Friday, May 30, 2008


Pam Fiction: A Body Like Mine

So Molly and I are out shopping and all when this girl comes up to me and asks if I work out at that chain gym. The thirty-minute workout place.

"No," I tell her.

"Oh," the girl says. She tells me that she's just started going there and she wants to look like me in a few weeks. That's what they promised.

I look the girl over. She's not fat, but she's soft. And round. Okay, maybe she's fat, but not a tub. But no way, no how is she going to look like me in a few weeks, no matter who promised.

I take a minute and explain I'm an exercise instructor and I've got my certifications and I go to advanced learning and I'm on the cutting edge of exercise. That's why I look like this and yes, I'm proud of it.

The girl says okay and that she hopes the thirty-minute place will make her look like that, too, even though I pretty much just told her that it won't.

Which means, I tell Molly when the girl goes, we've got to go check out these thirty-minute places and see exactly what they're selling.

So we do. We go in and the girl at the front desk -- who looks good but not great, like the place has paid off for her but she's not on my level. No way, no how -- asks if we usually come at a different time because we don't look familiar.

I explain to her that I'm an instructor at a few gyms in the area.

"Oh!" she says all perky, but then she gets all sad. "Sorry, but we're not hiring."

I try again. I tell her I've been hearing good things about this place and I'd like to see what it's like.

"Oh!" she says, all excited like she was a second ago. "You'll want to talk to our membership services!"

I explain again. I just want to talk to a fitness professional. You know: pro to pro.

That confuses her. I try to explain it again, but Molly jumps in. "Can you get whoever's in charge?"

So I get to talk to this Traci chick, who shows me what's going on. Omigod, I can't believe some people say this is exercise. All this weight equipment in a circle, and women moving their way around the circle. But they're not working, not the way the women in my classes work. They're going fast, which Traci tells me is the way to make it harder. But for people who are working harder, most of them don't have red faces. A lot of them are sweating, but there's more than a few who're chattering away like this is some coffee shop they're in. If my students did this, I'd ask if this was a social club or a workout. They'd say workout and wait for a break. But here, there's these women laughing and barely touching their machines for anything but balance. It's sad. I can see a few who are trying hard to focus and a few more who are in their zone, but the talkers, they're messing the whole place up. You'd think someone would ask them to get off the equipment while they talk. I do, when I go lift at any of my gyms.

When we leave, Molly asks me what I think of the place. I tell her the truth: it's great for people who've never worked out before and who need to get started. Or for people who want to pretend they're working out.

Molly says it takes all kinds, and she's right. I'll take the kinds who show up to sweat, the ones who put passion into their workouts. The ones who know that getting a body like mine means diet and hard exercise. That's how you get a body like mine.

When those talkers are ready to figure that out, I'll be at my gyms, teaching my classes. Just like always. After all, once you've got a body like this, you need to take care of it, right?

Ahh, Pam's quite the character, isn't she? A lot ditzy, not terribly smart and definitely full of herself. That's probably why she's not here more often. If you'd like to catch up on her past adventures as a ShapeShifter groupie, click here. That'll take you back to her character sketch page, and will link you from there to the fiction that's been posted here in the past.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Thursday Thirteen #Looking to Summer

Thirteen Things ShapeShifter does on tour

One more week of school in the West of Mars school district. My thoughts have turned to summer (even though it's so cold I'm wearing a warm-up jacket. Hello? May? Where are you?). Last year around this time, I took a look at what the band does while on tour.

This year, they're taking a break from the extensive tour and appreciating the season. You can probably figure out who does what by now, but if not, it's still a good list. I'll be doing some of these, myself.

