Tag Archives: Twitter

Spring Break, so it’s time to break things, then fix them all up

It’s spring and I’m doing maintenance on the silly blog.

Some things will get ALL BROKEN AND SUCH before emerging shiny and new, like an ugly larva spinning a cocoon before emerging as a giant, super-powered moth that battles Godzilla and stomps all over Tokyo.

If you have suggestions, ideas or requests, shout by the comment magic, the Twitter or even the magic of emails — but do not leave a voice mail, which are obsolete and annoying anyway, plus I would wonder how you got my digits in the first place, which would be creepy and such.

Also: There are crazy amounts of summer movies coming out, and yes, I’ll be dissecting the ones I see. Good times. 

Also-also: Thanks to all the folks for suggestions on (a) great books to read on break and (b) crazy bad books to bleed red on. I have a beautiful honking pile of book-like substances now. 

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot who wrote a thriller that won some award.
Represented by Jill Marr of the Dijkstra Literary Agency.

3 Comments

Filed under 5 Random Thursday, Housekeeping, Uncategorized

Bulletproof skin and other insane inventions

This isn’t science fiction, or something dreamed up by Stan Lee back in 1962.

An artist teamed up with scientists to (1) weave artificial spider silk, (2) grow real cells around that scaffold then (3) look for firearms.

So what happened when Bulletproof Skin 1.0 got shot by a low-powered .22 bullet?

Yeah, it bounced off.

A full-powered .22 pierced the skin, though she thinks doubling the strength of the spider silk weave would buttress the skin and make it tough enough.

Science is magic.

Then there’s this CEO, who sells stab-proof vests and stands behind his product by letting an employee, or a dude who really hates him, hit him with a metal baton, slash him with a box-cutter and stab him with a knife.

But for full-on crazy, you need to see the Canadian man who’s been trying to build an anti-bear suit for years. He lets himself get hit by logs, Ewok-style, and thrown off cliffs, hit by cars, whacked by a gang of men with baseball bats, all to demonstrate the strength of his latest version of the suit.

You can’t make this stuff up. And because I can: 41 other brilliant (or insane) inventions from around the world.

The Red Pen of Doom’s Greatest Hits Collection: 10 Epic Posts

  1. Epic Black Car deserves good owner; are you worthy?
  2. The Mother of All Query Letters
  3. Why every man MUST read a romance – and every woman a thriller
  4. The Red Pen of Doom impales FIFTY SHADES OF GREY
  5. The Twitter, it is NOT for selling books
  6. A BOWL OF WARM MILK AND MURDER
  7. 30 achy breaky Twitter mistakeys
  8. Writing secret: Light as air, strong as whiskey, cheap as dirt
  9. The Red Pen of Doom murders THE FOUNTAINHEAD by Ayn Rand
  10. Quirks and legs matter more than talent and perfection

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller (FREEDOM, ALASKA) that won some award (PNWA 2013) and is represented by Jill Marr of the Dijkstra Literary Agency.

2 Comments

Filed under Muffin chokers

Why this man is joining the RWA

It wouldn’t be a shock for me to join the International Thriller Writers, since I just wrote a thriller that won some award and have done 5.83 zillion profiles of authors for The Big Thrill

And wouldn’t be surprising if I signed up with the Mystery Writers of America.

So why would a 6’3 Swede who writes thrillers pay $95 to join the Romance Authors of America?

Five possibilities:

  1. I secretly write romance novels involving dashing one-eyed pirates and the kidnapped baronesses who love them under the pseudonym Scarletta Bounty.
  2. My wife reads 4.6 romance novels a day and believes she’ll get a volume discount.
  3. Fabio talked me into it.
  4. I have an illness that manifests itself in the random scribbling of checks.
  5. My love of joining things, and going to meetings, is so strong that resistance was futile.

Except none of those are right.

This blog accidentally started because of romance authors and editors. One of them found my silly ad to sell a beater Hyundai, told her friends about it and the thing went viral.

I went on to write a number of things about romance novels, and every one of those posts got more hits and comments than normal posts. Here’s a sample:

So am I joining RWA out of gratitude, or because I’ve made so many friends with amazing writers and editors who happen to be in the romance genre?

No. I’m doing it because it’s smart.

There are plenty of male authors who I’m friends with, and they’re good people. Fun, charming, interesting and happy to help with expert advice when I have a dumb question.

But I’ve thought about this, and it’s no coincidence almost every writer and editor I truly collaborate with is a woman. My editor-of-all-editors, Theresa the Stevens, my beta readers and editors, my literary agent Jill Marr—there’s a long list. (Related post: Some of my favorite editors OF ALL TIME)

The trick is, writing may be a solitary act—but only WHILE YOU’RE DOING IT.

