Sunday, October 25, 2009

Gilligan's Island Redux

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this little town
Aboard this Toyota…. something that rhymes with trip.

So it’s not as good as the original Gilligan’s Island lyrics, but I’ve had a rough couple of days.

Saturday, Rachel, proprietress of, and I were scheduled to speak at a paranormal panel at a library in Hardin County, Ky, which is a three-hour drive away from Paducah. We decided to ride together to be environmentally responsible and because we have fun when we get together. We have similarly sick senses of humor. And because I’d never been to this library branch and had no idea how to get there. However, Rachel and her husband, Clif, have made several trips to Radcliff.

This becomes important later.

We started our trip about four hours before we were due at the library, figuring that would give us extra time to arrive. We took off down the interstate, Clif tells Rachel, be sure to tell me when to turn onto the West Kentucky Parkway. Rachel and I start talking about books, interesting little publishing anecdotes, etc. The next we know, she says, “Hey what’s that building doing there?” I look up and say, “I think we’re in Clarksville.”

As in Tennessee.

From there we managed to drive up to Bowling Green, only to realize we’d taken several more wrong turns (each of us leading the car astray at least once) and would never make it in time. We called the library to explain our mind-boggling ability to take a wrong directional choice in any given situation. We pleaded, groveled and begged apologies, then rescheduled the event, which had been plagued with other complications… that were in no way related to our collective dysfunctional internal compass. We headed for Nashville, thinking it would be easier to just catch the interstate and head back up (through Clarksville, ironically enough.) to Paducah. We stopped at this great aquarium-themed restaurant (you know how I love captive fish.) We were still having a pretty good time together, an adventure, despite the fact that we’d accomplished nothing but have lunch that day.

We departed the restaurant knowing exactly which way to get the interstate to get to Kentucky…

Famous last words.

Rachel and I started talking again and then I said, “Hey guys, did that sign say, 15 miles to Bowling Green?”

And that’s when I started hyperventilating a little bit.

Long story short, we called my husband, who thought I was teasing him when I explained that I was in Bowling Green at the time I was supposed to be returning home.

“Did you put Toonces the Driving Cat behind the wheel?” he asked, because he loves to reference obscure Saturday Night Live characters.

After he figured out, A) I was NOT kidding, and B) I was just this side of panicky, he stopped teasing me and explained the fastest way home from Bowling Green. And every time we approached an important turn, Rachel and I shut the hell up.

Right around Princeton, Rachel says, “Oh, no.”

And I thought, “If she forgot something important in Nashville, I am getting out of the car and hitchhiking home to Paducah.”

“I jinxed us!” Rachel said. “This morning, I sang the Gilligan’s Island theme song and joked about how funny it would be if our three-hour tour turned into us being lost all day!”

Then, I spent the next hour trying to figure out which one of us was Gilligan in this situation.

Final answer: We were all equally guilty of wearing the goofy white hat at some point during the day.

The lesson in all this is that one, stuff happens. The most reliable people on earth can screw up big time and sometimes there's just nothing you can do about it but apologize profusely. And two, if you're going to get lost repeatedly, and spend ten hours in a car with people, make sure it's people you have a lot of fun with.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Very Bad Movies... And You Will Love Them

I am known for having bad taste in movies. And the wealth of Halloween-themed movies playing is practically a bad movie buffet to satisfy my cravings. If you enjoy schlocky brain candy and you see the following showing on cable, STOP IMMEDIATELY and watch.

The Fallen Ones (2005) - A giant mummy is unearthed in an American desert, then comes to life when his angel father decides it’s time to rain down some Biblical destruction on humanity. Thank God Casper Van Dien and Robert Wagner (Robert FREAKIN Wagner!) are there to stop it.

The Crow: Wicked Prayer (2005) - David Boreneaz as a sociopathic thrill-killer who murders Edward Furlong’s girlfriend as he leads his merry band of Satanists to ritual guaranteeing …. Oh, Lord, I don’t know. I stopped caring when Dennis Hopper made an appearance as a psychotic pimp. After that, I just watched it for the “train wreck in slow motion” factor. I love me some David Boreanaz, but I think there’s a reason he hasn’t made many movies.

The Crow: Salvation (2000) – Apparently, when a serial killer sews your mouth shut, you can just cut the stitches out and continue talking/fighting off said serial killer without any problems. Well done, Kirsten Dunst.

P.S. Stop with the freaking Crow sequels already!

Route 666 (2001) - Lou Diamond Phillips. Federal agents who make time on witness transfers for some back-seat nookie. And zombies who kill people with jackhammers. Need I say more?

Children of the Night (1991) - Amy Dolenz and Peter Deluise against a wholesome all-American town turned vampire. Possibly the only vampire movie in which the undead sleep underwater, breathing though exterior lung-sacs. Yes. Really.

Abominable (2006) – A new take on Sasquatch. And boy, Sasquatch is pissed. Next shown at 11 a.m., Oct. 28 on SyFy.

Boo! (2005) – As if you need more reasons not to visit creepy abandoned hospitals. This one’s interesting in that the ghosts can take over dead bodies, and when they’re destroyed, the bodies explode into goo. That’s pretty much all that’s interesting about it.

Shallow Ground (2004) – OK, this one is actually a pretty high concept venture. Victims of violent death return from the grave all over the world to exact revenge on their murderers. And apparently, when you’ve killed a whole bunch of people in your work as a creepy “turn people into life-size puppets” serial killer, they all merge into one unnerving blood-covered super-victim. If not for the terrible, terrible acting, this wouldn’t have made my list. But it does star Stan Kirsch, my favorite supporting actor from the Highlander series. You can catch this one at 3 a.m., Oct. 24, on SyFy.