1. Playing or hanging at day-long music festivals.

2. Hanging in the hammock out back and playing guitar.

3. Sleeping late.

4. Back porches after sundown with a cold beer. And a cigarette.

5. Hanging at Daniel's pool. Yes, Mabel the Fifteenth tried to go swimming. Why do you ask?

6. Fighting over who gets to do the honors in front of the grill.

7. Going to Big Buck's and sitting outside on the patio, where it's cooler and
there's always a breeze off the river.

8. Girls in scanty clothing. Or, better yet, bikinis.

9. Wearing nothing but cut-off shorts, yourself.

10. Laying in that hammock without a guitar and dreaming.

11. The steamy heat of a club, whether you're playing or hanging.

12. Blasting your own music out your car windows as you tool around town, feeling cooler than you probably are.

13. Val's lemonade. Nothing better on a hot day.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will try to link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Monday, May 26, 2008


Roadie Poet: Returns

Don't realize it until we get inside.
Been here before.

Recognize the loading dock,
The room the crew showers in,
The way things look from the stage.
Out into darkness --
For now.

It'll get lit up later.

Hambone remembers this place, too.
We talk at dinner.
Bands we've been here with
Tours we've done
Crew we went with.

More sits and listens.
Tells me later
She can't wait until she's got these lists to make
When she's been around more.

I gotta tell her
Coming back to a familiar place
It feels good
But not as good
As home.

I'm not sure about this ending. Might be too cliched, so let me know what you think.

If you're new to Roadie Poet, welcome! If you've missed him, or want to revisit old poetry from our favorite crew member, click here. That'll take you to his profile page. All his poems are listed at the bottom of the page. Happy catching up!

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Saturday, May 24, 2008


Susan's Book Talk: Adventures from the Past week

It seems like every week, I'm reading about newly released books. Remember, folks, it's good to buy a book as soon as it comes out. Don't be like me and drag your feet; those early sales numbers can (unfortunately) make or break a career.

Let's start with Daisy Dexter Dobbs. She had a new release over at Ellora's Cave -- and it's a big one! 120,000 words. Yipes, that's big. Given Daisy's track record, though, I'm sure it's good.

My good friend Amy Ruttan and her good friend Karen Erickson both have new books out, too. They are kicking off the new Ellora's Cave series, Oh Yum! Older women, younger men... sounds like fun.

Karen's new to me, but both she and Amy blog separately and with groups. Go check 'em out. Tell 'em I sent you. If they have excerpts up (like Daisy does), take the few minutes and read them. One thing I've learned lately is how useful excerpts really are.

In my own reading news, I caught up on a classic! This is monumental news because I generally loathe classics. So what did I read? The Island of Dr. Moreau, by HG Wells. I'll tell you now, I don't loathe science fiction classics.

Stay tuned for the outtakes spawned by Thursday's Thirteen (if you don't know what I'm talking about, check it out). And the winner of the Rabbi's Cat 2. Better enter soon if you want it!


Giving You... The Rabbi's Cat 2

Edited to congratulate my friend Grace -- yes, Grace in Dubai -- for winning this awesome book! Yay, Grace!

Yes, that's right! You've heard me raving about Joann Sfar's brilliance long enough. Now is your chance to pick up your very own copy of The Rabbi's Cat 2, compliments of the good people at Pantheon Books.

This hardback book hasn't even been opened yet; you'll get to do the honors. (That means I haven't registered it at BookCrossing, either.)

How to enter:
Go visit my review at Front Street Reviews.

Leave a comment on this post with some sort of contact information between now and 24 May, 2008. Please be sure to tell me why you'd like to experience Joann Sfar and his famous cat. Random "Enter me!" comments aren't good enough anymore.

You can be anywhere on Planet Earth. You can have won before. Please don't sell it on eBay; if I think you have done so, I'll toss any future contest entries you make.

Yeah, I'm getting mean. But a book this special deserves special treatment.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008


Susan's TV Talk: Criminal Minds

"Well, that blows."

Yes, friends, that's what I said to the Tour Manager at the conclusion of last night's season finale.

Ideas who was in that exploding black truck? I'd love to discuss it in the comments, so comment away and let's speculate ourselves silly!

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Thursday Thirteen with Good Intentions

Thirteen Good Intentions Gone Bad

What's the saying? The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions?

1. The time the video director pitched an idea that had the ShapeShifter boys dancing. DANCING.

2. The time Kerri went to pick up a package at the post office, only to find it had come $3.50 postage due because it had been wrapped wrong and she only had $2 on her. She refused the package, which had been one of those nice gestures on the part of someone else -- but not for $3.50.

