Self portrait

Before the coffee works its magic . . .
An excerpt...

From Batista Unleashed . . . Dave is on his way to Nebraska, via a late connection to Chicago

We get up to Chicago just about the time our plane is scheduled to leave the gate. Our checked carry-on luggage is late coming out, and for nearly ten minutes we stand around shivering in a boarding tunnel so cold that Kennedy’s hair freezes. Finally the bags come, and after following a maze out of the tunnel area we arrive at a gate right next to the one where our plane was supposed to leave from.

Here’s a bit of luck – the plane hasn’t finished boarding yet.

Two harried looking gate attendants are handling tickets. Of course, all three of us head toward the cute looking woman, Attendant # 1.

When we get there, we find out that her computer seems to be rebelling, maybe because the flight is so damn late, or maybe because it had heavy money on the Bears and they’re getting stomped in the Super Bowl.

Whatever, she works around it, and somehow gets the machine to spit out boarding passes. For some reason Lashley gets four passes, but there are plenty of seats left open on the plane and the clerk tells him not to worry about it.

We shuffle over to the door, where Attendant #2 is living out his god fantasy by calling the names of the three people he managed to check in, anointing them with his blessing as he sweeps his hand toward the door.

Which he then closes in our faces.

“That’s it. Plane is full,” says Attendant #2.

“Well why the fuck did you give me a boarding pass?” says a passenger standing with us. “What the fuck is going on?” (For the record, he wasn’t a wrestler. And I’m toning down his language.)

Attendant #2 squints an Undertaker-like eyeball at him.

“What boarding pass?” he asks.

The passenger shoves it in his face.

“That other attendant just said there’s plenty of empty seats. You got half the plane sitting here, waiting to get on.”

Attendant #2 takes the boarding pass and holds it up to the light to make sure it’s not counterfeit. He frowns when he sees that it’s genuine, then goes over to the other attendant to confer. Smelling the possibility of blood – and having to get on the plane – we follow along.

After a short conference, Attendant #2 admits that the pass is genuine, but begins berating the passenger for not speaking up.

“What the fuck do you think I’m doing now?” says the passenger.

Attendant #2 ignores him, grudgingly stepping aside for him to pass into the plane.

“Who else have ticket?” asks Attendant #2.

Along with the rest of the stranded passengers, we hand in our passes. Attendant #2 shuffles them and begins calling out our names. Things are going well until he gets to Bobby Lashley.

“Why do I have four tickets for this man?” says Attendant #2. “Where is this man, this Lashley?”

Lashley steps over to explain that there was a computer screw-up, and that he only wanted the two seats he’d paid for. Because the seats on commuter planes are so cramped, a lot of us, myself included, will routinely pay for two seats; it’s more comfortable for us and the people who would have to sit next to us on the flight.

But Attendant #2 isn’t buying that explanation. No one in his experience would pay for two tickets, let alone show up with four. Now he is certain there is a vile network of boarding pass counterfeiters working in the airport. He is determined that they will not get by on his watch.

“No!” he shouts. “This cannot be! No four passes!”

“Well it is,” says Lashley calmly.

“What will you do with four seats?”

“I only want two,” says Lashley. “Your computer screwed up.”

“Computer does not fail,” insists Attend #2.

“It didn’t fail, it screwed up.”

“No, impossible.”

“Don’t mess with me, man,” mumbles Lashley. “I beat up people for a living.”

To be continued . . .

Batista in Ridgewood, NJ . . .

Four hundred and twenty-five books. The line stretched down the block, around another block, through a pizzeria and into a condo project.

And he signed every one.

I drank coffee.
I didn't start the viral . . .

If more than thirty percent of this is familiar to you, you're spending far too much time on the internet...
Taliban and sheep

Who says my readers don't have a sense of humor? Gunny sends this, a new (probably not, but I'm always the last to know) variation on an old theme:

News reported today that the Taliban are using sheep to detect mines. They send them into a field and if they're blown up, they have dinner. If they make it through alive, they have a date. Works perfectly.