Writing in a world-class way takes more than one man, or one woman, endlessly banging on a keyboard. It takes a team and a plan. Editors for story and structure, line editing, proofreaders, agents, publicists, cover designers, printers, marketers. Doing a book, and doing it right, takes a huge team of talented people.

Female authors and editors, especially in the romance genre, get this team idea better than anybody I’ve met.

The whole thing boils down to this: a dozen of average people, working together, will beat a bunch of geniuses doing their own thing on the football field. Put a team of organized geniuses out there on the artificial turf and hand them a pigskin and they will absolutely crush the lone-wolfs into powder.

The RWA is organized. They put on great workshops and their website is full of useful research and posts about readers and the craft of writing.

So I’m joining the RWA and hoping to hit next year’s national conference, not as a novelty, but because it’s a good play. They get the concept that nobody can or should do this alone. If you only write by yourself, and never get pushed or challenged, your prose will stagnate and die.

The best writing gets stronger—not weaker—when challenged.

We all need that shove, that breakthrough, the new trick that helps you snap old habits. Or the person you just met who’s figured out how to tame the same demon that plagues you.

And writers need to talk to other humans and to give back. I love teaching writing and speaking to college students. Also, editing folks I’ve met from Twitter and this blog is so fun it should be illegal. My red pen of doom sings songs while it kills words. NOTHING IS BETTER.

I learned all those things from an inspiring group of talented women.

Next year, I hope to learn more.

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho
Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller (FREEDOM, ALASKA) that won some award. Represented by the amazing Jill Marr of the Dijkstra Literary Agency.

5 Comments

Filed under 4 Writing Secrets Wednesday, Fiction, Romances; also, novels with Fabio covers, Thrillers and mysteries

What doesn’t kill you makes you happy FOR MONTHS

Have you ever avoided doom?

I bet you’ve swerved on I-5 to stop a drifting semi from turning your car into a cube of steel.

As a teenager, I bet there were times buddies dared you to (a) jump off the roof of a hotel into the pool, (b) drag race down a dark county road at 120 miles an hour in a beater that couldn’t break 80 without rattling like it fall apart or (c) chug an entire bottle of Grey Goose they swiped from Dad’s liquor cabinet.

Hear me now and believe me later in the week: these sort of things are good for you.

I don’t mean you should take up base jumping, climbing cliffs without ropes or stupid stunts involving skateboards. It never works out.

HOWEVER: In my experience, whatever hasn’t killed me has made me a happy man for months.

My friend Leo took me mountain climbing for the first time, and when it turned out more crazy than I expected, with white crosses marking where people died, I was insanely thrilled to get down that mountain. My wife says I was a joy to be around for months. Nothing bothered me.

So I had a little surgery yesterday, something that started out as a simple, easy trip to the doctor. Shoot a little local in me, cut it out, stitch me up.

Nope. Got sent to a surgeon, who said they’d have to put me under, because the thing was too deep.

Took all day. I’d had surgery a half-dozen times before, mostly as a kid. I think as a shorty you’re more worried about the moment. As an adult, with a wife and a kid, these sort of things matter more. You worry.

What if this tumor is some kind of crazy parasite I picked up in the deserts of Dubai?

Or what if it’s cancer, and I’ve got to go all Walter White?

Who would be my Pinkman?

breaking bad pinkman and walt animated gif

Say my name.

Everything should be fine. Even so, there’s that same sense, that feeling each day is a gift.

Sidenote: This month is the anniversary for the blog, born in a haunted oceanfront cabin by Port Townsend when I needed to sell my beater Hyundai.

I believe it calls for a little celebration: a Greatest Hits compilation and a call for ideas. If you’ve got something that would be perfect for the blog, or want to guest post, give me a shout in the comments, on the Twitter or via secret emails.

Meeting so many brilliant and funny writers from around the world has been a pleasure. I can’t thank you enough.

Related posts: The Red Pen of Doom’s Greatest Hits

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award and is represented by Jill Marr of the Dijkstra Literary Agency.

10 Comments

Filed under 4 Writing Secrets Wednesday, 5 Random Thursday, Fiction, Housekeeping

Snuffy the Seal, plus an epic round-up of Shark Movie Goodness

They tell me it’s July, and summer, and I do see a burning ball of fire in the sky that confuses us here in the Pacific Northwest.

So: that means it’s the time of year where we all hit the beach, which means it’s also time for silly monster movies. Bring on the sharks, and the sharks crossed with an octopus. I kid you not.

To whet your appetite, I give you Snuffy the Seal — which you will watch six times, and show all your friends, because it is that good — and an epic round-up of every monstrous shark movie that’s so bad, it circles back to good.

SNUFFY THE SEAL

This is an instant classic, and I can’t think of any way to improve it. The roving reporter is perfectly perky, the anchor’s Hair Helmet and reaction is priceless, and the timing is comedy gold.

