Halloween Release Date

Exciting news, friends!

I have decided upon a Halloween release date for my self-published novel STAR-CROSSED: THE CONFOUNDING CALAMITIES OF BYRON THE CAD AND MARIETTA THE ZOMBIE. I mean, Halloween = Zombies and Zombies = Witty Dialogue and Witty Dialogue = MY NOVEL, so it all checks out.

I’m going to start out on the Amazon Kindle and then move to everywhere else in the market. Print books will come soon, too.

Below is a little re-vamped (ha! see what I really didn’t do there but totally could if I wanted?) cover for the Kindle version! It’s slightly greener, and as we all know, GREEN = ZOMBIES (and maybe the Hulk), so that checks out, too.

You sure do have a purty cover

I’m really only expecting to sell about fifty copies (and those all coming from my friends, family, and those I have threatened with bodily harm) but anything could happen. I’ve had to really re-assess what it means to me to be a writer and what I want from my life as a novelist. Is it more important to be seen (i.e. get published no matter what) or is it more important to find an agent and go the traditional route and continue to shop a somewhat unmarketable novel around until, years later, it may or may not ever be published?

I’ve had three different publishing houses request this manuscript and each one has given me the feedback: “Yes, we like it! It’s really well written with a unique world and great dialogue, but:

  • it’s not a romance novel (which was so cute because I’m probably one of the few authors who doesn’t ACTIVELY put a romantic plot in her writing)
  • it’s TOO world build-y and there was too much detail in the first chapter to explain
  • it’s TOO clever”

Which pretty much sums up all of the criticism I’ve received about my short stories too, so I’m now of the understanding that STAR-CROSSED is just too weird, too niche, and too genre-bending to find an agent or a house any time within the next decade.

So it came down to deciding that I’m more interested in having other people read my work, regardless of who publishes it. The stigma is slowly going away for self-published authors and I have edited/re-written/fine-tuned the ever-loving shit out of this thing, so it’s time to give it one last spit-shine and send it into the world, like a turtle leaving its eggs to hatch and find the ocean by themselves. (That metaphor kinda fell apart, but you get the gist.)


I think the best part is going to be talking to my mom after she (unsuccessfully) tries to read my novel.

“It was…interesting, dear. Good job. You finally did it. Why do they have to eat other people, again?”


To Sleep Perchance to Dream

I can’t sleep. And this time, amazingly, it’s not because of insomnia, but rather, good books and construction workers. Now, if those two were somehow mysteriously combined, well, then I’d be calling myself Melinda de Winter and writing romance novels — a profession that has been suggested to me by my own mother on occasion.

(“Why don’t you write romance novels, Melissa? I hear they make such good money and it’s a way into the publishing houses. Then after that, you can publish whatever you want.”

“Ma” — because I sound like Murphy and Connor when their mom calls when I talk to my own progenitor — “I won’t do that. I have standards. You know what happens to people when their go against their own moral codes of creative ingenuity?”

“What?” — she already knows that an obscure Russian writer is somehow going to be involved in the next few sentences, so she braces herself accordingly.

“They get calls from Stalin and die from kidney disease. Well, they can fictitiously get their heads cut off and have a bunch of petty tricksters run rampant around them too, but that’s only if living under a repressive totalitarian dictatorship.”* True story.

“Well, how about screenplay writing?”

“Ma” — I told her, I says, “Ma, I will not, under any circumstance, barring wild hot monkey sex with Nathan Fillion, or ridiculous amounts of money, ever allow my vision to be bastardized by a so-called ‘director.’ Do you even know what happens to screenplay writers? They oftentimes commit suicide, and aren’t you always warning me not to move to Seattle because that’s the ‘suicide capital of the world?'”)

So, this word-and-power-tool-based sleep deprivation has caused a few random thoughts to enter my head, so I shall share them with you.

Bruce Campbell is the poor man’s Chuck Norris.

At my place of employment we give out samples of one of our most popular frozen coffee drinks called the Ice Cap. (In reality, we named it that solely so we could make the joke of calling it a Global Warming when someone gets an extra shot of espresso added, causing the slushy goodness to melt.) We give out samples of these in, what I consider to be, little plastic cups that look like the things pills come in when you’re confined to a mental asylum and the nurses are distributing medication. Thus, I have become the Nurse Ratched of my coffee shop, giving caffeinated junkies their fix. I affectionately call the rather addicted ones Cuckoo Nesters.

Attila and the Puns would be a great band name.

I really want to use this line one day in an appropriate situation: “You’re just mad because you can’t turn into golden dust and impregnate me.” I have thus started trying to get myself into rather awkward scenarios in order to use said line.

I want to grow strawberries outside on my deck. When my parents grew strawberries in their backyard, they popped up like little Greek city states. I would refer to one patch as the Spartans, another as the Athenians, the Thebans, the Corinthians, etc. The Persian War started when onions tried to move in. Later, the Spartan and the Athenian patches started to merge and I called it the Peloponnesian War.

In the Russian language, there are two aspects to verbs: the imperfective and the perfective. The former indicates an on-going process and the latter to an already-accomplished task. I added a third aspect: superfective. Otherwise known as what happens when you’re dead.