Where I'm supposed to be

Bucharest . . . The traffic jams make me feel like home. I ordered nice weather, too...
The wrong New Jersey

. . . but she's still pretty, ain't she?
Softball questions . . .

So my travel agent screwed up and instead of sending me to Romania I ended up in northern New Jersey. It was an understandable mistake and I'm sure a lot of people don't know the difference. So far it's been unending fun and if I squint at the signs just right they look like they're Romanian.

Some of them are probably written in Romanian, part of the New Jersey transportation department's campaign to make getting around the state even more impossible than it already is. I'd slow down enough to identify the alphabet but traveling at anything less than the speed of a Bruce Springsteen song is dangerous here.

Fortunately I spent some formative years in the state and every so often I pass a landmark that looks familiar. There was a cemetery I passed last night where I'm sure I puked in when I was fourteen or fifteen. Several times, in fact.

The puking, not the passing. Once I saw it I found my way easily.

I still have some time here but so far I haven't gotten lost and even have learned a thing or two. The tour started with a reading group that graciously allowed me to sit closest to the door and didn't even bother to insist I check my weapons. They asked easy questions, too, like, "Who's your favorite author?"

The last one who bought me a drink, of course.
But it's Italy . . .

Undoubtedly the next big story in the so-called blogsphere:

Italian bloggers are protesting at a proposed law that would force them to register with the government in order to write a blog, even a personal one with no commercial purpose.

Political blogger Beppe Grillo has highlighted the passing of a draft law by Italy's Council of Ministers which he says requires every blogger to register with the state.

"The law lays out that anyone with a blog or a website has to register it with the ROC, a register of the Communications Authority, produce certificates, pay a tax, even if they provide information without any intention to make money," said Grillo on his own blog.

That's from

Only a few bloggers have picked up on the story, with no MSM coverage yet, so who knows if it's really true. But let's say it is - this is Italy we're talking about. Not paying taxes is a birthright there. And about half the population is listed at the local police station for having dangerous opinions, generally about someone's pasta sauce or a foreign soccer team.
Leopard related . . .

ScienceDaily (2007-10-23) -- A rare Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis), one of only an estimated 30 left in the wild has been captured and health-checked by experts from a consortium of conservation organizations, before being released.
The leopard was found in Primorye, which is in the Russian Far East, down near North Korea and China. A long way from Afghanistan . . .
They got a bum rap

PHILADELPHIA (Oct. 22) - Philadelphia is home to the least attractive people in the United States, a survey of visitors and residents showed on Friday.
I can think of twenty places worse just out of the cities I've been to in the past year . . .
Creative excuses

So I didn't get much work done yesterday because a helicopter spent about an hour circling my house. I finally got annoyed and took the binoculars to check him out - like to see who I'm shooting before letting loose. All I could see was some bozo leaning out the cockpit with a camera in his face. Chopper buzzed out soon after.

Talked to one of my editors and he wasn't impressed:

"This isn't going to end up being an excuse for missing a deadline, is it?"

It's early Monday morning, and to start the week off right I decide to visit the local diner, which has just reopened for the fifth time in the past three years. I shuffle in, head down, find a booth, which isn't too hard because I'm the only customer. A few seconds after I sit down, the booth is cast in dark shadow.

"My name is Pansy and I'll be your waitress."

I look up into the cold steel eyes of a woman who stands six-six in sensible shoes. I'm not brave enough to guess her weight. Her shoulders are wider than Michael Strahan's.* Her voice has the mellow tones of a grizzly purring at its soon-to-be-dinner.

"Coffee?" she asks.


"Real or decaf?" She says decaf with a sneer, daring me to cross her.


"Be ready to order when I come back."

It's going to be a long week.

* = NY Giants defensive end.
When writers talk about books . . .

