The Most Important Thing I Did Today…

25 10 2012

Proudly wearing my “I voted early” sticker next to the wicked cool cameo my friend Z got me.

…was vote.

Yes, today marked my television debut on TMJ4’s The Morning Blend (live tv, no less…live morning tv, in fact), as well as the arrival of not one but two glowing reviews of Plaguewalker that made me turn Sin (the color of the blush they talked me into buying at Sephora. I now realize I don’t need to wear blush; I just need people to tell me constantly how wonderful the book is). If you haven’t seen the stories, check them out online at OnMilwaukee and the Shepherd Express.

(Big thanks to Kim, Molly, Tiffany and the rest of The Morning Blend crew, Bobby and Colleen at OnMilwaukee and Dave at the Shepherd Express, as well as Paul, for negating my need to apply powder blush.  I’ve been overwhelmed by how positive and encouraging the media has been about Plaguewalker. Returning to Milwaukee is coming home.)

Today may have been the height of the Plaguewalker media blitz, but the best moment of the day came when I completed my early voting ballot downtown (the second best moment of the day, I will admit, happened shortly before that, when I scored a sweet parking space right in front of the municipal building). It’s a privilege, people, and, maybe because I’ve lived and worked in places without any kind of democratic process, it means something to me.

Those of you who know me well are probably still stuck on that mention up top about being on tv, voluntarily, something I managed to avoid for more than a decade as a journalist. Yes, it’s true. As much as I would prefer to conduct publicity for Plaguewalker entirely from a remote (preferably subterranean) lair, I believe in the story enough to put on eyeliner and yak about it, and myself, in public.

I felt nauseous the entire time, but two things saved me from turning into a YouTube clip called “WOMAN VOMITS ON LIVE TV.”

Shaking and sure this would end in tears as I sat in the green room, I was lamely watching the show they had on the tv there. Maroon 5 came on–I am not a fan–and I was immediately taken back to the road trip my buddy Jeff and I took in New Zealand to go sea kayaking, when Jeff sang “Moves Like Jagger” in a perpetual loop for the sole purpose of annoying me (success!). Remembering that godawful song, how we nearly capsized the kayak miles from shore because we were trying to slop as much water as possible on each other while New Zealand fur seals swam all around us and looked at each other as if to say “what’s up with those two?” made me forget completely about my impending television debut.

When I was called to “get mic’ed” (okay, I admit, it is kind of cool to be told “we’re going to mic you now”), I discovered the segment before mine was a Well-Dressed Man fashion show, complete with rather fetching models. Well, hello.

By the time I sat down and chatted with Molly and Tiffany, I was totally oblivious to the cameras. Until about halfway through, when one of the presenters made a gesture and I followed it like a dog catching sight of a squirrel. I caught a glimpse of myself on the monitors.

EEK! I’m on tv! How the hell did that happen? Why?? Bring back those men! Bring back Maroon 5, fer crissakes, anything, anything other than my face on the screen! In the video you can see my eyes go wide and I lose my train of thought, but fortunately I asked myself WWMD? (What Would Marcus Do?) and recovered quickly.

By the way, I do not recommend adopting WWMD as a decision process. If you’ve read Plaguewalker, you’ll understand. And if you haven’t, well…here’s your chance. I’ll be reading from, talking about and signing copies of the novel 7 pm tomorrow (Friday the 26th) at Boswell Book Company, 2559 N. Downer Ave., and again 2 pm Saturday the 27th at Wauwatosa Public Library on 76th and North, where I’ll share billing with author Paul McComas.

After Saturday, the media blitz is blissfully over (for now…there are some other things in the pipeline) and I’ll be able to get back to editing The War’s End and a collection of short stories…and posting more about my trip to Norway, which quite frankly I enjoy writing about way more than myself!





Can You Hear Me Now?

22 10 2012

Today marks the start of the official Plaguewalker week (I know it’s official because I wrote it down in my planner, right below “laundry.”) Things kicked off with my very first radio interview ever* this morning on WUWM’s (89.7 FM) Lake Effect.

[Technically, I’ve been on radio twice before, during my years as pop music critic for The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The first time, I was a guest on a local rock show where the sum of my contribution was saying “absolutely” four separate times. The second was on a Top 40 station in Ohio or Iowa–one of those states that starts and ends with a vowel–providing thought-provoking, expert analysis on whether parents should let their tween daughters listen to Avril Lavigne. (Answer: uh, yeah.) The Lake Effect interview was, however, the first time I have said a full sentence on-air. And I said a lot of them.]