The Russian language also has no articles, so that leaves no convenient excuse for Russian males reading Playboy.

*My mother has by now gotten used to the fact that I basically have conversations with myself, which is something all of you should become aware and as accepting of as she is. My two-year-old-niece, however, may still need some adjusting. We were going through the colors of her barrettes and she asks, “What’s this?” “Orange,” I responded. “What’s this?” “Well, it’s technically salmon-colored, but that may be a little advanced for you. We’ll go for pink.”

On another occasion, whenever you call her a name — “You’re a stinky-butt” — my mother’s favorite epithet — she’ll respond with an adamant, “I’m not…stinky butt.”
“You’re a goof-ball!”
“I’m not….goof-ball.”
“You’re a pretty girl.”
“I’m not….pretty girl.”
Me: “You’re an antediluvian troglodyte.”
“I’m not….” *blank stare*

“Werewolf” by Cat Power

Welcome to Songs to Die By on Radio Sunlight ‘n Silver. I’m your host, Macabre Melissa and tonight we’re going to be exploring the depressing world of ladies ‘n guitars, with some Eddie Vedder thrown in because, let’s face it, Pearl Jam’s latest is a wee bit, well, disheartening. My mother heard them on the local adult-alternative station the other day and said, “Ooh, I like them.” That’s sort of my standard for whether or not it’s acceptable for me listen to music. If my mother can hear it on the station that regularly rotates the BeeGees, Elton John, and Chicago, then that band has delved into the misty Brigadoon-like nexus of faded glory and/or soft-rock.* (Though Mr. Vedder doesn’t lend his vocals to this song particularly, he does for “Good Woman,” another song on the same album named “You Are Free.”)

(At my place of employment, sometimes we pop on the ol’ iPod and my coworker calls my selection of music the Songs to Die By Hour. The Macabre Melissa part I made up meself. I also call my iPod the Empanada, because I replaced the i with an M, and M-pod naturally translated into a stuffed bread pastry from Spain.)

I randomly become obsessed with songs for no good reason other than the reason that the songs themselves are good. This week it’s “Werewolf” by Cat Power. I know, I know, it’s ironic that I’m rather beset with vampires and my first song post is about werewolves, but I can’t pick and choose my infatuations at will. If I could, I wouldn’t be obsessed with making the toilet water turn blue by placing one of those automatic cleaner thingies in the tank, now would I?

The song is haunting with just the slightly distorted vocals of Ms. Power, a softly strumming guitar, and a mournful violin. She croons,

I saw the werewolf, and the werewolf was crying,
Crying nobody know, nobody knows, body knows,
How I loved the man, as I teared off his clothes…
All through the night, until the light of day, and we are doomed to play.
For the werewolf, for the werewolf, has sympathy.

This is a perfect discussion for my own relationships. I’m really not lying because I’m a man-eater. The transformation of man into beast is symbolic of the losing of the self when a connection is made between two people. Do I change myself so he’ll like me more? Is he changing himself for the same reason? Any relationship will obviously incur some sacrifice upon one or both parties, and the imagery of the consumption relates this. Also, the clothes are images for all of the somewhat ridiculous beautification rituals we go through on first dates and the masks we wear in order to seduce said partner into thinking we’re something we most certainly aren’t.

Is love nothing more than a play upon which our hero-werewolf struts and frets his hour upon the stage? The idea that we act out our roles as we think they should be dooms us to mere actors in life, instead of originators; we become molds for our own selves and think the mold to be real life and reality to be a dream. The night casts its shadows and we are too enthralled to care, squinting as daylight approaches and we fear, lest our carriage turn back into a pumpkin.

Let’s not forget the allusion to “Sympathy for the Devil,” which is quite possibly the best song ever. (It’s loosely based on The Master and Margarita, so there’s a giant soft spot in my heart for it.) The sympathetic werewolf is a stand-in for a so-called “Fatal Man,” which was a figure in the Romantic Era of literature of a character who destroyed everything he loved. This was a time when evil became glamorous because of its assumed rebellion against God, as man at this time was defying established ideas of propriety and thought. The Devil became an ethos to pity through the recognition of his role as a scapegoat.

So I’m a little bitter about love at this point in my life. It doesn’t really show, does it?

But it’s really no fun to just give you the songs I love, so each week I’ll also put out a song that’s randomly derived from Empanada. I won’t cheat by skipping over embarrassing songs, and this way, you’ll get to know the recesses of my mind…if you dare venture where no man has boldly gone before.

Wheel of Empanada, turn, turn turn,
Show me the song that I should burn (literally):
Hey! It’s “Geek USA” by the Smashing Pumpkins.

*Though, to give credit where it’s due, I once saw Neko Case live in Denver. There, a rather loud — and most likely inebriated — heckler cried, “YOU ROCK,” and Ms. Case replied, “Yeah, we’re going to soft-rock your balls off.” This may or may not have ripped a hole in the space-time continuum. Well, either that or Anton Yelchin, but that’s a post for next week.