Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Joe Hill's Novel "NOS4A2" and My 99 Cent Sale

I starting reading Joe Hill's book, NOS4A2, released just today, and so far it's amazing. Great storytelling, engaging characters, riveting and mystical. He writes so well that he makes it look easy, the way all experts do with their craft. Joe Hill is the son of Stephen King, which he neither broadcasts nor runs from, which is exactly how it should be.

 I nearly refused to buy the book on the grounds it was priced $13.59 for the kindle, and I had signed my name in blood I would not pay over $9.99 for an ebook. But, after reading some incredible interviews with Joe, as well as more about the novel itself, I changed my mind. I also got a tweet from Chuck Wendig saying 'you pay ten bucks for a movie you cheap ass, and with this book you know you're getting a great product' (that was my paraphrase, he was kind and caring and professional, in a Chuck Wendig kind of way).

I'm going to be wrapped up in a novel and NHL playoffs for many days to come.

So, in the spirit of pricing things low as they can go, my two novels are now at .99 cents.

STRAY  the novel, and The Jade Rabbit  both .99 cents on Amazon for Kindle.

STRAY, the novel,  and The Jade Rabbit  .99 cents at Barnes and Noble for Nook.

And my short story, The Zombie Dash, a tale of a 10k gone terribly wrong is completely free on smashwords.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Memorial Services For Running Shoes

I switched out my shoes recently. Same exact brand, same year, same color, same size, same everything.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Running shoes carry us for so many miles and so many months.  A little bit of us gets squished into them with each footstrike. We fill them with memories, then we just shed them and move on. Maybe they get stuffed deep in our closet. Maybe they get recycled.  Either way, they are like Andy's toys in toy story on Christmas morning. Just waiting to be replaced.

I felt I should take a moment to have some kind of ceremony or memorialize the shoes:

Dearly beloved. We gather here to say our goodbyes. Here they lie. No one knew their worth
The late great running shoes of Mother Earth

They lived a life not as full as they should. They had such promise.

They went to New York, where they were going to be my first pair of shoes to run the New York City Marathon. Five Burroughs, 4 bridges, central park. What more could a shoe ask for?

Alas, it got canceled, and they took part in the informal "run anyway" in central park. It was a memory burn, but a moment less fantastic than what could have been.

Then I wore them to the Rock CF Rivers Half-Marathon in Grosse Pointe.  A chance to shine!  Unfortunately, I wasn't racing the event. It was simply a training run.  These pair would never know a true race, but they covered some important miles.  Now they are gone.

But, spirit in, spirit out, and a new pair has arisen.  The old pair, reincarnated really. A Rising Phoenix of a Nike Pegasus

26 days from today, these new shoes will be running up and down the arm of a peninsula in Traverse City for the Bayshore marathon. Barely a month old, and they'll get to cross the marathon line finish.

Then they will start training for the next marathon.

They will be laying the groundwork for a new pair of shoes, who will grab the metaphorical baton, probably right before the 2013 New York City marathon, (NYCM Redux) and the spirit of a new shoe will take me over the bridges and across the Burroughs.  The torch gets passed from one pair of shoes to the other.

Yes, our shoes our like our ancestors. They lay the training and hard work, where often times it is a new pair of shoes who steal the glory.  We should all be like a nice pair of running shoes, willing to sacrifice ourselves for those who follow us and may cross the finish lines that we worked to make possible.

...and we should all stink.
...and we should all be neon colored.
...and each year we should reinvent ourselves, a new model each year. No, not like the companies to make a few bucks, but to grow and evolve. 

May God Bless Their Soles.

**(In response re: memorial services for shoes, Johnny B @RunRunJohnny writes:
I wish I would give them a viking funeral in St. Clair. Instead they become lawn mowing shoes, stained w/ grass and dogshit.)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

HumbleBrags versus Real Brags

I need to work on my Humblebrags. All I can seem to dish out are real brags.