A few months back, a friend (??) invited me to talk to his book club about Leopards Kill, and after much consideration I did what I always do when I've had too much to drink: I mumbled "what the hell." Under most circumstances that's a safe thing to say, but it proved fatal here.

The day of reckoning looms tomorrow . . . the worst thing is that they set the session up for early in the morning, so there is no way to appear not incoherent*, unless I stay up all night and drink copious amounts of coffee beforehand, in which case I'll come off like a caffeined-out incoherent zombie madman, which may or may not be an improvement over my regular self.

Writers are always at a disadvantage when they're talking about books, or at least about their books. For one thing, it's generally been a long time since you've written the damn thing -- in this case it's almost two years -- and unless you're the type who memorizes what you write (some of us are quite obsessed), you're bound to forget a few things . . .

Like the name of the main character and the plot.

It's not so much that I forget; it's just that I mix these things up with the book I'm working on now, or the ones in between. So all of a sudden I'm talking about Romania, pro wrestlers and World War II, when I should be talking about Afghanistan and the Heart of Darkness.

There's also the fact that a book is always a much different experience for the writer than it is for the reader. I don't mean just in the sense that everyone gets something different out of a book. Well I do mean that, but that's just a small part of it. Writing is a physical act of sensory deprivation and self-induced lunacy -- to do it, you sit in a room and talk to yourself all day. Or in my case you pace madly around the room and rant to the gods, kick the furniture and wonder where you left your coffee cup. For a writer, a book is journey out of chaos -- you wander from incoherency and mass confusion to something that, hopefully, is a focused tale that evokes both emotion and thought in the reader. It's the journey that's interesting, not the destination; discovery is the reason you keep doing it over and over. I never really know what a book is about until I'm working on it, and even then sometimes I only consciously know small parts of what it's about. It's that act of searching, and the surprise that comes with it, that makes it worth doing again and again and again.

At least that's my excuse.

But wandering around a room and running your head against the wall until something comes loose is not what the book is "about" for a reader. And while I certain read books, there's no way I can ever really be a reader of my own books. I don't know what it's like to read them, any more than I know what it's like to write Moby Dick or Sheila Does the Nasty with a Goat. I can talk about the themes and things I was interested in, the things I learned writing the book, but I have to figure -- hope, maybe -- that the book is a much better statement of those things than anything I can say in a few minutes, hours or even days.

Which I guess means that I better pack something stronger than Starbucks for the meeting. It's in New Jersey, at least . . . . the gun laws are comparatively lax.

*not incoherent = a much lower standard of coherence than "merely coherent," and not to be confused with understandable
The ultimate lawn ornament

What my neighbors are like . . .

Man charged with Halloween siege of neighbor's house, lawn ornament

October 12, 2007

Highland — This Halloween trick ended up with the suspect behind bars.

An intoxicated man attacked his neighbor's inflatable Halloween lawn decoration and then used his head to smash a window to get inside the home Thursday night, according to state police in Highland.

Dawn Garcia said she could hear hollering and swearing outside her home on Kisor Road Thursday night. She spotted her neighbor, John Odee, struggling with the inflatable decoration of three ghosts and a pumpkin.

"He was enraged. I could see that," Garcia said.

When she yelled at him to go away, she said Odee started running toward the house. As she and three of her children scrambled to get out the back door, she heard the window glass breaking.

She called 911 from a neighbor's house, and state police and Town of Lloyd police arrived to find Odee inside the house. They took him into custody after a brief struggle.

The rest of the story . . .


Some of it just made no sense. But it was fun anyway.

Batista Unleashed
Dave Batista (aka Dave Bautista)
w/ Jeremy Roberts

Taking research too far

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AP) -- An aspiring horror novelist was arrested after police discovered his girlfriend's torso in his closet, a leg in the refrigerator and bones in a cereal box, the city prosecutor's spokesman said Thursday.


Jose Luis Calva receives medical attention after being hit by a car while trying to elude police on October 8.

