“Become a part of the NIGHT WORLD. Enter to win a flower pin.”

12. Soulmate – L.J. Smith

I did not know of the Night World series, or any other L.J. Smith series, actually, until I found a bunch of Night World books in the detritus of a closing book store’s YA section in 2014. I was looking for 1970s, 80s, and 90s YA as I usually am and the 1990s editions of the series have the most amazing covers. They’re paintings (of course, like I’d really be attracted to photography-based covers in YA…so 2000s…) of the main female characters (sometimes with special guests) surrounded by flowers and weird monster and demon faces and one face that really looks like wolf form attacking Lucy in the rain-Gary Oldman-Dracula from Bram Stoker’s Dracula and ravens and black cats and this one has a candlestick and they are bizarre and awesome pieces of book coverage. I know that this one was published in 1997, when I was a freshmen in high school and had moved on to reading Interview with the Vampire and Silence of the Lambs, but if I had known about this series when I was a teen I would have totally loved it. The female characters are well drawn and considering these are always romances, they’re feisty enough to not drive me nuts with their romantic angst (they’re certainly not swooners or “rape me and I’m yours” types) and I know I would have totally related to them –minus opportunity- when I was younger.

Soulmate concerns a romance throughout the ages, kind of like what Gary Oldman-Dracula is trying to imprint upon Winona Ryder-Mina in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and by the way, I dug that movie quite a bit when I saw it as a teenager (surprise surprise); you know, “I have crossed oceans of time to find you” and all that other shit vampires say to not look like pedophiles to high school girls who don’t recognize them for the creepers that they are. Anyway, Hannah aka vampire dude’s soulmate, current body edition, is seeing a psychiatrist and it brings up repressed memories of her other lives with said vampire, and how said vampire murdered everyone she knew when they first met (and her) and it’s an interesting path to reconciliation. I know that the soulmate concept has a bigger part to play in the Night World, but I don’t have the whole series and I haven’t read all the ones I do have yet, so I have no idea where it’s going. Hopefully not a sad, couple filled kegger. Maybe Thunderdome for couples. I do know that I shelved the re-published, multiple books to one volume, covers featuring bland black and white photographs of random, staring girls versions of these books when I worked at the public library and I was not even remotely intrigued to read them. That was a shitty re-design, people. A shitty re-design. Those lonely, staring girls do not say “I have charisma and well constructed female characters inside.” They say “You will be alone forever inside the black void.” I, like, already know that.

Thaddeus knows Pickles is not his soulmate, that would be Pammy, but they still enjoyed each other’s company without dramatic protestations and no prehistoric villages had to be slaughtered.

Thaddeus knows Pickles is not his soulmate, that would be Pammy, but they still enjoyed each other’s company without dramatic protestations and no prehistoric villages had to be slaughtered.

 

Mixtape –
1.    “Seventh Wave” – Devin Townsend
2.    “Satellite” – TV on the Radio
3.    “Freya” – The Sword
4.    “Sweet Leaf” – Black Sabbath
5.    “Schyssta Logner” – Witchcraft
6.    “Night City” – The Sword
7.    “All Black” – Hanni El Khatib
8.    “Long Time Coming” – Droids Attack
9.    “Mouths of Madness” – Orchid
10.    “Moonchild” – Fields of the Nephilim
11.    “Satan/Dance You Fukr” – Zydepunks
12.    “Bruane Brenn”- Kvelertak
13.    “High Road” – Mastodon

 

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Homicidal Wonder Pets Ho!

13. The Dead Game – A. Bates

Humiliation and high school go together well in many areas across this great land. In this particular novel, the humiliation is not specifically reserved for outcasts and the perpetrators, beyond involving one insanity cookie whose artwork inspires the line: “Your fingers are like sausages poking at the clay.” (Awesome!), aren’t outcasts either. For once, the middle and high achievers are poking at each other, which I would have appreciated noticing when I was in high school. And middle school. And elementary school. Why weren’t they just working with those on their own playing field? Those who maybe wanted to compete? When I watch the Real World/Road Rules Challenge, which I do because some of those people have been on TV longer than I was in college and I recognize that achievement, they’re always whinging about people getting not getting rid of the stronger players because if they want to win, they should really win against people that are like them – good competitors-, not just leave weak teams till the end so that winning is easy. Picking on the weak is really just for most politicians and corporations anyway – but I guess some of them do get exposed through their own version of the dead game…but that can be the price of hubris and dick pics.

Her name may not be spelled the same as the usually trustworthy Wonder Pet guinea pig, but Morty's not taking any chances; especially when Ming (aka "Ming-Ming") is there too.