What's a Humblebrag? It's a cleverly posted "I'm not worthy but look how I'm living large" statement, usually a quip on Twitter, whose main goal is self-promotion and marketing but fed to you as modesty. 

As this NY Times article explains, it's looking for 'Awe and Sympathy'. They are thinly disguised boasts which are all the more irksome for the attempt at concealment.

Typical examples include:

Just got told I look like Jessica Alba today #iamsoconfused'

 Just gave $100 to the homeless man outside the station. Irrational kindness is so cool.

Or some others:

Mark Cuban: it was right around this date in November when I was 27 years old that i remember looking at a 0 dollar bank balance at the ATM...

Lance Armstrong: Remind me not to stay out til 2am w/ again. Hurtin' for certain today.

Screw the Humblebrags, here's my real Brags.

My first real brag is about the publishing house "Books of the Dead Press," which is soon to release my next novel. If you check out the top sellers on Amazon, "Books of the Dead Press" seems to have a number one horror seller on Amazon every other day.  And when I see the quality and established  authors they have signed, I'm honored to be in the same sentence.

Regarding my next novel, after hearing so many people say 'it's a horror story' their voice clearly italicizing horror, I unscrambled all my thoughts and wrote the page you see above:  "On Writing Dark Fiction and Horror".  This article is to appear on a number of blogs as guest posts, including Wag the Fox, a Den for Dark Fiction, Now is Gone, and Silk Screen Views.
Regarding Silk Screen Views, I responded to a request to be a guest book reviewer, and was accepted.  They are a huge, and ever growing book review site. Check them out here. 

My short story, 'Zombie Dash', which I wrote for fun, is getting great reviews and has a 4.0 out of 5 rating on Amazon. Some of the feedback on Goodreads:
~An Amazing read. For a short story, this is pretty much everything.
~I love the idea of the book because its original and clean. Best that you head straight to Amazon right now and download this gem of a book
~A great little short story with good pacing and a good ending, about a fun-for-all zombie dash that turns into something else.
~And all I can say right now that this piece, obviously known as a short-story, could be a whole book of our Mark Matthews wanted it to.

So, there are my #RealBrags.  For some much better examples on #Humblebrags, check out this Doonesbury strip.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Game of Thrones with A 'Friends' Style Opener

The last episode of Game of Thrones was easily the best of the season.  And while I may not be the biggest Game of Thrones geek, I'm certainly their greatest sympathizer.  The HBO series is well done, but is simply a companion to the novels which make a much richer world than can be shown on screen. It's been called the Lord of the Rings meets the sopranos.  Or, it could be called "The People's History of Westeros"

George RR Martin is a genius.  If you look at him, I'm wondering if he wasn't motivated by creating a world where someone like him could rule.  He's not necessarily going to appear on the GQ cover, so, instead of fitting his body for this world, he developed one just as rich where odd characters with smarts and wit and mad skills could rule.

I want a Game of Thrones theme park in Florida where misfits and miscreants across the world can gather.

I want my own house banner.

I want a daugher named Arya and a bastard child named Jon Snow.

I want to have Coffee with Peter Dinklage, in and out of his character Tyrion Lannister, since you can tell they are both just as cool.

I want the power to make one fictional character come to life and appear in my living room, and that character has a name, and her name is Daenerys Targaryen

Here's a hilarious clip, which you may have seen. 

The Game of Thrones set to the 'Friends' title sequence.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Stupid Is As Stupid Does- 25 Miles Per Week Marathon Training

...if you think you know what I'm doing wrong, you're going to have to get in line.   Glass House ~ Ani Defranco 

Part of the beauty of life is we are allowed to be stupid, act stupid, and look stupid. We are free to be dumb and dumber.  I have finally found freedom, and you know what it is? It is going to the grocery store wearing plaid shorts and a pair of black, knee high socks, with sandals on, of course, and a pajama top.  The same thing I'd laugh at old men for doing when I was a youngster.

