Monday, October 11, 2010

Ink Gorilla has moved

Howdy everyone,

Things came together over at the new site quicker than I thought. You can find the Ink Gorilla over here, now.

Please redirect your feeds accordingly. I'm still tweaking some things, so bear with me as I settle in.

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you at the new place!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

This Site Will be Moving

I'm in the process of updating my blog and transferring it to a hosted domain. For those of you following along in RSS, I wanted to give you a heads up that Ink Gorilla will be moving.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Zombie Day!

Rigor Amortis has launched today, and you can get your very own copy on Amazon.

As of right now, we're ranked #77 top sellers in horror! Wow.

Big thanks to my editors Erika Holt and Jaym Gates for bringing this fine collection to, uh, life. Also major props to my fellow contributors John Remy, Galen Dara, Kaolin Fire, Wendy Wagner, and many many more! I can't wait to get my copy!

Today's pretty busy, but stop back by next week for more zombie musings.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Own Personal Zombie Week: Why do we Love Zombies?

Rigor Amortis, an anthology of zombie romance, erotica, and horror from Absolute XPress, debuts on Friday. I'm very pleased to have a story appearing in the collection.

A good friend of mine asked me recently what attracted to me to zombies. Why did I write about them? I recoiled in horror. "I'm not attracted to them at all," I insisted. 

Frankly, zombies have never been my thing--I prefer (non-sparkly) vampires and werewolves, ghosts and unspeakable horrors from beyond. We all know how zombie stories end: we are consumed or we live to be consumed another day. Hey, just like real life. 

Of course, in recent years, there's a new breed of zombies shuffling down the block. Zombies in games like Left for Dead and films like Zombieland pursue their prey rather...vigorously. 

Back to my friend's question. Obviously my kneejerk answer isn't fully honest. I mean, I wrote a story about a zombie stripper, so I have to find them at least a little compelling, right?

I got to thinking about society's fascination with the undead, how these monsters mirror the angst of the culture they inhabit. You can't get a much better encapsulation of the Victorian psyche than the modern vampire. They are pale (almost consumptive), with unearthly beauty and a disdain for the rigid social and sexual mores of the late 19th century. In the 1950s, we start to see undead who are mindless, shuffling masses, or slaves to sinister masters with nefarious plans for wholesome young Americans. The zombie mythology was already firmly established, but I can't help wonder if fears of the "Communist Horde" didn't influence the way zombies were portrayed back then.

21st century zombies are brutal predators. No longer content to amble up to the brain-pan for a nosh, they leap out of the shadows and devour us with flashing teeth in explosions of blood and gore. We, the ultimate consumers, are just so much chum to be eaten.  

There's always something sexy about predators in the stories we tell ourselves, isn't there? And Power is a potent aphrodisiac. Compare the Victorian vampire versus the 21st Century Zombie. What does it say about our cultural state of mind when we invite these monsters to share the most intimate of embraces?

I'm looking forward to seeing what my fellow contributors say about that come Friday. 

I'd love to hear your own thoughts in the meantime. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rigor Amortis (putting the 'rot' in erotica)

I'm very pleased that my story "Take it Off" will appear in Absolute Xpress' upcoming zombie erotica anthology, Rigor Amortis. For some of you reading this blog (or watching my Twitter/Facebook streams), this is old news: but now I have a shiny new link to the official website! Click it, you know you want to!

I'm delighted to be included with so many talented (and twisted) authors. Many thanks and congrats are due to editors Jaym Gates and Erika Holt for all their hard work in bringing this anthology to, er, life.

You'll be able to get your copy starting October 1 on and

(The author assumes no responsibility if you experience sudden cravings for brainnnnnssssss upon reading...) 

Unintended Benefits of Clarion West: No. 37 in a Series*

*(actually the first in a series, but there will be more.)

I expected to go to Clarion West and whip my writing into shape. I also expected that my body would surely suffer from lack of sleep, the endless hours of slaving away at an overheating laptop, my body sustained by poor choices of sustenance such as Fritos, moon pies and ice cream.**

As it turns out, I lost about 8lbs at Clarion West, and it wasn't due to stress, either. I didn't have a car in Seattle, so most of the time I walked wherever it was I needed to go:  the coffee shops to write, to fantastic Korean hot-pot shops to slurp noodles, to the zoo (with a little help from the bus)...

