Monkey With a Typewriter

"...Look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty."
- Groucho Marx in Monkey Business, 1931

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Big Surprise!

FINALLY! Everyone I was surprising has received their surprise! SO! It is with great pleasure that I present the finished first draft of my book.


I just sent this stack o' books out to some close trusted readers last week, and they seem to be arriving on pace!



It's called Angel Falls (in case the photo quality is bad). Summed up thusly:

Since being banished from Heaven, Lucifer Morningstar has spent his time working mergers and acquisitions in the underworld. He's assigned to absorb the afterlives of various cultures from around the world. He's horribly lazy.

He receives a visit from a broken angel who informs him that an ancient deity
has arisen and is seeking to murder God and consume the known universe.

Lucifer will have to do some detective work to discover who's behind this attempt and find a way to stop it. If anyone's going to overthrow God, it'll be him...and this might be his last chance.


I really believe in this one, feeling pretty good about it. After I finish my (possibly extensive) rewrites, I'm going to be shopping hard for agents. I figured rather than asking readers to squint at a pdf onscreen or shuffle a stack of papers, I'd entice them with a nicely bound copy and other forms of bribery (how do you guys like those Jonas Brothers temporary tattoos? Huh? Huh?!)


This is my advance thank-you to my advance read team! We shall advance together into a future with less repetition of words!

If I haven't landed an agent by year's end, I will probably do a limited press run for sale, so keep your eyes peeled!

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Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

I was hoping things would have timed out differently and I could make a small minor announcement here and discuss a certain something, but it's a surprise for a few people, and now I have to wait until they get it before I can really start talking about things.

I'm gonna try to hit the ground running in the New Year, as soon as I can organize my desk. I got a great deal on a hutch yesterday, but it's not working out quite as planned. Don't fret, as Martin Lawrence might say, I got this.

Anyway.

Hopefully by the end of next week I'll be able to lay out my plans and start discussing things that are gonna happen this year. The website tweak is still in progress, and all of that will hopefully be finished by next week as well. Nothing too major, just cleaning up a few things, finishing a few more things, and changing the focus back to writing n' stuff. This is where it all begins!

I'll try to make a point of actually discussing things at least once a week, be it current events or the book I'm reading, or even furniture I've purchased that's not quite working out as planned.

This week, however, you luck out, because I wanna talk about Teddy Roosevelt. Most of you know I'm a pretty big fan of MMA, but I've only recently discovered that Teddy was as well. I was looking for quotes to inspire this new year, and found a thread on Sherdog.com with this gem from Teddy:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

Roosevelt was, it turns out, a boxer, a wrestler, and a practitioner of Judo and Jiu Jitsu. America's first famous Mixed Martial Artist. Who knew?

In a letter to his kids:
"I still box with Grant, who has now become the champion middleweight wrestler of the United States. Yesterday afternoon we had Professor Yamashita up here to wrestle with Grant. It was very interesting, but of course jiu jitsu and our wrestling are so far apart that it is difficult to make any comparison between them. Wrestling is simply a sport with rules almost as conventional as those of tennis, while jiu jitsu is really meant for practice in killing or disabling our adversary. In consequence, Grant did not know what to do except to put Yamashita on his back, and Yamashita was perfectly content to be on his back. Inside of a minute Yamashita had choked Grant, and inside of two minutes more he got an elbow hold on him that would have enabled him to break his arm; so that there is no question but that he could have put Grant out. So far this made it evident that the jiu jitsu man could handle the ordinary wrestler. But Grant, in the actual wrestling and throwing was about as good as the Japanese, and he was so much stronger that he evidently hurt and wore out the Japanese. With a little practice in the art I am sure that one of our big wrestlers or boxers, simply because of his greatly superior strength, would be able to kill any of those Japanese, who though very good men for their inches and pounds are altogether too small to hold their own against big, powerful, quick men who are as well trained."


All of this is to say, there's something in Roosevelt that's been missing from most of our past presidents, and that's the fighting spirit. Don't misunderstand, I'm not referring to bloodlust and war here. I'm talking about the drive and ability to get into things and really solve problems. Our modern leaders are too content to sit back in their offices, discuss strategy, plot and plan. He was tough without being a bully. How tough you ask? Someone tried to assassinate Roosevelt during a speech, shooting him in the chest. He took a minute to figure out if the shot was fatal, then decided to finish the 90 minute speech with a bullet in his chest. His opening comments to the gathered crowd were, "Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose."

Roosevelt was a man of action. He believed in the importance of nature and ecology, he was a hunter, an idea man, and most importantly a man of peace. A frail and asthmatic child, he was in a constant quest to discover and surpass his limits, to discover himself as a whole person, to find his inner balance. Its what Martial Arts are all about. The violence is just a bonus.

One of my plans in the new year, after getting my financial dust settled, is to get back into martial arts. I took kickboxing when I first arrived in Los Angeles, and I loved every minute of it until I got a cracked rib. Recovering from that, along with a dwindling class size and a less than enthusiastic instructor, meant I had to find other ways to spend my time. I'm researching gyms now, hoping to find one that offers a mix of styles. Have to be careful now since the UFC has broken big in the mainstream. There are a plethora of "MMA" gyms, some of which are legit, some of which are just guys who know a few escapes and submissions and happen to own a heavy bag.

Every ass I kick this year is for you, Teddy.


Teddy could give Wanderlei a run for his money in the staredown...


"Death had to take him sleeping, for if Roosevelt had been awake there would have been a fight."