3. The time the band found a key lime pie in their dressing room. It wasn't on their contracted tour rider; the promoter had thought it was a nice touch and got whiny when the band asked him to remove it. It didn't touch him nearly so nicely when Mitchell made him wear it.

4. The sound engineer in the recording studio who forgot to push PLAY.

5. From time to time, Kerri meets someone who expected Kerry Voss, male artist, and not Kerri Voss, female.

6. The time Eric was offered an endorsement deal for a new guitar -- but only if he'd never play his current ones again.

7. The new employee of the record label who had heard that Mitchell would be mean to her, so instead of asking him for lyrics for the new disc's booklet, she did her best to interpret what she heard.

8. The time Kerri was asked to create the art for an event whose cancellation no one told her about.

9. The time the band opened a box of new t-shirts, only to find that the silver ink was red, the shirt itself was orange, and the whole thing looked like bloody puke.

10. Let's not forget the newspaper reporter who tried to write a flattering article but confused ShapeShifter with … well, they're still trying to figure that one out. But according to this person, who may or may not have ever heard the band, ShapeShifter is Satanic. Glad someone forgot to inform the band of that…

11. A local crew member, coming up to Trevor from behind, thought he was a woman. In that person's defense, his hair was waist-length at the time and, from the back, he could be confused with a woman hippie… who wears biker boots and a chain connecting the wallet in his back pocket to a belt loop. And… well, you get the idea.

12. Someone filling in for Mitchell's tech once strung Mabel upside-down. It may have been a joke, but the joke was on him when Mitchell broke Mabel over the guy's back.

13. Often, at a backstage appearance, a guy will pull a CD (in the old days, a cassette tape -- remember those?) out of a pocket and ask Daniel to listen to his demo. Daniel's always willing -- but once, the guy had given him a ShapeShifter disc, and no contact information so Daniel could make the swap.

Hey, groupies! Other than #2, which just happened to me in real life today, would you like to see any of these turned into outtakes? Given time and interest, I just might do it for you. 'cause I love you guys and all.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will try to link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Monday, May 19, 2008


Susan's Author Spotlight: Sylvie Simmons

You might have missed this -- and I hope you have -- but I've been whining to myself lately that I'm not doing enough to spread the word about my fellow writers. At the RT Convention, I'd come up with this idea to do an author spotlight, but I wasn't really sure how to implement it. My friends and I launched a cool contest blog, but it's not enough. I want to do more for the great writers out there.

So I owe a big chunk of credit to my friend Bridget, who's not a blogger but who is part of my at-home road crew. She keeps me sane, listens to me vent, makes me feel guilty for skipping the gym, and drops her kid at my house so she can shop in peace while I get uninterrupted writing time. She also took my idea of an author spotlight and gave me ideas how to make it work.

That left me with the dilemma of who to choose. Ugh, the possibilities. I couldn't choose, couldn't figure out a way TO choose.

Until about ten minutes ago. I was sitting on the couch, catching up on the Metallica Club's latest edition of their magazine, So What! I'd like this mag even if their editor, who's a cool dude with the cool name of Steffan, hadn't let me write a few pieces for it. I mean, hello? Metallica, people! Susan loves Metallica.

The main feature in this issue is an interview by renowned rock writer (Steffan's words, not mine) Sylvie Simmons. I've been working through the interview slowly, wishing I had an uninterrupted chunk of time to devote to it. Every time I scrape out a few minutes, I envision myself signing into the Metallica Club's bulletin boards and asking, "Am I the only one more jazzed about the fact that Sylvie Simmons did the interview than I am by the subject?"

I probably am.

Heck, *I'd* never heard of Sylvie Simmons until I heard about her 2004 collection of stories, Too Weird for Ziggy. It was one of those books I had to have. Right then. So I ran out and ordered it for myself. Yes, from a bookstore. (Those of you who know me well know what an avid book trader I am.) Yes, from an independent book store, which is another thing that's important to me.