I'm 50 shades of stupid. Let me list the things I'm doing wrong:

I should stretch, I should floss more. I should eat more fruit and less chocolate.  I should write to an audience rather than criss-cross across genres. I should wag more and bark less.

And I certainly should run more than 25 miles per week if I'm training for a marathon.

The word 'should' can be a terrible word.  It's usually on the other end of something shaming, or some kind of I told you so.

I spilled the juice.  "Well, you should have put a cap on it!"
Okay genius

I bonked at the marathon
Well you should have ran more than 20 miles a week.

In fact, I should probably use the word should less.

But, here I am, right in the middle of 'stupid'. One month until the Bayshore Marathon and I'm averaging 25 miles per week. Then again, the crumbling chromosomes in my legs are to blame. I started the training off with a huge "ROOARRR!!" but training for 4 marathons in 2 years was biting off more than I can chew. Stupid.

But it's all good. I may be going to Hell in a bucket, but at least I'm enjoying the ride.

 The Bayshore Marathon is a month away, and if anybody else is running it and averaging less miles per week than me, I'd love to hear about it. Otherwise, I'm crowning myself 'King of Stupid'. 

Go ahead, knock me off my stupid mountain. I dare you. But first you better come at me with less than 25 miles per week.

Nope. You can't. I thought so.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

20 Mile Run and My Own Confusion

I went on a 20 mile run yesterday, the 2nd of my 3 preparing for the Bayshore Marathon. It was a ten mile out and back.  It never occurred to me that my current residence is just about 10 miles from the front door of the house I grew up.  So, I put on some vaseline armor, eight bucks in my pocket, two gus, and headed out the door.

I ran by the cemetery near my old house. When I would watch "Night Of the Living Dead", this was the cemetery that was identified as the biggest threat to survive the zombie apocalypse.

Residents of the cemetery wake up and they're hungry
 I ran by the turkey farm a 1/4 mile from my old house. It was deserted, except for some Geese who seemed to be pecking at what smelled like left over Turkey poop.  If you read my novel STRAY, this is the setting where the main character grew up, and eventually used as a sanctuary for Stray dogs. But there were no sign of any strays, except maybe me.

This is the actual farm when it's stocked with Turkeys.
 I ran by the beer store where I bought enough Bud Lite and Busch beer to feed an army of Clydesdales. This was long ago, and they had new owners. Still, I stopped in and grabbed a one dollar water. I looked strange in tights and with sweat and slime on my face.

Actual picture, circa 1979, of where I went for candy age 8, beer age 18
  Of course I ran through my old neighborhood, ran by houses of old friends, but I didn't really have moments of epiphany that I've come to expect from Long Runs. My thoughts and feelings were just being whipped around my head. I think I attribute this to the 30 mile per hour winds. The wind was such that in some directions I fought to just move forward, but in other directions, I was being pushed forward by cosmic forces. Wind whipped through one ear and out the other and anything coherent flew off like a paper receipt you let blow from your fingers.

This has been one of weirdests week we've had on this planet. And to quote Jack Kerouac, I have nothing to offer anyone except my own confusion.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Boston; "It's Not About You," I Remind Myself

"The world is too much with us; late and soon."  William Wordsworth

As I write this, one suspect is on the run, and another suspect has been reported dead.

More importantly, an officer is also dead.

Since the days of the Boston Bombing I've been reminding myself that, even as a runner, "it's not about you."  I look back at my thoughts, and wonder how much I looked at this too much with my runner's eyes.  This was an attack on citizens at a running event, not an attack on runners where citizens were harmed.  Sure, the ripples will be felt by my runner's leg.  The ripples smack some pretty hard, but really, "it's not about you," I tell myself.  When my brain goes to all my future marathon finishes, and to the upcoming massive New York marathon, I'm wondering if I'm making it about me.  The answer is always in the question.