Her name may not be spelled the same as the usually trustworthy Wonder Pet guinea pig, but Morty’s not taking any chances; especially when Ming (aka “Ming-Ming”) is there too.

 

Mixtape –
1.    “Nuclear War (on the Dance Floor)” – Electric Six
2.    “Digging the Grave” – Faith No More
3.    “School” – Nirvana
4.    “Rococo” – The Arcade Fire
5.    “Dive” – Nirvana
6.    “Down at McDonelllzzz” – Electric Six
7.    “White Fright” – Bass Drum of Death
8.    “Harnessed in Slums” – Archers of Loaf
9.    “Sing” – Blur
10.    “Prescilla” – Bat for Lashes
11.    “He’s So Fine” – Bass Drum of Death
12.    “Military Man” – Evil Cowards
13.    “Breed” – Nirvana
14.    “Laboramus” – The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster
15.    “Be Aggressive” – Faith No More
16.    “Big Black Backwards” – Agents of Oblivion
17.    “Oh Me” – Nirvana

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American Horror Story: Oregon

21. Eyes of a Stranger – Sharon E. Heisel

Antique carousel!  This was a horse of a different color when it comes to 1990s YA suspense. Normally, there’s a girl, maybe she moves to a new town and suddenly she finds a cute boy and – oh! – he asks her out or asks her to come to the party of that girl who has been giving her dirty looks since she first came to school and then something bad happens, probably to the cute boy, and then the very normal, clearly pretty girl deciphers the mystery and gets away while some random gets Scooby Dooed. Eyes of a Stranger gives the narrative main haul to Marissa, who is clearly pretty but also happens to have one leg that’s shorter than the other…which makes it very hard to run away. She also has some rules to live by that make her a relatively formidable opponent in comparison to the usual YA last girl protagonists. Marissa lives out in the country with her Uncle Paul, a carousel man, and helps him run the carousel whenever she isn’t in school. The carousel attracts one customer who has very icy eyes and keeps bringing different blonde girls to take a ride. Marissa is not blonde but I bet you can guess where this is going, but not what’s in his toolbox. Ugh.

This is Ozy’s “I’m suspicious” face. He wouldn’t be a great carousel employee, but he could definitely ferret out suspicious characters.

This is Ozy’s “I’m suspicious” face. He wouldn’t be a great carousel employee, but he could definitely ferret out suspicious characters.

Mixtape –
1.    “Villain” – The Duke Spirit
2.    “Thoughts of a Madman” – The Nomads
3.    “French Bacon” – Electric Six
4.    “The Fool” – The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster
5.    “Midnight Creeper” – Eagles of Death Metal
6.    “Brief Encounters” – Franz Ferdinand
7.    “Little Girl, Little Boy” – The Odyssey
8.    “Wasted Away” – Dum Dum Girls
9.    “Floating Friends” – Archers of Loaf
10.    “Falling to Pieces” – Faith No More
11.    “Black Don’t Glow” – Bass Drum of Death
12.    “Stay Where You Are” – The Ettes
13.    “Summer Ends” – The Raveonettes
14.    “Dear Prudence” – Siouxsie and the Banshees
15.    “She’s My Man” – Sigue Sigue Sputnik
16.    “Friday Night” – The Darkness
17.    “Lightning Song” – Queens of the Stone Age

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I wonder which of the probably girls (One is so crossed out – take that ownership, Alexia, erase her completely!) who wrote their names inside the front cover of my copy also nibbled on the back cover.

19. Funhouse – Diane Hoh

I was reading an essay recently that involved a mild comparison of reactions to losing one’s job for confusing or right-to-work-state style reasons across genders and races…and one of those reactions, the homicidal maniac kind of reaction, seems to be perpetrated more often by the same kind of person who was responsible for all the “accidents” perpetrated at the seaside carnival in Diane Hoh’s Funhouse. Somebody’s ego and sense of honor was butthurt enough to begin trying super hard to kill teenagers related to the people that ruined his (oops, I was trying to be vague. Oh no!) working life and sense of family honor. Let’s just say that as a culture we’re lucky that everyone doesn’t have the most butthurtable of egos or there’d be no one left, especially not teenagers. I do have to say though, relevantly, the yard-based chase scene in this book was killer.

Pere and Merri’s idea of a funhouse. Look how much fun they’re clearly having. So. Much. Fun. Just for reference, they did that to themselves.

Pere and Merri’s idea of a funhouse. Look how much fun they’re clearly having. So. Much. Fun. Just for reference, they did that to themselves.

