Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's Eve Vomit

It is New Years! Turning the calender on another year.

In my past life, New Year's Eve which just another day to get drunk and wake up sick and ready to vomit. In fact, usually vomiting.

For the last 21 years I've been sober, but that doesn't mean I don't vomit. Here I go barfing random words all over the page.

For Christmas, my favorite gift was a pair of Dr. Dre Powerbeats over the ear headphones. I love them for running and pretty much all waking moments. I no longer mock the hipsters sporting the headphones everywhere they go.



I read 21 books in 2013 according to goodreads. As the years go by, my number of books read is sure to go up, while my number of miles ran will go down.

Last night me and the family watched the movie "Up" on  CBC. A wonderful movie asking us all take our jar of unrealized dreams off the shelves and go on adventures. 


Watching it also reminded me of how cool Canada and Canadien TV is. The news and the commercials are so less sensationalized. Canada is like the sober brother who has to apologize for its drunken, boisterous brother (the US) who often vomits on the floor.


 "Frozen" was probably the best movie I saw all year. That and "The Evil Dead" remake. They were really the same movie. Both were about the power of  sibling bonds. Both features monsters brought to life by humans.  Both of them have one sibling dealing with an affliction and feeling cold and alienated. 

Why do people line up at car washes on sunny winter days? I don't get it. I was out running on a perfect, sunny 40 degree day, and cars were lined up 20 deep while the car wash attendant with the dangling cigarette and pierced face held on to stacks of fat cash greeting each driver. They must have been selling something else.


I have zero races planned as of now. I am loving running just to run and not having to ponder about a marathon coming up. It is nice not to have the pressure and lets me run free. Then again, part of me is planning on some half marathons - CF Rock in Gross Isle, Dexter Ann Arbor - any place I can wear my Dr. Dre Power Beats.

Plotting a novel is hard. Wake you up in the middle of the night hard. Especially when every bright idea I have and I think "ah-ha!" I got it figured out, I then don't bother to write it down since I am so certain it was so brilliant enough it would not be forgotten. But then it becomes forgotten.

2013 had some nice memory burns. My novel was published and had its 15 minutes of fame about a week ago. I ran through the streets of New York slapping high fives after trying 2 years to get to the marathon. I fear 2014 might be just picking up the crumbs from the 2013 cake.
 
Where did those crumbs go?
Having a publisher pay for my novel was supposed to change my life completely. I was going to get r-e-s-p-e-c-t. Last week I submitted a short story for an anthology. Surely with my touch of pedigree they'll accept it, right? Well, then I get the form letter...
Thank you for your interest in Firbolg Publishing; submissions like yours are what keep our press going. While we read your recent submission with great interest and attention, unfortunately it wasn't  quite right for our current project. However, Firbolg always has new  projects in the work, and we highly encourage you to submit again for future anthologies. 

How about some running brands waiting in line to have me pimp their stuff? I have been blogging for 3 years, and by now you'd think some running company would want me to be their ambassador. Not happening. Instead, I applied to be an ambassador for my local Thrift Shop, since I wear all their clothes to the starting chute of most running events. They said no as well.


All this rejection, I decided to slit my wrist and sprayed my blood everywhere. I was able to write my name in the snow. All in all, it was worth it.

When I was 6 years old my family said I looked like Danny from The Shining and had me say "REDRUM" while holding my finger in the air.

"Danny isn't here Mrs. Torrance"

"Mark isn't here either Mrs. Torrance"


Everytime MarathonFoto sends me an email telling me how much I can save if I "buy now," I realize how much I lost by buying "then."

Happy New Year. May your old acquaintances be too special to be forgotten. But just in case, it helps to write them down or vomit them out.

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Year in Blog Posts

"Son, you want to get some hits on your blog, I got two words for you. Now listen closely. Darryl Dixon. That's right, just put Darryl Dixon in your blog somewhere, and people from all over the globe will be stopping by your blog and setting up camp."

**Here's a summary of the posts that seemed to get the most attention in 2013: Darryl Dixon inclusive and otherwise.**

My New York City Marathon posts got some loving. The most hits was for  Goals for the New York City Marathon, and 2nd was the Race Report, a close 3rd was how running the Marathon was like taking some LSD

The Rock CF Half Marathon race report has been around longer, and received just as many hits as the NY race report.