I probably walked 2-3 miles a day and sometimes more. It made a big difference to my mood, my stamina, and general well-being. I've found that since I've gotten back to L.A. ("Nobody walks in L.A!") that I've been restless without those daily walks.  I'm going to the gym 3-4 times a week, but it just isn't quite the same.  Pushing for more active weekends helps.

My diet has changed a bit, too. I'm eating a lot less meat now--something I've been trying to do for awhile. Some of my fellow Clarionites were definitely an influence -- when you share meals you learn to enjoy what other folks love.

When I posted a couple of weeks ago that Clarion West changed my life, I wasn't just talking about the writing and the great new friends. This is the best I've felt in a long time, and I'm going to do everything I can to keep feeling this way.

**many gallons of ice cream were consumed at Clarion West. You have been warned, future workshop attendees.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How Stretchy is the Future?

The other day, I was listening to NPR's excellent Planet Money podcast--an episode on Prohibition and whether FDR drank moonshine before being elected president and getting the 18th Amendment repealed.

It's an amusing (and informative) show, but one of the things that struck me was the discussion on inelastic goods. These are things that people will buy no matter how high the cost rises. Some good examples are tobacco, coffee, and gasoline. Our insatiable demand for booze is one of the things that doomed Prohibition, in fact.

These are pretty classic examples, and have been more or less constant for the last century (if not much, much longer). Now I'm wondering about the next century...

What are the nearish future's inelastic goods & services? What will we be unable to live without?

I think bandwidth is a likely contender. Whatever the internet looks like in 100 years or so, we're going to want to get connected and stay connected. We seem to be on the road to augmented reality (virtual overlays on the real world through our glasses, iThingies, phones) and this information will only become more and more vital to our everyday living. See Jack Graham's excellent two-part post on for more on that.

But what else? It's easy to believe that medical insurance (in the U.S. at least) will continue to be in high demand, despite the costs. I can imagine some life extension therapies might be high demand and high price, but I don't see them as commonly available as something like alcohol, but you never know.

Education, perhaps?

I'm also thinking if some of the worst predictions about global warming and resource depletion come true, we'll be seeing some pretty high prices on staple food crops--maybe even on the processed junk. People gotta eat.

What about water? Especially in the southwest, where drought conditions are already prevalent, how much would you pay for a glass of water? Would you have a choice?

A lot of question marks in this article, but it has got me thinking. Feel free to comment, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Six Things I learned at Clarion West

Some of you may stumble upon my blog looking for tidbits about what to expect from the Clarion West experience. Maybe you're thinking about applying (you should) or maybe you've just learned you got in (yay!)--but either way, you're dying to know what happens on the inside.

Here, then, is a small peek into the mysterious inner workings of the workshop.

  1.  Apply steady pressure and it'll be okay.
  2.  The Zombie Apocalypse is survivable. 
  3.  Fear nothing, especially spiders. 
  4.  Always wear a life jacket. There be sirens on the reef. 
  5.  The only thing creepier than one doll's head is eighteen of them.
  6.  All things in moderation. Especially sleep. Especially during Week 6.

Your experience may vary, of course.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Clarion West: There and Back Again

I'm back.

Six Weeks. At least 21,000 words written, and close to half a million words read (~100 stories). Six great instructors, and seventeen other very talented writers. Plus two wonderful administrators, at least ten guest speakers, a great cook, numerous gracious volunteers and supporters.

Uncountable great conversations with like-minded souls, too many plates of delicious food eaten (ooo fried cheese curds). Vats of ice-cream consumed, at least a few beers and glasses of wine and whiskey.  Many miles walked around Seattle (and paddled upon Lake Union).

Many, many new friends and some I now think of as "family." 


Well, here's the thing. My first response is to try and boil down the Clarion West experience to all these quantifiable things so that I can more easily explain it to people. But the six weeks I spent in Seattle defy easy explanation.