Nearby they found the draft of a novel titled "Cannibalistic Instincts," said the official, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity.

Jose Luis Calva told police he had boiled some of his girlfriend's flesh but that he hadn't eaten it, the spokesman said.

The official also confirmed other details released by the prosecutor's office Wednesday night: that body parts were spread throughout the apartment, and that Calva is being investigated in the deaths of three women whose mutilated bodies had been found in and around the capital.

The prosecutor's office said Calva tried to escape when officers entered his apartment, but was struck by a car and hasn't recovered enough to give a formal statement to police.

Police had come to Calva's apartment Monday to investigate the disappearance of his girlfriend, Alejandra Galeana, a 30-year-old pharmacy clerk and single mother, according to the prosecutor's office.

The office said that parts of her dismembered body was discovered in a closet, the refrigerator and inside a cereal box.

Calva also is being investigated in the mutilation killings of an unidentified prostitute in April and an ex-girlfriend whose body was found in 2004, the prosecutor's office said.

Dogboy was feeling kind of down after the Yankee loss the other night and rather than having him hang around my office and shoot .44 caliber holes in the dictionaries like last year, I took him down to one of the local bars and bought him a beer. Buying Dogboy any amount of beer can be a dangerous thing, but I took the normal precautions, locking his weapons in my gun safe and tucking some emergency bail money in the bottom of my boot.

Somewhere in the middle of Dogboy's second beer a woman with black hair and blond roots sat down next to us. Dogboy glanced at her, then did the eye roll thing he does.

"Never saw a blonde dye her hair black before," he said. He was pretending to talk to me but the comment was clearly meant for her.

"I never saw a talking asshole with a buzz cut before," said the woman.

I guess that passed for witty in her corner of reality.

Ordinarily, Dogboy would respond to a putdown that poor by calling the bartender over and buying the woman a drink out of sheer sympathy. But he was in one of his moods that night and instead of turning the other cheek threw his beer in her face.

She jumped on him. He fell off the barstool and they rolled on the floor, knocking over a couple of chairs and breaking a table in the process. The table was kind of beat anyway, but the bartender decided that as a matter of policy he couldn't encourage that sort of thing, and called the police.

One thing led to another. The bail money came in handy. And Dogboy called me up this morning to say he and Blondroots are getting married next month in Vegas.
Driving with Dave

So we're someplace in southern Illinois or maybe it was Iowa or even Nebraska and we're going through a bunch of little towns and we're talking about Dave's family and daughters and things get a little emotional and suddenly he's talking about the father of his grandchild and how he died and it's really a moving little story that will be great in the book.

And I realize that, so I check the digital recorder to make sure it's working and it is, which is always good.

Then I look up and realize we're moving pretty fast - really fast as a matter of fact - faster than even I like to drive and I'm the world record holder for driving from NYC to Iowa City. And I look over at Dave and he's in the middle of the story and very, very emotional and it is a great story that's getting better with every word - and with every word he pushes down on the gas pedal a little harder.

Houses are flying by in a blur and we whip past an F-15 that's just lit his afterburners. So I think to myself, should I mention that we're about to break the speed barrier, break his concentration and risk losing this really good stuff for the book, or should I just go with it? Then I realize that dying in a Towncar that's traveling at light speed would make for a pretty tight epilogue so I keep my mouth shut and hold the recorder closer to his face.

It's a good book. I really had nothing to do with what's good in it. Check it out.
The difference between true crime and novels . . .

Jack the Ripper writes nonfiction and history and a bunch of other things, but he got his start as a true crimer and that's where his instincts are. The other day he calls up and says he gave his agent a new proposal.

Jack: She had some good suggestions. I told her 'fuck you.'
Me: Then what?
J: Then I did them.
M: That's the difference between what you do and fiction - I'd tell her thanks and then not do them.

Don't want to get kicked out of the union . . .
True lies . . .