My Nike Pegasus post on burning shoes at the stake topped all of those. People love posts about shoes as much as they love Darryl Dixon.

Here's some other top views in the running category:

Hungry Runner Guy: How long runs are making me fat

Why Runners Need A Therapist

Running Tattoos

Shazam- A Must Have Runners App

8 Things I've Learned About KT Tape

Jack Kerouac Ultra Trail Runner

6 Running Products I Would Pimp if given the chance, and 3 I would not

Winter Running and Runners World Abs
(Folks like to google 'Runner's World Abs')

Addiction related post on my sober ST. Patricks Day Run

**As for the many media and book reviews, here are some other top posts**

Mountain Home and Bracken Macleod got a bazillion hits

Release of my own novel got a ton of hits 
topped by my announcement: Thrilled to Announce I've Signed With a Publisher

Game of Thrones Season Finale review

Les Miserables and All Things 24601

Runner by Patrick Lee and Running With the Pack by Mark Rowlands


With all the above, the number one media post was:

World War Z, Sprinting Zombies, and All I Wanted Was A Pepsi 

It got 3,000 hits since June, 500 a month. My blog post is near the top if you google "World War Z and Pepsi." Little did I know that so many would have the same reaction at the Pepsi product placement in the movie.

"Son, listen closely, if you want to get some blog hits, "World War Z" is your ticket."





Friday, December 20, 2013

Running Outside in the Frozen Like Olaf



Running in the winter is really a two-headed beast.  One of the beasts looks like this:


It’s hard to think of treadmill running and running in the snow and ice as the same thing.

Indoor running on a treadmill, which I do a lot of, feels like cheating. The treadmill does the work, and I just try to keep up while I watch a movie or flip through hypnotic cable channels.

But when I get outside I feel more alive. The opposite of hypnosis. Never have I gone for a winters run outside rather than inside and regretted it.


It’s getting out there that is the battle. And I don't even mean the first few miles, because really, after the first 20 strides, I’m usually warm enough. It's the putting on the gear. Trying to dig through the dirty laundry for the favorite tights, doubling up on socks, doing running mathematics to figure out wind chill and  humidity and barometric pressure. Then it’s time to piece something together. It all seems like too much sometimes, so I get lazy.  

Yak-trax on my running shoes turn them into golf cleats and really help on the ice.
 Olaf could use a pair couldn't he?



But once I’m outside I love getting frozen cheeks, fresh oxygen in my lungs, and sweating underneath my headband. The sun or the moon shining off the snow is magical. Certainly the best snots that have come out of my nose have done so during a winter time run. My sleeve can attest to this fact.

I will do my best this winter to summon the spirit of Olaf, one of the many wonderful characters from Frozen. If you haven’t seen Frozen yet, Run, don’t treadmill  walk, to see it soon.




On the Lips of Children is Climbing Up the Charts

I wrote a nice little blog post on running in the winter that I was going to put up this morning. But that post has been bumped so I can make this blog what it's really about. And that is:

B.ringing
L.ots
O.f
G.randiosity

On the Lips of Children is currently in the top 250 kindle books in the known universe.  It is number 3 on Amazon's top Suspense/Horror novels. It is right behind the horror novel of the year, Stephen King's "Doctor Sleep."


Best Sellers in Horror Suspense

  • Top 100 Paid

1.
Innocence: A Novel
Kindle Edition
$10.49
2.
Doctor Sleep: A Novel (The Shining)
Kindle Edition
$7.99
3.
On the Lips of Children
Kindle Edition
$0.99
4.
11/22/63
Kindle Edition
$9.99

The surge is largely price driven and temporary, but I'm still doing cartwheels. A Reader's Review Blog just yesterday made it their recommended horror read of 2013. Here's what they had to say:

One of the most chilling stories I have read is Mark Matthews On the Lips of Children! This is definitely one to read under the covers as we follow the horrific ordeal as a marathon runner and his family are held captive by some scavengers. Mark Matthews’ writing is so clear, the reader doesn’t miss a thing – even though they may wish they had at times. For the taste of the heebie jeebies and a good scare this one is highly recommended!
 

