

And, of course, Halloween.



Halloween is the only holiday that even pretends to be about simple fun. I'm not expected to somehow engineer a tearful Hallmark Moment with the family on a certain date at a certain time. If I dress for the holiday, fake blood and fangs will almost certainly be involved, and frankly even as old as I've somehow become the idea of slathering myself in fake blood and speaking through crude plastic fangs still seems like fun.

I like seeing jack o' lanterns on the porches and fake spider webs in the windows and gauze ghosts hanging from the trees. Try all that in summer, for instance, and you get the neighbors dropping by with brochures to Trembling Pines, which offers a variety of 'treatment programs' for various 'disorders.'

Some people have no imagination.

That's another thing I like about October. The month, and its culmination on Halloween, are an affront to small-minded, sour-faced people everywhere. 

So carve that pumpkin, friends. Festoon your home with ghosts and ghouls of every kind, because October is finally here, and the Great Pumpkin is watching us all!


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sinister Sunday Horoscopes, For Writers


Fig. 1: The author's personal Book of Ideas and who has skulls lying around anyway?
We writers are a superstitious bunch. Everyone has their little writing rituals. Maybe you have a lucky pen, or a keyboard made from garbage pilfered from Stephen King's household trash. Maybe it's a special five-quart coffee cup. Maybe, like me, you garb yourself in the flowing silk robes of a thirty-third degree Owl-head Mason and build a bonfire made of L. Ron Hubbard books before you sit down in a gold-encrusted Regency throne to write.

Whatever your methods, the stars hold certain wisdom, and what appears to be a serious grudge. Read on, fellow writer, and do not despair, for the stars are often wrong and usually display lousy aim...

ARIES (March 21-April 20)
The last thing you'll expect in the cornfield next Tuesday is an actual murderous scarecrow, but if you'll think about it you've always had rotten luck on Tuesdays.

TAURUS (April 21 - May 20)
Neither the police nor the zookeepers will ever learn exactly how the gorillas armed themselves with baseball bats or managed to hide quietly in your closet.

GEMINI (May 21 - June 20)
There's no use trying to outrun Fate, especially when Fate is hopped up on bad meth and chasing you in a flaming gasoline truck.  

CANCER (June 21 - July 22)
Outdoorsmen advise that you play dead when attacked by a black bear and fight when attacked by a grizzly, but even outdoorsmen are stumped when you encounter both bears at once. Good luck.

LEO (July 23 - August 22)
Event after the events of next Thursday, the odds of anyone being besides you actually being struck by radioactive satellite debris during a gas leak explosion in a fireworks factory remain microscopically small.

VIRGO (August 23 - September 23)
Well, honestly, who knew Jason Voorhees was both real and hiding in your back seat with a machete? 

LIBRA (September 24 - October 23)
If it's any consolation, the flamethrower manufacturer is going to feel just terrible about your headline-grabbing misadventure Monday.

SCORPIO (October 24 - November 21)
See, what happens Friday at the shark exhibit is why you should never tempt a grumpy Fate by asking the (usually) rhetorical question 'At least it can't get any worse, right?' 

SAGITTARIUS (November 22 - December 21)
Even if your attacker is just a crazy guy in a Yeti suit, the homicide detectives will all agree those fake claws left quite a convincing mess behind.

CAPRICORN (December 22 - January 19)
Look at it this way -- most people have to train as astronauts for decades before they are ever launched into low Earth orbit. Of course they have spacesuits, but still.

AQUARIUS (January 20 - February 19)
Cheer up! Accusations of serial necrophilia aside, not many people can say they've lasted as the top headline on all three major media outlets for three consecutive days. 

PISCES (February 20 - March 20)
Well, you'll give it a valiant try, but face it -- hanging onto the wing at that altitude just wasn't physically possible.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Zoo Pics and Poltergeists

This week's entry will be a veritable potpourri of subjects and images. Which is writer-speak for 'I feel like hammered excrement so I'll be posting a lot of pics to hide the fact that I currently command the wit and wisdom of canned tuna.'

Will there be more EVP evidence from the Oak Hill cemetery investigation of three weekends ago? Yes there will. There is even a naughty cursing ghost, the first I've encountered. But I suppose if you're dead and trying to sleep the slumber eternal and some dude shoves an elaborate microphone in your face, you tend to might get a bit testy.

All in good time, though. Let us begin tonight's journey with a visit to the Memphis Zoo.

The obelisk just inside the Zoo ticket gates.
Well, let's back up a step so I can offer a brief word of advice concerning MapQuest, GPS navigation, and the perils therein. I plugged the address of the Zoo into my MapQuest app and set out, sure of arriving at my destination with no fuss.