I'm not a fan of stories, but Sylvie Simmons totally rocked them. She created characters -- some of whom make more than one appearance in this book -- who are darker, more depraved, more sick, more gross, more grotesque than mine. In short, they are rock and roll at its essence. I write rock-lite in comparison. (And no, Trevor's not insulted by that. Nor, for that matter, am I.)

The lead-off story, Pussy, has stayed with me all this time. It's haunting.

At one point, I tracked down Ms. Simmons and asked if there was more fiction in the works. There wasn't. Not at that moment, anyway. But she had a story in a collection called London Noir...

Which is now sitting on my Mountain of To Be Reads, otherwise known as Mt. TBR. (also known as my small book problem.) It's number 315 of 349, so it'll be awhile.

But in the meantime, go check out Too Weird for Ziggy. You'll quickly see why Sylvie Simmons deserves more attention and why I'm taking up a beautiful afternoon to rave about her. She's one of those writers who I ought to be focusing on.

And so, I am. Maybe one of these days, I'll finish up that magazine...

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Sunday, May 18, 2008


Fiction Outtake: Daniel's Shoulder (part 2)

If you missed the start of this, you'd better go read it, or this will be little more than nonsense for ya. The first part's short, although not as short as this one. It won't take long. And there's a link to bring you back here.

As he left the dressing room, Mitchell held up a hand at the roadie who'd been sent to escort him to the meet-and-greet. "I need to make a call," he said and turned toward the production office.

Lyric answered almost immediately.

"Daniel's shoulder's bothering him," he said, "so have the bills get sent his way. Oh, and Lyric, he's paying you a thirty-buck per diem."

She laughed. "Thanks, but you didn't need to."

"Hey, I take care of my girls. So go make calls; you might be able to get on Kerri's flight out in the morning."

"Does this mean you'll be paying me a per diem, too, the next time you need me out there?"

"Fuck no."

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Friday, May 16, 2008


Fiction Outtake: Daniel's Shoulder (part 1)

The Sunday Scribblings prompt this week is sore/soar. I was going to play with Eric, whose guitar is often said to soar above the rhythm line that Mitchell, Daniel, and Trevor lay down, but I've got a massive migraine and this was hanging around, waiting to be shared. Be sure to check back for the second part.

It was the look on Daniel's face that froze Mitchell, mid-stride. He knew that look on his drummer's face, the left eye slitted, the left side of the mouth poured open so that half the guy's teeth were showing. Even though he didn't have first-hand knowledge of the shoulder pulled to the ear or the hand gently rubbing it, Mitchell knew the pain.

"Need me to call Lyric?"

"Yeah, would you?" Daniel tried to relax his shoulder. And his face. The shoulder went back into place more easily.

Mitchell paused, finally grabbing a chair and turning it backwards so he could lean into it when he sat.

"Can we talk later and you call her now?" Daniel asked. He grimaced and rubbed his shoulder again.

"I'm not the one paying her."

"Oh." The drummer thought a minute. "What's her usual rate?"

"Airfare, hotel room, and a thirty-buck per diem."

"Thirty bucks!"

Mitchell shrugged. "She's gotta eat."

Daniel winced again and dug harder at that sore left shoulder. "Okay, fine. Whatever."

With a nod, Mitchell stood up and went to place the call.

Okay, so you've got to read the next part, which reveals the punchline. Go here for it. You can leave comments here or there. Or both. I love comments.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Thursday Thirteen #Win a Book!

Thirteen Things about the new blog

1. With Breeni, Cheesy, PussReboots, and Ann, I've launched a new blog.

2. It's called Win a Book.

3. I think you can figure out its purpose. But if not, the idea is that we'll collect news of book giveaways around the Net. You can come to us and we'll tell you who's being buzzed about.

4. The ultimate idea here is to help spread the word about debut and mid-list authors.

5. I have to confess that Julia's book reviews made me feel guilty and like I wasn't doing enough to help out people I really care about.

6. You can visit the blog at Win a Book.

7. There's also an e-mail set up so you can contact me with news of your contest.

8. A lot of contest sites out there won't post your contest unless you submit in a particular format. We're not like that. We're easy.

