Monday, February 21, 2011

Lost Cities, Dead Things And Creeping Inertia

Have I mentioned I've got a novel coming out next year? My urban fantasy CITY OF THE LOST drops next January and the follow-up, DEAD THINGS, will be out... some day. I don't know when. 2013 maybe? No idea.

Yes, I know you find this stuff absolutely riveting. Okay, maybe not.

Anyway, DEAD THINGS is making the rounds right now among some of my Trusted Cohorts(tm) so I can get an idea of just how badly it sucks. Hopefully won't need too much of a rewrite, but we'll see.

All of this means that I have to get cracking on the next one. Can't sit on my ass, after all. On the chance that DAW wants a third book it'd be nice to have one to give them. Or at least an idea for a book to give them. Or something.

Music plays a big role in my writing. It helps connect me to the story and the characters when I've been away from it for a bit. I've tried using pictures as a touchstone, but that's never really worked for me. Too static. Doesn't give me a sense of who a character is, what the story is about. The music keys into concepts the way pictures don't.

It's a big part of my planing process. Which sometimes can stretch well past the initial draft.

I remember the playlist for CITY OF THE LOST having a lot of Massive Attack on it, though for the life of me I can't find the damn thing.

Here's the playlist I did for DEAD THINGS.
  • Inertia Creeps - Massive Attack
  • My Boy Builds Coffins - Florence + The Machine
  • She Cries Your Name - Beth Orton
  • Bones - Little Big Town
  • Pepper - Butthole Surfers
  • Haunted - Poe
  • No More Room - The Scarring Party
  • Sister - She Wants Revenge
  • Casino - Soundtrack from Run Lola, Run
Each one of those is keyed to a story point, a scene or a character. I'd say it paints a pretty decent picture of the book, actually. It's a pretty bleak story. But then it's me.

Right now I'm trawling through music trying to see what I can use for BOOK THREE. Yeah, snappy title, ain't it? Usually takes a while to pull it together. I'll run across something, the light bulb goes off and onto the list it goes.

So far I've got a couple Don Henley songs, Dirty Laundry and Sunset Grill.

Oddly enough I have trouble writing to music. I have to get into a groove before I can turn it on or I'm screwed. And if it has words it gets in my way. So I tend to stick to a lot of ambient for actual writing.

For the writer types out there, how about you? Do you use music in your planning or when you write? What do you listen to? What have you used

Thoughts? Buehler? Anyone?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Criminal Tip #823,619: Try Burning The Evidence BEFORE It's Found

Lennox, CA

Couple disappears last year from a reputed drug house in Lennox. Last Tuesday somebody calls the cops from the house because he's been tied up and his car's been stolen. Tells the cops that the people who did it said they needed his truck to move a body. Later that day a body (SURPRISE!) believed to be one of the missing couple is found buried in the backyard.

Got all that? Good.

Last night, somebody decided to torch the house.

Little slow on the uptake there, Sparky.

Last December James Stein and his wife Gabriela went missing from their home in Lennox where they shared it with a number of other people, including Marcos Lomeli and Jenny Salazar. Neighbors are saying that the house has been a Den Of Iniquity for quite some time.

A friend? acquaintance? of Lomeli and Salazar got a call Tuesday saying they needed to borrow his truck. When he showed they told him they needed it to move a body.

Guess he wasn't a real friend. He said no.

So they beat him, tied him up and stole his truck.

Salazar is under arrest for false imprisonment, robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Lomeli turned himself in at a station in Pico Rivera.

Cops seem to believe that the corpse is James Stein. Still no sign of Gabriela. Maybe she's stuffed under a floorboard and somebody decided that she'd make good barbecue.

Kind of doubt it, though. Cops spent two days going through that house like a fat man at a Vegas buffet. Somehow I think they got pretty much everything there was to get.

And if not, well, fire doesn't cleanse nearly as well as you'd think.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Nobody Said Equality Had To Be Good, Just Equal

Anaheim, CA

Kim Rebar Henry, 56, of Fullerton hates... well, everyone.

Blacks, Catholics, Chinese, Mexicans. And she's been letting the world know in her creative, heartfelt graffiti. Such mind-boggling phrases as "Kill the slit-eye chink niggers," and "Kill the Cathlics(sic)".

On the plus side she's very inclusive. Really taking that whole equality thing to heart. Why I wouldn't be surprised to see something about Navajo Eskimo Samoan Mormons next.

Her downfall? Those Cathlics she's going on about? Turns out they had the nerve to set up a surveillance camera on their church. I mean, really. Who'da thunk it?

Though they picked her up for that one they're pretty clear they can nail her on 8 more. I mean, it doesn't take hand-writing analysis to figure this one out. Just a copy of Strunk & White.

Better? Her mugshot. Check this out.

Man, that one's gonna give me nightmares. She looks like she's been hit with a chunk of rebar.

See what I did there? See? Rebar? No?

Just gonna ignore that one, huh? Probably just as well. They can't all be gems.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Who The Hell Is Ralph? The Saga Of David Del Toro Continues

So the trial of LAFD fire captain David Jaime Del Toro is finally underway.

For those who need a refresher, Del Toro is accused of strangling his girlfriend Jennifer Flores in 2006 and dragging her body a quarter mile behind his truck, leaving behind what the police have euphemistically called a "DNA trail". From what I understand you can still see it.

Police followed the trail to Del Toro's house where they found him drunk, confused and amidst signs of a struggle.

