Category Archives: Thoughts



A few months back, my brother recorded a song he had written about our Granny.  It perfectly captures those trips up to Kentucky when we were kids, and later when we went up to visit her with kids of our own.


Guest Post – “Starving Artists” by Jared Sandman

Jared Sandman’s Blogbuster Tour 2011 runs from July 1st through August 31st.  His novels include Leviathan, The Wild Hunt and Dreamland, all of which are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.  His next book, The Shadow Wolves, will be released in August.  Follow him on Twitter (@JaredSandman) and be entered to win one of several $25 Amazon gift cards.  See rules at for eligibility.

Starving Artists

Today I’d like to talk a bit about the differences between an artist (or artiste, as they usually call themselves) and a professional.  I know too many people who take pride in being labeled starving artists.  They feel if a creative individual makes money off his or her work, its impact or the effort that went into crafting it is somehow diminished.  This appears the same across multiple art forms, from painting to music to writing.

The dirty secret is that starving artists don’t have to starve.  Creative types are generally terrible with numbers (especially money), so shrewd businessmen easily take advantage of them.  These snake oil salesmen no doubt amassed their own fortunes by co-opting others’ bright ideas and wouldn’t be able to conjure an original notion to save their hides.  The artists get exploited in the partnership only because they allow themselves to be.

No one should make more money off an idea than the person who originated it.  I cringe when I hear stories of writers who got paid $5,000 for their novel, then sold the film rights for another $5,000, after which some screenwriter is hired at ten times that rate to perform one-fourth the amount of work.

Artists wait for inspiration to strike.  I find the notion of a Muse too lofty and romantic.  Professionals understand there’s no magic involved in the creative process (well, maybe a pinch).  The only “trick” involves applying one’s talents to the project at hand and not giving up until it’s finished.  For writing a book, that may take anywhere from six months to a year or two.  A professional knows to handle the job like any other career, which requires a tremendous amount of self-motivation and self-discipline.  For example, I know if I don’t treat it like a real job, no one else will.

This warrants two separate skill sets, and many people have difficulty balancing both.  There are the faculties associated with the creative side of the business and those on the entrepreneurial end.  After spending eight months working on a book, pouring my blood and sweat onto the page, I wind up with something to which I’m emotionally and psychologically attached.  It’s my responsibility to set aside those feelings when it comes to selling the project.  I must take off my Creator cap and put on my Businessman cap.  This novel’s no longer my pride and joy; it’s an intellectual property set to be auctioned to the highest bidder.

I understand it’s not all about money.  When cash alone (and not passion) drives one’s motives, one creates art that’s devoid of soul because it was developed for a quick buck.  (In the publishing industry, look no further than James Patterson or Nicholas Sparks to find proof of that.)

Bestseller money isn’t necessary for every writer.  I think most would be quite happy simply making enough to afford such luxuries as health insurance or a retirement plan.  A comfortable living is all many professionals ask; after all, that’s the only way we can justify doing what we love.

And that’s one thing on which both artistes and professionals can agree.


My First 40 Trips Around The Sun

Birthdays are a time for celebration.  Once a year your family and friends come together to celebrate the simple fact that you exist.  Gifts are given, food is eaten, candles are lit and blown out, and of course, there is cake.  It’s a special day, no matter who you are or how old.

For me, birthdays are also a time of reflection, a time to think about the prior year and speculate on the year to come.  This year is no different, but it also marks a milestone for me.  This is the year I complete my 40th trip around the sun.  As the old saying goes, “40 is just a number”, and it’s true; but society still places a premium on each decade we mark off on this earth, so I feel I should, at least in some small way, do the same.

I am, by no means, a wise man.  I’ve made my way through these 40 years the best I could.  I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, but I’ve also had my fair share of moments in the sun.  Through it all, I’ve learned a lot of things – many, the hard way.  To mark today’s passing, I’ve decided to share some of those things with you – the 40 most important lessons in my life.  I can only hope they help my children navigate the way through their first 40 trips around the sun, to a place as good as I have.

  1. Your first love is not the same as your true love.  Both will linger with you your entire life, but true love is the only thing capable of filling the hole in your heart.

  2. Mascara doesn’t come easily out of hair that’s been teased and shellacked with Aquanet hairspray.

  3. Process is the last refuge of a weak mind.  It has its place and purpose, but action with thought is wasteful and lazy.

  4. Family is forever – no matter where you go; they’re always with you.

  5. Any man who can’t share his love of “Star Wars” with his children is a poor parent.


Star Wars – 1942

“What would Star Wars have been like if it had taken place during World War II?” If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard that question – well – I would still be broke.  But that’s beside the point.  The point is, the folks over at Sillof’s Workshop DID ask the question, then created a set of custom action figures to provide the answer.