9. I know some blog authors don't want publicity for their contests, because of the people who only stop by for in the hopes of winning things. I don't blame them.

10. On the flip side, I've stopped by a lot of blogs because of a contest and wound up adding them to my reader. So you never know.

11. Hopefully, this is only the tip of the iceberg in the things I'll be doing in the future for my fellow writers. I'll be doing more posts like this one.

12. If Trevor read, I'd let him write a post or two. But this is what happened the last time he read something. Scary.

13. Win a Book. Really. Let's start here for the time being. Come join us.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will try to link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Susan's Book Talk: Colette Gale's Master

I saw that Colette Gale was offering peeks at her new book, Master, if we'd promise to blog about the book. How could I resist? After all, she's the one who wrote Unmasqued, a book with no small amount of controversy behind it -- seems that it was too sexy for some. (I still don't get that, as both the spine and the cover of the copy I bought at RT clearly mark it as an erotic novel. But then I don't get the person who was offended by Trevor. What did she expect from a rock star if not the word motherfucker? Sometimes, I don't get people. I just don't.)

Therefore, anything I say comes with that caveat: this book is full of explicit, wonderful, yummy sex. Okay? Got that?

Now, you can read my full review over at Front Street Reviews. It's done, it's up, and it says lots of things about the book. I'm going to use this space to say things that I didn't put in the review. Like how absolutely stunning the cover is. How I want to wear the dress on the cover model (even though it seems totally contrary to the outfits of the times). Like how this book reads really fast yet also has a nice, strong subtext.

Oh, wait. I said that last part in my review. Sorry.

But that's probably what struck me most about Master. The fact that on the surface, you've got this story of love and revenge, all tied up into what ought to be a neatly confused package. But it's not. Ms. Colette Gale transcends the easy way out and goes for something better.

I don't want to say too much. Read the review. Buy the book. And no, don't even ask where the contest for my copy is. Not. Gonna. Happen. MINE. Hear me? I'm not parting with this one. Go buy your own.

You won't be disappointed.

Two more you won't be disappointed with: H, by Elizabeth Shepard. This slim, older (1995) book would make great book club discussions.

And... the review is coming. The giveaway is coming. The Rabbi's Cat 2, by my hero, Joann Sfar. Stay tuned, but take this chance to pick up The Rabbi's Cat (the original) so you know what's going on when you read The Rabbi's Cat 2. Because you don't want to miss out on brilliance.

(psst. Master. Buy it!)

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Monday, May 12, 2008


Melody Fiction: The Wrong Kind of Fantasy

For you regulars around here, a new fictional face -- Melody, Lyric's mother. (And a welcome to you newcomers! I hope you'll stay awhile.) I've been working on her backstory some; I'm quite intrigued by the soon-to-be famous Melody Maker. I hope you are, too.

Melody put the phone down and gave the boss a sultry look. "Was that good enough for you?" she purred.

He swallowed and nodded.

Melody was pleased with the glazed look in his eye, with the way he was having trouble catching his breath. She'd wowed them both, the person on the other end of the pretend phone call and the boss. It hadn't been hard. Men who called phone sex lines wanted to be encouraged. They wanted to do most of the talking. This was, after all, their own fantasy that they needed to hear come to life. They didn't care if it was her on the other end of the phone. Not yet. Maybe one day, once they'd talked to her a few times, gotten off in a good way, and weren't so drunk or stoned or high that they'd remember they'd talked to a girl named Melody.

Right now, she was disposable.

That was how she felt, too. Not strong, like she had that day she'd done that photo shoot. Not desired, like she'd felt when she'd seen the pictures.

No, she thought. For all those callers knew, she could be some fat dumpy housewife in curlers who was ironing as she spoke the come-on lines.

This outfit was billed as having the most guarantees for anonymous callers, but when she'd walked in and asked about working for them, she hadn't realized she'd be one of those anonymous callers.

Melody Maker, as she now called herself, wanted more. She wanted to be known. To be strong. To be desired.

