“There are three rules for writing the novel.
Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
—W. Somerset Maugham

Hello, lovelings.

The time when I get to venture away from home and actually socialize is coming very soon. Here are some upcoming author type appearances:

Next weekend, I’ll be doing some readings/signings in Central IL (FOR ALL MY FRIENDS INT HE BLOOMINGTON/PEORIA AREA). I and some fellow Chicago and Illinois writers (including: Wayne Allen Sallee, Sylvia Shults, Roger Dale Trexler, Martel Sardina, and Larry Santoro) will visit some bookstores in Pekin, Peoria Heights, and Grande Prairie on June 7th and 8th.

The schedule:

Saturday June 7th:
Illinois Prairie Book Sellers,
427 Court Street, Pekin
11 am — 1 pm

I Know You Like A Book,
4707 Prospect Rd, Peoria Heights
3 pm — 5 pm

Sunday June 8th:
Borders at The Shoppes At Grande Prairie
11 am — 1 pm

We’ll do readings from our various books. I’ll be reading from BOOK OF DEAD THINGS. There will also be prizes.

Twilight Tales and Me

I’ll be one of the featured readers (along with Martel Sardina) at Twilight Tales on June 30th, at 7:30—at The Fixx Coffee Bar, 3053 N. Sheffield, Chicago. I’ll be reading from my upcoming novel, Strangeness in the Proportion. It’s got cannibals, corpses, autopsy lore, monsters, absinthe trips, and even a love story.

Listen to a few chapters and I defy you not to find necrophilia adorable—I DEFY YOU!

Cannibals Don’t Count Carbs
So yeah…the novel. The due date is tomorrow on my current draft. But I got an extension…just now figuring out how long it should be—a few more weeks most likely.

So…how does one go about constructing a fictional cannibal cult that has infiltrated Chicago? Well…as is most often the case, if you want it to be really scary, you start with a BIT OF REALITY:

As to the novel’s progress…I don’t know where to begin to talk about characters and plot structures and discovering things about the draft process for book length works for the first time… Let’s just say that a lot of what my editor had me do before getting to this draft was worth it…working in ways I didn’t realize at the time, but kind of organically working now.  It’s a learning experience. The main character is probably the most complete persona I’ve created (I know an awful lot about him).

So, instead of trying to explain further, I’ll show you a preview of the novel through quotes. I like quotes. I like putting them at the heads of chapters and essays and short stories. It’s a way of appearing more erudite than you might be (Writers: con men aren’t we all). But more than that…there is a magic to words out of context. So here is a major sampling of quotes that either appear in the draft…or at least helped inspire it. Maybe you can put together a story from it, wonderful stories in your head. Maybe we can compare notes…

“There is no exquisite beauty…without some strangeness in the proportion.”
—Edgar Allan Poe, “Ligeia” 

Nothing can happen more beautiful than death.
—Walt Whitman
…the death, then of a beautiful woman is unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world…
—Edgar Allan Poe, “The Philosophy of Composition”

“The time for sleep is now
It’s nothing to cry about
Cause we’ll hold each other soon
The blackest of rooms”
-Death Cab for Cutie, “I Will Follow You Into the Dark”

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
—Edgar Allan Poe, “Alone”

Taceant colloquia.  Efugiat risus.
Hic locus est ubi mors guadet succurrere vitae.

Let conversation cease.  Let laughter flee.
This is the place where death delights to help the living.
—Translation from an inscription on the wall of the
Chief Medical Examiner’s office in New York City

Someone take these dreams away,
That point me to another day,
A duel of personalities,
That stretch all true realities.
That keep calling me,
They keep calling me,
Keep on calling me,
They keep calling me.
—Joy Division, “Dead Souls”

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”
~Edgar Allan Poe, “Eleonora”

“Dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared dream before.”
-Edgar Allen Poe, “The Raven”