STRAY and The Jade Rabbit are also in the top 100's in their categories during their .99 cent sales.

You haven't grabbed a copy, do so now.

Or if you'd prefer, I can email you my blog post on running in the winter.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Darryl Dixon, Amazon Drones, and I'm Opening A Dollar Store

If I could, for a dollar I would;

A. Send Darryl Dixon to your house Christmas morning to unravel all those plastic stringy things on your Christmas toy packaging.


B. Stand outside your house and catch all your amazon packages that fall from the sky.

Do Not Open Until Christmas

C. Buy you a guitar-playing cheeseburger.
"Everybody wants some! I Want some Too!"

But I Can't.

What I can do, with the help of my publisher Books of the Dead Press, is offer my own .99 cent sale. My whole Amazon Collection is on sale for .99 cents. If you haven't read about Macon, Lyric, and Erin, then darn it, what are you waiting for? Please, step inside. Each of these items are just .99 cents:

"A very dark read that will haunt you on your next dark run!  I could not put it down! Mark nails the runner's mentality and how a hard run at a time you should be tapering can lead to more trouble than ruining your race"  Randy Step, co-owner of Running Fit


"This book is everything I want in a book about running... Mark Matthews is one of the best runner/writers working today."  -Jennifer Graham, author of "Honey, Do You Need a Ride? Confessions of a Fat Runner."

"Stray is about addiction, yes. But mostly it is about relationships and the bonds that keep us all from going astray. Whether it's your wife or a hardscrabble mutt on the side of the highway, it's the connections to other creatures in the world that give us our forever homes. The writing here is clean, vivid, and wildly empathetic to all the beasties who take shelter in communal spaces. Stray sings." ~Sacha Scoblic, author of  Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety

THE JADE RABBIT "An especially emotionally-charged novel and a must-read for anyone familiar with or curious about the psychological benefits associated with distance running."  -Rachel Phillips, The Outdoor Athlete.
"An especially emotionally-charged novel and a must-read for anyone familiar with or curious about the psychological benefits associated with distance running."  -Rachel Phillips, The Outdoor Athlete.  


And here's one completely free. Thanks for visiting.  
"Zombie Dash" - A 5k With a Bite
"So much fun!! Downloaded it to my Kindle and it was a joy to sit and read, nothing like a little Zombie reading before bed."

"A great little short story with good pacing and a good ending, about a fun-for-all zombie dash that turns into something else."

 





Monday, December 16, 2013

"Just a Tissue of Niggles" ~ A Runner's Biggest Fear


“Today is bad, and day by day it will get worse – until at last the worst of all arrives” ~Some philosopher dude who has a long beard and grey disposition. 

After my New York City marathon, the 4th one I trained for in a matter of 2 years, I took nearly 3 weeks off. I have returned to running but it has been slow, with low mileage, low intensity, and mixed with cross-training. I have been running 2x a week, and on the spin bike 2x a week. (this weekend 2 hours of sledding took the place of the spin bike, but it was great on the quads)

My goal is to take away the injuries, get stronger, and let some mojo and speed flow back into my legs. By not training for anything, and not monitoring my dailymiles, I’ll enter 2014 refreshed. Right!?

And then I read the following snippet in a fascinating book called “Running With the Pack." Here's a sample:


"Many people do not understand decline; they are unfamiliar with its anatomy physiology. Injuries play the role of the waves of time. An injury washes over you, and you never quite come back as strong as you were before. Perhaps you won’t notice this initially. Maybe you feel fine. But there’s a weakness that has set up home in your muscle or joint – no amount of rehab  will change that – and sooner or later its time will come again. First there’s a little niggle, then another, then there are more. There are days when you are not quite a hundred per cent, but you go out running anyways. And that’s fine: that’s what you have to do – because these days will become more and more frequent. Before you know it, you are never quite a hundred per cent. First you are running at 95 per cent, then it’s 90; and then in a heartbeat you are down to 75 percent. Your distances are going down just as your times are going up. And you do not know how it happened. You think, If I can just stay injury-free for a while, clear up these niggles, if I can just get a good run at it, then I can get back to what I was doing before: get back to the distance and times I was doing before this run of bad luck started. But this misses the point entirely. Decline is a run of bad luck just this sort. You will never get a good run at it again. The niggles, the aches, the weaknesses build up; and in the end you are just a tissue of niggles, aches and weaknesses woven together. No amount of rest will change this."



