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Dec 26, 2011

Vodka Sauce Recipe? Da, Comrade!

Happy day after Christmas all! I hope your holidays are going swimmingly. If so good deal. If not, then perhaps a little good food will put that pep back in your step. Well ok, that might be over simplifying things a bit...but hey, I’m just a writer not a psychoanalyst.

So as I promised during the intro to the Teaser 2 for Bigfoot Hunters (which if you haven’t read yet...go do so! No Vodka Sauce for you until then! I’ll wait. :) , here, as a sequel of sorts to my Chili Recipe, is my recipe for Vodka Sauce (insert riotous applause).

Fortunately, unlike my Chili recipe, this isn’t an all day affair. You can prepare this and be eating in about a half-hour. It’s a nice simple recipe, really hard to screw up unless you’re a total incompetent and if you are then chances are you’re still sitting there trying to find the On switch of your PC rather than reading this.

Oh as an aside, a big apology for the pictures for this one. I stupidly forgot to take pictures until after the fact. Little things like major holidays tend to get in the way of things like clear thinking. Oh well, it's overrated anyway. Now, without further ado...

Ingredients:

Quick note: All spices listed below are approximations. Please adjust to your own tastes. For example, if you don’t like garlic, use less, etc etc. If you have no idea what your tastes are, then my suggestion is to stop right now and go get yourself a Big Mac. Leave the cooking to the big boys and girls.

1 tablespoon Butter

1 tablespoon Olive Oil (if you’re a Rachel Ray fan you can insist on EVOO, if not...more power to you!)

1 heaping tablespoon of minced Garlic

1 – 2 cups of Heavy Cream (see below)

2 cans of Tomato Sauce (I think they’re either 12 or 16 ounces, whatever a normal size can is. What!? Do I look like your neighborhood grocer???)

1 6oz can of Tomato Paste

3 or 4 fresh Basil Leaves (finely chopped, minced, or torn to shreds)

~5 ounces (total) of grated Parmesan and Romano cheese. (you can use the canned stuff, you filthy Philistine, you...but fresh will taste better)

3 ounces of Vodka (doesn’t have to be top notch, but I’d avoid the $3 / liter shit if I were you). Note: if you can’t have vodka for whatever reason or you don’t have any, you can substitute Gin without affecting the flavor of this recipe. Trust me, I’ve done it. It works)

Additional Spices:
Garlic Powder (optional depending on how much real garlic you have handy)
Onion powder
Salt
Pepper
Hot Sauce (generic Frank’s or Tabasco hot sauce tends to work just fine)

*****************************************

Time to Cook: About a half hour*

* Another note: (yes I’m going to keep doing this!) the time to make this sauce is almost a perfect match for the time it’ll take to make a pound of pasta. I’d recommend starting them at the same time. Just my $0.02.

Makes: Enough to literally drown a pound of pasta is you’re like me and like plenty of extra sauce to mop up with garlic bread. However, if not, then easily makes enough for a pound and a half.

*****************************************

Directions:

In a medium sized sauce pan (yeah, nebulous ain’t it...look at the ingredients above. Will they fit!? If so then you have the right sized pan. If not, try again, genius)...

Anyway, in a medium sized sauce pan: toss in the Olive Oil, Butter, Garlic, and Basil. Turn on stove to a medium flame. As the butter melts, stir to combine into slurry of sorts. Add in a generous coating of Pepper, a pinch of Salt, and a coating of Onion Powder.

One it’s heated and mixed (you’ll smell it...and it’s a GOOD smell), add in the vodka.

Reduce for a few minutes. Note: DO NOT reduce down to nothing. You want to reduce about half way until it thickens up a bit.

Add Cream. If you like a lighter color/creamier sauce add 2 cups. If you’re more of a tomato sauce type of person, then add 1.

Stir until fully mixed. Reduce heat (about half way) and let it heat up. You can bring it to just a boil, but DO NOT over-boil.

Add 1 can of Tomato Sauce. Stir until it’s completely mixed in. Repeat with the second can.

Here’s where you’ll want to start spicing things up a bit. As you mix it together and it heats up, perform a few tastes tests.

Typically what I would add at this point are:
More pepper...usually a generous portion. (I love a peppery Vodka Sauce)
Another pinch of Salt
Garlic Powder if needed
A couple of drops of hot sauce. Adds some bite to it, but be careful. Add too much and you’ll turn this into a reasonable facsimile of Rattlesnake Pasta (again, trust me on this)

By this point it should start bubbling a bit. From here on out you’ll want to mix CONSTANTLY. Failure to do so will burn your sauce.

Add in about half of the Tomato Paste (about 3 oz). (Ideally you should put the rest of the can away in the fridge. However, if you’re like me just toss it in the garbage. Yeah it’s wasteful, but I’m the type who will put a half can of paste in the fridge and then forget about it until such time as it gains sentience)

Stir until the Paste is thoroughly mixed in. This will thicken the sauce slightly.

Next start adding in the Grated Cheese. Add about half and then stir in until it’s melted. Repeat with the rest.

If done correctly your sauce should be a pinkish / orange color and should be thick enough to let your kids use as paste on their next school project. Turn off the heat and finish whatever the rest of your meal will include.

