Playlist #35 – New Year, New Playlist

I’m in Oklahoma this week visiting family before school starts back up again this week. But that doesn’t mean I forgot to put together a playlist for y’all!

1. The Black Keys, “Year in Review”: It’s been a long and frequently difficult year, I think we can all agree.

2. Juliana Finch, “This Year”: Who doesn’t love a Mountain Goats cover? I know I do.

3. Turnpike Troubadours, “Ringing in the Year”: How do Okies celebrate the New Year? Drink too much and set off explosives, the way we celebrate everything.

4. Steely Dan, “Reelin’ in the Years”: Like I wasn’t gonna include this song.

5. George Harrison, “All Those Years Ago”: The end of the year always makes me feel introspective and retrospective, and this particular song hits the nostalgia centers pretty hard.

6. Third Eye Blind, “Losing a Whole Year”: Did you expect a Third Eye Blind song on this list? You did not. Does it still apply eerily well? yea, yes it does.

7. Tom Waits, “New Year’s Eve”: It sounds exactly like you’d expect a Tom Waits song about New Year’s Eve would sound.

8. David Bowie, “Five Years”: Does it exactly fit the premise of the playlist? Not really. Is it a damn good song nonetheless? Yes, yes it is.

9. Foo Fighters, “Next Year”: “I’ll be coming home next year,” the chorus goes, and it’s true.

10. Andrew Bird, “Auld Lang Syne”: Just a beautiful rendition of the classic.

Playlist #34: Christmas!

It’s Christmas week for those who celebrate (and also for those who don’t, they just don’t have to pay attention to it). As such, here’s this week’s Christmas-themed playlist.

  1. Darlene Love, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”: Best. Christmas song. Ever. I will broke no arguments. It’s all downhill from here, people.
  2. Calexico, “Hear the Bells”: Calexico released a Christmas album! Well, sort of. More a wintertime seasonal album with a couple of Christmas songs thrown on (including covers of Tom Petty and John Lennon). It’s Calexico. It’s good. I don’t know why the previous two sentences are both there, since they say the exact same thing.
  3. Elton John, “Step Into Christmas”: When you want to make a joyful noise, Elton John is your guy.
  4. Neko Case, “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis”: It starts off, “Charlie, I’m pregnant,” and I’m just gonna have to stop you there. I had nothin’ to do with it. Beautiful Tom Waits cover.
  5. Run-DMC, “Christmas in Hollis”: Who doesn’t love rap songs about Christmas? Commies, that’s who.
  6. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “Christmas All Over Again”: If for nothing else than the way he pronounces “Rickenbacker” at the end.
  7. Paul McCartney, “Wonderful Christmastime”: Yes, it’s a terrible song. Yes, it sounds like something McCartney wrote simply because all he had in the studio that day was a Casio keyboard. And yes, I once put together a Christmas playlist that was just this song repeated twenty times.
  8. Weird Al, “Christmas at Ground Zero”: Who else but Weird Al would give us the song about post-nuclear-fallout Yuletide we all never knew we wanted?
  9. The Royal Guardsmen, “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron”: Okay, so this one takes some explaining. When my brothers and I were wee little kids, we had a cassette tape that featured the Royal Guardsmen and a series of songs (yes, there’s more than one of these) about Snoopy fighting against the Red Baron in World War I. The final song in the trilogy features the Red Baron whipping out a Christmas present and wishing Snoopy a Merry Christmas.There was a second side to the tape that didn’t feature a big-nosed beagle fighting a German aerial ace, but we never listened to that side. We did wear that tape out, though.
  10. Barenaked Ladies with Sarah McLachlan, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings”: I love this version of these two songs. This mashup is just one of the best Christmas songs out there, and it bops, my children. It bops.

Holiday Gift-Giving Guide

Hey, everyone! It’s that time of the year again where everyone asks you, “what’s your Amazon wishlist again?” But what do you get for the friend or relative who has everything except my books? You get them my books, of course.

There’s the Hazzard Pay Series, which is currently six books (I’m still working on #7, honest). They are all available in Kindle or Paperback and include:

The Invisible Crown

The Hidden Throne

Death Comes Calling

Crooked Halos

An Ill Wind Blows

The Long Fall Into Darkness

Who are they ideal for? Someone who enjoys snarky protagonists, a good mystery, and lots of head injuries.