The real tragedy of the event is those who have suffered permanent impairments from the bombing, and especially those who lost their life.  Not runners. If only we could always keep that image of the 8 year old boy with the infectious smile and the sign reading  "Stop hurting people. Peace"  My children are the same age, that could have easily been my children, and that would be a fate worse than my own death. Same way I felt at Sandy Hook.

The reason we run sometimes is to get to our loved ones at the finish. To see our family with new eyes. This is what the Bombing was about, families and lives torn apart.  That is felt by all of us.

My 'brother by another mother', Predawn Runner Greg, wrote a post about this called "Boston Is Everyone's Tragedy, Not Just Runners"  He put it more wisely than I.

In the canceled New York City Marathon of 2013, politics collided with the runner community when the hurricane devastated some areas of New York. This situation seems so much more.  Of course, we will run to deal with this, because running helps us understand, helps us cope, and yes is even an expression of emotion. We can run to celebrate and remember life, rather than run to simply celebrate running.  Yes, I know, that's what most of you are already doing, but in my runner-obsessive brain, it's easy to lose focus and see things only through running-tinted goggles.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Marathon Finish

So much that could be said, so much that will be said.  Just adding a bit to the chatter.

A marathon finish is sacred ground. Hallowed ground. A visceral and spiritual cathartic whirlwind twisting and twisting. Of all that I have experienced in life, nothing has come close to the magnitude of a marathon finish. Triumph. Joy. Sweat and Tears. I cry at the end of every marathon.

Besides the birthing room of a hospital, or the 'Gotcha' room of an adoption, it's the most powerful moments of life. The best of human nature come forth at these finish lines.

The finish line of Boston is especially magic. It can take years of training to qualify for this historic event. It took me Ten Years to make it to this finish line, not the 3:30 it said on the clock.

To see blood on the street here, a near holy ground for runners, is a stain and a memory burn.

The immediate effect is the tragic, heart-breaking deaths and injuries caused by the twisted brains behind this.

The ongoing effect is that the same way 9/11 changed air travel, the finish of  the Boston Marathon, and perhaps most any marathon, is certainly to be changed forever.

And somewhere as you read this, a runner has been extra motivated to train, just so they can run a time fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon. They are more determined to run this course and show that the runner's spirit, like the human spirit, will not be denied.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Modern Family Runs the Boston Marathon

Somewhere under this shell of my skin lives a street walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm.  If you gave him a face, it would look like Iggy Pop:

Of course, if you followed me for a day, you would know that I lead a life of the suburbia dad, and it looks a little more like Phil Dunphey:

Yep.  Phil Dunphey is pretty much my idol as I try to become the coolest, dorkiest dad ever. In the words of Phil, “I’ve always said that if my son thinks of me as one of his idiot friends, I’ve succeeded as a dad.”

So, while I wait for my next novel to be released (you didn't hear? click here)  I'm working on a script for Modern Family where they end up running the Boston Marathon.

 Here's the rough draft:

It starts when Luke tries a magic trick that goes terribly wrong and sets Manny's hair on fire, and he ends up bald. In order to make him feel better, Jay shaves his head, yet then gets stuck trying to convince the rest of the world they both don't have cancer. 

Meanwhile, Claire is feeling inferior after not getting elected to City Council, and wants to do something Big, and decides to train for the Boston marathon. Phil tries to be supportive but says stupid things such as: "You can't be fast and pretty, look at Gloria." or  "You're still our hero, no matter how long we have to wait for you at the finish line."

Claire challenges him saying "Oh, you can sell property, but when it comes to running over real estate, I got you beat." 

It's On!

They only way they can gain entry into the Boston Marathon without running a qualifying time is to raise funds for a charity, so Mitch and Cam agree to help. It should be easy for them to cash in on the pseudo-cancer victims, Jay and Manny.  

After weeks of trying, they have only raised 76 dollars.