I hope in the coming weeks and months on this blog to talk a little about what the workshop meant to me--but I'm honestly still too busy processing the experience right now to form a coherent summary of everything I learned during the most life-changing of all the summer vacations I've ever had. 

For now, all I can say is: If you're an aspiring writer who feels they are just on the verge of a professional career, but you feel like you need something to boost you to the next level--consider applying for one of the Clarion workshops.

It will change your life, too. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

The One Where we Update the Blog (New Acquisitions Pt1)

I'm not going to be able to blog about my time here at Clarion West very often, as the experience is too raw, too new to comment on any specifics (and I'm too busy writing, anyway). I will say I am having the time of my life with some talented, amazing people.

In the meantime, enjoy some random photos documenting my used bookstore obsession.

That is all.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Reading, Writing (and Eating)

I have a lot to do before I head to Clarion West this summer. Aside from all the normal things one does to prepare to leave town for an extended period (catch up on work deadlines, buy plane tickets, finish home improvement projects, spend lots of time with wife and cats), I have been doing a lot of reading and writing as well. 

I love a good story, and have always loved reading, but sometimes it feels like a luxury instead of something "I should be doing." As an aspiring writer, it's ridiculous to consider reading as some frivolous luxury, of course, but sometimes that old Protestant guilt kicks in. Stoopid guilt. 

One convenient consequence of Clarion West coming up is that it gives my brain plenty of ammo to use against Mr. Guilt. "Hey, I'm doing homework, bugger off!" It's working so far, and I'm knee-deep in a best of Locus Awards collection, a book of Michael Bishop's short stories, and Ian McDonald's Desolation Road. I am enjoying them immensely, and have another pile of books to dive into with wild abandon just as soon as I'm done! 

And I've been writing, too. I was well underway on a short story before I got the call about the workshop, but I hit a bit of a narrative snag. Too many characters, I think, and I'm trying to cull out a few to see if the story sags without them. In the meantime, while in the midst of painting a room we're renovating, another story hit me out of the blue, and three hours later, I had a solid draft I felt great about. A week of edits on the new one and I'm still excited. It's very different from the things I've written so far. 

I usually don't indulge those bolts out of the blue -- after all, it's important to finish what you start. I'll just make notes and leap on the new ideas when I'm done with the old ones. But sometimes a story takes you and throws you across the room and you can't ignore that. My winning entry for Clarion West was a bolt-out-of-the-blue story, and you see where that got me!

On the eating front, my wife continues her 52 Cuisines series for her blog, so that means every week we sample some of the great international cuisines that a big city like L.A. has to offer. It's rich material for the mind (and stomach) and fuels my intense desire to learn everything about everything... a good trait for a writer, I think. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Breaking Radio Silence (Good News!)

I love to write, but blogging is hard work!

I realized it's been January since I've updated here, though I ramble on quite at length on Twitter and Facebook. Ah, the power of short-attention-span-social media! But I wanted to break radio silence for another reason, something I've been sitting on, waiting for all the dust to settle.

I've been accepted to the Clarion West 2010 Writers' Workshop in Seattle!

For those not in the know, Clarion West (along with its sister workshops Clarion*  and Clarion South**) is an intensive six week "boot camp" for writers. The emphasis is on short stories, and has a strong bias towards writing in the speculative fiction genre -- i.e., fantasy and science and weird fiction. The instructors themselves are writers and editors with loads of experience, awards, and generosity who come and teach for a week at a time.

Attending Clarion has been a dream of mine for many years, but as a freelance artist, finding the time and money to do so has always been a sketchy propostion at best. This year I carved out the time to go and took a stab at it.

I got the call on a Friday night, and I think I must have repeated "I'm going to CLARION!" every five minutes to my patient (and very supportive!) wife all weekend long. In all honesty, I'm still in a little shock and disbelief that I was accepted.

I'll be posting more here about writing and Clarion West very soon. But for now, I'd like to congratulate all my fellow classmates -- I can't wait to meet you all! To the instructors, readers, and staff of Clarion West -- thank you!