Finally eat it...preferably with some pasta. Works with just about anything: Penne, Ziti, even Spaghetti. Garlic bread makes a hell of a side too for it.

When you’re finished, you can refrigerate for a few days and then just nuke it to your heart’s content.

Enjoy with my compliments. Should you try this recipe, please let me know how it goes. If you like it, please share it with others. If you like it a lot, feel free to use it and claim it as your own to friends and family...it's ok. We'll both know the truth.

Dec 22, 2011

Bigfoot Hunters: Teaser 2

Since this will most likely be my last post before Christmas, I just want to wish all of my wonderful readers a Happy, Safe, and...possibly most important...Stress Free Holidays. I won’t say that this post is my holiday present to you all. I have something else in mind. Since I received such a positive response to my chili recipe a while back, I’ll be doing it again. What better than the gift of good food? Stay tuned, faithful reader, for my awesome Vodka Sauce recipe...coming soon!

Until then I leave you with some Sasquatch related mayhem. Enjoy!

Read: Bigfoot Hunters: Prologue

************************************


Since man first walked the earth, people have seen the unexplainable;
Lights in the sky, ghosts from the past, monsters in the mist.
Do they exist or are they just our imagination?
Science has scoffed at these stories...until now.
My name is Dr. Derek Jenner and I dare to believe.
Together with my team I will find what is out there waiting.
The truth cannot hide from me.
I am...the Crypto Hunter.

- Intro to The Crypto Hunter, Tues night 9:00 PM on the Adventure Channel

************************************

“Why can’t I turn on the light, Elmer?” Vera Gantry asked her husband for what, to him, felt like the hundredth time. The only illumination in their small cabin came from the living room fireplace. Elmer would have preferred it pitch dark, so as to make it look like nothing was alive in the place. However, their old oil furnace hadn’t kicked over for some reason. Elmer had made the concession to get a fire going, not being too keen on freezing his ass off while he kept a listen for whatever was screaming like banshee out in the woods.

“No lights! I already told you, woman.” he spat from his favorite chair. He had moved it to the center of the room, where he now sat, a double-barreled shotgun resting on his lap. It was loaded. Next to Elmer, on the tray table where he normally kept the TV remote, sat a full box of ammo.

“And I’m telling you you’re being a darn old fool.” she shot back. “No lights. No TV. Heck I can’t even see enough to knit. All for what? You probably just heard a wildcat yowling out back.”

“Weren’t no cat made that noise.” he said with grim finality. “Now pipe down, I’m listening. Can’t hear nothing with you chattering like a hen.”

She made a sound of disgust and got up from the couch where she had sat, complaining nonstop, since supper. Elmer breathed a quiet sigh. She was his third wife and by far his favorite. She could cook and she kept the house clean. However, once she got on a nagging kick the bitch just didn’t shut up. Elmer had never been a violent man. He believed that a sharp tongue lashing was always the better solution. Regardless, every so often he found himself wondering if maybe a good smack upside the head might be in order. Now was one of those times. His sharp ears didn’t mean didily while she was cawing like a bird.

She walked over to the closed shutters. “Well at least let me open the window a crack. It’s getting stuffy in here. If I have to be cooped up in the dark, I might as well be able to breath.”

He opened his mouth, meaning to tell her to sit back down and, for the last time, shut the hell up. However, in the split second between the end of her rant and his intake of breath he heard it. It wasn’t much, just the crunch of some dead leaves. However, he definitely heard something. Elmer Gantry’s ears were sharp. They had never failed him...until now.

“VERA! GET AWAY FROM...” The window exploded inward before he could finish.

The spray of wood and shattered glass caused his wife to back up a step but it wasn’t far enough. An arm, muscular and covered in brown hair, shot through the opening. Elmer’s eyes weren’t that good, especially in the dim light. He couldn’t see exactly what was standing outside the window except to tell that it was big. He didn’t need to, however. He already knew what it was.

Before he could steady the shotgun against his shoulder, the hand grasped the front of Vera’s dressed and hauled her towards the opening. She was dragged halfway out, her slippered feet kicking wildly in the air. In other circumstances it might have been comical, her legs flailing away while her dress rode up to show her bloomers. However, there was nothing funny about what happened next.

An animalistic snarl came from outside followed by a wet ripping noise. Vera’s feet suddenly stopped moving. They fell limp after one last twitch. A second later her lower half fell to the floor, the rest of her having been torn clean off. She hadn’t even had time to scream.

Elmer raised the gun. There would be time to mourn later. She had been a good woman and he would shed his fair share of tears at her passing. For now, though, there was business to attend to. However, even as he brought the gun to bear he could tell there was nothing standing at the window. Another soft crunch outside alerted him that it was moving. Still seated, he quickly pointed the shotgun towards the front door.

“Oh no you don’t, you sneaky son of a bitch!” he thought. The creature possessed impressive natural stealth for its size. It was moving quickly and quietly. However, it hadn’t counted on Elmer Gantry’s uncanny hearing.

He watched calmly while his front door was literally torn from its hinges as if it were made of nothing sturdier than issue paper. The creature stepped through with a snarl. Runny red eyes locked on first Elmer and then on the barrel of his gun. They opened wide as if in surprise, the last bit of sanity in its hairy head asserting itself at the very end.

