Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Night Before NaNo: A Halloween Poem for the Eve of NaNoWriMo

In honor of Halloween, and, more importantly, in honor of NaNoWriMo Eve, here's a happy little diddy for those who will spend NaNoWriMo writing mysteries, thrillers, and horror stories. Get ready to get the NaNo murders started!

Twas the night before NaNo, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, except for my mouse.
The outlines were written and plotted with care,
In hopes that a massacre soon would be there.

The children were huddling, scared, in their beds,
With visions of Leatherface sawing off heads.
And mamma in her sweatpants and I in my socks,
Were just rousing our brains for a month with our Glocks.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed just to watch the blood splatter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters with a butcher knife's slash. 

The moon in the cemetery from which I rave
Cast shadows of ghosts upon headstones and graves.
When, what to my horror, should appear through the fog,
But a skeletal carriage and eight demon dogs.

And, inside, a Grim Reaper, his scythe like a ruse,
I knew in a moment it must be The Muse.
More rapid than vampires his canines they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Killer! Now, Slayer! Now, Strangler! Marauder!
On, Hangman! On, Headsman! On, Hit Man! And Slaughter!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now suffocate! Sacrifice! Execute all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to my window the canines they flew,
With their carriage of mayhem, and The Murderous Muse too.

And then, with a scratching, I heard, like a saw
The scraping and slashing of each little claw.
And the window grew weaker, until, with a bash
In through my window The Muse came with a crash.

He was dressed all in black, his robe flowing like oil,
And his scythe like the death of me made me recoil.
His eyes! How they cauterized! Searing like fire!
His face like a skeleton, bones for the pyre!

A bundle of murders he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
Pulling out my next carnage, then he turned with a jerk.

His guillotine mouth was as silent as blood,
But the murders inside him spilled out like a flood.
And I felt my new novel pouring forth from his hand,
And the torch of his vision scorched through like a brand

With the gnash of his teeth and the bones of his skull
He released my new novel, unleashed it in full
And a flash of his evil eye, twist of his head,
Soon filled my poor mind with the story he bled.

And I staggered straight backward and clutched at my breast
As it slammed into me like a demon possessed
The inspiration engulfing me forced me to writhe
And he graced my new story with a flash of his scythe

Then he sprang to his carriage, and called to his dogs,
And away flew the demons, back into the fog
But I heard him exclaim, as he forded the swill,
"Bloody NaNo to all, and to all a good kill!"

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

South on the Horizon: Lance Charnes' Anticipated Follow-Up to Doha 12

Lance Charnes' debut thriller, Doha 12, is a "High Quality, Compelling Thriller. Terrific Reading!" Today, Lance's highly anticipated second novel is on the horizon. Here we reveal the details of South. For more information, visit the South website. See an interview with Lance here.

by Lance Charnes

Luis Ojeda owes his life to the Pacifico Norte cartel. Literally. Now it’s time to pay.

Luis led escaping Muslims out of the U.S. during the ten years following a 2019 terrorist attack on Chicago. He retired after nearly being killed by a border guard. But now in 2032, the Nortes give Luis a choice: pay back the fortune they spent saving his life, or take on a special job.

The job: Nora Khaled – FBI agent, wife, mother of two, and Muslim. She claims her husband will be exiled to one of the nation’s remote prison camps to rot with over 400,000 other Muslim Americans. Faced with her family’s destruction, she’s forced to turn to Luis – the kind of man she’s spent her career bringing to justice.

But when the FBI publicly accuses Nora of terrorism, Luis learns Nora’s real motive for heading south: she has proof that the nation’s recent history is based on a lie – a lie that reaches to the government’s highest levels.

Torn between self-preservation and the last shreds of his idealism, Luis guides Nora and her family toward refuge in civil war-wracked Mexico. The FBI, a dogged ICE agent, killer drones, bandits, and the fearsome Zeta cartel all plan to stop him. Success might just free Luis from the Nortes… but failure means disappearing into a black-site prison, or a gruesome death for them all.

In a day-after-tomorrow America where government has been downsized and outsourced into irrelevance, and none but the very wealthy few can afford hopes or dreams, Luis and Nora must learn to trust each other to ensure the survival of the truth – and of the people they love.

Lance Charnes has been an Air Force intelligence officer, IT manager, computer-game artist, set designer, Jeopardy! contestant, and now an emergency management specialist. He’s had training in architectural rendering, terrorist incident response and maritime archaeology, but not all at the same time. Lance tweets (@lcharnes) on shipwrecks, archaeology and scuba diving.