But, unless the actual Zoo is housed in a derelict gas station surrounded by what appears to be a heavily-contested strip of gang territory, the GPS system has no freaking clue where the Memphis Zoo actually sits. 

"You have arrived at your destination," chirped MapQuest, as the Crips and the Bloods engaged in a running firefight over a few square yards of barren, cracked concrete. "Drive, drive, DRIVE," shouted Siri, in an uncharacteristic display of emotion, as my Android devices scrambled for cover beneath the back seat.

We did find the Zoo, after resorting to the age-old practice of asking bemused humans where the elephants are kept. 

Once at the Zoo, we were greeted by the obelisk pictured above. I assumed the fanciful animal-based hieroglyphs were merely decorative, until (too late) I translated them to be a warning, which reads "Cursed are all those who dine at the zoo eateries, for they shall suffer the Wrath of the Angry Colon, and how, yeesh."

I love the Memphis Zoo. I really do. But people, bring your own snacks -- I didn't expect great or even good food in a zoo diner, but what we were served was abysmal even by the most relaxed standards. In fact, I observed a Komodo Dragon, which prefers to dine on dead rotting flesh, grimace and spit out whole a snack bar hamburger before beating the offensive mass into a pulp with his muscular tail and saying, in passable English, 'there's really just no excuse for that.'

So. Don't trust your GPS and for the love of all that is good and true do NOT eat at the Zoo, unless you can cajole one of the gorillas into sharing an orange and you can probably do that just by saying "give me half of that or I have to eat in that place" while pointing at the snack bar. 

But now, on to the pics!








Thus quoth the raven -- "Will somebody please wash these freaking rocks?"

No, you want Yoda. Little Green guy, lives in a swamp. I sell life insurance.

   
I am done with you now. The exit is to your right. I said good day, sir.


 
"Call me an iguana again. I DARE you. Say iguana again."



Yeah, the MGM lion? My uncle Louis. 
Sorry, pal, frolicking hours are only 8 till 5. Union rules.

Wolf? Who's a wolf? I'm a Pomeranian. Come on in, we can play some catch. C'mon, kid. Arf arf?


Those are the best of the pictures I took at the Memphis Zoo. If you get the chance, you should visit one day. The creatures are truly remarkable, and they seem happy there. 

More Oak Hill Cemetery Investigation EVPs!



As both regular readers of this blog know, the last two entries have dealt mainly with an investigation of Oak Hill Cemetery in Birmingham, Alabama. Led by the crew from Expedition Unknown, we wandered the historic cemetery after closing hours, searching for instances of the paranormal. 

I captured a few possible examples of EVP (electronic voice phenomena, i.e, ghostly voices) and recorded some odd utterances by Expedition Unknown's SP-7 'spirit box' device. I've already linked the the evidence I found so far after starting the arduous process of reviewing many hours of audio.

As you might recall, I took two digital recorders to Oak Hill. I left one behind accidentally, but it was recovered the next day and mailed back to me by one of the gracious Oak Hill volunteers (thanks Renee!). So I've finally been able to compare audio captured by one recorder against audio captured by the other. 



For instance, my Zoom mic recorded the words 'get out' while we visited the Erswell vault. Luckily, my Olympus recorder caught the same occurrence. I've posted links to both recordings below, so you can compare them.



In the instance above, I believe the Olympus unti was closer to the SP-7 and also perhaps aimed right at it, thus the clearer recording. 

I located another series of words created by the SP-7 and recorded by my Olympus device. And when I say words, I mean naughty words.  First you'll hear a female voice say 'get the blank' and then a male voice says out. Listen for yourself! This was also captured in the Erswell vault.


Testy, testy.



But perhaps the most interesting EVP of all came through well after our group left Oak Hill, leaving the cemetery empty -- or was it?

I propped my magnetic recording device on top of a marker while an EVP session was taking place. The magnetic detection box was off, but my Olympus didgital recorder was attached to the box, and was running, recording sound.

Which it managed to do after being left behind all night long. Yeah, my new Zoom mic beats the little Olympus in terms of recording quality, clarity, sensitivity, and such, but the Olympus captured 12 hours and 37 minutes of deserted cemetery audio.

And here is a voice, from nowhere, about 3 hours in....



And that's not the only utterance. I can hear a voice, but can't make out the word or words on this clip. Can you?


I'm still going through the 'empty graveyard' audio, and will hopefully have more next week!

In Closing

Re-write on All the Turns of Light still in progress, blah blah blah. You've heard all that before and I imagine you're as sick of reading it as I am of writing it.

Wish me luck and a sudden burst of manic speed, please.