SHARKNADO

Shark movies were fresh and new, I don’t know, back in the 1970s, when Spielberg came out with JAWS.

Tornado movies were hot for a bit. Remember TWISTER?

So I give you SHARKNADO, because the only thing more terrifying than a gang of sharks in the water or a raging tornado is a raging tornado with its own gang of sharks.

TWO-HEADED SHARK ATTACK

Keanu Reeves would say, “Whoah.”

SHARKTOPUS

Julia Robert’s brother is in this stinker. I’ve actually seen the whole thing. It’s packed chock full of cray-cray.

PIRANHACONDA

You’re sitting by the pool in Hollywood, drinking a pitcher of margaritas with your screenwriter buddy who’s written a bunch of B movies. And you think, what if there was an anaconda crossed with a piranha? YES!

DINOSHARK

JAWS meets JURRASIC PARK, and the offspring is ugly.

SWAMP SHARK

I love this movie simply for the crazy scene in the trailer of the shark jumping into the water to decapitate a man with a shotgun on land, then land in a different section of swamp. How can you top that?

Related posts – Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 or whatever:

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award and is represented by Jill Marr of the Dijkstra Literary Agency.

6 Comments

Filed under 5 Random Thursday, Animals, monsters and monstrous animals, Muffin chokers, The Big Screen

Insensitive Hippo opens Twitter account, harasses man it once swallowed

Protip: Do not play around with hippos.  Art by Netlizard.

At 27 years old, Paul Templer was swallowed by a hippo.

In 1996, Templer was giving a tour of the Zambezi river in Africa when his canoe was overturned. As Templer paddled out to rescue a fellow guide, he was swallowed by a rude hippopotamus.

Templer documented the incident in an article written for The Guardian in May 2013. Templer writes:

I reached over to grab his outstretched hand but as our fingers were about to touch, I was engulfed in darkness…I seemed to be trapped in something slimy. There was a terrible, sulphurous smell, like rotten eggs…My arms were trapped but I managed to free one hand and felt around – my palm passed through the wiry bristles of the hippo’s snout. It was only then that I realised I was underwater, trapped up to my waist in his mouth.

…I’ve no idea how long we stayed under – time passes very slowly when you’re in a hippo’s mouth.

After having a book about the experience published in 2012 (ironically titled What’s Left Of Me), he thought that his nightmare with the “rogue hippo”, as he calls it, was over.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under 7 Media Strategy Saturday, Animals, monsters and monstrous animals, Journalism, publicity and scandals, Muffin chokers, The Twitter, the Book of Face and the Series of Tubes

Happy birthday to the Twitter!

A nice little video about the evolution of the Twitter, which is 6.942 bazillion times better than the Book of Face, which will one day go the way of MySpace — and not even powers of Justin the Timberlake will be able to save Zuckerberg’s baby.

I’d throw another “which” in there, but it’d just be piling on.

Also: What is the ONE THING you would delete about the Twitter, aside from nuking direct messages from orbit?

Also-also: What is the ONE THING you would add to the Twitter?

Also-cubed: Here’s a link to I THREW IT ON THE GROUND, because (a) it includes the lyric, “Happy birthday to the ground” and (b) it’s one of the funniest music videos in forever, with (c) a song that’s actually good.

Related posts:

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award and is represented by Jill Marr of the Dijkstra Literary Agency.

4 Comments

Filed under 7 Media Strategy Saturday, The Twitter, the Book of Face and the Series of Tubes

Just a man and his wombat

What’s a wombat? I HAVE NO IDEA.

Looks like some kind of mythical beast, an extra from some Peter Jackson film. But it’s cool, and apparently friendly.

Greatest Hits, Vol. 2:

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award and is represented by Jill Marr of the Dijkstra Literary Agency.

4 Comments

Filed under 5 Random Thursday, Animals, monsters and monstrous animals, Muffin chokers

Banned substances for writers

Click here to read the whole post at McSweeney’s here, because it is brilliant.

My personal favorites:

CAPOTEX – A vintage 1960s designer drug. Unlike most other banned literary substances, this drug is often used by fiction writers and non-fiction writers alike. Artificially increases prose style and sophistication. May cause speech patterns to be affected. Known to induce cutting, witty remarks in some test subjects. Long-term use can lead to literary irrelevance.

SPILLAGRA – Boosts literary testosterone levels. Known side effects include involvement with femme fatales, consumption of rye whiskey in dive bars, and over-reliance on colorful similes. If hard-boiled dialogue persists for over four hours, contact a doctor immediately.

ORWELLBUTRIN – Regulates and encourages the production of dystopamine in the brain. Developed as a means of social control, but now listed as a “doubleplus ungood” substance by the Ministry of Health. In rare cases, subjects may imagine that they can hear animals talking. Should only be taken after the clocks strike thirteen.

Related posts:

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award and is represented by Jill Marr of the Dijkstra Literary Agency.