Incredibly detailed one of a kind pieces of artwork, these figures provide a glimpse in to an alternate world populated by bomber pilot Capt. Han Solowski, fighter pilot Corp. Lucas S. Walker, Reichsfurher Vader, and many others.  You can feel the authenticity and attention to detail that adds to the WWII mythos that wraps each figure.

Alas, these figures are long sold to a lucky collector.  But through the miracle of the Internet, we are still able to enjoy them in all their glory.  Head over to Sillof’s Workshop to see the entire series, as well as other reimaginings of the Star Wars universe, including Film Noir Star Wars, Medievel Star Wars, and Samurai Wars.  You won’t be disappointed.


Amazing “Star Wars” Posters

Even though these posters are long gone (they were limited to 400 prints each, and sold out in under 20 minutes when they were released in December), I just had to share them with anyone.  They were created by artist Olly Moss for Mondo.  They contain some of the most striking and elegantly simple visions of the “Star Wars” I’ve ever seen.  I wish I owned them, but I don’t.  Still – we can all appreciate their beauty and artistry digitally.  Enjoy!


“Rock of Ages” rocks the Pantages

The Sunset Strip in Hollywood was the epicenter of metal music in the ‘80’s.  Heavy Metal, Glam Metal, Hair Metal – whatever your flavor, the music had it’s roots in the clubs of Southern California.  In 2006, a show about the love, the dreams, and the excesses of the Sunset Strip club scene debuted in LA – “Rock of Ages”.  It opened off Broadway in 2008, then on Broadway in 2009 – scoring five Tony nominations, including Best Musical.  “Rock of Ages” is now on tour and last week, made it’s triumphant return to the city that gave it birth.

“Rock of Ages” is a delicious blend of hedonism and heart.  It does not shy away from the excesses or clichés of ‘80s metal, but it also understands the genesis and appeal of that music.  At its core, the music has always been about having fun; about being in, or falling out of, love.  The music was rarely intentional social commentary; rather it was commentary by virtue of its very existence.  It was uncomplicated.  Is that a naive view? Perhaps – but I lived those years and, in hindsight, my experience was one of fun first.  It’s the same experience you get from “Rock of Ages”.


Concerned about Global Warming?

It’s been a cold week.  In case you haven’t heard the news, there is snow on the ground in 49 of the 50 states.  Florida is the only holdout.  It’s times like these when I like to reflect upon the ravages Global Warming has wrought upon the globe.  I also like to take time to thank the heavens that Congress has saved me from the horrors of the free market and personal choice by banning the incandescent light bulb.  Just think of all the children in England who would grow up not knowing what snow was, just so I could read my copy of “Atlas Shrugged” under the same light Ayn Rand wrote it by,  instead of the jaundiced yellow CFL “light” of progress.

I guess cold weather just makes me cranky.   So – I decided to make a little video.  Google was very happy to help me out – hope you enjoy it.

P.S. – if you want to read a little more about Global Warming, check out my review of Roy W. Spencer’s book, “The Great Global Warming Blunder”.


Turn it up to 11 – My favorite books of 2010

‘Tis the season for year end top 10 lists.  I don’t want to be left out, but also don’t want to just follow the herd.  So, with thanks to Nigel Tufnel, I have decided to put together a list of my favorite 11 books from this year.  You might call it the 1st Annual Word Zombie Top 11 “Books That Bit Me” List.  (Wow – that just rolls off the tongue like honey, doesn’t it?).  For the inaugural list we have a little bit of everything – global warming, impending financial collapse, ancient love affairs, unspeakable evil entities, literary sharks, short story super heroes, secret societies, beautiful covert operatives, disappearing industrialists, a telepathic super squirrel, and of course – zombies.

So, without further ado, I give you the 1st Annual Word Zombie Top 11 “Books That Bit Me” List.  (It doesn’t roll off the tongue any better the second time.  Oh well, I have a whole year to come up with a better name for next year’s list…)


Merry Christmas, from The Word Zombie


Two of my favorite things – Christmas and Zombies!

Just in time for the Holidays, one of my favorite new authors – Mira Grant – combines Zombies and Christmas to great effect.  Reworking “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” for the post-uprising world, Mira gives her own unique twist to this classic holiday tale.  Please visit Orbit Books where you can download either a jpeg or pdf version of the full story, and let them know what you think of it.  Happy Holiday, and Happy Hunting!

“Twas the Night Before the Uprising” by Mira Grant

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The boards had been nailed ‘cross the windows with care

In hopes that the dead would pass by, unaware.

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