The Rogue Warrior series mixed reality with fiction long before I snuck aboard, and Dick still goes to great lengths to make sure the "real world" factor is high. So it wasn't exactly a surprise to see that developments in Korea are paralleling . . . kind of . . . the plot of the next book.

There are a lot of instances, though, where things have to be fictionalized not because they'll make a better story that way, but because people just won't believe real life. In Rogue Warrior Vengeance, for example, all of the scenarios involving Homeland Security are based on real life. Some of the failures, however, had to be fictionalized to make things seem more difficult than they really were . . . because . . . people would have a shit fit if they knew how easy it really is to cause major mayhem.

So read the book now and be afraid; be very afraid.

And yes, we do back off on the details and in some cases use misdirection to protect "the family jewels." You won't find the precise directions for constructing a nuke in any of the books. For that you have to go on the internet . . .
Eggheads in Afghanistan

Usual kidding aside, the idea is a good one. I can't speak for the execution . . .

Army Enlists Anthropology in War Zones
Published: October 5, 2007

In an experimental program, anthropologists are paired with American combat units in Afghanistan and Iraq...

Most of the story involves Afghanistan, and includes part of the province where much of Leopards Kill is set.

The full URL . . .
Who leaked the new Rogue Warrior plot?

Apparently the world's favorite slimebag dictator has a spy at Tor-Forge, where Dick Marcinko and I recently delivered the latest installment of the Rogue Warrior* series . . .

Kim Jong-il calls reports of his ill health "fiction"

Thu Oct 4, 2007 6:18am EDT

SEOUL, Oct 4 (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-il on Thursday denied he was in bad health, saying reports of him showing sign of illness were the work of "fiction writers."

Kim, 65, has been the subject of persistent speculation in the South about his health, and his less-than-robust appearance at a summit meeting with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun this week triggered more rumours that he may be seriously ill.

"They are reporting as if I have diabetes and even heart disease, but that's not the case at all," Kim said at a luncheon he hosted for the visiting South Korean leader.

* * *

The tentative title on the book, by the way, is DICTATOR'S RANSOM . . . It's due out some time next year, before or after the computer game . . .

* Rogue Warrior is a trademark, and if there's one person in the world I wouldn't fuck with, it's Dick...

From Publisher's Weekly:

Frustrated by the widespread sale of galleys, uncorrected proofs and other advanced reading copies online, the PMA board has unanimously passed a resolution urging all of its members to stop working with the online marketplaces that facilitate those sales. As a result of its action, the PMA has discontinued one of its membership benefits—a discount in the initial fees for selling books through AbeBooks, which lists approximately 200,000 galleys and other ARCs for sale...

. . . Scott Laming, a spokesperson for Abe, said it was unfortunate that PMA decided to end the discount special, but said Abe has no plans to change its policy. Under its guidelines, Abe requires that anyone listing a book for sale on its site has the legal right to sell the title. If a publisher contacts Abe questioning the right of a bookseller to sell a book, Laming said Abe will investigate the issue, “then work with the bookseller and the publisher to either resolve the situation or remove the listing.” But Laming noted that because Abe is a marketplace, it takes a “neutral position” on what its booksellers sell.

Neutral position, my ass - they just want to make money, and they don't care how they make it.

Look, if you want to deal in stolen material, no sweat - just have the balls to say so. My pal J*** does, and I respect him for it. He's sold me many things considerably more useful than advance galleys, and for very reasonable prices . . .

There's more to the article. Here's the URL - I believe this part of their web site at least is free:

PMA = the Publishers Marketing Association, which is a group of independent (read, small) publishers. The big publishers have problems with galleys being sold as well, but tend not to pick fights with retailers . . . or anyone, really, except authors. They also tend to lose far more real books than the number of ARCs they give away.

Now if the PMA was actually serious about this, its members would stop giving away so many ARCs indiscriminately . . . and make sure their own people weren't the ones selling them out the back door . . . or at least print the words "not for resale" in type bigger than 6 points on the very back of the cover.