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Cat with Hands

One of my favorite spooky videos: The Cat with Hands, by Robert Morgan.

Everything about this video is perfect, from the acting, to the flawless stop-motion animation, to the creepy, mesmerizing use of sound.

Check it out:



Free Book for All Hallow’s Read

In support of Neil Gaiman’s All Hallow’s Read project, I’m giving away free copies of Bad Radio on Smashwords until Midnight on Halloween!

Neil on All Hallow’s Read:

Simply go to Smashwords and use coupon code: MT52Z

Happy Halloween from all of us here at the Langlois Compound!


Cat, Bat, Skull

Nobody’s going to fall out of their chairs when they hear that, with the possible exception of my Birthday Month(tm), Halloween is my favorite holiday ever.

The best part, of course, is the ritual sugar coma.  But right behind that is letting all of my old friends out of the attic to roam free around the house.  Allow me to introduce…

Cat! With pet severed head!

Bat! With command of the, uh, entryway!

And Disco Skull! Glittery master of the dance floor!

These are the only guys I trust to oversee the army of severed hands, hairy spiders, and assorted spooky bits that will eventually take over the house.  They’re smart, good-looking, and dare I say it, my boon companions in this time of shambling horrors and thieving, candy-snatching children.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking.  You are twelve years old one lucky guy.

Don’t I know it.


Barry Eisler on Legacy Publishing

Barry Eisler, bestselling author of the Rain series, has a fantastic guest post on JA Konrath’s blog today.

He often speaks about his shift from legacy publishing to self publishing, and exposes why so many other well-known authors are going a similar route.  Check out this damning list of behaviors that characterize the lack of competition between the Big 6 publishing houses:

• An identical, lock-step, onerously low 17.5% digital royalty rate
• The practice of forcing readers who prefer digital to wait, sometimes for over a year, until a title is also ready to ship in paper
• Digital retail prices equivalent to paper ones despite the obvious lower costs of digital distribution
• Byzantine and opaque royalty statements, delivered twice-yearly as much as six months after the end of the applicable reporting period
• Non-compete clauses that attempt to preclude authors from meaningful control over their own professional and artistic destinies
• Morbidly obese contracts delivered months after agreement on high-level deal points, written in unendurable legalese and drawn up in nine-point font on 14-inch legal paper, the only purpose of which is to intimidate authors into not reading the document, and to obscure the meaning of what’s written just in case they do
• Payments tendered months after they’ve come due
• A refusal to share sales data with authors, even though authors have long clamored for such information and the web technology to provide such access was already old a decade ago.

The article addresses the fear mongering from legacy publishers that as soon as enough power shifts to Amazon in the publishing space, they’ll become a monopoly and cut royalties.  His response?  They would have to go a long way to become as bad as the current crop.

Go here for the full article.


Conservation of Focus

Trust me, this place is gonna have the best basketball court ever!

As I’ve said before, I’m not great at taking advice.  However, on the rare occasion that a good idea can make it past my thick skull, I like to mention it.

Here are some facts:

  • Like physical endurance, you only have so much mental focus to expend on a given day.
  • Like physical activities, some forms of mental effort are much more taxing than others.

Duh, right?  Folks like Tim Ferriss, David Rock, and Leo Babauta have been preaching this forever.   But how many people actually prioritize around these two facts?

I never did.  For years, I used time as my only real qualifier for getting work done.  Did I have an open spot in the day or not?  How long was it?  If I could get an hour to write in an otherwise busy day, I’d take it.  The dumb part is that I never took into account what I was doing before that slot.

We instinctively understand that an intense weight-lifting session is probably a bad idea right before showing up for your swim competition, but we don’t have a similar grasp of mental activity.  We’re told that sitting down to think is just a matter of discipline and time management.  And if you don’t get anything done, then you suck and just need to try harder.

That’s crap.  You have a reserve of mental endurance, let’s call it focus, and there simply may not be enough left  to spend on tasks that have a very high burn rate.

From a writing perspective, content creation, which includes heavy revision, is a high burn rate activity.  Do it first, or if you can only clear the time late in the day, be as much of a mental lazy ass as possible before that time (I probably don’t need to mention that I’m an expert on the lazy ass part).  Fill the rest of the time with low demand tasks: do some research, answer mail, blog, look up that rule about Oxford commas that you keep putting off.  Tweet.

And you don’t have to veg out in front of the TV as soon as you’re too tired to keep up with a high burn rate activity.  When a jogger gets tired, they don’t stretch out on the road, they walk.  Low demand mental tasks can still be done after you’ve completed the tough stuff, and for a much longer period of time.

