How to Make an Iron Druid

Kevin, showing off the completed product.

Kevin, showing off the completed product.

No, this isn’t going to be a blog post on the process of binding an iron amulet to your aura to protect you from magic while not hindering your own. Hunting pixies to feed to the iron spirit is just to damned time consuming. If you’re lost, go read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles.

This is about making the Iron Druid cupcake, one of the two cupcakes I set up as homage to the series and characters. Also the one I know from memory, so easier for me to blog on. The Snugglepumpkin involves making the cupcake dog friendly so is a bit trickier. At the end of the blog I will leave the instructions on how to transform the Iron Druid cupcake into the Wayland Rock N’ Roll cupcake. D0n’t worry, the instructions are easy to follow.

The Prep

Bring 1 cup of stout and 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter to a simmer in a pot. (Optional: If you cut the butter in half, you’l get a more stout tasting cake. Not quite as moist, but also not as crumbly.) Once they are simmering, whisk in 3/4 cup of Dutch process high-fat cocoa until the mixture is smooth. Once fully combined, set aside to cool. You can put it in the fridge, but don’t leave it too long. You don’t want it to set, just not be steaming. (Note: You can use any stout beer you like. I normally use Guinness myself, though One Barrel Brewing in Madison has an oatmeal stout I want to try working with.)

Mixing it Up

Once your cocoa-stout mixture is cool, preheat your oven to 350. If you have a kitchen helper, have them paper 24 cupcakes into tins. (2 tins of 12 each) This will have things ready for the batter.

In a large bowl (NOT your mixing bowl), whisk/mix/shift together 2 cups of flour with 2 cups of sugar, 1.5 tsp of baking powder and 3/4 tsp of salt. (I usually just mix them together with the whisk. Sifting is time consuming, messy and doesn’t alter things that much with this recipe.)

In your mixing bowl, mix together 2 large eggs with 2/3 cup of sour cream on medium speed until smooth. Scrape the sides to be sure it is fully combined.

Pour your stout cocoa mix into your egg cream mix and blend on low speed until just combined. If your stout mix is to hot it will start to cook the egg. This will make you hate your life.

Mix in the dry ingredients into the wet and mix on medium speed until there are no lumps. Scrape the sides and bottoms to make sure you have a good blend. You don’t want some with clumps of dry stuff in them at the end.

Fill the 24 papers about 2/3 full (I use an ice cream scoop with a scraping trigger on it) and put into the oven. Bake for 17-19 minutes. The middles may still be moist when coming out (especially if you used the full cup of butter). You can leave them in until fully dried on the top, but that might burn the bottoms. You’re going to core the middle out anyway.

Give Them a Touch of the Irish

Here is where we diverge. What is listed below is the recipe I use for the Iron Druids. The notes on changing for Rock n Roll follow that.

Put 2 cups of dark chocolate in a bowl with 2 tbsp of softened butter, a slight drizzle of agave (about a tbsp or so) and 2 tsp of whiskey. In a pot, bring 1 cup of heavy cream to a simmer. Once steaming, pour the cream into the bowl. Let sit for about 60 seconds before whisking the holy hell out of it. Beat it like it owes you money! The goal is to get it smooth and melt all of the chocolate. For ease, use good dark chocolate chips. The higher quality and darker the better.

Adjustments:

Use more cream to give you a soupier ganache. The more wet the filling, the more likely it will be to soak into the cake, so don’t go to crazy.

To make a Wayland Rock n Roll cupcake (named so for the batch I made for a concert where I made the adjustment), use double the whiskey in the ganache. It isn’t too much, but definitely puts more kick in the cake.

What kind of whiskey should I use?

In the YouTube show, Put It In Your Mouth, Charles St. Micheal answers the same question about wine. “Cook with the kind of wine you like to drink.” The same goes here. I use Johnny Walker Red as it is Scotch that I like. Sure, it costs more, but you use so little in baking, you have to like drinking the stuff for the other 95% of the bottle.