But mostly, she wanted people to see her, not simply hear her voice on the other end of a call. There was nothing special in that. In being invisible except for her voice.

"We'll start you at a higher pay," the boss said, finally coming back from the glaze she'd left him in.

"No, I don't think so," Melody said, trying to come off as being thoughtful when all she really wanted was to run back to that photographer's studio and tell him she was ready for the more he'd promised her.

"I haven't told you how high," the boss said. "Don't you want to know?"

"Save it," she told him, patting his knee. She couldn't help the glance, couldn't help smiling to herself when she noticed that any effects of her phone call had returned in full force. "I think I'm meant for bigger than phone calls."

She slid off her stool, smiling brightly as her breasts jiggled. The boss couldn't take his eyes off them.

The photographer it would be, then.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008


Fiction Outtake: Mother's Day (Post Trevor's Song Era)

Mitchell handed his guitar to Bobby and grabbed the nearest roadie by the shirt collar. "Phone! I need a fucking phone right fucking now!"

The roadie's eyes got huge and he shook a little bit. Might even have peed on himself until Charlie, ShapeShifter's tour manager, came to the rescue. "Just push SEND," he yelled over Eric's guitar solo.

Mitchell let go of the roadie and took the phone from Charlie. It was huge and weighed a ton; one of those new cellular phones. They'd only gotten it for Charlie after things with Trevor had gone so haywire. Mitchell hated it.

But he had to admit it had its uses.

He had no idea what time it was at home. Frankly, he didn't care. He only had another minute or two before he had to go support Eric and lead the band into their next song. There was shit to do after the show, and then it was off travelling to the next town. It was now or never.

"Ma?" he said when she picked up. "Happy Mother's Day."

A little bit of Mother's Day fun for all my fellow moms out there. Hope your day is full of pizza, bicycles and Penguin victories!

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Thursday, May 08, 2008


BTT: Manual Labor

Wow. This week's Booking Through Thursday is a stroll down memory lane...

Writing guides, grammar books, punctuation how-tos . . . do you read them? Not read them? How many writing books, grammar books, dictionaries–if any–do you have in your library?

Yeah, I've got them. They are leftover from my days as an MFA student and from my years as a freelance copyeditor. I looked for one of them a few weeks ago, but other than that, it's been years since I opened any of them or did more than run my eyes over where they sit on my shelves.

Like my ice hockey gear, the pots I threw during ceramics classes and various other things around the house -- the bottle of motor oil that was a promotional gift when Ministry was singing how Jesus Built My Hotrod -- these are now relics of a past life.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Thursday Thirteen #something -- I Don't Wanna

Thirteen "reasons" practice gets cancelled

When I noticed that this week's official Thursday Thirteen theme was gross, Trevor got all excited. Trevor Wolff isn't a man who begs, but he was all but prostrate on the floor in front of me, eager for his chance to sound off about how gross monogamy, marriage, and Mitchell's wife Kerri all are. (Yes, he was well on his way to making another letter-themed list like last week's).

Problem is, no one really wanted to listen to Trevor on that particular subject. Trust me; you didn't, either.

Since Trevor is off ranting about monogamy, marriage, and Mitchell's wife Kerri, the rest of us got together and came up with a list of things we say when it looks like practice won't be happening.

1. Mitchell's mountain bike is calling. Daniel's pool is calling.

2. The band has blisters. On their fingers, on their shoulders from their guitar straps, on Daniel's hiney (no, that's NOT the word he used) from too many hours on that drummer's throne.

3. Communing with nature is the best sort of prayer, and Eric needs the best sort of prayer. No one's sure why; when they ask, he just smiles and says it's between him and God.

4. Trevor's got a girl waiting. Trevor needs to go find a girl. Trevor needs to find girls for Mitchell, Eric, and Daniel. Trevor has girls waiting for them all. You get the idea. Trevor + girls = no practice today.

5. Hangovers. 'Nuff said.

6. The Hatchet needs to be sharpened. This only works for the guys in Deadly Metal Hatchet, obviously. Please don't try it at home. Men with funny white coats might show up on your doorstep. Or worse.