Elmer unloaded with both barrels. Had he been standing, the recoil would have knocked him flat on his old ass. Either way he was going to have a nasty bruise on his shoulder. However, it more than did the job. The only thing left of the beast’s head was a fine red mist. The rest of it crumpled unceremoniously to the floor.

“That was for you, Vera.” he said to the empty room as the echoes from the blast died down.

He sat back in his chair with a sigh and closed his eyes.

That was when he heard it...that was when he heard them.

With the door now wide open and Vera’s incessant prattling silenced, permanently, he began to understand. Roars, cries, grunts...all of them reached Elmer’s sharp ears. Soon enough, more of the creatures would come...many more. Had Elmer been a younger man he might have tried to make a stand. However, he was old. Old and suddenly very tired.

As he listened to the sounds of Bonanza Creek dying, he lit his pipe for one last smoke. He took several deep, satisfying drags and then grabbed some shells from the table beside him. He calmly reloaded his shotgun, his hands not shaking at all, moving as if he had all the time in the world.

He took one last puff from his pipe before setting it down. He kicked the loafer from his right foot, noting with some amusement that it landed on the body of the slain beast. “Kicked yer ass all the way to hell.” he thought with a grin.

Elmer Gantry placed the barrel of the loaded gun under his chin while he positioned his big toe on the trigger. His had been a good life. He found he had no regrets. If anything, the thought of seeing Vera again so soon gave him one last smile.

Another thunderous blast shook the house and then all was quiet...this time for good.

Some might have called it the coward’s way out while to others it would have been a good death. Regardless, Elmer Gantry checked out on his own terms. He was the only one in Bonanza Creek that night who could make such a claim.


**********

Bigfoot Hunters
By Rick Gualtieri
coming early 2012

Dec 20, 2011

Character Profile: Bad Things Come in Small Packages

What follows is another installment in the series of interviews I conducted over the past several months as I researched material for my books. I have copied them here verbatim from the tapes I made of our sessions.

Read Session 1: A Fucked-up Interview with the Vampire

Read Session 2: Death Never Looked so Good

Read Session 4: Normalcy is Overrated

Read Session 5: The Wicked Witch of the East(coast)

*********************************

Session 3: Bad Things Come in Small Packages

This interview was unique in that it was both done live via video chat and that the subject refused to speak to me unless Bill agreed to be in the room during it.

Bill: (sighs) Ok, let’s connect and get this over with. (punches a few keys. A man appears on the screen after a few seconds. He’s Asian in appearance and appears to be wearing some sort of armor) Hey, Nergui! Can you hear me?

Nergui: Yes, Freewill. We are connected.

Bill: Is Gan there?

Nergui: The princess will speak with you now.

(He gets up and his spot is taken by an Asian girl of seemingly pre-teen age...she seems disinterested at first until she peers at the screen. Then her eyes go wide.)

Gan: Is that you, beloved?

Bill: Hi, Gan, and please don't call me that.

Gan: (looking confused) Why are you in this strange box?

Bill: It’s a monitor.

Gan: I see. Will the yellow one be on it when we are done?

Bill: No, Gan. I don’t think they rebroadcast Spongebob in Mongolia. Anyway, here’s the nice man I was telling you about. He’s going to ask you some questions.

Me: Hello. May I call you Gan?

Gan: No you may not, human. I am Gansetseg, shadow princess of Asia and heir to the empire of the great Khan. You may address me accordingly.

Nergui: (from off screen) Your Highness would be acceptable.

Me: Uh, sure. Whatever.

Gan: Bill, please kill the human. I find him insolent.

Bill: Yeah ok, Gan. I’ll kill him as soon as we’re through, ok?

Gan: Excellent, beloved. You may ask me your questions now, human.

Me: Thank you, your highness. So is it true that you’re over three hundred years old?

Gan: Yes. I would imagine it hard for a limited creature such as yourself to understand but I have walked this Earth for the span of three centuries.

Me: Is it difficult to have spent that entire time as a little girl?

Gan: I am no little girl. I am a woman! Would a child be betrothed to a fine man such as Bill?

Bill: Gan!

Me: No, I suppose not.

Bill: Don't encourage her!

Gan: My feelings require no encouragement from the human.

Bill: Grrr...ok let's just move on. Next question.

Me: Sure. Gan...err...your highness, considering your age, you must have a unique perspective on the modern world. Would you care to share any insights?

Gan: I live very much the same as I ever have. I am adored by the nomadic covens under my rule. I have vampires who serve me, the undead to cater to my oxen, and humans to provide me with nourishment.

Me: Undead? I thought...

Bill: She means zombies. Vamps keep them around as day labor.

Me: I see.

Gan: I have encountered bits and pieces of your so called modern world, the vulgar place you call New York...

Me: Thats probably not a bad way to describe it.

Gan: Do not interrupt me again, human! Bill, if he does so, please eviscerate him.

Bill: Whatever you say, Gan.

Gan: Excellent! Now as I was saying before being rudely interrupted by lesser beings, I find your modern world to be pointless. All of your technology has done nothing more than weaken your already sad little species. If it weren't for the yellow one, I'd consider razing it all to the ground and being done with it.