In future versions, I might use some Jesse James Dupree bourbon, because the band Wayland is managed by him and they have a bottle of his stuff on stage from time to time. Also, because… why not?

Frosting on the Cake

Here you can go two routes, a white chocolate cream cheese frosting, or an Irish cream frosting. Both are essentially the same, just one has Baileys mixed in with it.

Take a stick of softened butter and mix in your mixing bowl with 4 cups of powdered sugar. Once it is light and fluffy take an 8 oz block of COLD cream cheese and mix it in. Use your hands, get messy, and tear off chunks of it and throw it in like you’re dropping virgins in a volcano.

While that is mixing, take 2-4 oz of white chocolate (again, I use chips for ease) and melt in a bowl. Usually I add in a splash of milk or cream to help smooth it out. Just a dash. A tbsp or two tops. Normally for me it takes 1 minute in the microwave and some mixing with a fork.

Once the frosting is lumpy and sticking to the paddle, stop the mixer and scrape the frosting off the paddle and sides. Pour in the melted white chocolate and then beat on med speed and adjusting to high once the moisture is down. Beat it on high for as long as you like. It will make the frosting light and creamy. I’ll usually use the standard frosting for mine.

If you’re adding Baileys

Only add in about 2-3 tbsp of the Irish cream to the frosting. You can add them one at a time at the end and taste after each. If you want to do this, I would avoid adding the cream to the melting white chocolate. The more liquid, the soupier the frosting. This will make it harder to pipe on later.

Decorating

For the Iron Druid, we had a Celtic bear design my wife piped out with chocolate. Those are a bit difficult to do, but are specific to the story. There are Celtic knot molds out there that are easier for you to work with should you go that route.

For the Wayland Rock n Roll cupcakes, we took pieces of strawberry Austrailian style licorice and put a small gumpaste “fuse” in the end to make it look like a stick of dynamite. (It’s the cake version of an Irish car bomb. Get it?)

Some time in the future I might do a video making it, but that all depends. I’m not the most photogenic person, and I make a mess when I make these. 😉

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Wayland: A Concert Review

December gets pretty packed over at Wicked Lil Pixie. Not to mention that I am usually elbows and assholes into an edit between holiday event breaks. But that doesn’t sate the need I have been feeling to do reviews. So, why not review the last concert I went to?

photo courtesy of Nico Zammuto*

photo by Nico Zammuto*

There could be one reason, which I will offer up in the spirit of full transparency. I’m a fan of Wayland. I have seen then more in the last year and a half than any other concerts put together during my “concert hiatus.” Still I feel my familiarity with their show gives me a different perspective on the concert this past weekend.

To give you an idea on just how much I wanted to make the show, I will lay it out for you. It was my 22nd anniversary. My wife had asked if I would mind her going to her mother’s holiday party with her, though (spoiler alert) I think she was going to regret missing this show. It was colder than sin and half as fun in Wisconsin that night, and on the road to getting worse. It was about a 40 minute drive to the place. And finally I was on my cane from the unfortunate fight I had with a patch of ice that shifted my knee out of joint. So hobbled, cold, dressed in my Band Camp shirt and Reno hoodie, and I went to the bar.

The opening acts were all good. I may do reviews on them later, especially Left of Reason. They have a weird karmic link with Wayland for me that isn’t that unusual, but I have little belief in coincidence. Sufficed to say, they were all solid and fit into the styles of music for the night. To large of a divergence from the style of the headliner is jarring for me. This wasn’t.

photo by Nico Zammuto*

photo by Nico Zammuto*

During the show, I would check Twitter from time to time between songs. Watch for my wife texting me that she was heading home from Milwaukee. And of course, to see that Wayland was making an appearance at Toys for Tatas at Silk Exotic. Easily the same 40 or so minutes away from the club as I had driven. That let a schedule looking somewhat like this:

7:00 National Anthem at the Janesville Jets game
??? Appearance at Silk Exotic for Toys for Tatas in Madison
11:00 take the stage at the Back Bar (back in Janesville)

And y’all thought I was insane going from 5am until after the concert was over. These guys were swinging for the fences just in the scheduling. And totally nailed it.