…and then, fighting to stay asleep,
wishing it would go on forever,
sure that once the dream was over,
it would never come back…
you woke up.
—Neil Gaiman, The Sandman

When you’re strange
Faces come out of the rain
When you’re strange
-The Doors, “People Are Strange”

I’m so happy ‘casue today
I found my friends
They’re in my head
—Nirvana, “Lithium”

I sit alone in my bedroom
Staring at the walls
I’ve been up all damn night long
My pulse is speeding
My love is yearning
I hold my breath and close my eyes and…
Dream about her
‘Cause she’s 2,000 light years away
She holds my malakite so tight so…
Never let go
‘Cause she’s 2,000 light years away
—Greenday, “2,000 Light Years Away”

My love is unusual
It’s painted with roses and thorns
With her I’m complete
—Stone Temple Pilots, “Atlanta”

She comforts me when
The candles blow out
The cake has grown mold
But the memories are sweet
—Stone Temple Pilots, “Atlanta”

And now she’s dead
Forever dead
And she’s so dead and lovely now
—Tom Waits, “Dead and Lovely”

speak to me baby
in the middle of the night
pull your mouth
close to mine
i can see the wind coming down
like black night
so speak to me
like the winds outside
it’s broken up, pushing us
hear the rain fall
see the wind come to my eyes
see the storm broken
now nothing
speak to me baby
in the middle of the night
speak to me
hold your mouth to mine
’cause the sky is breaking
it’s deeper than love
i know the way you feel
like the rains outside
speak to me
—Moby, “The Sky is Broken”

I’ll come to you tonight, dear, when it’s late,
You will not see me; you may feel a chill.
I’ll wait until you sleep, then take my fill,
And that will be your future on a plate.
They’ll call it chance, or luck or call it Fate.
—Neil Gaiman, “Reading the Entrails: a Rondel”

and I’ll whisper something
you will never know
forever these feelings will drift with me
all the currents will singe with your purity
and with the strength of a thousand antihistamines
and your golden eyed cadaver
falling over me
—Lucigen, “Cadaver”

Mimes in the form of God on high.
Mutter and mumble low.
And hither and thither fly—
Mere puppets they, who come and go
At bidding of vast formless things
That shift the scenery to and fro,
—Edgar Allan Poe, “The Conqueror Worm”

I got my head, but my head is unraveling
Cant keep control, cant keep track of where its traveling
I got my heart but my heart is no good
And you’re the only one that’s understood
I come along but I don’t know where you’re taking me
I shouldn’t go but you’re reaching back and shaking me
Turn off the sun, pull the stars from the sky
The more I give to you, the more I die
And I want you
And I want you
And I want you
And I want you
You are the perfect drug, the perfect drug, the perfect drug
–Nine Inch Nails, “The Perfect Drug”

“He said the dead had souls, but when I asked him
How that could be – I thought the dead were souls,
He broke my trance.  Don’t that make you suspicious
That there’s something the dead are keeping back?
Yes, there’s something the dead are keeping back.”
-Robert Frost, “Two Witches”

“There is wrong done with the knife, and though the gods smile,
There are those of the dead who will not let old wrongs sleep.”
-Aeschylus, The House of Atreus

Is it any wonder I can’t sleep?
All I have is all you gave to me
Is it any wonder I found these
Through you
Turn to the gates of heaven, to myself feel down
Turn away from Eye
It’s not enough
Just a touch
It’s not enough
Just a touch
It’s not enough
Just a touch
It’s not enough
Just a touch
—Smashing Pumpkins, “Eye”

“But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we—
Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in heaven above
Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee:–”
-Edgar Allan Poe, “Annabel Lee”

“At last the new moon had come.  The night was pitch dark and promises to the dead are sacred and must be kept.”
-Count Carl Tanzler von Cosel (1877-1952),
infamous romantic and necrophile
of Key West, Florida

Feeling like a freak on a leash.
Feeling like I have no release.
—Korn, “Freak on a Leash”