6 Comments

Filed under 4 Writing Secrets Wednesday, Fiction

3 ways to change the digital world FOREVER

It is official: social media now dominates the Series of Tubes.

Every year, these smart people produce a slick video about the interwebs, and this year’s video is especially good and interesting.

Now, having filled your brain with facts and numbers and industrial euro-pop dance music, WHAT DO WE DO?

Simple. We change the world.

Change # 1: One Contact Thing to rule them all

So you’ve got contacts in your gmail at home and Outlook at work, Twitter lists of followers and all kinds of Facebook friends, Tumblr buddies and Pinterest pals and a dozen other things.

It is an unholy mess.

Blessed be the app that gives us One Contact Thing, a single shebang with the magical powers to organize all your contacts, from all those stupid platforms, in one tidy place. The power will be unthinkable.

This means ending the nonsense about Instagram not talking to Twitter because she saw him flirting with Google or whatever. And yes, we need it to be easy and quick and on our phones. Because I’m not firing up the PC every time I need to look up a phone number or Twitter handle.

Whoever does this first — Apple, Google, Microsoft, some dude in his basement coding the app in his pajamas — will rule the interwebs forever and ever.

Change # 2: Obliterate voice mail and switch to texting

Am I saying  we should take voice mail behind the barn and shoot it? No. I’m saying take it behind the barn, hang it, set it on fire, THEN shoot it.

Nobody likes voice mail. Nobody.

Don’t call my cell phone and make me dial up voice mail, punch in a password I keep forgetting, then listen for two minutes. Especially when 99.99 percent of all voice mail messages are things you can sum up in a short text like, “Phone tag, you’re it” or “Pick up some milk, yo” or “I’m a reclusive billionaire with $400 million sitting around, and instead of handing it to Karl Rove, who I wouldn’t trust at this point to run a successful race for student body president at Willapa Valley Junior High, I’d like some return on my investment.”

Send a text, people. College kids these days don’t even use email anymore. They think email is so 1994.

If it’s too complicated for a text, send an email.

If you really hate me, send a voice mail. Make it long. Don’t leave your number or email — assume that I’ve memorized it. And then when I call back, make sure you don’t answer your phone so I can start the whole thing rolling with a voice mail of my own.

Therefore, we will nuke voice mail from orbit, and the world will rejoice.

Change # 3: Real photos, good bios and no anonymous trolls

Twitter, Facebook and every other social media shebang is full of photos and bios of people that may be human, and might be young or old, male or female, con artist or genius.

You can’t tell, though, because (a) their profile photo is a shot of a cat, Yoda holding a lightsaber or a pile of leaves, (b) their Twittter handle is @jkringer392 and (c) their bio is a train wreck of obscure references to Star Trek fan fiction and such. I have seen all of these things and more. Who will pay for my therapy?

Related post: 30 achy breaky Twitter mistakeys

There are plenty of places for anonymous folks to say whatever they like. Sites like reddit will always be around. Have at it.

HOWEVER: papers of news, TV stations and serious blogs need to stop feeding the trolls by letting TrailerParkNinja and TexasMustSecede2016! dominate the comment sections with anonymous spam and hateful, nonsense. So let’s cut back on that by requiring commenters to use real photos and bios. Want to spew? Go spew in Anonymous Land.

If you’re going to be on the Series of Tubes, and want to be taken Seriously, you need a Serious photo — of you, not your cat — and a real bio. Period.

Long ago, only famous people needed public relations folks, who made sure actors, authors and other celebrities had good mug shots and nice bios. Today, everybody is online. Your photo, bio and name are what people see first. But average people don’t have a publicist. They’re flying in the dark with a blindfold, and yeah, it shows.  

Wonder why you aren’t getting many followers on Twitter or hits to your blog? Take a look at your photo and bio.

Trying to get a job / book deal / punk rock music contract? Take a hard look at what people see, in the first five seconds, when they check you out on Twitter and the Book of Face and such.

People don’t make a decision about you after reading your short stories or listening to three mp3s of sample songs on your blog. They glance at your photo and decide, in half a second, whether to interact with you or never give you a second thought. They do this all the time, in a hurry. Ten people just followed you on Twitter, and you follow back or not, clicking away with your mousity mouse, no-no-yes-no-yes-yes-no. You don’t ponder these decisions, right? Bam. So make it easy on people by taking it seriously. I’m talking to you, Miss Duckface, who shot your profile photo in the bathroom mirror using an iPhone.

People need a place –a Profile Doctor–to get easy and quick help with this sort of thing, without putting a public relations firm on retainer.

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award and is represented by Jill Marr of the Dijkstra Literary Agency.

7 Comments

Filed under 7 Media Strategy Saturday, Journalism, publicity and scandals, The Twitter, the Book of Face and the Series of Tubes