When they hit the stage, the show took on a different tone from the first three bands. Even more surprising, was that it took on a different tone for me than previous Wayland shows. Everyone was out and in place other than Mitch, the lead singer. Once they dropped into the song, he came out on stage, leading with his voice. Even more so than his singing, there was the power and presence. As if building up the energy f0r the show at the last minute, he paces. Quickly. It’s like seeing a lion or a tiger at the zoo stalking along the glass. A contained energy that seems to be on the edge of breaking out.

photo by Nico Zammuto*

photo by Nico Zammuto*

Now this isn’t to say that he was bouncing around like a teen with ADD jacked up on Monster energy drinks. Because during the ballad style songs he would level, being still and letting the lyrics and music do the heavy lifting. Like when he was solo on the stage singing a new song they recorded called “Follow.” Though someone in the audience called it “the stalker song.” Mitch replied with, “If she turns around, it’s not stalking.” And with a smile on his face said, “Yeah, it’s the stalker song.”

Keep in mind that whole exchange wasn’t a heckler. It was more of an in-joke. Something for those fans who have seen them live. A lot. On stage or over YouTube is the only way to have heard Follow as it hasn’t released yet. Which is how they do it. I saw that in the changes to the song Reno from the first time they played it on WJJO at a Sound Lounge from when it released. Writing it on the road means revising it on the road. Perfecting it. Though I can’t really see much that could be changed with Follow. It is a strong song with a compelling story.

Keep in mind that many of the folks who are coming to the shows have seen them before. They’ve bought the CDs. Many of them could sing the songs from memory. I have several in my writing playlists, so I know I can. The band knows this. Reno is currently the #1 requested song on WJJO, the rock station in Madison, WI. During their performance of it, Mitch was kind of taunting the audience to sing it. He held out the mic towards the audience at the pivotal line of “one road out of Reno.” Several times. It was more of a party with friends than a concert from your favorite band.

photo by Nico Zammuto*

photo by Nico Zammuto*

Though when the section came during several songs for a guitar solo, it was clearly a rock and roll show. Tyler and Dean had the solid beat and baseline going. The foundation with which a really great song can be built on. That allowed Phill, the lead guitarist to pull out the stops on a devastating guitar solo. Halfway through what was his best playing of the night it struck me how much it was like opening the doors to the stable on a wild horse and saying, “go play.” Watching the notes run and jump their way through the song. When Mitch pointed him out at the pause in the music before the end of the song, it seemed like even he was taken aback by it.

There are two final notes I have from the show. Two things that really set this band above others like them. Aside from the writing, the stage presence, the work ethic and their talent, there is more that sets them at the head of the pack. With all of their gifts, it could all fall apart if it wasn’t for one simple fact – they perform like they are a team. If something if off on the sound, even during a song, one of the others will catch the eyes of the sound tech and get them to adjust without breaking the song.

But there is something else that has less to do with their concerts, their music, and more to do with their fans. Much like other entertainers in other genres have done, they engage their fans. They stick around after the show to take pictures, have drinks, help the fans get the shirts and CDs they want. Autograph things for them. Hell, I’ve seen one fan with tattoos of their autographs signed on her shoulders. Around the Wayland logo Tyler had drawn on for her. And on December 7th, their table was packed at the end of the night.

I had picked up my shirt right after the last song. It’s my way of tracking how many shows I’ve been at. In addition to my way of supporting the band and keeping them on the road. I honestly feel that this crazy tour schedule (dubbed Always on Tour) of theirs is working for them. It was a really good show before. This week was a killer show. A face melter. I figure there were as many people packed in that bar as there was when they played Redneck Reunion Fest there a couple months back.