Ahhh!!! No! Say it ain’t so, Josie, say it ain’t so!  Sure, I will slow, but… I can’t fully buy this premise. I have had countless injuries and came back refreshed. I’ve had a nasty IT  band injury that had me limping in the last 4 miles of a Detroit Free Press marathon, following by physical therapy. The injury has since never returned. I’ve had a bone spur in my foot that felt like a razor was in my skin.  Time off couldn’t fix it but a big huge needle of a cortisone shot did. This hasn’t returned either, and both of these preceded my Boston Qualifier. I’ve had plenty of other injuries that I came back stronger from.

Nope, I reject that this happens (well, sort of. *gulp*)  to the degree and quickness as described here. At some point, the decline becomes more than a decline, injuries become common, things surely will slow and distances will shrink, but the passage doesn’t reflect that it can be staved off if I just work a little harder and smarter.   Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 

Don’t bury me, I’m not dead yet. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fear and Loathing on the Netgalley Trail


I have recently discovered Netgalley, and my life may never be the same. It’s like having your plane crash on a mysterious island and suddenly you can walk and may never need that stinking wheelchair again. (I really miss Lost sometimes) 

Netgalley is a site where publishers offer up review copies of their books. Many of these are advanced copies. Anyone can join. You write up your profile, and much like a dating website, you try to load it with reasons you are worthy of their time and they should approve your request.  Something like; “hey baby, I like walks on the beach, I got 500,000 twitter followers, I’m a top reviewer on goodreads, I have a cool blog love nest, and I like to cuddle.” 

Then you go out and look at the goods. Pictures of their cover, blurbs from other authors… see, it’s like match.com.  

You request the books you want, and then you wait. And you wait. And you hope you are approved. If you are approved, you do a little dance, jump for joy, and think, “wow, I’m so cool.”



There’s a strange addiction to getting approved. Maybe it plays to some elitist side I have, or a needy ego, but I have heard from at least one long time netgalley user that their “I just got approved” dance is still going strong.  

I was approved for 3 books pretty quick. Two of these, “Runner” by Patrick Lee and “Running With the Pack,” I have already reviewed. Another is coming. 

 I recently requested Jeff Strand’s new book “I Have A Bad Feeling About This.”  Netgalley had warned in advance about the high demand and limited number of copies. Surely a bottom-feeder like me was trying to eat way too high up the netgalley food chain. 

This required action. I decided to be proactive and threaten the author. I publicly threatened to dress Jeff Strand up as a clown and barbeque him alive if I was not approved. And that is no joke, but it is hilarious, since Jeff has a book out called Dead Clown Barbeque which includes a short story with this very premise (The clowns aren’t always burned alive, some are killed first, and they taste different depending on their cause of death. Sorry, I just spoiled it. The story, not the BBQ clown. Never mind.)

Jeff was scared
Violence begets acceptance, and I shortly thereafter received the message “Your request has been approved and you can now access the title by logging into NetGalley.”

There. I thought you’d see things my way.

So far, my only denial has been for Jo Nesbo's “Cockroaches”  but I made the mistake of picking a United Kingdom publisher (much too far away to threaten and back it up).

I am starting to think that when I grow up, I want to be a professional book reviewer. I want to do for Book reviews what Hunter S Thompson did for journalism. Gonzo-Book Reviews. I will put myself into the story, throw objectivity out the window and read while I travel and do hallucinogens (not really) and splatter the ink all over the place until my story and the book’s story are all messed up as one.

Johnny Depp will play the film version of me.

**I leave you with quotes from Hunter S. Thompson himself** 

“The edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”

“If you’re going to be crazy, you have to be paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.” 


 “Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.”

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”




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