Friday, March 29, 2013

The Rattlesnake Challenge: Making a deal with the universe

When I was a kid, my dad was a pastor of a church in Sweetwater, TX. Sweetwater, in case you didn't know (which, let's all admit it, you didn't) is the Rattlesnake Capital of the World. Yup, that's what runs through my veins. Rattlesnake venom. (And you think I'm kidding)

So, my dad, in keeping with the culture in which we lived, presented a challenge to our church. If they were able to do...something (I don't really remember what. Get a specific number of attendees on a Sunday morning? Give a certain amount to missions? All come on time for once? Who knows.) he would handle a baby rattler on a Sunday morning.

Well, all these fine Texans who loved their pastor went crazy over the idea of seeing him potentially get bitten by a deadly viper, and they responded beyond his wildest expectations. So my dad had to keep up his end of the bargain.

He brought in a baby rattle to church. He's lucky this was the days before Twitter.

Eventually he did consent and handled an actual rattlesnake, which, as best as I can recall, looked something like this.

Now, I was thinking about this story and also about this story from my friend Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of Lost Cities and Let The Sky Fall (not the line from the Adele song, but the much longer novel). She made a deal with the universe that, if her book sold, she would post a rather embarrassing video of herself from a game show.

Unfortunately, (and I mean that. I'm attention hungry. Heck, I'm half-way to Histrionic-ville.) I made no such deals before my book sold to Simon & Schuster. Which means I have no good reason to post anything about myself.

And I'd be remiss if I ever let that happen again.

So, here it is, my list of DEALS WITH THE UNIVERSE!!!!!!!

If The Troubles of Johnny Cannon gets...

A starred review...I will release a video of the 10-year-old me dancing like an absolute fool.
Hits a bestseller list...I will release a video of myself dancing in a dress to "Respect" by Aretha Franklin.
Gets a movie deal...I will release a video of me diving into a pool of chocolate sauce.

If my twitter feed gets...
500 followers...I will release a video of me singing "I Feel Pretty" from West Side Story.
1,000 followers...I will release a video of me singing "I'm Every Woman."
5,000 followers...I will release a video of me singing "It's Raining Men."
10,000 followers...I will release a video of me singing "Born This Way."
(Yes, I realize all these are songs that will put me in touch with my feminine side. I like my feminine side.)

And, finally, for every subsequent book that my agent sells, I will release a video of me singing the logline for it.

So there you go, universe! The ball is in your court.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

1961 in GIFs (Vol. 1)

Over on my tumblr, I've started to illustrate the beauty of 1961 through some animated GIFs. Here's a sampling:

In 1961, President Kennedy made a historic speech
The Yankees beat the Reds for another World Series Championship
Gidget danced the Mambo
Elvis sang topless
A cartoon songwriter wrote Cruella DeVille
And some crazy band called The Beatles played their first concert at the Cavern Club
And, in The Troubles of Johnny Cannon, a kid from Alabama had to face the most dangerous people he could imagine just so he could take care of his Pa.

To see all these in context and more, head over to my tumblr.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Yellow and Purple Sky of 1961

In my research for my book The Troubles of Johnny Cannon (Coming 2014 from S&S) I came across an odd phenomenon in comic books. Check out these covers:

And then there are these ones:
Notice anything odd? Yup, that's right...
In the 60s, the sky was Yellow and Pink.

Now, why on earth was the sky such an odd hue? How did this happen?

Personally, I blame the impending nuclear war at the time. Comic book writers knew that, with nuclear radiation damaging our atmosphere and our corneas, we'd all be facing a sky that was no longer blue, or at least didn't look that way to most of us. So they decided to help us, prepare us for the impending apocalypse.

This, my good friends, is the value of comics. Preparing you and I for impending doom since 1961.

(NOTE: All images courtesy of
(NOTE 2: There's also the chance that yellow and pink are more eye-catching than blue. But I doubt it.)