Me: I'm certain the fine folks at Nickelodeon would be proud to know that they're the only ones standing between us and armageddon.

Gan: Nicke...?

Me: Sorry, just thinking out loud to myself.

Gan: Yes, you humans are odd that way.

Me: You and Bill seem to have an interesting relationship.

Bill: Do you really have to get her started?

Me: Sorry, I meant aside from the...err...romantic aspects of it.

Bill: (under his breath) Asshole!

Gan: Yes. Bill is the Freewill of vampire legend, the one who shall lead us back into the light. He is unique amongst all our kind. A fitting concubine for one such as I.

Bill: Focus, Gan!

Gan: Oh very well, beloved. I do so for you. We have many prophecies that speak of his deeds to come. Even now he aspires to greatness. He shall be the one to lead us to victory in our war against the Alma.

Me: Alma?

Bill: Uh yeah. Trust me, don't ask. It's a long story.

Gan: Why do you deny it, beloved? You shall be the one to crush the hairy demons under your iron fist. You shall lay them low! You shall march fearlessly against their unstoppable masses. You shall...

Bill: I'll stay in fucking New York where the worst I have to deal with are asshole cabbies and rude street vendors. That's what I shall do, thank you very much.

Gan: You cannot deny your destiny, beloved.

Bill: Watch me...and stop calling me beloved!

Gan: Very well, my love.

Bill: ARGH!! (storms out)

Me: Um, we've gotten a little sidetracked.

Gan: I should say so, human. My beloved was supposed to kill you before he left.

Me: Yeah about that...

Gan: It is no matter. (to off screen) Nergui, send your assassins to America. Find the insolent human and bring his head back to me..

Nergui: (off screen) As you wish, Princess. I am tracing his location now.

Me: Well will you look at the time. Sorry, your highness, but it seems there's a problem with our connection.

Gan: Do not be foolish! There is nothing wrong with....*** (screen goes blank as plug gets pulled)

Me: *sigh* I really need to find a different job.

**************************************

Gan is one of the main characters in my book:
Scary Dead Things (The Tome of Bill Part 2)

Please be sure to join me for the next installment of my interviews from the vampire underworld. Until next time...

Dec 15, 2011

Character Profile: Death Never Looked so Good

What follows is another installment in the series of interviews I conducted over the past several months as I researched material for my books. I have copied them here verbatim from the tapes I made of our sessions.

Read Session 1: A Fucked-up Interview with the Vampire

Read Session 3: Bad Things Come in Small Packages

Read Session 4: Normalcy is Overrated

Read Session 5: The Wicked Witch of the East(coast)

*******************************

Session 2: Death Never Looked so Good

Me: Your name is Sally, correct?

Sally: Yes

Me: Sally what?

Sally: Sally is just fine, thanks.

Me: Is that your real name?

Sally: What do you mean?

Me: Well, Bill, implied your name starts with an L, like...

Sally: Next question, meatsack!

Me: Err, anyway. You’re a vampire like Bill, correct?

Sally: Yes I’m a vampire but no I’m not like Bill. I have a social life on the weekend.

Me: Interesting distinction. Anyway, I know why Bill is speaking to me. However, I’m curious as to why you agreed to do so. After all, I’m lead to believe that vampires as a whole don’t want the world to know they exist. Is this not correct?

Sally: Two reasons really. One, Bill asked me to do this...about five-hundred fucking times. I agreed just to finally shut him up. Secondly, let’s face facts; how many people actually read your blog? Two, maybe three?

Me: A few more than that I’d say.

Sally: (rolls eyes) Whatever! Bottom line is that if you were from someplace real...like say the New York Times...I’d have snapped your neck and filleted you by now. As it is, you’ll excuse me if I’m not too worried about the masses taking up pitchforks and torches against us.

Me: When you put it that way... Anyway, getting back to the vampire thing, how old are you exactly, Sally?

Sally: Never ask a vampire her age, we tend to get all bitey with that one. Suffice to say I’m a bit older than Bill. Ballpark, looking at you I’d say your mom could have been one of my classmates.

Me: Fair enough. You’re a member of Bill’s coven correct? What’s it like to...

Sally: No, I’m Bill’s partner. I run the coven with him. Think of it like Parliament and the crown. Bill might be the king but I’m the prime minister.

Me: In a lot of cultures the king is just a figurehead and the prime minster wields all the power.

Sally: See!? Not as stupid as you look. Oh by the way...my eyes are up here, mister! I catch your peepers heading south again and I’m going to rip them out of your head.

Me: Oh, sorry. No offense was meant, miss. Anyway, um, next question...how would you describe your relationship with Bill?

Sally: (another eye roll) It’s complicated.

Me: As in romantically?

Sally: NO! What I mean is that half the time Bill drives me bugshit insane. The guy is like the lord of the dweebs. Under normal circumstances our social cliques would just not mix. I mean look at me...keep your eyes up here, you fucking bald-headed perv! Last warning! It was a figure of speech for Christ’s sake!

Me: Sorry.

Sally: Where was I? Oh yeah, Bill. So sometimes I just want to stake him myself to put him out of his dorkish misery. But the rest of the time he’s like the best friend I ever had. I mean seriously, he’s gone to bat for me when other vamps would have bugged out of town. Don’t let me hear that you repeated that to him or I’ll make a jump rope out of your intestines.