7. Someone is hungry and Val is cooking. Therefore, practice will end as soon as whatever Val's making comes out of the oven. Maybe the guys need to go watch and make sure it doesn't burn...

8. Mitchell's out of new guitar strings. Eric's out of new guitar strings. Trevor hasn't bought new strings for his bass ... well, ever. So it's Mitchell's fault that he has no new strings. Even though the guys have techs who work year-round for them and who keep the axes well-strung.

(strung I said! STRung!)

9. With the techs around, there are too many people in the practice space. The techs have work to do. The band can't do it until they're done. Good thing the techs aren't in any hurry.

10. The guys in Deadly Metal Hatchet often wonder why they bother to practice. They'll never be as good as ShapeShifter.

11. The guys in ShapeShifter often wonder why they bother to practice. Their fans only want to hear the same old songs.

12. It's too nice out to spend inside practicing. It's too rainy; the humidity affects the instruments. It's too cloudy to think straight. Let's wait for a snow day. There might be one in the next ten years.

13. Fans? People want us to sound good??

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will try to link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Giving You... Lisa Jackson

The kids say comment #2 is our winner, and that's Winter! Stop over and congratulate her, if you'd be so kind...

Sticky Post! Scroll on down for the Trevor-licious stuff!

Well, okay. No. Sorry. I'm not giving you Lisa Jackson, the best-selling author. That's not within my power to do. (Although I'd love to have lunch with her!)

What I do have is a black, size XL, pre-shrunk, 100% cotton t-shirt that says "Looking for Lost Souls" on the front and some promo blurb on the back for her new book, Lost Souls.

And to sweeten the deal, I'll throw in a read-by-me (complete with creases in the spine) copy of The Morning After.

Want this stuff? Leave a comment with your contact information and I'll pick a name and winner next Tuesday, May 6. You can be anywhere on Planet Earth, you must be nice, and you must leave contact information.

Yes, it's that easy. But if you've been here long enough, you know this is how I do contests. I like easy; it lets me keep my attention fixed on a certain band and the people who orbit them...

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Sunday, May 04, 2008


Mitchell fiction: Interview

From an excerpt of an interview with ShapeShifter's Mitchell Voss

Voss leans forward, bracing his elbows on his knees. "Exactly," he said. "Our music is ferocious. It's supposed to be. Otherwise, it wouldn't be the release it is."

Music as a release. It's a concept that has lost steam over the years, replaced by the phenomenon of self-mutilation. But it's a concept Voss holds to.

"We all need that release. We all need something that takes us outside ourself and, in a way, soothes us. Something that when we come back to ourselves, things are okay again and the problems are manageable."

What sort of problems can someone like Voss have? After all, the man's an international superstar. He's got security to keep overeager fans away. He's got people to take out the kitchen trash at the mere snap of his fingers.

"That'd be nice," he says. "I f----- hate taking the trash out. My parents used to make me do it just because they knew how much I hated it. They'd tell me to suck it up and remember that every beautiful thing has its hidden, ugly side. And then they'd launch into this lecture about being lazy and the importance of doing chores around the house and how if I hate it that much, I'll understand how wonderful it is to have kids of my own and blah blah blah… Suddenly, the idea of taking out the trash becomes appealing!"

Still, Voss doesn't smile. The famous frown deepens. "It doesn't matter who you are or how you earn your way in the world. We all have those times when we need to break free of being polite and let it all hang out. Our fans get that. That's part of what makes the bond they have with us so strong. We're leading the way, almost. Showing them how to cut loose and let it all out. Come along with us and get the s--- out of your system for the length of a song, a CD, a show. You'll feel better afterward."

Yep, it's fiction. But it's fun to show off my journalistically trained chops every now and then!

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Saturday, May 03, 2008


Susan's Inside Writing: Family

This week's Sunday Scribblings prompt was one of those where I was immediately jazzed and then just as quickly, confusion set in. The theme is family, and it's one I play with quite a bit in my fiction.

The problem, as is becoming a bit too common, is that I've got a ton of outtakes and other material on the blog already about this theme.

