Archive for writing

Eight More Days!

The official pre-order page for This Is How You Die, the anthology which contains my short story “ROCK AND ROLL” is online, and the editors are so confident in its success that they are shooting for making it on the New York Times bestseller list. This sounds crazy, but it’s worth noting that the first volume of stories, Machine of Death, reached #1 on Amazon… and it was self-published. This time, the book is being published by Grand Central Publishing, who is working hard to promote the book even now, a little more than a week before it’s released.

And since preorders count toward the first week of sales, we’re inviting everyone who is interested to pre-order it. The Amazon link is here, but it should be available through most booksellers if you have a favorite.

Rather than link you to the retailers, I invite you to check out the official web site for the book, which contains a couple of trailer videos as well as all the links you need to pre-order. There’s even a sample PDF to peruse to see what you think… and my story is included in the sample. The first video is a little macabre — okay, yes, I suppose that’s fitting for a book called This Is How You Die — and I prefer the second one. Of course, they both go for the obvious jokes, but having read through the draft of the book I can tell you that the stories are all actually very deep, thoughtful and often unexpected.

So off you go to pre-order the book, right? Thanks!

The Devil Went Down To Leipzig

In response and homage to Ryan Laney’s fugue of the same name, in which he used the famous fiddle riff from the Charlie Daniels Band’s famous song as the subject.

The Devil went down to Leipzig, he was looking for another soul
Had a date with a doc down in Auerbach’s… but he had time to take a stroll
When he ducked into St. Thomas’ church and slid down past the pews
And he came upon our boy Johann, lacin’ up his organ shoes.

“You may be surprised to hear this, boy, but I’m an organist as well.
Don’t play many hymns, but we get our grins on the pipes down there in Hell.
Now I’ve heard you play a mean Marchand, but I wager I can do you in
And I’ll stake your soul for these shoes of gold, ‘cause I think I’m gonna win.”

The boy said, “My name’s Johnny, and such deals give me pause,
But strap on your shoes, and prepare to lose, cause I’m the best there ever was.

Johnny, open up the swell box and play like never before,
‘Cause Hell’s broke lose in Leipzig and the Devil’s keepin’ score.
And if you win you get these shoes with plates of gold
But it you lose, the coffee’s goin’ cold

The Devil sat down to the manuals and said, “This here is how it’s done.”
And he pulled out the stops and made the pedals drop and contest had begun.
That band of foul demons rose up ‘round from the abyss,
And fire belched from the flues as those golden shoes lit up the pedalboard like this.

[The Devil’s organ solo]

When the Devil cadenced, Johann said, “‘Twas an admirable display,
But you’ve had your ride. Now move aside and let me show you how to play.”

“Sacred Head now Wounded.” Play, Bach, Play!
The Devil’s in the chapel on Whitsunday.
Children in the narthex singin’ “Go, Pops, go!”
Beer and sausage later and a bauernbrot roll.

The Devil cast his head down for he knew that he’d been bested.
And he paid his dues for the golden shoes down by the bench now rested.
Johnny said, “Now come on back, you hear, if you ever have just cause,
But prepare to be stunned, you son of a gun, ‘cause I’m the best there ever was.”
And he played:

“Sacred Head now Wounded.” Play, Bach, Play!
The Devil’s in the chapel on Whitsunday.
Children in the narthex singin’ “Go, Pops, go!”
Beer and sausage later and a bauernbrot roll.


The collection containing first published short story is due out July 16, and is available for preorder right now! The book is called This Is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death and centers around the idea of a machine which, given a small blood sample, prints a small slip of paper containing the method of your eventual death. Of course, there is a certain Delphic uncertainty to it: a reading of MEDICINE might refer to a fatal reaction to a drug, or maybe a missed dose of an important prescription. But it could also be fulfilled through being crushed by a falling pharmacy shelf, or a snapped spine after slipping on spilled cough syrup.
The collection is the sequel to Machine of Death, published in 2010. Like the original, each story is named with a particular prediction (which are customarily listed in all caps), and some of the stories begun their intrigue with the words of the title itself: “FLAMING MARSHMALLOW,” “HEAT DEATH OF THE UNIVERSE,” “NOTHING,”and “HIV INFECTION FROM MACHINE OF DEATH NEEDLE,” for example.

My submission, one of around thirty selected from the thousand or so entries, is titled “ROCK AND ROLL,” and was released in advance as a preview for the book, so it’s available here. Give it a read, if you’re so inclined. If you enjoy it, go check out the original book and preorder a copy of the second volume!

Okay This Time For Real

I’ve redesigned the site and just you wait… I’m going to actually start writing blog posts more often than every two years. Really! No, seriously! This time I’m really going to do it.

Hey, stop laughing! I’m serious! Just you wait.