I considered sticking around to say hello to them if nothing else. My Warrior Wall at home already has a signed photo and signed guitar from them. (Got the guitar from the Band Camp VIP pass.) So I left it up to those I went with. I just knew that if I made my way up and into the people around the table, someone would knock my cane out from under me. And after four hours on my feet, I didn’t know how well that would have went. I did get a bit of a grin heading out to warm up the truck for the others watching the fans who were up there and the band interacting.

For me that is what makes a concert more of a show. There are good concerts, but then there are shows. And this was a show. In all the right ways. Totally five star rating, well worth seeing live. And they are really best seen live.

WickedStar5

*Full photo accreditation: Nico Zammuto is one of Wayland’s biggest fans. And she was up at the front of the stage, taking pictures. Doing everything I cannot. She graciously agreed to allow me the use of her photos (which I found due to the band posting one of them). You can find all of her photos on her Facebook page. Including some of the other bands. Especially the holiday surprise Left of Reason brought out for their last song.

NaNoWriMo Prep – Non-Gazebo Edition

This is the first in my “get your ass ready” series of posts for my own benefit. Listing out what I personally need as a writer. You can attempt to follow my example, but results may vary. Or as I hear often enough in writing conferences to make it mantra… damn near dogma…

This is what works for ME. Find what works for you and run with it.

Bug-Out-Bag-homeThe first step in preparing a NaNoWriMo Survival Kit is pretty similar to setting up a Bug Out Bag for the zombie apocalypse. Identify what you need and start gathering them together. At one point all the stuff for my BOB rested in a single place. That only lasts for so long. Stuff migrates in Casa de Zombie. Usually not by my doing. Sometimes, but not usually.

There are two quotes that I have yet to get stitched onto my shoulder bag that I use for NaNo. Both form the Double Rainbow that is the theme of my writing experience in either NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo. They are…

You don’t need Neil Gaiman’s Fucking Gazebo.

AND

Writing a novel is like making love to a gorilla. You’re not done until the gorilla’s done.

One was made PG in final edits (though the URL is still R), and the other is a quote from Craig Ferguson on novel writing. I am not PG, and I don’t choose who inspires me. So you get what you get.

neils-gazeboAs such, the two quotes present a dichotomy of sorts. Primarily, the act of preparing a Public Authorin’ Kit in itself is the definition of the gazebo. But at the same time is essential (for me) to succeed in the program. At least it isn’t building an actual gazebo. In additional, no matter what the challenge states, 50,000 words isn’t a full novel in my genre. Meaning that even once I hit that goal, “the gorilla isn’t finished.”

My plan is to get a nice bag set up with at least the gorilla quote after my first real sale. As I have a short story out there on submission, this could happen soon. But I won’t be holding my breath. For this year, I have my bag set out and ready to be stocked. I’ll be doing that this weekend since Halloween is pretty full this year.

After the pre-NaNo meet ups this week (also known as the Plotting Party), I’ll have an idea what I am writing. That means I will be able to load a playlist of music that will outline my story. Likely including the anthems for both the hero and the villain. Hell, in at least one of the ideas I am dancing with, those anthems may be the same songs.

I’m going out on a limb and will predict that the playlist for this project will contain at least one song from Wayland, one from Bobaflex, and probably one from Halestorm. In This Moment is a coin toss. Most of their music really needs a specific story or character to fit in. I’ve also been collecting up a lot of Nonpoint and Otep thanks to the influence of Biatch from the morning show. I may thank her by showing up at the station with donuts Halloween morning in my zombie clown getup.

So Step 1 is setting up the playlist, purchasing the music (if needed) and loading my iPod.  This is the kicking off point for all of my writing projects. At least the novel length ones. Poems and short stories are another issue entirely.

What music are you setting your story to? Or are you the kind of writer that needs quiet? Maybe experiment with it this NaNo.