Me: Mum’s the word (slips recorder into pocket). So as Bill’s partner in the coven, what do you do exactly?

Sally: I mostly keep the other vampires from ripping Bill to pieces. See he has these ridiculous notions of us being kinder and gentler vampires. The guy must have watched one too many episodes of the Care Bears as a kid. Anyway, he keeps trying to make us go against our baser nature.

Me: That being?

Sally: We’re apex predators, end of story. You’re a pathetic little gazelle and I’m a goddamned crocodile. Get my drift? However, Bill apparently lives in this delusional world where we all coexist like some fucking Disney movie. He keeps trying to curb our appetites and as a result he tends to piss a lot of people off. I don’t care if Bill is a Freewill, he’s not Superman. He ruffles enough feathers and he’s going to get gang-staked.

Me: And this is where you come in?

Sally: Correct-a-mundo! I make sure the blood keeps flowing, the bodies keep piling up, and that Bill gets the credit for it, whether he likes it or not. That way everyone is happy.

Me: Except for Bill, apparently.

Sally: Yeah well, you can’t make an omelet...

Me: Tell me about the hotline that Bill had mentioned to me.

Sally: (smiles) That...brilliant stroke of genius? I don’t like to toot my own horn, well not all the time anyway, but that one was definitely an inspired work of Darwinian proportions. It kills at least three birds with one stone, maybe more. The coven gets fresh blood, Bill looks good in the process, and we wind up weeding out people who were probably just going to remove themselves from the situation anyway. It’s a win win!

Me: I’m not sure I’d call it that. You’re preying on the weak and vulnerable.

Sally: Says you. According to the Daily News we are, and I quote: “from dusk until dawn, a shining beacon of hope for the city’s forgotten.” God, I love that one.

Me: You’re a regular Mother Theresa.

Sally: Screw that. Mother Theresa never looked this good. Brains, brawn, and beauty...what would Bill do without me?

Me: Indeed. What would he do without you?

Sally: Probably die in about five minutes. (stands) Well it’s been real but time’s up, fleshwad. I have places to be and people much better looking than you to see.

Me: Thank you for your time...

Sally: The pleasure was all yours. Now if you’ll just kindly keep your eyes away from my ass as I leave, I might not have to kill you.

Me: No problem. (Sally leaves) Crazy bitch.

Sally: (from down the hall) I heard that!

(sounds of running as the recording ends)

*************************************

Sally is one of the main characters in my books:
Bill The Vampire
Scary Dead Things

Sally is also a constant thorn in Bill's side on Facebook

Please be sure to join me for the next installment of my interviews from the vampire underworld. Until next time...

Dec 12, 2011

Character Profile: A F**ked-up Interview with the Vampire

My name is Rick Gualtieri and I am privy to a secret that few mortals know; a secret which, if it got out, could change the face of civilization as we know it...maybe. You see vampires, monsters, and magic all exist. There is an unbelievable underworld that exists right beneath our noses that most of us never notice...and if we’re lucky never notices us in return. I’ve been lucky enough to have journeyed into that underworld and lived to tell the tale. Even better, one of their kind has taken me under his wing, so to speak, and allowed me to spread his story to the world so that others may know his tale.

What follows is a series of interviews I conducted over the past several months as I researched material for my books. I have copied them here verbatim from the tapes I made of our sessions.

Read Session 2: Death Never Looked so Good

Read Session 3: Bad Things Come in Small Packages

Read Session 4: Normalcy is Overrated

Read Session 5: The Wicked Witch of the East(coast)

******************************


Session 1: A Fucked-up Interview with the Vampire

Me: Please state your name and tell me a little bit about yourself.

Bill: My name is Bill Ryder, William Anderson Ryder actually. Dig how my initials spell out WAR.

Me: Does anyone actually call you that?

Bill: Well no. But it’s still kind of cool.

Me: If you say so. So what are you, Bill?

Bill: Well I’m one of the senior game programmers at HotScotchGames. They’re an online gaming company. Their best seller is...

Me: Not quite what I meant.

Bill: Oh, sorry. Not sure why you’re asking me. Haven’t we already gone over this before?

Me: Yes. But this is an interview, remember? A way to clear the air about your life, etc etc.

Bill: Ok ok. Don’t get your panties in a bunch. I’m a vampire.

Me: A real vampire, correct?

Bill: No. I’m just some delusional dipshit who likes to wear capes, talk in a eurotrash accent, and dump glitter all over myself. Of course I’m a real vampire. (opens mouth and extends fangs) Do these look real to you?

Me: Quite real. So tell me a little about vampires, then. For starters, what’s it like to live forever?

Bill: Dude, I’m twenty-five.

Me: But you’re immortal, right?

Bill: I guess so but right now I’m younger than you...by a fair amount I might add.

Me: Fine. Perhaps that’s a question for another day. So then what about your family and friends? Do they know you’re a vampire?

Bill: Are you kidding? Mom and dad freak out about enough shit as it is. My friends know about it, though. They’re cool with it.

Me: What about any significant others?

Bill: Well...

Me: Are you seeing anyone?

Bill: Sorta.

Me: Sorta?