 

Mixtape –
1.    “White Riot” – The Clash
2.    “Ultra Twist” – The Cramps
3.    “Swollen Summer” – The Bravery
4.    “Tonto” – Battles
5.    “Lose My Mind” – Bass Drum of Death
6.    “Pottery” – Butthole Surfers
7.    “One By One” – The Ettes
8.    “Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)” – The Doors
9.    “Swim Club” – The Cave Singers
10.    “Destroy the Children” – Dick Valentine
11.    “Givin’ Up” – The Darkness
12.    “He Gets Me High” – Dum Dum Girls
13.    “I Gotta Feelin (Just Nineteen)” – Eagles of Death Metal
14.    “Radiation Blues” – Dax Riggs
15.    “Clogger” – 16 Horsepower
16.    “People Are People” – Depeche Mode
17.    “Worst Movie Ever” – Electric Six

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Poetry haunts everyone in different ways.

29. The Ghosts of Now – Joan Lowery Nixon

Angie Dupree’s family including her career driven father, barely-covering it up alcoholic mother, and teen brother Jeremy move to a tiny town in Texas and stumble into some terrible rich kid highjinks. I thought there were going to be ghosts. There were no ghosts and barely even any suspense of ghosts…sigh. Anyway, segue, when Jeremy ends up in a coma, Angie’s method for solving the mystery of what happened to him involves invading his drawers and reading his poetry (that’s where the “ghosts of now” came from – more sigh), harassing some girl named Debbie on the phone and by going over to her home repeatedly (geez, Angie…sigh), and bringing to light the town’s dividing lines between people who moved in to make money off of oil, locals without money, and locals with money; technically, there aren’t enough pages to make all that work out to a sensible point, not with Angie spending so much time yelling at people and visiting the hospital to tell Jeremy’s bizarre harem of elderly bedsitters to leave the room. Again, I thought there were going to be ghosts. Pffft.

“Rich kids always think their highjinks are the best highjinks even though they never are.” – Horace

“Rich kids always think their highjinks are the best highjinks even though they never are.” – Horace

 

Mixtape –
1.    “The Killing Moon” – Echo & the Bunnymen
2.    “Web in Front” – Archers of Loaf
3.    “You Blew Me Off” – Bobby Bare Jr.
4.    “Never Let Me Down Again” – Depeche Mode
5.    “(You’ll Never Be) So Wrong” – Bass Drum of Death
6.    “Cherry Cola” – Eagles of Death Metal
7.    “Grass” – The Black Ryder
8.    “An Occurrence at 450 South Third Street” – The Black Angels
9.    “Evil Blooms” – Dum Dum Girls
10.    “Right On, Frankenstein!” – Death From Above 1979
11.    “Stevie” – Kasabian
12.    “Ghosts” – UNKLE
13.    “Swollen Summer” – The Bravery
14.    “Psycho Killer” – Talking Heads
15.    “I Disappear” – The Faint

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Write. Print. Repeat.

Two squirrels! Two robots! So appropriate for the second book of a trilogy.

Two squirrels! Two robots! So appropriate for the second book of a trilogy.

The Guinea Pig-style (Duncan Hills) first edition of Night of the Squirrels: Day of the Robots, sequel to Dawn of the Interns and the middle section of the Squirrelpocalypse trilogy,was initially available on Amazon in May of 2013. Now, in June of 2015 (well, sort of May because it put it up in May, but there are always delays while I wait to see my cover and not a grey box on websites before I say anything), the “Call of the Merricat” second edition is available with its more squirrelpocalypse-appropriate cover and two less typos.  I’ve been told it’s better than the first one – but! – I don’t think that matters unless you’ve read the first one, so maybe it’s an Evil Dead II situation and maybe it’s Gremlins II, there really aren’t enough horror comedies with sequels that remind me of my work, so it’s tough to be sure.

It’s also occurred to me lately that it might be interesting to show my work, at least in terms of how I create my clearly a-mah-zing squirrel covers. I do have a lot to say about cover art on here – that’s because I’m an artist. I use my human brain and hands to write my novels and also to draw and print the squirrel versions of their covers through the bewildering process of silkscreening. Silkscreening is the process of shoving ink through mesh to put images on things, in my case, card stock. In order for the ink to make the images I want it to, I hand paint the mesh of my screens with screen filler.

The dark red business is screen filler. Everything that’s covered with filler will remain the color of the card stock I’m printing on.

The dark red business is screen filler. Everything that’s covered with filler will remain the color of the card stock I’m printing on.