Alex is excited to go to Boston so she can visit Harvard and MIT, and this triggers Mitchell and Cam's idea to tell their circle of friends they're raising money to travel to 'Boston' to be extras in a movie. It's the sequel to "Good Will Hunting," starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, and it's called:  

"Wicked Smart and Coming out, How Do You Like Them Apples?" 

So, Phil and Claire get on the historic bus ride to the Boston Marathon start at Hopkinton.  Phil is so excited and nervous he's ready to wet his pants over every bump so yells "Fire" to make the bus stop so he can get out to pee.
While running the marathon, Phil is cruising on 3:15 pace until he runs into his daughter, Haley, posing as a Wellesly girl and kissing everyone. Phil decides to intervene.

Claire passes and is way ahead, heading up heartbreak hill and agonizing in pain. Her dad Jay is there to cheer her on, and he screams, "Come on Claire, this is the easy part, you're almost finished!" and this completely deflates her so she sits down to cry.

 Phil catches up, sits next to her, tells her she's always been the fast one, and then carries her as far as Fenway and buys two half price tickets to watch the Red Sox since he heard it's Jackie Robinson day and he wants to finally see the great one in person. They both DNF.

Luke, dressed as Paul Revere, parachutes from the Citgo sign, bandits the race, and finishes first in the under 14 division. Iggy Pop has run the whole course with no water and is not far behind.

I'm going to need some help with this script, obviously.
I've not done them all, but I've done many, and there's no place like here

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Kids' Martian Marathon and The Importance of Pasting

I don't write about them much on here, but the center of my attention is two little adorable critters ages 7 and 9, known as my children. I may not have the heroic selflessness of their wonderful mother, but, from the moment they wake up at 6:30 am (even on weekends, I may have failed as a parent)  they're the center of my universe.

With the countless days and nights they've seen me running, you would think running would rub off on them.  I've tried not to push it since I'm a big believer in attraction rather than promotion. But it hasn't worked. At least not as good as Martians. Let me explain.

Yes, they are well aware that I run, but the result is that they look out our front window at runners who go by and say things like, "Look! there goes that guy who's faster than you."  When I come home and show them a medal from an event, they of course ask if I won the race, and when I say, "everybody gets a medal" the shine falls right off the object.

My oldest daughter traveled to New York City for the 2013 marathon.  How could this not turn her on to running? The majesty of the New York City Marathon finishing in central park. She would witness the center of the galaxy being at the finish line on marathon day.

 Instead, she was in line with me at the marathon expo when the event got canceled. Hurricaned all over our parade. When I put the orange NYCM shirt on, she overheard me say, "I shouldn't be wearing this race shirt, I didn't earn it."  Now if I dare put it on, she tells me not to wear it. "You didn't earn that!"

I think God put them here to always humble me.

But the secret to getting my kids to have a passion for running is Martians. Little Green, and purple, and blue Martians. The blow up variety.
At the Expo. They'll soon be miles apart.

Running Fit has a program where the kids run 25 miles at school during the weeks leading up to the Martian Marathon, and then they run the last 1.2 miles on race day. They complete their 26.2 miles in about 4,553 hours, get the same medal as every other marathoner, and it's a great achievement.  They learn about pacing, increase their endurance, and the power of peers to keep one going. After a certain number of miles during their training they are given a coupon to take to Running Fit to get a free blow up martian character. Similar to the ones used as mile markers at the event.

Never seen them so excited to run when they learned they could earn a free martian.
 this is actually the Novi Store
We went to the West Bloomfield store, and they  rummaged thought he GU, looking at the flavors as if they were candy, and wanted to buy one to try.  How could I say no?  My daughter loved the chocolate mint kind.

I pointed to the two copies of my novel "The Jade Rabbit" on the shelf which made the kids smile. "They haven't sold out," I lamented, to which my six year old replied, "they didn't like your story?"  It was the perfect excuse for a hug and a nugie.
An old picture... only 2 copies remain.