Bill: Well...yeah...kinda. I’m not really sure. It’s complicated.

Me: Complicated?

Bill: She doesn’t really know we’re dating yet. Happy?

Me: (sighs) Ok, whatever that means. So back to vampires before we completely get off track here...

Bill: Oh yeah, sorry. So anyway, some of the stuff you’ve read about vampires or seen in the movies is real but just as much of it is total bullshit.

Me: Care to elaborate?

Bill: Sure. There’s that living forever thing. There’s also sunlight. If sunlight hits us we go all sparkly...as in sparkly like a Roman fucking candle. We’re talking BBQ city here. Vampires also disintegrate into ash when you kill them. Buffy, Blade, and From Dusk Til Dawn all got that part right, and as far as I’m concerned that’s about the extent of vampire related entertainment that’s worth watching.

Me: I kinda liked The Lost Boys.

Bill: Awww. Did you have a poster of Rob Lowe in your bedroom growing up?

Me: Err...anyway, getting back on track, what vampire lore is actually incorrect?

Bill: Lots of it. For starters forget all that shit about mirrors. If I look in a mirror you know what I see? My face staring out of it, that’s what. Then there’s garlic. Garlic is the same as with people. Some of us love it, some hate it. Personally I think some garlic salt in a glass of blood is pretty killer tasting. What else? Oh yeah there’s also crosses.

Me: Crosses don’t work?

Bill: Exactly! Crosses don’t do jack by themselves. I could strip naked and roll around in a box of crosses and it wouldn’t do a damn thing.

Me: Thanks for the imagery.

Bill: No problem. The thing is it’s all about belief. If you believe in a cross enough, it’ll work. However, that applies to just about anything. If your mom believes in her dildo enough...*wham*...instant vampire slayer.

Me: Fascinating. Moving on, you’re the head of a clan of vampires correct?

Bill: Coven. It’s called a coven of vampires.

Me: Aren’t covens for witches?

Bill: That’s what I thought. But no...oh and don’t get me started on witches. My roommate, Tom, is dating one and what a fucking psycho bitch she is. The other day....

Me: I’ll be talking to Tom in another interview, so we can cover it then. Back to your coven.

Bill: (sighs) Fine! You don’t want to hear my story, that’s just dandy. Fuck you too, dude.

Me: Your coven?

Bill: Yeah yeah. It’s called Village Coven because it’s located in the Village section of NYC. Real fucking original name isn’t it? Anyway, I wound up in charge after snuffing the previous head, a douchebag named Jeff, who just so happens to be the reason I’m going to spend all of eternity sucking down bloodclots.

Me: You killed Jeff? According to my notes...

Bill: Does it really matter!? As far as the record goes, yes I killed Jeff, not Sally, me!

Me: Ok ok. No need to get your bat wings all ruffled.

Bill: Don’t make me smack you.

Me: I’ve heard some of the others I’ve spoken to refer to you as a Freewill. What is that exactly?

Bill: Yeah, it’s another stupid name, vampires seem to have a thing for them. But anyway the long and short of it is that it stands for the fact that I can’t be controlled by other vamps.

Me: That’s odd, because I heard you talking on the phone to another vampire...Sally, I believe...and it sounded a lot like...

Bill: No, that’s just her being a bossy bitch. I mean mind control. Older vampires can actually control younger vampires psychically. It’s called compulsion and pretty much all vampires can do it if they’re old enough. I’m the lone exception. It doesn’t work on me. Hence, freewill.

Me: That could be handy.

Bill: Tell me about it. Vampires are a freaky bunch. Last thing I want is one of them getting into a mood and trying to command me to eat dog shit or suck his dick. No sir!

Me: Is that all there is to it?

Bill: No. It’s got some other perks too. For example, I can drink another vampire’s blood. Before you say anything to that you need to forget any shit you’ve seen on pay cable. It doesn’t work that way in real life. A normal vampire drinking another vampire’s blood is kind of like you downing a bottle of draino. Once again, except for me. Somehow I’m able to drink another vamp’s blood and not only do I not wind up puking my guts out, but it actually kind of amps me up for a while. I mean we’re talking Hulk Smash shit here.

Me: And there’s the prophesy too, right?

Bill: Which one? Apparently there’s a ton of Freewill prophecies out there both inside and outside of the vampire community. All crap as far as I’m concerned. This ain’t Hogwarts and my last name isn’t Potter. They can all take their prophecies and shove them so far up their asses that...

Me: Thank you for that wonderful mental picture, I’m sure. Bill, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you.

Bill: That’s it!? Don’t you want to know anything cool...like all the babes I’ve...

Me: That’s quite alright. I have enough for this interview.

Bill: Jeez! No wonder nobody reads your stupid ass blog.

**************************

Bill Ryder is the main character in my books:
Bill The Vampire
Scary Dead Things

You can also follow Bill's day to day adventures on Facebook

Please be sure to join me for the next installment of my interviews from the vampire underworld. Until next time...

Dec 8, 2011

Kickstarted to the Curb

I’ll get right to the point and say it; I don’t get the recent trend of authors using Kickstarter to fund their projects. And because I don’t get it, I really don’t support it or plan to go that route myself.