I’ve also written a short chapter book, Doctor Jayne and the Missing Unicorn Horn. It’s short and sweet and still full of humor and a hornless unicorn named Herman.

Who is it ideal for? Do you have a kid who can read short (like 100 pages) chapter books? Do they like magical creatures and whimsy and a will-o-the-wisp named William? Then they’ll probably love this book. There’s adventure and excitement and just a touch of scariness, but not too scary, and it has a happy ending.

Want other stuff? Well, in addition to writing books, I’m also a cartoonist and a songwriter and musician! You can commission me to create art and music for you! Just, y’know, give me some heads up time, ’cause that stuff takes a while.

Who is it ideal for? Do you find the comics I’ve posted here funny? Or like the music I’ve posted over here? Then you might like for me to create something original for you!

Remember, everyone’s talking about how terrible the supply chain is this year, so maybe get out ahead of the holiday shopping and snap these up early!

What do we get you? Oh, gee golly, that’s sweet of ya. Your love is really enough. However, you can buy my books or even just leave reviews on the ones you’ve read already. If you’re really insistent on a gift, there’s always that Amazon wishlist.

Game Over

Last night, I didn’t sleep much. I was too busy processing the end to the pencil and paper RPG I’ve been playing with some friends over Discord for the past year or so.

It’s not that any of us don’t want to play anymore. We’re all going to turn around and jump straight into a new game with new characters here in a week or two. But the game had reached a certain point. We’d done what the game master, my dear friend Ev, had wanted the game to do. It wasn’t that he didn’t like the characters or the setting. No, far from it, we all loved where we were and who we were in this game. But that was part of the problem: to run the game, Ev had to be at least a little detached from the characters we were playing in case one of them accidentally died. And that distance didn’t exist anymore. And the reasoning behind the game – Ev, as a social scientist, always has so many layers to what he wants to do and why he wants to do something – well, we’d kinda accomplished what he wanted to with it. We all agreed we’d reached a natural stopping point for the game.

It’s not that we couldn’t or wouldn’t have gladly run those characters until we died. We would’ve. My character – a young woodsman named Hogarth who’d become a shaman and an avatar of a dragon god, who’d fashioned himself into a magical living weapon who could do more damage with a punch than he ever could with his bow and arrow – was a chance for me to have entirely too much fun doing ill-advised things and just hoping the healer would have enough pieces of me leftover afterwards to put me back together (he usually did). I kinda love Hogarth, that goofy sunnuvabitch. But we’d helped Ev reach his goal – which I’m being purposely coy about, because it’s his business and not yours – and so we stopped.

And that was hard. We hated to end it. I hate knowing that Hogarth will go on more adventures that I won’t get to be a part of. That we may never return to this setting, these characters, ever again. It’s a lot to process. I didn’t get as invested in the characters as my fellow players did – just not in my personality to do so, I guess – but I admit to being a little sad that we’re done with that game, while I’m also looking forward to what we do next.

Creeping Back To Life

I’m alive. Alive, and writing.

Like many people, I sorta circled the wagons and cut out the outside world when Covid-19 started. School went virtual back in March, and it’s stayed virtual through the start of this new school year. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Book 6 came out on my birthday. I probably should have posted about that here. So, uh, yeah, here’s that link.

I’ve started writing Book 7. You can follow my progress on the NaNoWriMo website. I’m XEYeti there, just like I am most places on the web.

I’m quietly hopeful about the presidential election. Maybe if we get the Cheetoh-in-Chief out of office, we can start to make some changes in society and maybe never have someone like him there ever again. One can hope.

Go read the books. There are six of ’em out there. I have plans to do a short story collection (which will ironically be the single longest book about Hazzard out there. I have a lot of short stories about him). It’s all set up; just needs the intro from my brother and a cover and it’s ready to go.

Giveaway Time!

So, I’ve been slowly but surely getting new covers for all of my books, as I’m sure you know. I’ve been doing the cover design and layouts myself and I’ve really enjoyed the process. Each book cover is unique, of course, but they’re also unified in design and type and stuff like that.

Anyway, I ordered a copy of Book 2, The Hidden Throne, for myself a couple of weeks ago. I was super-pleased with the cover and my work on it, until I took a moment to really look at the spine of the book:

Yeah, that’s not the right title at all.