Many people can get their drawings onto their screens much more easily using photographic methods (light and photo emulsion). I can barely breathe most of the time because of my severe allergies and chemical fumes will destroy me very quickly, so I hand paint. It’s, um, not very easy to maintain the level of detail I want because I still only have human hands, but I do my best.

Pre-print Robots, post-print Interns, with discerning critic Danger Crumples. It is possible to remove the designs from screens, it’s called “reclaiming.” I am able to keep my designs on the screens by only washing out the ink when I’m done printing. Cold water takes out the ink, hot water is required to remove screen filler.

Pre-print Robots, post-print Interns, with discerning critic Danger Crumples. It is possible to remove the designs from screens, it’s called “reclaiming.” I am able to keep my designs on the screens by only washing out the ink when I’m done printing. Cold water takes out the ink, hot water is required to remove screen filler.

Once all the screen filler is dry and I’ve held it up to several light sources five million times to check for pinholes that will ruin my feelings while I print, I sort out the paper I want to use (I have to run a veritable shitload of prints when I silkscreen) and get the screen secured into the t-shirt press that hooks onto my coffee table. And then I print. On my knees. I ran this print sixty-one times.

Here’s my print-covered floor and the screen upright in the hinge clamps of my t-shirt press just before I went to wash the ink out of it.

Here’s my print-covered floor and the screen upright in the hinge clamps of my t-shirt press just before I went to wash the ink out of it.

I pretty much throw my prints everywhere there’s space because I need to run the print until the ink runs out, gets too dry, or some sort of blobbiness takes over. I had an ink-thickness issue this time, so I only ended up with twelve great prints and thirty-two mostly good ones. That’s a pretty good ratio considering I haven’t printed anything for over a year and my ink was definitely too thick for all the teeny details I wanted to come through.

Peregrine critiques my print from above.

Peregrine critiques my print from above.

I should mention that I’m leaving out a lot of details about the process of silkscreening, like tool names (squeegee!) and how you should have mylar on hand for proofing and registering your print and other things, so if you want to silkscreen in your living room you’ll need to research actual tutorials. I took silkscreening in college way back in 2003, and I didn’t put enough time into it, but I’m kind of glad I didn’t because of the chemical processes and my lack of allergy treatment at the time. I could have learned I have allergy-induced asthma earlier by passing out in a creepy basement room trying to coat my screen with emulsion, but at what cost? Actually, the cost would be these prints and all the others I’ve done since being able to re-visit silkscreening. Too much. It would be too much. And I retained a large amount of what I learned in that class over twelve years’ time, so…peaches. Of course, the guinea pigs would be much happier if I didn’t do so many things that take my attention away from them. A cost I must pay.

Horace and Danger Crumples don’t think I paid the cost to be the boss.

Horace and Danger Crumples don’t think I paid the cost to be the boss.

Anyway, that’s my cover creation process and if you want to support projects done completely by hand by someone who is nearly extinct because of their allergies or just want to know what happens next in my Squirrelpocalypse trilogy, I will list some linkage below and add to my “About” page. Oh, and since it’s YA Megamix Summer and my chapter titles tend to be song titles, here’s a sixtyish minute mixtape of chapter title songs to go with Day of the Robots:

1.     “Bang!” – The Raveonettes
2.    “Underdog” – Kasabian
3.    “Incubation” – Joy Division
4.    “Be My Wife” – David Bowie
5.    “River Styx” – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
6.    “Worm Tamer” – Grinderman
7.    “It’s Gonna Be a Long Night” – Ween
8.    “Sistinas” – Danzig
9.    “I Wish This Song Was Louder” – Electric Six
10.    “Retrovertigo” – Mr. Bungle
11.    “Deep in the Woods” – The Birthday Party
12.    “I Think That I Would Die” – Hole
13.    “Running Up That Hill” – Kate Bush
14.    “Dog Eat Dog” – Adam and the Ants
15.    “Heart of Stone” – The Raveonettes
16.    “Cat People” – the Danzig version
Linkage:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords
Kobo
Bol
Itunes

P.S. One important thing, there are several “Rachel Smith”s writing and self-publishing. Accept no substitutes. It can be confusing. I have only published two novels so far, both are pretty clearly linked thanks to that new cover and the adoption of series specification (Night of the Squirrels/Squirrelpocalypse Trilogy) – even that other “Rachel Smith” who wrote an ebook about guinea pigs is not me. I would think that anyone could tell the difference between her writing voice and mine and her cover aesthetic and mine – I just wanted to make sure we’re all clear that she’s not me. And I haven’t written any books on shopping addiction either. Just YA fiction about the squirrelpocalypse thus far.

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I’m just going to pretend he’s playing that saxophone for Daryl Dixon.

