Tag Archives: allergies

“I learned it by watching YOU!”

9. Feast – Graham Masterton

Having spent a very, very, very small fraction of my childhood inside restaurants I didn’t like with my father, I can relate to some elements of Feast. I never stormed off to speak to a mysterious dwarf when he would ask me about school even though I only ever saw him over Fourth of July weekend, but I certainly rolled my eyes super hard and reminded myself I’d be going home to my own things soon enough. Being able to relate to any aspect of Feast probably seems terrible if you’ve read the book, but, whatever. It’s probably better that I didn’t get kidnap-inducted into a flesh-eating cult during one of those Fourth of July weekends. It’s not like I was doing anything fun instead. Mostly I was sneezing. Stupid summer.

I could also relate to seeing one’s father as selfishly involved in their own shit instead of interested in me, so, thanks for all the non-vulgar relatability for once, Graham. Thanks. Charles McLean, restaurant critic, and his son Martin are using their quality time as a vehicle for Charles to do work and Martin to be bored while eating in Connecticut. Charles finds out about and begins trying to get an invitation to a super underground restaurant that turns out to be a bit of a front…for a cannibal cult. A self-cannibalizing cult. See, eating yourself prepares you for meeting God, because cult-logic is the most solid kind.

It must be said that Feast was not as gross as I expected it to be. And I expected a lot because all the other Graham Masterton books I’ve read have at least one specifically disgusting or vulgar scene that just sticks in my head and will not leave (olive oil, dog in a pool, fishnets *shudder*); but Feast didn’t have one of those for me. Guess I got too caught up in the relatively ancient hype this time.

Sure, Horace will join your cult. After he finishes napping on his froggy. You're not his real dad.

Sure, Horace will join your cult. After he finishes napping on his froggy. You’re not his real dad.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Review, Writing

I still get twitchy about the question: “Who’s got my golden arm?” It’s probably why I don’t really care for precious metals.

48. Long Lankin – Lindsey Barraclough

Every once in a while, less so nowadays, someone creates (or illustrates, damnit, Stephen Gammell) a story for young people that will scare them half to death. It will stick in the back of their minds, jumping to the surface when they hear a noise, see a creepy tree, or are walking all alone, late at night, past a graveyard. Long Lankin is a scary fucking book. Reading it made me jumpy and paranoid during the daylight and frankly, a story about post-World War II era British children and folklore should not have managed to accomplish that task. The last thing that made me that jumpy was The Blair Witch Project (saw it in the theater, pre-most of the hype or at least I had no access to hype, didn’t think it was real though, still scary. No corners).

There’s a level of scarcity and secrecy in Long Lankin that just puts a damper on the mood and pushes it into a murky, stifling place. Children aren’t allowed to know what they need to know and there’s an exciting amount of dramatic tension at play as a result. Another contributor to the effectiveness are Barraclough’s lush descriptions. She does an excellent job describing how rooms feel when the windows have been nailed shut for years and I can even feel my breath hitch thinking about the stale air (of course, as an allergic-asthmatic, that’s always going to be a sticking point of terror for me). And that classic British damp is ever-present, rotting away the shingles and leaving room for creepy beasties to get through.

The one thing that didn’t work for me was the ending, but it’s quite the journey to get there, so overall it’s a worthwhile read.

Pickles dramatically reenacts my experience reading Long Lankin. Did you hear that?

Pickles dramatically reenacts my experience reading Long Lankin. Did you hear that?

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Review, Writing

“Don’t con me. You know my brother’s trial starts tomorrow.”

38. The Last Victim – Hannah Kuraoka

Okay, so, one reason not to flip houses would be the Black Christmas/The Last Victim problem. Some nutbar who previously lived there or nearby could either still be in the attic slash still able to access the house and kidnap and/or murder any young girls who just happens to live there. Always check for secret passageways, loose floorboards holding important pieces of evidence, and burn that sage to keep the evil spirits out. I also have house blessing powder. But I don’t flip houses. Or murder people. I guess I could start doing either at any time. At any time. To be fair, I’m so allergic to dust and fumes that I really couldn’t do any remodeling without accidentally killing myself, so, maybe I could do both at once in a fashion. Ominous noise.

When Pickles and Belvedere face off, there are no victims, only clashes of guinea pig power the likes of which will never be seen again outside of Pighalla.

When Pickles and Belvedere face off, there are no victims, only clashes of guinea pig power the likes of which will never be seen again outside of Pighalla.

 

Mixtape –
1.    “Message in a Bottle” – The Police
2.    “Young Ones” – Witches
3.    “Noisy Summer” – The Raveonettes
4.    “Ode to Clarissa” – Queens of the Stone Age
5.    “Blood Like Cream” – Red Fang
6.    “Follow You Home” – The Creeps
7.    “Kicking” – Torche
8.    “Stalker Song” – Danzig
9.    “So Many People in the Neighborhood” – Ween
10.    “Blood Red Moon” – The XX
11.    “Night Comes Out” – The Raveonettes
12.    “Cul de Sac” – Tomahawk
13.    “Tyler” – Toadies
14.    “I’m Here to Kill You” – Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats
15.    “Black Grease” – The Black Angels
16.    “In the Pines” – Widowspeak
17.    “Melvin” – The Belles

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Review, YA Megamix Summer

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Dawn of the Interns, Day of the Robots, Night of the Squirrels