There's the Brotherly Love Thursday Thirteen I did back in July of 2007.

There's all the sibling torment that Mitchell and Amy heap on each other. Like the scene when Mitchell is showing Amy his new house. The torture of being a teenager and having a brother... or sister. The time Trevor set Amy up to torture both her and Mitchell...

Really. Sonya Voss puts up with a lot of hijinks in her home. She's a saint.

And that's part of it, I think. I don't come from a terrible family, not by a longshot. And yet I still wish my family was more like the Vosses, who opened their home and took Trevor into it when the alternative was to let the kid hang. These people are close, they have a warm relationship with each other, they like being around each other. And they have fun together.

Now, that's Mitchell's family, the one Trevor takes over. (And you groupies who know Trevor even a little bit understand that fully.)

But there is another kind of family in my fictional world, too. The band.

Think about it for a second or two. You have a group of people -- in the case of ShapeShifter, we have four guys -- who come together. They share creativity, they share hours of practice and if they're lucky, they get crappy dressing rooms, an overstuffed car with a trailer on the back of it for all their gear, and adventures out the wazoo. I figure this can either tear a group apart, like it recently did to real-life group Divine Heresy, or it can bring them together.

I have a dark side. It's the part of me that makes my musical tastes run toward metal. But I like to dwell in a happy world (probably because that dark side's power scares me), and so when it comes to families, I create happy ones.

Well, sort of. Trevor's not the only one with an unhappy family roaming around my head. But you'll have to stay tuned to learn more about them. And, frankly, I need the time to develop them more fully for you.

More from me later...

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Thursday, May 01, 2008


BTT: Mayday

Quick! It’s an emergency! You just got an urgent call about a family emergency and had to rush to the airport with barely time to grab your wallet and your passport. But now, you’re stuck at the airport with nothing to read. What do you do??

And, no, you did NOT have time to grab your bookbag, or the book next to your bed. You were . . . grocery shopping when you got the call and have nothing with you but your wallet and your passport (which you fortuitously brought with you in case they asked for ID in the ethnic food aisle). This is hypothetical, remember….

Okay, so first off, I've always got a Publisher's Weekly or two stuffed beside the Tour Manager's seat in my car.

Secondly, I'm going to be like Karen and pretend that we can't do the obvious and hit up the bookstore in the airport. I mean, hello? This is West of Mars where I live, people. There are a bunch of bookstores in the airport and as much as it pains me to pay full retail when I've got (literally) hundreds of books on my TBR pile, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

So. PW is now boring. There are no bookstores. What do I do?

Well, I start talking to people, of course. People with books. Because if I can channel some Trevor magic the right way, I'll be able to convince them to cough up their book so I can read it. Yes, even if it means promising to mail the book back -- along with a few goodies from the aforementioned TBR mountain range.

Now, say that doesn't work. My local Martian airport has free WiFi, so what do I do now? You guessed it! Hijack someone else's computer! Now, this doesn't mean I grab their 'puter and put it on my lap and start surfing. Oh, no. We must be much more subtle about this and show them what a big, wide world of Book Bloggers it is. To do this, we take advantage of Dewey's first Weekly Geeks and show my poor victim five cool book blogs. Try these on for size: Chris at Bookarama. That's the Book. Book and Other Games. This Book is for You (who has the first online review of the new Jhumpa Lahiri I've seen yet). And Free Listens.

And Dudes, that's only FIVE great blogs to check out. Why, given half a chance, I could convince a total stranger that the best way to pass time in an airport is to surf book blogs!

But... let's come back down to Earth now and face up to the fact that I'm really not bold enough to try either of these Trevorish techniques.

Rather, I'd bemoan the fact that I don't have a Sony eReader and so I'd sit and ... write new outtakes in my head. Which probably makes all you groupies a lot happier than if I really did the above scenarios. But it's fun to think about! (and on the off chance you're not a groupie and don't get why you'd be happy to hear about outtakes, please come back more often and see for yourself the fun you're missing!).

By the way, if you came here via a direct link, be sure to check out the great giveaway I'm doing!

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