Without you, without you everything falls apart
Without you, it’s not as much fun to pick up the pieces
It’s not as much fun to pick up the pieces
It’s not as much fun to pick up the pieces
Without you, without you everything falls apart
Without you, it’s not as much fun to pick up the pieces
—Nine Inch Nails, “The Perfect Drug”

“All you need is love.”
—John Lennon
“Some assembly required.”
—countless toy boxes

the razors and the dying roses
plead I don’t leave you alone,
the demi-gods and hungry ghosts,
oh god, god knows I’m not at home
-Vast, “Touched”

“Shadows in the fog are moving in
From the world outside
To my world within”
-Echo & The Bunnymen, “Just a Touch Away”
“Never be unkind or indifferent to a person others say is crazy.  Often they have a deep wisdom.  We pay them great respect in the old country, and we call them fairy people, and it could be they are sometimes.”
-the mother of the playwright of Mary Chase

“…that country were it is always turning late in the year.  That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay.  That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun.  That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts.  Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain…”
-Ray Bradbury, October Country

“Day was departing, and the darkening air
Called all earth’s creatures to their evening quiet
While I alone was preparing as though for war”
-Dante, The Inferno, II 1-3

“Is this blood on my hands all for you?”
-Candlebox, “You”

“…if people look hard at me my eyes water and I feel uncomfortable.  I’m the sort of person you’d think wouldn’t say boo to a goose, but you’d be wrong.  I nearly always say boo to geese when I meet them, provided there’s no one else there of course.”
—Stephen Gilbert, Ratman’s Notebooks

“Demonic frenzy, moping melancholy,
And moon-struck madness.”
-John Milton, Paradise Lost

“the monsters make me hide
perhaps I’ll eat myself alive
—Chiasm, “Isolated”

Monsters under the bed, under the bed
Bash in your head
Somebody tell me, please tell me
Who’s got my back
Stitch my throat closed
Cut my smile wide
Sew my eyes blind
I can still see through you
I can see right through you
—V-Shaped Mind, “Monsters”
“—horror more horrible from being vague, and terror more terrible from ambiguity.”
-Edgar Allan Poe, “Berenice”

“Reality is merely an illusion.  Albeit a persistent one.”
-Albert Einstein

“If he thought at all…it was that he and his shadow, when brought near each other, would join like drops of water; and when they did not he was appalled.”
—J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

“Oh don’t talk of love” the shadows purr
Murmuring me away from you
“Don’t talk of worlds that never were
The end is all that’s ever true
There’s nothing you can ever say
Nothing you can ever do… ”
Still every night I burn
Every night I scream your name
Every night I burn
Every night the dream’s the same
Every night I burn
Waiting for my only friend
—The Cure, “Burn”

“It was a freak of fancy in my friend (for what else shall I call it?) to be enamored of the night for her own sake; and into this bizarrerie, as into all his others, I quietly fell; giving myself up to his wild whims with a perfect abandon.”
—Edgar Allan Poe, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”

“Then my heart it grew ashen and sober
As the leaves that were crisped and sere—
As the leaves that were withering and sere—”
-Edgar Allan Poe, “Ulalume”

“It writhes!—it writhes!—with mortal pangs
The mimes become its food,
And seraphs sob at vermin fangs
In human gore imbued.”
-Edgar Allan Poe, “The Conqueror Worm”

“If I look hard enough into the setting sun
My love will laugh with me before the morning comes”
-Rolling Stones, “Paint it Black”

“And I lie so composedly,
Now, in my bed
(Knowing her love),
That you fancy me dead –
And I rest so contentedly,
Now, in my bed
(With her love at my breast),
That you fancy me dead –
That you shudder to look at me,
Thinking me dead: –”
-Edgar Allan Poe, “For Annie”

You get me closer to God
—Nine Inch Nails, “Closer”

you’re a golden eyed cadaver
I’m in love with you
—Lucigen, “Cadaver”