Last Friday, Monica Gibo, a former girlfriend who filed an assault charge against him in 2002, testified about his violent, drunken behavior. The charge led to court mandated counseling.

On Tuesday the coroner will testify. I hope they don't go with the phrase "DNA trail". That doesn't really get across the idea of what happens to a body when it's dragged down the street.

According to The Contra-Costa Times the defense is expecting to go with the idea that Flores left the house with someone else and Del Toro passed out on the bed, waking up to a mess and trying to clean it up.

Which leads us to the headline above.

A little while ago I got a couple anonymous comments HERE (scroll to the bottom - the comments go back to 2007) suggesting someone named Ralph might have been the responsible party.

Who's Ralph? I have no fucking idea. One commenter suggests he's an ex of Flores.

It seems odd that after 5 years of discovery the prosecution would not have figured this out and have something in place to counter that move. I mean, yes, sometimes cops screw up, but that would be kind of a big oversight.

Real life courtrooms aren't like TV courtrooms. Dramatic unveilings of The Real Killer(tm) don't happen very often and pretty much anything one side knows the other does too.

But then the defense doesn't have to prove he's innocent do they? They just have to toss the question into the jury's minds. And juries tend to be stupid.

Seriously, have you been in a juror waiting room Downtown? Yep, LA's best and brightest. No wonder this city's fucked up.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Jesse Knows!!!

Los Angeles, CA

Who's Jesse? Presumably that's Jesse Garon Presley, Elvis' stillborn twin brother whose name, some say, the King assumed when he faked his death in 1977.

And apparently he's not happy with Axel Braun, director of Vivid Entertainment's Elvis XXX: A Porn Parody.

Braun came out of a Gelson's supermarket in Tarzana to find a note telling him, "You will die soon you piece of trash," and "Jesse knows!!! And he is coming for you." Seems Mr. Braun's been getting a lot of hate mail from Elvis fans.

Disconcerting to say the least. Someone knows him. Someone's stalking him. Said stalker is bugfuck crazy.

I honestly can't see why Elvis would be upset by this. Come on King, an hour and a half showing you banging every poodle-skirted, doe-eyed groupie in a fifty mile radius? That's reliving your golden years, pal. I mean, it's not like they're gonna show you popping codeine and keeling over on the toilet.

Unless it's a fetish film.

Anyway, cut the guy some slack. Brother's just trying to make a buck. While he flogs our collective memories of Star Trek, Happy Days, I Dream of Jeannie.

Good luck, Mr. Braun. I hope nobody shanks you in a supermarket parking lot. And if you can skip lines about a "hunka hunka burnin' love" it'll probably up your chances.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Cold Cuts

Maywood, CA

Every time I get groceries I inevitably have to clear out the freezer. There's month old green-beans, waffles frozen into a solid slab of ice, that alleged chicken casserole from 2008.

But at least I don't have to worry about throwing out chunks of Mom.

Last Friday Moises Meraz-Espinoza, 18, walked into a Huntington Park police station and said he'd killed his mother. Chopped her up. Stuck her in the freezer.

So far that's his story and he's sticking to it. Cops being cops they're not taking his word for it and the lady in the freezer is officially Jane Doe. So far there's no positive ID.

What's the hold up? No duct tape? Presumably they have all the pieces. And really you only need one.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Left To His Own Devices

Huntington Beach, CA

There are a lot of ways to kill yourself. The simplest ways are the most effective.

But the convoluted ones are usually just as good.

Police found the body of a man in a pick-up truck Friday morning after receiving calls about a suspicious vehicle. Seems all the windows were covered over with sunshades.

He had a bag over his head with a tube connected to "a device". Seriously, that's what they're calling it. A device. They're treating it as a suicide.

What kind of device? I have no idea. They're not saying. Presumably it's some sort of suicide device. Maybe it's hooked to a gas tank, a jar of weaponized cow urine, angry bees. Who knows.

Whatever it is it's got to be something complicated or they wouldn't be calling it a device. They'd call it what it is. Maybe they don't know. How do you think that press conference would go?

"The man in question died after being hooked to a thingamajigger or some sort of whatchamacallit. Possibly a hoo-hah or flabberjabber."

Yeah, I'm thinking "device" was probably the way to go on this one.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Read An Awesome Story Before It Gets Awesomererer

Incredibly fucking rad author Chris Holm had his story, The Hitter, in Needle Magazine #2 last year.

On Monday it was picked up as part of the 2011 Best American Mystery Stories anthology edited by Otto Penzler and Harlan Coben.

Now, you could read an excerpt from the story here or buy a copy of Needle #2 here.

Or you can leave a comment below telling me just how much you NEED a copy of this issue, why you are so deserving of such an amazing anthology (because really that's what it is), and how your life would not be complete without a copy of Mr. Holm's story The Hitter to grace your shelves and I will motherfucking ship it to you.

Well, to one of you, at least.

Tell me why you of all people should get me, a working shlub like the rest of y'all to send to you, FREE OF CHARGE, a copy of the story that made Otto Penzler and Harlan Coben get stiffies just by being near its sheer awesomeness.

Whichever one I find the most entertaining gets a copy. So remember to leave your name and an email address so I can get back to you.

This goes on until Wednesday night (2/2/11) when I'll pick a winner. Let's say, 8PM PST.

And while you're at it, go check out Chris' other stories in his collection 8 Pounds.