“Hold on there just one second, Mr. Hypocrite!” some of you might say, “Haven’t I seen you retweet other authors’ Kickstarter projects?” To which I’ll freely admit that I have. Why? Because A) I’m happy to help promote my fellow writers and B) I know that my opinion does not necessarily represent yours. Thus even if I don’t “get” something, that doesn’t mean I won’t help pass it on to someone who might.

And no, this doesn’t mean I always retweet things I don’t agree with. I just mention this so that I don’t get a bunch of comments along the lines of “So will you retweet my stuff even though I’m a drug-dealing KKK member who votes along Nazi party lines?” Let’s not be stupid here, shall we?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand Kickstarter itself just fine and I’m a fan of it. I think crowd-sourcing for new business ideas is a great idea. Let the masses decide what is a worthy project and what isn’t. Personally I think it’s better than a bank in that you don’t have the creditors knocking on your door. Likewise I think it’s better than investors who otherwise might be eager to swoop down and not only claim a healthy ownership of your company but might also be tempted to add in more of their two cents than might otherwise be asked for.

In addition to this, I can also understand various other creative types using Kickstarter to try to fund their projects. For example studio time can be very expensive for a singer, and if I like their samples then I’d probably want to give them a chance to see what they can really do. But funding someone to write a book? Sorry, I’m just not seeing it.

Even more mind-boggling to me is the asking price of a few of the pre-funding requests that I’ve seen. I’ve seen a few manufacturing start-ups on Kickstarter asking for $10K or less to help them build out prototypes and market them. Comparatively, I’ve seen a couple of authors asking for far more than that amount. I don’t want to point fingers but should it really be twice as much to help fund a book as it would be for another group to begin mass production of their widgets?

To put this into perspective, I’ve written four books so far. Far less than some but more than others. In other words, probably enough to have worn the new car smell off of me. As far as I am aware the actual process of writing cost me nothing but my time (and maybe a few sanity points). Now you might ask me whether or not I consider my time to be valuable. I would truthfully answer that I certainly do. However, valuable or not, it is of my own free accord that I choose to spend that time writing books. The commitment is mine to make, whether it be weeks, months, or years.

The second part of this equation is in how I choose to get my work out there. I choose to self-publish as it appears many of the Kickstarter projects I’ve seen also do. In choosing this route I realize that I am giving up on certain potential benefits (like cash advances). However, in return I gain a greater share of the end sale and much greater control over my work. Personally I find it a fair tradeoff, and one that will hopefully become (monetarily) profitable with time.

Writing aside, does this mean the journey is free? No, of course not. Even ignoring basic staples such as food and shelter there are certainly expenses involved. At a minimum there’s cover design and editing to take into account. I can take it even further and invest in layout services, etc etc. However, I also consider these expenses to be mine to take into consideration. The hope being that I put in the time, effort, and cost up front, market the ever living hell out of things, and then you, good reader, maybe come along and decide to take a chance on my mental ramblings (at which point you immediately join my “Rick’s favorite people” list :) . In return you get a finished product...no waiting necessary. If that happens enough times I eventually recoup my costs and maybe even come out a few nickels ahead of the game. If it doesn’t then I either keep trying or pack up my crayons and head home.

So that brings me back to the folks on Kickstarter. Are these “have their cake and eat it too” attempts? In other words trying to have the best of both worlds; the cash advance of traditional publishing but retaining all of the freedoms a self-pubbed author has? I could see that and it’s certainly a tempting prospect.

Or perhaps it’s all about marketing. Maybe putting a project on Kickstarter is more about building advance buzz...so advance that you get to decide whether or not it’s even worth your time to start writing. Perhaps in some cases there isn’t even a realistic expectation to reach their funding levels. Maybe it’s all about eyeballs and attention, neither of which are bad things for writers.

And then there’s the more pragmatic possibility. Are the upfront costs meant to not only cover the costs of the book but also provide those little living staples like food and shelter? I can understand that, especially given the current state of the economy. I don’t think anyone would argue that writing the next great literary masterpiece from the confines of a dumpster wouldn’t be a bit challenging.

Or maybe it’s all some combination of the above. I don’t know and I’m honestly curious. Despite the bitching nature of the above (welcome to the world of blogging!) I don’t have a personal vendetta against those who go this route. If you use this and it works for you, I think that’s great. In fact I’m hoping that maybe a few of the Kickstarter-ers (yeah yeah, I’m making up words now) might chime in down in the comments to let me know their thoughts on this. I’m not seeking to condemn you. I’m just seeking to understand you. And at the end of the day it may very well be the case that you are simply just that much better at this game than I am. Or not. Either way, though, I’d love to be enlightened.

Dec 1, 2011

Reflections on My Time in the Mobile Space

I interrupt my various musings on writing to get back to technology for a post. After all, I am and have always been a bit of a gadget geek. I was thinking a bit about mobile phones, something that’s on a lot of people’s minds these days. Personally I don’t keep my enthusiasm for them much of a secret. I’d probably sooner go out sans pants than without my iPhone. Just for the record, I try really hard not to do the former. However, it wasn’t always the case...I mean the thing about the phone, not the pants. Once upon a time, and for quite a few years, I couldn’t give two shits about my mobile phone.