So, I’ve since corrected it, but I’ve still got this (otherwise perfectly serviceable) book just sitting around, reminding me of my failures.

So! Giveaway time! Here’s the rules:

First, follow me on Twitter. I don’t tweet much, but I do let you know when my books come out or are on sale or whatever, and occasionally I post funny comments or comics or I rant about something for a moment. It’s a good time. If you already follow me on Twitter, congratulations, you’ve completed step one.

Step the second, tell me why I should give you the book. Just a sentence or two, whatever you can fit in a tweet along with thing the third.

Thing the third, use the hashtag #HazzardGiveaway.

I’ll give away the book on my birthday, March 27th, which is coincidentally the day Book 6 — The Long Fall Into Darkness — comes out! It is also the day I turn 40 and all of my bones turn to dust (I assume; I dunno, I’ve never been 40 before). Good luck!

New Book 1 Cover!

Ever since I got that awesome cover for Book 5 a few months back, I’ve been wanting to go back and redo all the old covers for my existing books. I revealed the reworked cover to Book 4 a few weeks ago, and today I’m excited to bring you the new cover for Book 1, The Invisible Crown.

Feast your eyes!

Awesome, right? It’s up for the eBook already, and should be live on the printed version by the end of the day. Like it? Love it? Hate it (please don’t tell me you hate it, because I love it)? Let me know! There’s still the covers for books 2 and 3 to redo, so it may be a couple more months before they’re all uniform in style. But I’m really excited about the new covers.

Oops

So turns out I screwed up the paperback on my children’s book pretty badly.

Apparently, I had the document set to the original text, which included lots of typos and misprints and such. After fiddling with the document for the better part of an hour today, I finally got it fixed so it contains all the edits my editor and I spent so much time and effort fixing.

Anyway, long story only slightly shorter, I screwed up and I’ve fixed it now. The changes should be live on Amazon by tomorrow. My bad, folks. Sorry.

Resolutions

Happy 2019! A new year often calls for resolutions, and I’m giving them a shot this year. Several of my resolutions have to do with writing, of course. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  1. Lose 20 Pounds
  2. Self-publish two books
  3. Sell at least five books per month
  4. Run a 5K
  5. Record five songs
  6. Learn Book Marketing

I feel most of the resolutions are pretty self-explanatory. I’m seriously overweight, and 20 pounds seems doable in a year. I’m hard at work on book 5 and have a rough outline for book 6 ready, so I should be able to self-publish two books this year. Resolutions #3 and #6 are connected: if I can market my books more effectively, I can sell more books. Running a 5K is tied up with the weight loss. And finally, I want to get back to recording songs again. I recorded a couple last year that I was very happy with, and this year I’d like to get several more in the can.

So, those are my resolutions. What are yours?

Spirit in the Sky

I’ve talked before about how dumb I was as a young man (spoiler alert: real dumb). A prime example would be the following story:

In my first semester in college, I took a Biology class. It occurred right after my World History survey course and right before my Country and Line Dancing class (don’t ask). The class was pretty non-offensive, and it was taught by a lovely man named Dr. Doug Jeffries. He was short, bearded, and long-suffering, if only because he had morons like me in his classes. See, back then, I was pretty solidly Republican, with all the weird hang-ups that includes.

Including a revulsion to the Theory of Evolution.

So, Dr. Jeffries brings up evolution in class, and I immediately call him out on it. I am angry. I am feeling righteous. I’m all, “That ain’t in the Bible, yo, so it ain’t true.”

I don’t remember Dr. Jeffries’s exact words. I do remember his tone: weary and a little disappointed. He had more patience with me than I would have.

By the end of that semester, I was a very different person. I don’t think I ever got the chance to apologize for that outburst. I don’t think he would have expected or even necessarily wanted one. I do hope he didn’t spend the next few months hanging out with the other professors saying, “God, that Cottrell idiot. I have to teach him again on Monday.”

He passed over the weekend, I found out this morning. He was a good man, committed to teaching and the environment and his students. I hadn’t thought of that day in his class in years, but I remembered it this morning and cringed a bit.

God speed, Dr. Jeffries. Sorry I was an idiot.