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Kaspar Traulhaine, Approximate


This is a fantastic and grotesque mystery from author Pablo D'Stair. The titular Traulhaine is a man on the run, haunted by guilt and hunted by forces he doesn't understand. He's recently committed a murder, and seemingly gotten away with it, until one day a strange man approaches and claims to have witnessed everything. In three days time, he'll turn Kaspar over to the authorities.

Thus begins a series of mind-bending occurrences for Traulhaine, as he's increasingly tormented by this stranger, an odd, slovenly man who may or may not be mentally deficient. Kaspar struggles with his options: to flee, to fight, to turn himself in, and with each minute that ticks by, his conscience and guilt slowly devour him.

As the end approaches, time seems to become more fluid, each minute a longer agony than the one prior. Regret hammers Kaspar like torrential rain, and the ending comes in a most unexpected fashion.

D'Stair does a fine job playing inside of the sandbox of Kaspar's brain. The story led me on a bizarre adventure that had me questioning the nature of reality and the reliability of the narrator, but never losing the thread of the story, the intense and growing dread, the impending doom. A tight and tense mental thriller that I'd highly recommend!

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The First Draft

On December 31, 2006 I began work on a novel that I was sure would fly from my fingertips and pretty much write itself in a couple of months. Tonight...pretty much three years later, I got to write my two favorite words of the story: THE END!

This is what it feels like to finish a novel (especially the bit around 2 minutes until the end):


And, for those too lazy to google the lyrics:
Nobody shall sleep!...
Nobody shall sleep!
Even you, o Princess,
in your cold room,
watch the stars,
that tremble with love and with hope.
But my secret is hidden within me,
my name no one shall know...
No!...No!...
On your mouth I will tell it when the light shines.
And my kiss will dissolve the silence that makes you mine!...
(No one will know his name and we must, alas, die.)
Vanish, o night!
Set, stars! Set, stars!
At dawn, I will win! I will win! I will win!


I haven't gotten to this point in quite some time, obviously, but I'm determined to be more writerly, and...you know. Write. So hopefully you'll be seeing a slew of updates this year about the progress I make selling this novel or at least getting an agent, as well as the work I'm doing on my next project (starting in late December/January). Alas, I must be a bit secretive about them at the moment, but in the new year, you'll be seeing a lot of changes to the site, with a lot more news about the books, and hopefully the beginning of something great...

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

What a month!

I'm somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 words away from finishing my novel. I hope. I need (for secret reasons) to make that happen this week, but I've been doing a good job of forging ahead.

Hence, my blog updates have become somewhat lax, but we'll rectify that right now! Mostly, it's been more of the same, bike rides, exercise (I found a new spot on my route with exercise stations so I can do pushups and dips during my ride, saving me lots of time!)

On my last ride, I took a new route up the LA river and saw a coyote!




My online Writer's Group is getting fired up for another great year, so that'll also be taking some time away from blogging, but that's okay. My goal for the new year is to be more focused on writing and less on wasting time. I'm hoping to add some short stories here (or links to shorts) as well. All good things...

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Biking to Venice Beach


In an effort to stay in shape, I recently bought a bike, and it's a thing of beauty. I've done a lot of riding from home to the pier in Manhattan Beach, but I realized that Venice and Santa Monica are pretty much the same distance away. The only drawback is a few traffic lights heading that way (plus a brief ride in traffic), whereas going to Manhattan beach is all bike path. Venice is just a lot more photogenic, and there's a ton of exploring to do. Check it out:


Here's a mosaic mermaid on a hotel just as you hit the final turn on Washington to head into the Venice Pier.

The famous metal V sculpture thingy (fans of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 should recognize this area...):

The graffiti park (painting by permit only). There's a tribute here for Dogtown & Z Boys, at least until the next guy paints over it.




The skate park is a wonder to behold. I wish I had the balance/back/athleticism to try this out:




The boardwalk offers everything...

...from one stop shopping (Skateboards and Best Massage?! How can you lose?!)
...to food...

...to board rentals and lessons...

...To a rough looking busker pushing an upright piano.

This guy had on a felt beer hat and beer goggle glasses and was very friendly.

Muscle Beach! I've been by here numerous times and have yet to see any type of musclemen pumping iron.


And graffiti EVERYWHERE! But at least the good kind:shitty gang tag ratio is in favor of visual enjoyment:



I love this wall.



A cool nautical mosaic lurking alongside the boardwalk...



And hippies! Plotting to take over the world from their mobile aviaries!




...and the final stop before I turned around, the Santa Monica Pier.

There's a ton more to explore here (I still need to ride through the canals and Abbot Kinney), so stay tuned!

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Ode to Foghat...


get it, get it? A bike ride, kinda slow, through the fog? okay, okay...when you're done laughing lookee at my pictures....
I've been trying to remember to bring my camera on my bike rides, and this morning it was totally worth it because THE MIST had rolled into Playa del Rey. I was lucky to escape with my life! Anyhoo, that boat that came ashore is still there, lonely and foreboding in the fog... For no reason (probably a Hollywood thing again) they have erected a merry-go-round in the sands... I must investigate this later today if I have time...

Gang o' birds...

The Lorax tree!

These palm trees are societal rejects, kept behind barbed wire for our safety and their own good...

There is a Chevron processing plant right by the ocean (HEALTHY BEACH LIVING!) but it looked pretty badass in the fog.

In Manhattan Beach, the sand people are moving sand.

Here's the view looking out towards the aquarium on the end of the pier...

And here's a shot from a clear day earlier in the week for comparison...

The City of Manhattan Beach is back there somewhere...

We all float down here...surfers waiting for the big one...

...and taking whatever they can get.

And me, soaked from riding through the clouds...

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