And to those of you who applied and didn't get in this time -- keep trying

* the original workshop that started them all!
** easier for aspiring Austrailian writers to get to...

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009: Five Books I Have Read

Happy 2010 Everyone!

We have spent the day reflecting on the year that has passed and the year that is to come. And so I've been thinking a lot about writing and reading. One of my goals (I won't say "resolution") is to keep a log of what I've read so I can better remember. No doubt some of those entries will also appear here on my blog, so keep your eyes peeled.

My final entry on the "5 Things" theme is on books I read in 2009. I read a lot, so this list barely scratches the surface of the dozens of books I've enjoyed all or in part this year. I certainly recommend them all to you, though of course your mileage may vary. Each of these transported me to their respective worlds in a memorable way.

And in no particular order...

Finch by Jeff Vandermeer

The final chapter in Vandermeer's Ambergris series, Finch is a noir detective story set in the decaying city occupied by fungal overlords. If that isn't a hell of a hook, I don't know what is. While obviously connected to the previous stories set in Ambergris, Finch stands on its own just fine -- perfect for me since it's the first one I've read.

Detective John Finch works to unravel the mystery surrounding an unusual double murder on behalf of his mushroom masters. Finch and his city really come to life in Vandermeer's staccato, tactile prose. Finch is as fallible and anti-heroic as you expect any good noir detective to be. The mystery is weird, gets weirder, and ends with explosive consequences for Finch and his city.

I was fortunate enough to meet Jeff when I attended his "Booklife" seminar in Seattle in November. He talked about the challenges of adapting the detective genre to a fantasy novel. I think he managed it quite well. Thanks Jeff!

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

I've already done a couple of blog entries on this, but it definitely belongs on this list, too.

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

Another great noir detective story, this time set in a far future where people store their minds on cortical stacks and "resleeve" them into cloned bodies whenever the old body wears out. With such serial immortality in the offing, you wouldn't think murder would be much of a problem -- just resleeve a backup stack into a new body and you're back in business (if you can afford it, that is). But former UN super-soldier Takeshi Kovacs is pulled out of deep storage to investigate why a prominent businessman was murdered. Kovacs' client? A resleeved backup of the murdered man.

Altered Carbon is an electrifying page turner, full of lurid sex and cyberpunk-style violence. It challenges fundamental assumptions of what it means to be mortal--what it means to be human--when the rich and powerful can wear whatever body they want. Protagonist Kovacs is even more of an anti-hero than Finch. Both are unwilling detectives with tortured pasts, but Kovacs is closer to his feral nature. He's a brutal, deadly opponent, wielding the memories of a thousand lifetimes like knives. He's sometimes hard to sympathize with, but that serves to make our peeks at Kovacs' vulnerable side more meaningful.

The sequels to Altered Carbon (Broken Angels and Woken Furies) are also quite good, but they didn't have quite the same impact on me as did Altered Carbon.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

My wife has been encouraging me to read this for years, and I'm so glad I finally did. It's a classic story of well-meaning white missionaries who go to Africa (in this case, the Congo) and manage to ruin their lives in the process. Told from the point of view of the Mother and the four daughters in alternating chapters, the family's disentegration under its inflexible patriarch and naivete is one of the most damning, haunting, true things I've read.

The Poisonwood Bible can at times be painful to read, but it's a tale well-worth savoring. The characterizations of the four daughters is especially memorable. My favorite was Adah.

Ghostwritten by David Mitchell

A book of ten short stories, each with a different main character, but linked to the other tales by overlapping events and characters. We start and end with misguided Quasar, a member of a Tokyo doomsday cult who helps perpetrate a sarin nerve-gas attack -- yet who is not entirely unsympathetic. Through the other stories, we experience themes of reincarnation, chance, artificial intelligence, and quantum physics.

Ghostwritten is definitely on my list to re-read.

Other Notables: Palimpsest by Catherynne Valente, Folktales of China edited by Wolfram Eberhard, Soul of a People: The WPA Writers’ Project Uncovers Depression America by David A. Taylor

Still Reading: Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Trial of Flowers by Jay Lake, and Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

What did you read in 2009?

Still so much left to read!