We brought the blow up Martians home, and they are now part of the family. The Martians have been made to dance Gangnam style. The kids have given them little voices. They came to bed with them. They have been tucked under blankets when the kids leave for school.

And now the payoff. On Saturday, they will be running the kids martian marathon at noon, with their proud parents waiting at the end. 

 In preparation, as they undergo a 2 day taper, I have to answer this question: "Daddy, At the martian marathon, do we still need to use Pasting?" 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Thrilled To Announce I've Signed With A Publisher

I’m very excited to announce that my upcoming novel, 'On the Lips of Children,' is going to be published by Books of the Dead Press. Read the announcement here.

 I’m one happy writer dude to be working with a partner to showcase this piece of work that is guaranteed to tattoo the inside of your eyeball.  For runners, it will make you think twice about the safety of the trail you run on. For any human being with a heart, it showcases the endurance of the human spirit and the hells we all have to harrow through to protect what we love.  The characters are vivid and dripping with ink and I can't wait for you to meet them.

Books of the Dead is a great fit.  In the words of their blog:

Books of the Dead Press has become one of the most successful small press companies in the horror genre, a leader in the ebook revolution, and an innovator in digital marketing. It was founded by James Roy Daley and was established in December of 2009. Within its first 18 months Books of the Dead published 15 titles, including work by New York Times bestselling authors such as Tim Lebbon and Jonathan Maberry. The press also published award winning writers such as Tim Waggoner, Michael Laimo, Ray Garton, Jeff Strand, Nancy Kilpatrick, Paul Kane, Joe McKinney, Simon Wood, Kim Paffenroth, Gary McMahon, John Everson, and Mort Castle.

Before the music plays, I’d like to thank a few folks,

James Roy Daley of Books of the Dead Press for his investment and time. Despite the dark nature of his books and name of his press, James is a minion of good.

Author Richard Thomas, who is a very established author but took the time to respond to microscopic me and refer me to the Books of The Dead Press.

The Beta readers, who gave me much needed feedback before the final draft was done, especially Anne of the blog Run DMZ, who provided some great storyline and San Diego specific feedback, and Erik Smith of Goodreads, a dark fiction fan who has offered beta reader feedback to many writers. 

And finally, Katy Sozaevawho, who seems to be six different people in the publishing world, and referred me to Weston Kincade of Wake Editing, whose expertise provided edits in form, style, and content. It’s clear Weston cares about what he does.

Look for the publication date soon. For more information and an interview regarding the novel, click here.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

I'm A Cowboy. On A Treadmill Belt I Ride.

Sometimes you tell the day, by the bottle that you drink.
Sometimes when you run 20, all you do is think

On Saturday, I went for a 20 mile run.  The first half hour was spent finishing a book I didn't want to put down called 'Children of No One' by Nicole Cushing. The second part I watched Rock of Ages, which was a good renter, and  a mix of mocking and honoring the music I grew up on and was fun nostalgia.  Having drama and rocking-out cheeseball music to run to worked perfect, and I finished my first of three 20 milers preparing for the Bayshore Marathon.  And now I have 80's rock music running through my head. (Motoring.... what's your price for flight?)
Yes, 20 miles done entirely on the treadmill in my basement.  The weather wasn’t  bad outside. It was mid 30’s with winds up to 20 mph, and if it wasn’t going to be a long run, I would certainly have ran outside. But I have a high treadmill tolerance, I have no qualms about running on a treadmill and don't think twice about it, and I actually find some advantages to the treadmill for a long run.  Here they are:
*I don’t need to worry about mapping 20 miles.

*I don’t need to worry about refreshments and water stops and do-it-yourself aid stations. I lay out the s-caps, the gu, multiple bottles of water, all at hands reach.
*I don’t have to worry about pace, starting out too fast or too slow, just pick my target, and the treadmill does it for me.

* I don't have to peel on running tights. The equivalent of Friday casual days. 

