It ain’t all sunshine and rainbows, peeps: A tale of fail

Hubris! Ah, so pious and moral, even now! [Hoade] always thought he had all the answers. But he had none—nothing but clever ways to [write]! [Zombie books] … [stories about giant cysts] … and now, this. And his arrogance finally killed him!

— Marcus Fenix, Gears of War

Everybody fails sometimes.

Babe Ruth didn’t hit a home run every time he stepped up to the plate. NASA couldn’t get Apollo 13 onto the moon. J.K. Rowling wrote A Casual Vacancy. And Yours Truly wrote half of a bizarro novel.

Yes, Mexican Ninjas Ate My Balls is now officially on the (s)crap pile. I was writing and writing, hitting good word count marks each day, trying to get the novella done by August 1st. The publisher even told me I could have until August 10th, which was quite nice of them.

They were so nice, in fact, that I found I could not continue the abomination that is the 17,000 words or so of Mexican Ninjas. It’s a classic case of following the advice of one’s publisher, agent, producer, or readers too exactly and ending up with a lifeless husk. (That’s redundant — few “husks” are alive, but just stay with me here.)


I said husks. With an s.

My fail shall now be your joy as you see me completely undone by trying to shoehorn something that wasn’t organic into a container that was … um …fuck it, by me trying to do what wasn’t right for me. I think it has some good stuff in it, but it’s nothing I would feel overly comfortable asking people to pay money for.

So find it below, in all its half-done glory. I would REALLY love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments or by email or any way, really.

Onward to the books I’m being paid (eventually) to write!

     “What you want these for?” the fat butcher-san asked Claudio as he handed over the burlap sack, which already was starting to stain through from its juicy contents.
      “I like the taste.”
      “You like the taste?” the butcher sputtered. “These not from baby pigs, like what you people put in burrito or whatever. These from adult buta, they full of boar taint. Smell!”
      Claudio didn’t have to open the sack to detect the armpit-dirty-socks wave of stench emanating from the thirty pounds of pork testicles, but he did, just to show the man he knew what he was doing.
      “Not even inu eat boar taint. Not even starving dog!”

      Without arguing further, Claudio handed over the yen for his muy repugnante bag of cojones …

Click here to keep reading Mexican Ninjas Ate My Balls

Allow me to explain my work in progress, Mexican Ninjas Ate My Balls

Hello, stalwart readers. I have published a couple of books on my own–the thriller Ain’t That America, the literary-historical fantasy Darwin’s Dreams, and the outré whatever-the-opposite-of-a-success-is story collection, Inappropriate Behavior. Those of you without lives of your own may recall the book that was picked up by Permuted Press (motto: “Enjoy the Apocalypse”) and led to my 10-book contract with them, Deadtown Abbey.

But now we’ve gone beyond the mire of self-publishing and into the real thing, publication for money and all the attendant fame that comes with selling more than 45 copies of your work during your lifetime.

Empty conference room

At a reading, sometimes you want to allow an extra five minutes for any stragglers.

The first and second books for Permuted, Deadtown Abbey and the initial entry in the Reviva Las Vegas! trilogy, Dead Man’s Hand, have been delivered and should come out in early- to mid-2015. The next book due for my beloved publisher is the first volume of what I had initially called World War Cthulhu but now must call something else because there are already two books with that title out in the world. It must be delivered by the end of October 2014. No sweat!


Okay, maybe a little.

In any case, I have decided that, since Stephen King says, “The first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season,” I will spend three of the four months between the delivery dates of each book for the Permuted contract writing said book. (My first drafts don’t take three months, so I include my own editing and rewriting in that time.) That leaves me with a month to do what I want! As long as it doesn’t require any money! And what I want to do which doesn’t require any money is write a bizarro novel. Actually, since the maximum words the greatest bizarro publisher, Eraserhead Press, wants for its books is 30,000 words — these books are meant to be devoured like salted peanuts and are just as delicious — it’s more of a novella. There’s plenty of time to write, edit, and rewrite one of those in 31 days!


“Dafuq did you say?”

Actually, because bizarro books, while they can be just as erudite and well-constructed as any other fiction, are often times meant just to be a blast of entertaining prose, writing them can be the most fun an author can have. The main, even only, rule is: Be entertaining.

Not as easy as it sounds. In fact, I have learned that every part of writing a (good) bizarro novel isn’t as easy as it sounds. Because I worked with an editor at Eraserhead to help decide what story idea of the many that I had would be best suited for them, I was able to see his mind at work. Together we shaped a kind of nebulous idea I had about what happens when a macho gang member gets his testicles cut off into something that someone might actually, y’know, want to read.

My original title for this? Orchids Are Weeds. (See, because “orchids” are how cojones are scientifically referred to, and orchids are plants and “weeds” are plants people want to get rid of, right, so the “orchids” being removed comes to be seen as a good thing. BOOM: Orchids Are Weeds.) So literary, so deep! So not a title that would make even one person pick up this book!


“I see, orchids for testes. How very droll. Yeah, think I’m gonna pass.”

So in trying to come up with ideas for a title, I mentioned that in the plot we had worked out (or that I had worked out by continually bombarding the poor man until he said yes just to make me stop) had a corps of “ninjas” who became obsessed with castrating people. Since literally any string of random letters would be a more marketable title than Orchids Are Weeds, we tossed some ideas back and forth like Castrating Ninjas Must Die and my editor’s favorite, Ninjas Ate My Balls. I liked the title because it was crazy fun, and then my editor reminded me–very sensibly, I might add–that if we went with this title there would have to be a scene in the book in which ninjas actually eat someone’s balls.


The texture is like Spam, but with less hair.

So I started writing this book, this now-entertainingly titled Ninjas Ate My Balls, and found myself writing about a Latino man living in an unnamed but pretty obviously Japanese city that rhymes with “Oakio.” Then, as I wrote, this disconnect between cultures became more and more of the basis of the story. So ultimately I had to–had to–change the title to Mexican Ninjas Ate My Balls. I love this title. It’s stupid and it’s funny and I think it makes you want to pick up the book and see what the hell is going on. Remember, Eraserhead Press is the home of Carlton Mellick III, the man who put bizarro on the map with books such as Satan BurgerThe Haunted Vagina, and Cuddly Holocaust. He has put out 44 books, all with psychotic premises that actually investigate the human condition as incisively as anything written by a New York Times bestselling author.


He’s also less weird-looking than Joyce Carol Oates.

So, by the end of July (or maybe like August 2) the book will be ready to send off to my bizarro publisher for its debut at BizarroCon 2014 in November. Then I begin the Cthulhu novel. Let us pray.