I was anxious about appearing on Lake Effect for a number of reasons. Wait. “Appearing on” doesn’t seem right. Sounding off? Voicing on? Whatever.

First, based on my previous radio moments (and they were moments) as well as my voicemail greetings past and present, I do not enjoy sounding like a sullen 16-year-old with a chronic sinus condition. I also hate that I ramble, that I use the word “and” the way Germans use “doch!” or as meaningless filler…aaaannd, oh, I could go on.

Then there’s the fact that I’ve listened to and enjoyed Lake Effect for years, largely because the guests always sound so smart and experty. I did not want to be memorable for being the first guest to, uhm, sound otherwise.

In any case, the Lake Effect studios are downright sexy. Everything is sleek and the lighting is as flattering as candlelight. Producer Stephanie Lecci made me feel like I was chatting with an old friend, and I almost forgot there was an enormous fuzzy microphone inches from my face.

Almost.

I did remember what my high school choral director, Sister Mary Gomolka, used to say. Whenever you want to improve your voice, whether singing or speaking, smile. It prevents one from being flat (well, perhaps not in my case, based on the grimace she often sent my way during practice) and shapes your words in an attractive manner. During the Lake Effect interview, every time I noticed the mic, I would think smile, smile, dammit, smile! I believe this had the unintended consequence of making me look insanely happy to be discussing death, torture, interrogation and the plague.

In any case, I suspect a combination of Sister Mary’s words of wisdom and Stephanie’s impressive post-production skills made me sound okay in the end, so much so that I’m willing to post it here for you to listen.

I hope you’ll not only check out my gleeful ramble about pathogens, rotting corpses and a missing moral compass, but also that you’ll stop by either of the events winding up Plaguewalker week: my Friday reading at Boswell Book Company on the East Side or my Saturday afternoon tag-team of terror reading at the Wauwatosa Public Library over in, well, ‘Tosa.

And stay tuned for a Halloween treat I’ll be posting as we near that most wonderful day of the year.





Coming Soon: Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

2 10 2012

I have some exciting news. But first, a confession. Upon returning to the States early last month after wintering in Antarctica, I discovered I have developed a severe allergy to heat and humidity. It’s tragic, really, but I’ll spare you the details of how I stretched out wan and lethargic on my friends’ couch for two weeks until I realized I was only a plane ticket away from relief.

A really neat professional opportunity presented itself in arctic Norway and I was bound for the northern reaches faster than you can “Snakker du engelsk?” which is one of about seven things I can say in Norwegian. It’s been a great adventure but I’m getting ready to return to Milwaukee for the launch of Plaguewalker and a few other fun things.

Check it out:

Reading and Book Signing, 7 p.m. Friday, October 26 at Boswell Books, 2559 N. Downer Ave., Milwaukee: This is it, folks, the official worldwide, dare I say galactic launch of Plaguewalker thanks to the fine folks at Boswell, who have been so supportive of local authors. As someone who is only slightly less introverted than Marcus, I am kind of dreading the actual public part of this, but I promise to drink too much coffee and be entertaining in a wild, rambly kind of way.

Tag Team of Terror Reading, 2 p.m. Saturday, October 27 at the Wauwatosa Public Library, 7635 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa: I’ll be doing another reading, another over-caffeinated ramble and signing any copies of Plaguewalker thrust in my direction, but this time I’ll be sharing billing with award-winning author Paul McComas, who penned Unforgettable, Planet of the Dates and Unplugged. Paul was an early supporter of Plaguewalker and has been a great mentor. His writing is an addictive blend of sci-fi, horror and comedy, with his native Wisconsin often featuring as both place and character.

I will also be migrating my travel and adventure blog Stories That Are True to here. Look for posts on my Norwegian Adventure shortly, including approximately 74,375 photos of dark mountains looming over fjords. For fans of STAT, don’t worry, all the old posts will still be there, and I may occasionally add a text-only post if warranted.

A few of you are dedicated followed of both blogs, as well as Plaguewalker’s official site, and for that I say thank you but also hey, I’ve simplified things for you by focusing on this blog and reducing the number of post updates you get in your inbox.

Stay tuned for those fjord photos and until then, thanks for reading! Please say hello at one of the events later this month if you’re in the greater Milwaukee area.