I was working for AT&T back around the time that cell phones were starting to become widespread. For a year or so I took a “People can call me when I’m at home, otherwise they can wait” attitude. Then AT&T, being y’know a telecom company, had an employee sale. I could get a handful of minutes on the cheap and a Nokia brick phone for free. That wasn’t the phone’s real name; I’m far too lazy to bother to look that up. Needless to say that was an apt description of the phone. I could have used the damn thing to mug old ladies, I tell you.

I got it pretty much on a whim, figuring it might come in handy should I find myself trapped in my car at the bottom of a ravine somewhere with vultures circling overhead. Truth be told, I almost never used it to the point where the battery tended to be dead when I did decide to turn it on. I’ve never been much of a phone talker. I’ve had maybe a handful of hour+ conversations over the course of my lifetime. I certainly wasn’t about to have any major life-altering conversations on a brick of a phone with few enough minutes to ensure that any lengthy chat might as well be with a 1-900 number.

I had the brick for over a year. Around that time I noticed that phones were getting smaller. The brick was pocketable but only insomuch that putting it in my front pocket would tend to make me look like a John Holmes wannabe (sans obligatory porno mustache). Around that time I decided to upgrade to this tiny little Sony Erickson flip phone. This phone was an utter piece of shit, the flip part being little more than a flimsy, non-functional, piece of plastic. I carried it around on me because it was tiny but I probably used it even less than the brick.

Oddly enough, around this time I did get my first taste of a “must have” mobile device. It just had nothing to do with a phone. I wound up in possession of a Palm Pilot (a Palm V for you techno-purists). In retrospect it was really only good for three things: taking notes in meetings (I had Palm script down like a mofo!), IR Battleship, and Dope Wars. However, at the time it was like manna from the heavens. I’d have sooner been forced to sell my blood for food than go without the warm embrace of its black and white screen. It wasn’t until my kids broke the charger for it did I realize how much I didn’t need it. However, until that time it was a love story fit for the movies. To this day I still kind of miss its version of Dope Wars.

Anyway, back to phones, for the next few years it was a lot of the same. The wife and I eventually upgraded to Motorola Flip Phones, a Razr for her and another piece of shit for me. Once again I don’t know the model number and couldn’t be bothered to check. The phone worked...most of the time at least...as a phone and that was it. It had a few lousy game demos on it and I could supposedly check the web and my email on its paltry little screen, both of which seemed far too painful to even attempt.

Thus we entered 2007. The state of mobile phones was dull at best. Motorola was trying to squeeze a few more years into the Razr and their other clamshells. Samsung was doing the same. Nokia kept selling their ugly ass candy bar phones. And, at the high end, Blackberry and Palm sat like virtual emperors, their godlike phones only for those either willing to part with a good many of their precious sheckles or lucky to work for corporate overlords benevolent enough to bless them with such magical devices.

And then came the iPhone. I’ve heard that there were other touch-screen phones being worked on at the time, the LG Prada comes to mind. However, being that I still could have cared less about the whole mobile space, I was unaware of them. I saw its unveiling via the web and I couldn’t believe such a thing could work well. Surely the touch screen would be a failure of epic proportions. No way could you surf the web on a phone and have it actually look like...the web. Even more mind blowing, it had Wi-Fi. The phone could connect to a home network for actual respectable speeds, something I hadn’t even really considered before.

Still, I was staunchly anti-Apple at the time. No iPods graced my home. Macs were verboten, over expensive toys at best. I kept an eye out as surely the competition would come out with an answer to this upstart phone that would blow it away instantly. The Motorolas, Nokias, and RIMs of the world were masters of their domain and would certainly present something that would humble Apple back to the periphery where they belonged.

That didn’t happen and as the months went by I found my curiosity piquing. Eventually I had some extra money to burn and the Mrs. and I were both due for upgrades. I went with an iPhone; she went with a Blackberry Curve. Flash forward a few months and I was on the iPhone 3G. She was using my original iPhone, and the Blackberry had been relegated to the junk drawer as a backup phone “just in case”. For all I know it’s still moldering there waiting for love that is just not coming its way.

It didn’t start quickly with me. At first I just used the iPhone as a phone and nothing else. It was only a gradual thing. I’d be waiting in the car while my wife was shopping and decide to check email. I’d be sitting on the couch, want to look up something on the web but not really want to get up and turn on the computer. I’d need to check the weather. Someone would send me a link to YouTube. Etc etc on and on, until I realized that I was spending more time on my phone than I was at my desktop. That same feeling I had with my old Palm V was back except this time it wasn’t all smoke and mirrors, I was actually able to be productive untethered to a PC.

And that brings us to today. Today’s mobile world isn’t just about having that emergency phone to call for help while bears chew their way into your car. It’s so much more. Mobile web, shopping, banking, video chat, etc etc. Sure there are days when I wonder if it’s too much. At what point will information overload just make my head pop off? However, I don’t think that too often. At the moment I find it empowering to have so much power at my fingertips. I like the fact that, though I am inconvenienced by a gadget in my pocket, it is no longer the unused brick that it used to be. Whether this will change with time remains to be seen but for now you can be sure that if you come across me I’ll have my mobile handy...the pants, well that’s still up for debate.

Written and posted via an iPhone 4.