Contact Details

South by Lance Charnes

Released by Wombat Group Media
Distributed through Ingram
Word count: 128,000
SRP: $2.99 (e-book) $14.95 (TPBK)
ASIN: B00AOYOMQK / 0988690306
ISBN: 978-0-9886903-4-9 (Kindle)
978-0-9886903-3-2 (TPBK)
Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Indiebound, Collins
Also on Nook, Kobo and iTunes

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Secrets of Inferno - A Review of an Analysis

Dan Burstein and Arne de Keijzer are the world's leading authorities on the novels of Dan Brown. Their first fact-checking analysis, Secrets of the Code, was in its own right a mega-bestseller, topping the charts for more than six months solid.

Much like the author they analyze, Burstein and Keijzer have found a formula that works, and they aren't afraid to use it. Each time Dan Brown graces the world with a new novel, Burstein and Keijzer recruit the leading experts on the subject matter explored in that book. The experts offer short, easily-digestable commentaries, interviews, and essays. Burstein and Keijzer also include their own two cents based on meticulous research of the subjects at hand. In 2003, it was the Priory of Sion and the workings of a cryptex. This time, it's population control, transhumanism, and most of all...Dante.

The thing that surprised me about this book was that it actually gave me a new respect for some of Dan Brown's apparently horrific writing. Although I have read Dante's Inferno, I certainly don't proclaim to be an expert on the subject, nor can I recall every stanza from memory. Secrets of Inferno highlighted several places in Dan Brown's Inferno that were in fact tongue-in-cheek references to Dante's Inferno disguised as classical suck-tacular Dan Brown literary technique. Here's an example:

One of the most crap-arific Dan Brown-isms in the novel, at least on the surface, is this one:
"As Langdon stared into his own weary eyes, he half wondered if he might at any moment wake up in his reading chair at home clutching an empty martini glass and a copy of Dead Souls, only to remind himself that Bombay Sapphire and Gogol should never be mixed."
This sentence may go down in the Cheese Hall of Fame, but look beneath the surface and you find something a bit more interesting:
  • Langdon's amnesia at the beginning of Dan Brown's Inferno parallel's Dante's Inferno in that neither protagonist has a clue how he got where he is at the beginning of his descent into Hell.
  • Dead Souls, by Nikolai Gogol, was almost a Russian version of Dante's Inferno, originally intended as a three-volume work that would parallel Commedia.
  • Dante's Purgatorio opens with a reference to the "sweet hue of Oriental sapphire," signaling the start of a new day and the beginning of Dante's climb out of the Inferno.
  • Today's Bombay (Mumbai) is the location of one of the original surviving manuscripts of Dante's Divine Comedy.
With this kind of analysis at one's fingertips, it is tempting to go back to awkward sentences throughout Dan Brown's Inferno and look for secret parallels to Dante's Inferno. Which is exactly what Brown wanted, and exactly what Burstein and Keijzer have done.

Because Secrets of Inferno pulls so many experts into the equation and gives each of them free reign with their commentaries, there are a lot of redundancies. I think I read about thirty times the same observation that it was Dante who originally coined the word "transhumanism" (or a variant thereof) and that Dan Brown (for whatever reason) failed to make this observation in the novel. On the one hand, the redundancies are a bit annoying, but on the other hand, they lend credibility to the statements.

Like so many Dan Brown admirers and simultaneous bashers (myself my own review of Inferno here) Burstein and Keijzer do not mince words, and they are never afraid to point out the awesome badness in both Dan Brown's writing and his plots. Some of their comments made me giggle, others made me cringe, and still others made me feel a bit sorry for Dan Brown - until I remembered that he sells more novels than just about every other author in the world combined.

I would love to see what these guys would do with The Vesuvius Isotope.

**Addendum: This just in: a couple hours after I posted this, Dan Burstein picked up the gauntlet I threw down on that last line. I got an e-mail from Dan saying he is buying The Vesuvius Isotope and will let me know what he thinks. Holy crap! Excited and nervous...

****See the symbolism behind Brown's use of the caduceus here, and the caduceus versus Rod of Asclepius here.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Murder Lab Report October 4, 2013

Many of you are signed up to receive my newsletter via e-mail. But in case you're not, I'm going to start posting it here as well. Please feel free to hop on my e-mail list if you'd like a copy all to yourself. These come approximately bi-weekly.

Here's the latest!