If I were clever, I’d do the heavy lifting part of my writing day early so that I’m sure to get it in.  Unfortunately, I hate mornings, so I try to conserve until later in the day.  If I know that I have to do a lot of braining (it’s clearly a word, I just used it) before my normal writing slot, then I’ll suck it up and write earlier.

Also, if your day job is going to require a ton of focus on a particular day, give yourself the option of sticking to the low demand stuff.  Recognize that you may not be able to sustain two high burn activities in one day.  It’s cool, you’re only human.  A word of caution: there’s a difference between entertainment and rest.  High involvement video games, especially multiplayer stuff, is not a recovery tactic.  It can easily be a high burn activity.

All of this is obvious in hindsight.  I just never put two and two together and actually made a conscious effort to protect my reserve of focus, and spend it in the right place.  That one change made a huge difference in the time it takes me to write a book.  As in about fifty percent huge.

Bottom line: If you’re in a creative business like writing, give some thought to the conservation of focus.  It really does make a difference.


Tomorrow, We Ship!


Tomorrow, we ship!

That is all.



Luggage Cat Says No

Sorry for the lack of posts in the last few days.  I spent part of the week in Arizona, which was awesome as always.  It’s one of the few places in the country that feels like Texas, only (in this particular case) prettier.

Had a great meal at Olive and Ivy, which has some seriously cool atmosphere and better food:

I'm sure these people are very nice.

The only downside to the trip was my complete inability to unpack when I got home:

Cat: 1, Unpacking: 0

This is clearly the natural state of equilibrium for my suitcase, as a cat-less state was only achievable for about a millisecond at a time.

On the upside, I did manage a good bit of progress towards getting Walker out on time, so things are looking good for the 11/15 release date.


TL;DR: Was gone, now back.  Walker on schedule.  Cat and luggage have merged.  





Haiku Contest Winners

Dramatic re-enactment: Actual judges may have been alive

My delightful pre-zombie wife (not pictured above), has completed the judging.  The winners, in no particular order, are:


Wild Meat Sacks at play
Sunshine, tasty children snack
Love brains, not boomsticks



Fighting for their lives
Their friends now a bloody swarm
Playtime now begins


Jake Livak

The force is with us
Zombies won’t make us back down
Vigilant we stand



Delirium rage
Crafting foul doubly dead
Ruffians unite



School’s out for summer!
Feast or famine? Life or Death?
Darwin would be proud

Each winner will receive a signed copy of Bad Radio and a Lucky Zombie Token(tm):

Man, that book is huge!

If I'm so lucky, why are my feet stuck together?


Winners, please send your address to me at langlois.mike (at) gmail (dot) com!






Game:Eaten By Zombies

As most of you know, I love nerdy tabletop games.  I also love zombies.  A lot.

So, when I saw that Mayday Games had a Kickstarter project up for a swanky new zombie game, well, let’s just say I hadda get me some of that.  The project closed at nearly ten times the original goal of 5K, which is amazing.  Why?  Because, zombies.  That’s why.

My copy just arrived:

Looks like an ammo can. How awesome is that?

Stick, stick, zombie!


Here’s the game description from Mayday:

In the new game Eaten By Zombies! players strive to survive as the horde of the living dead make it their goal in Death to force you to join the crowd. You must work with or against the other survivors to be the last one standing. No not standing, cowering in the corner crying for their mommy.

In the spirit of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and “I Am Legend”, Eaten By Zombies takes you into a dark world of eventual death. Every turn you must venture out from your safehouse and scavenge for Swag. But not so fast, the Undead have other plans for your brains. Every day a Horde of fresh zombies will be waiting for you, and over time the threat gets greater. Now it’s time for your “Fight or Flight” instincts to help you to survive just one more day. Using the swag you’ve got on you (ie cards in you hand) you must survive any way you can.

If you can get away or kill the Horde, you may scavenge the remains of the desolate suburbs for any Swag the neighbors may have left behind. With the right stuff and a few good friends to out run, you may just make it through this alive… well, no probably not. But being the last one to die a slow, painful death means you can claim sole victory!

With a set of over thirty different cards to start with, no two games will ever be alike. This game is a combination of Card Drafting, Hand Management and Survival Horror with a few dirty tricks thrown in.

I dunno, if that doesn’t sound great to you, then all I can say is that we’re very different people.

One of whom is very, very wrong.


1st Round Complete

All of the ebooks have been awarded, so if you didn’t get an email or tweet, I’m afraid you were too late.

But don’t despair!

The zombie haiku contest for a signed paper edition is open until midnight on Sunday, so keep submitting!  Winners will be chosen by my lovely wife.

Uh, that is to say that the winning poems will be selected by my wife.  Winners will have to get their own wives.