Mortuary (2005) - This one actually scared me pretty badly. A widow takes over a decrepit funeral home in an effort to make a fresh start for her two children… because decrepit funeral homes are a great place for kids. Honestly, who would be surprised when zombies start popping up? What makes this one different is that the zombies are created by a gross, oozy substance that crawls up from beneath the funeral home through the walls and plumbing. Seriously, try taking a shower if you can make it all the way through this one.

And finally: Piñata: Survival Island (2002) – I tuned into this movie because it “stars” Nicholas Brendon, my dearest Xander, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Xander and his college buddies, including Jaime Pressley, have learned nothing from any horror movie, ever, because they use their spring break to isolate themselves on a remote island with their sorority/frat friends for drunken fun and games. Should it have been any surprise when an evil piñata comes to life and murders them all? OK, in that situation, I probably wouldn’t have guessed “evil piñata” right away, but still…

From what I’ve read, Brendon and Pressley showed up to the set thinking that the movie was supposed to be a parody of bad horror movies, and found out too late that they were wrong. I’m choosing to believe that. And this one is showing at 4:15 a.m. Oct. 29 and 9:45 a.m. Oct. 30, on AMC!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Guest Interview: Beth Fantaskey Returns!

You may recall our friend Beth Fantaskey, whom I interviewed earlier this year to discuss her fantastic YA vampire novel, JESSICA'S GUIDE TO DATING ON THE DARK SIDE.

And you also may recall my shameless, petulant whining for a sequel, expanding on the main character's relationship with her dark, brooding vampire prince, Lucius. Jessica Packwood has always known she was adopted. She did not know she was the last princess born to a noble and ancient vampire line. Or that she was promised in marriage to the son of a rival royal vampire clan in a ceremony just after she was born. When her betrothed- posing as a yummy, if somewhat arrogant foreign exchange student from Romania- shows up on her first day of senior year to demand her hand, her whole world is turned upside-down. As the book comes to a close, Jessica is faced with her greatest task yet, planning the royal wedding that will unite Lucius' house with her own.

While Beth has spent the last few months focusing on her next project, JEKEL LOVES HYDE, instead of catering to my every whim, she's done the next best thing. She's planning Jessica's wedding online!

So, welcome back to the blog, Beth! How have you been? How had life changed since we saw you last?

Beth Fantaskey: This fall has been crazy. I’m teaching two nights a week at a university, putting the finishing touches on Jekel Loves Hyde, “hosting” Jess and Lucius’s wedding (see below!), and of course seeing to the care and feeding of my five- and six-year-old kids. I swear, I had just thought, “Okay, I can handle all of this as long as nothing goes wrong,” when I fell down an entire flight of stairs and broke my hand. So now I’m trying to learn to do everything one-handed. It’s a little challenging! But it’ll all get done…

MH: So tell us about the online wedding package people can find at Be sure to mention the catch the bouquet contest, which has received more than 1,000 responses! (Wow!)

Beth: The wedding has been amazingly fun. Ever since my book came out, readers have been asking to see the main characters, Jess and Lucius, get married. So this summer, I asked fans to serve as “bridesmaids” and help me plan the wedding. They voted on the dress, the location, the music – and whether the ceremony should be sealed with a bite or a kiss, since Jess and Lucius are vampires. Now I’m writing and posting the wedding chapters on my website. It’s challenging to generate a few chapters every other day, but the response has been great. I’m hosting a “catch the bouquet” contest, and I have well over 1,000 entries already. (Thanks to everyone who’s left comments!)

To enter the contest and qualify for a prize package including a signed copy of Jessica's Guide, one of the very first advance copies of her new books, a T-shirt with the Jessica's Guide cover art, and other fun surprises, click here.

MH: Why did you start the additional online content? Was it because of shameless begging from people like me who desperately want a sequel?

Beth: I don’t like to use the word “begging…” But there have been a lot of sequel requests. Since I really couldn’t focus on that while completing Jekel Loves Hyde, I thought the wedding would be a way to thank everybody who asked for more of Jess and Lucius.

MH: Does it feel strange to plan a wedding for your characters? Does “Jessica” make the choices, or are you basically planning the wedding you always wanted?

Beth: No, this is purely Jess’s wedding! I see it all through her eyes – and the eyes of the readers who helped plan it. Although I have to admit, I’ve loved putting it all together. So romantic!

MH: Is this going to lead to another Jessica book? Or will it remain online content?

Beth: I am definitely seriously considering a sequel… but it’s too soon to make promises. If it does happen, the story would pick up after the wedding, which I’ll keep posted on my site.

MH: Tell us about Jekel Loves Hyde.

Beth: It’s the story of two teenagers who discover that they share a mysterious connection to the old Robert Louis Stevenson novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. As they work to solve the puzzle, they become more attracted – and more dangerous – to one another. It’s got lots of twists and turns – and romance, of course!

And it's available in bookstores and Amazon in May 2010.

MH:What’s next for you?

Beth: Getting this cast off! That’s the next big event on my calendar. (See how I skillfully avoided that word “sequel?”)

You're a slippery one, Beth!

Be sure to check out Beth's contests and online content at!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Character Graveyard is LIVE... so to speak

The new Character Graveyard feature at is up and going.

A while back, I joked with my agent, Stephany, that I needed to start an online memorial for my "fallen characters," - the characters cut from my manuscripts because they're bogging the story down. So, with the publication of NICE GIRLS DON'T DATE DEAD MEN, I am eulogizing the darker, creepier version of Adam Morrow, who was cut from DEAD MEN and NICE GIRLS DON'T LIVE FOREVER.

I'll add more memorials as more characters are ruthlessly eliminated.