Welcome to YA Megamix Summer the Return!! This summer I’m not even going to pretend that I will stick to the Point Horror/Thriller imprint, even though I love it so; instead, I’ll be sticking to my Year of the Ladies only reviewing books by women rules, which isn’t very hard. Just like last summer, the track listing will make one sixty minute mixtape – and I made the first one extra hard to duplicate unless you received Electric Six’s Mimicry and Memories project by shoving money at them like I did. Sorry? Anyway…

40. Graveyard Moon – Carol Gorman

Sax solo! Occasionally I read a book that has a scene that stands out so much that I can’t help but forget a large amount of what happened in the story. In the case of Graveyard Moon, that scene is Miles’ sax solo. I’m going to go ahead and retroactively claim that I named my character Miles (of Schad, Miles, and Hirsch the “dude” saying sort of Greek chorus in Dawn of the Interns, Day of the Robots, and the perpetually forthcoming Night of the Squirrels) after Miles in Graveyard Moon because of the sax solo. It does not really happen organically – Miles is not in the school band, he doesn’t frequent jazz clubs, and he is not Duke Silver, he’s the town outcast (of course) – it happens because Kelly the main character asks him if he played for Darryl, and then asks him to play for her. It is so bizarrely fantastic and ridiculous that I could barely stand reading about it. And that is what I have chosen to share from Graveyard Moon, the teenage murder mystery. Also, I really enjoy Carol Gorman’s writing. Damnit, sax solo, you’re killing me.

Murderface and Pickles demonstrate the ways to respond to an impromptu sax solo – hiding… or surprise.

Murderface and Pickles demonstrate the ways to respond to an impromptu sax solo – hiding… or surprise.

Mixtape –
1.    “Tired Eyes” – The Black Angels
2.    “Stop, I’m Already Dead” – Deadboy & the Elephantmen
3.    “Superstition” – The Kills
4.    “Follow You Home” – The Creeps
5.    “Ritual Knife” – Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats
6.    “Easy Lover” – Electric Six
7.    “So Young” – Suede
8.    “Endless Night” – Graveyard
9.    “Doom and Gloom” – Electric Six
10.    “Chocolate Town” – Ween
11.    “Perennials” – Widowspeak
12.    “Taxidermy” – White Lies
13.    “Somewhere Else to Be” – VAST
14.    “Snakes Are Charmed” – Torche
15.    “Bad Reputation” – Thin Lizzy
16.    “Blood Red Blood” – The Ettes

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Trapped in Paradise without Nicolas Cage.

62. The Changeling – Joy Williams

If anyone walks up to you in a bar and tells you they’re taking you to their island – don’t go. Even if they offer you cheese logs or to validate your stated love of clowns (Ahh!). You will end up drinking yourself into a stupor by the pool every day while children play around you and then have weird daydreams about stone rooms and wooden animals. It will be confusing.

I did not know what I was getting into with this book – there was no dust jacket to tell me that it’s not actually the novel version of that movie with George C. Scott. No dust jacket! I could have been warned! I still don’t really know what I think about the whole thing. Too many big bad wolves and syrupy delusions. Side note, my research into the George C. Scott version let me know there is no novelization of the film because the script is based on the screenwriter’s personal experience, which is unfortunate.

Thaddeus cannot be coaxed out by cheese logs. Also, he will not be drinking by your pool or becoming anyone’s de facto drunk babysitter. Ever.

Thaddeus cannot be coaxed out by cheese logs. Also, he will not be drinking by your pool or becoming anyone’s de facto drunk babysitter. Ever.

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I took her to a supermarket, I don’t know why, But I had to start it somewhere …

1o. Misadventures – Sylvia Smith

There are a lot of things to consider about this book in a larger context. Reading it was a bit maddening for me because all the chapters were so short that I was compelled to keep reading but the story itself was so flat that I spent time wondering why I continued and what I was missing (I’ve loved all my time spent in London and I enjoy dry humor and I kept thinking I’ve lost the inner translator I picked up while I lived in England. 42.). I pretty much never give up on reading anything, I can think of one book that I gave up on reading and eventually I’ll suck it up and get through the rest of the church and flower descriptions in Anne Rice’s memoir… However, not unlike Gillian Flynn’s novels, I see it a bit differently in terms of what it accomplishes. It’s an everyday woman story and it is always going to be important to document life and culture from all perspectives – not just those of the very adventurous or very wealthy or very addicted (there are reality shows for those things), even if the execution bores you to tears.

Belvedere studied sculpture at St. Martin’s College.

Belvedere studied sculpture at St. Martin’s College.

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