* I can knock out some reading, watch some DVR-ed shows, perhaps a sporting event, and the long hours spent running becomes less intrusive on my life. And all of this lets my brain disassociate while I run. (more on this below)
*Cold weather makes my perpetual injured spot worse. I have this spot on the base of my quad, and the cold air always makes it tighten into a hard knot of evil that eventually comes to life and travels down my veins trying to reach my heart to kill me. (so, see?  treadmills save my life.)
*I'm close to family, and it seems less like I am abandoning them for 3 hours on a saturday afternoon.  Sure, I can't do much, but I am there to answer tough questions like "is the dishwasher clean?"
As for mental toughness, I feel like treadmills are the opposite, and it's as if I am  cheating a bit.  With every long run, there's the danger that I'm going to get ten miles from home, bonk out, and then have to crawl my way back. Not when you're in the samespot the whole time this doesn't happen.  

Still, I don't think the treadmill fully mimics running outside, both in surface and gait, but there are some benefits.
But here's why it works for me and how:
* To have focus and concentration for the whole length of a long run would drive me crazy and maybe even miss my reason for running. I run to get into that dreamy, disassociative running state, kind of like a morning bong hit. Treadmills let me uniquely experience the high and the buzz of a run, but inside on the treadmill there's different media.
*I take my Kindle and put the fonts high enough I can read while running. This only works the first part of a run, the second part I'm a bit too wasted to focus. Still the first 30 to 40 minutes pass by in a blink.

*A good movie, inspiring show, or important sports event often picks up my pace. Horror movies, as long as they're well made, make for a great run. Twice I have watched the movie Warrior and cried and screamed and ran in ecstasy both times.

*You of course need a good treadmill. After many weeks of shopping , I went with a nordictrack commercial 1500, and it's one of the best purchase I ever made.
*You need a nice HDTV, at eye level, and I also use a pair of sony wireless headphones.

*Finally, I don't equate treadmill pace with outside pace. I always find it's easier to run outdoors, and that a 8 minute mile seems harder on a treadmill (perhaps I have to recalibrate) so I add ten  seconds per mile and don't fret about it. 
But for the next 2 twenty milers, I will run the streets, a loaded gu pack by my side... And I'll play for keeps, because I might not make it back.

Jon Bon Jovi, the original Cowboy, is actually an avid runner.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The novel 'On the Lips of Children' - The Next Big Thing

A fellow blogger, runner, and writer caught wind of my soon to be released project, and graciously tagged me with a string of questions for writers called, “The Next Big Thing.”  Yes, it is one of those question tags that goes from blog to blog, infecting each one like the superflu, only this one is specifically geared towards soon to be released books

Honey, Do You Need a Ride?
Confessions of a Fat Runner,

Jennifer Graham is the author of Honey, Do You Need a Ride? Confessions of a Fat Runner,  a book with a cover that looks good enough to eat and has received wonderful reviews on amazon.

She also has an identity as one of the spicey bloggers at Salty Runner, the best little blogging place anywhere. Check it out here if you haven’t already.

Here we go, 'The Next Big Thing,' the interview:
What is the title of your book?
“On the Lips of Children”
  The title is derived from the quote: “Mother is the name for God on the hearts and lips of all Children.”  This phrase is tattooed on a main character of the novel. The quote was made famous by the movie The Crow, but actually dates to the 1800’s.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The idea came from a predawn, dark run, nearly exactly as described in the novel. It was a secluded trail along the highway, which the hotel clerk had told me went all the way to the ocean from our hotel. It was so dark I could rarely see the trail, and ran by faith, not by sight.  As I ran, bodies of sleeping homeless men were strewn about the trail, some of them shuffling as I passed, some rising, and my imagination grew.
What if these men were part of some network, what if they were after me? I ran into a Doberman, saw shopping carts along the trail, and felt the presence of the specter of Tijuana not far from me, and then ideas grew. All of this and so much more is in the novel.  Macon, the tattoo artist in the story, came from a song by The Indigo Girls. 
I’ve actually been to Tijuana, and not just the tourist areas but places deep in the bowels where I wouldn’t go back to. Still, I read up on and did research into Tijuana. I came up with the idea for the family who has become trapped in a drug tunnel connecting TJ and San Diego, and how this mother was trapped with her babies, and would do anything for them to survive, even if it meant the lives of others.

What genre does your book fall under?
Dark fiction, suspense, adventure, horror, although there is no supernatural or ‘real’ monsters in it.  When my brain goes to story lines, it often goes to some extreme conflicts.  I see Fiction as life with the drama turned up, and nothing turns up the volume of life like a little darkness to outline the glow of the human spirit.  You need the dark to see the stars, as the character Dante says after snorting some bath-salts.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Ah, such a cool question. Javier Bardem would make the perfect Dante.
To play Erin, I see Clare Danes from Homeland, as long as she trains to run a bit like Kara Goucher. And since there's some weird chemistry already there,  Damian Lewis(Brody) will be playing the role of Macon, after he dies his hair black.  Angelina Jolie will be Lupita and Nick Nolte will play the role of Hank.  Iggy pop will be playing the role of Padre, another homeless man.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A tattoo artist and his human canvass travel to San Diego to run a marathon, but instead get kidnapped by a tweaker family in a Tijuana drug tunnel.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
My San Diego run was done on February 15th, 2012, and I put finger to keypad soon after, and here I am a 13 months later with it done. I worked on it intermittently at first and let the ideas come to me. At this point, it has sucked me in like an obsession.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Well, It reads like a Nine Inch Nails or White Stripes song. As I wrote it, I had the novel Cujo in the back of my mind.  Novels only work when you care about the conflicts and goals of the characters, and that is what I have here: the characters in the story are dripping with vivid ink.   The novel is guaranteed to tattoo your eyeball or your money back.
How is this novel like your other novels?
Well, If my novel Stray had a ‘grittiness’ factor of 7 out of 10, this one goes to 11. And if my novel The Jade Rabbit was 75% about running, this novel is 25%, but both deal with the changes that happen from pushing oneself, and how the training bleeds into all areas of your life. I am intrigued by how running turns up the intensity of your body, mind, and spirit, and that all of your yearnings start to grow with your training. Running is just a metaphor for reaching for wholeness, love, connection, certainly much more than just time goals.  The Jade Rabbit may be the feminine version of this theme,  while On the Lips of Children is the masculine version.  Themes of pain and pleasure, and the lengths and hardship we will endure  for what we love are all in there.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The back story of the characters and their relationship with pleasure and pain, and the role that endorphins play in our life.  Erin is a character who was a cutter as a teen, who later in life has the same desire to cut but instead gets a piercing and a tattoo. She falls in love with her tattoo artist, who eventually fathers her child, and she teaches him the endorphin rush of marathon running.

In a strange way, the whole story could be read as a cautionary tale to us runners. The events wouldn’t have happened if the marathoner would have just rested one more day, but instead takes one last warm up run, farther and faster than is recommended.  There's a nod to the great children's book 'Where The Wild Things Are,' as well as the passage from the Robert Frost poem:  "The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep."
When will your book be released?
It was to be released about now, but due to some incredible fortune, it has been delayed. I hope to be making an announcement on that very soon. But if all goes well, by the end of hockey season.
And what is up with that cover?
Intense, right? Well, don't get attached, it may be changing, and this picture may now be on the inside flap instead.
I was looking for potential cover art and as soon as I came upon it, I thought “yes, yes, that’s it!” I was so happy that the artist was willing to work with me for affordable copy rights. The piece is entitled “Protected” and captures the sickly sense of family that is living underneath the tunnels. In the novel, her skin is described as ‘scaley’ and this picture exaggerates, but I love the motion and primal tenderness of the artwork. She’s not going to let you harm her child, and is looking at you, the reader, as if you might try


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