Another Open Letter to Bieber

Yes, here we are. Again. And like before, I know that you won’t see this. Hell, even your “people” won’t see this. And if they do, they won’t show it to you. Clearly your behavior in the news shows that nobody is driving the Bieber Bus.

Let’s hit a short summary of my previous issues…

  1. Memoirs don’t happen before you get a drivers license. Hell, you need a good reason for them to happen before you can buy a beer at the bar.
  2. If you have to tell people (especially your peers and fan base) you’re an artist and should be taken seriously, you’re not an artist. Respect is earned, not demanded.

I can tell the last open letter went unread as this newest bit displays a decided ignorance to the previously mentioned issues. And no, I’m not talking about the monkey. I mean, come on… we’re talking a monkey. If I had the cash, I’d totally get one too. I get it. Not having all your paperwork in order when taking it to a foreign country… THAT I don’t get, but I can forgive that one.

For those wondering (though none likely are), I’m not even talking about the pissing in a bucket thing. Teens do stupid shit. It’s kind of their thing. Well, most teens. And most of the time, their stupid shit is neither destructive, nor on display for the whole world. If I can see past some of the outlandish stunts Miley is doing in the public (hell on national television), I can look the other way here. Teenage douchbaggery, I get it.

And then you do something that the majority of the world cannot. You visit one of the Seven Wonders. Outside of a game of old school Civilization on a computer, most of my people will only see this through a web browser. So when faced with the Great Wall before you, the answer that popped into your head was to have your guards carry you up in on their shoulders?

In this day and age where my wife has me stop the truck so she can take pictures of the deer in the campground with her iPhone, how did you not understand people would be capturing this moment of Joffery-like behavior? Why don’t you just hired a guard with a seriously burned face and a sword, piss him off and call it a day?

You claim to be an artist. Art, especially music for me, is about the story. The story is about the experience. Here you were afforded one of the most potentially moving experiences of a lifetime – ANY lifetime – at the age of 19. And instead you decided to ride it on the backs of others. This shows that you don’t even take your own art seriously. How do you expect us to?

There’s no denying you have musical talent. But that is only part of it. Much like John Scalzi’s essay on how being a white male is like playing life on easy mode, possessing musical talent is like playing the musical game of life on easy mode. You’re already within reach of the prize.

My current favorite musicians (though I am nervous about claiming favorites in anything) are Wayland. The band does 320 to 330 gigs a year. They drive around in a retro-fitted airport shuttle towing a trailer with their gear. The last gig they had to cancel was because the rear axle on their trailer broke and it was taking time to repair. When a similar issue happened driving from the Pacific Northwest to Reno, they wrote a song about it. About the experience. Were I to see Mitch, Phill, Tyler… hell, even Dean… being carried up the Great Wall I would be considering the Warrior Wall back at my condo.

Not that they would consider it. They are from blue collar working stock. Each and every show they are genuinely appreciative of everyone that comes out to support them. And they have shown through their dedication, work ethic and passion that they are artists. Not a single one of them needs to tell me to take them seriously. That’s a big part of the reason I do.

You are left as a young man, not even legal to be in a bar, with more money than most people ever see in their lives. You have opportunities that most people can only dream of. Get your house in order and figure out what to do with it. When Patrick Rothfuss was left with (what he called) a “stupid amount of money” from his New York Times best-seller, he started a foundation that gave money to needy people. It inspired other artists to join in on the effort. He took his privilege and made it the privilege to others.

In both of the examples above, I have mentioned specific artists that I respect. Midwest folks, who made good. I am not saying to do what they do. Use the example to find your own path. And by that I mean your own path, not pointing one out to those whose backs you’re riding on. You’re a grown-ass man, stand on your own two feet. Prove you should be taken seriously, don’t expect it.

Zombie Joe

he who should rarely be taken seriously, except for now… 

Sparked Image Thanks to @ChazztheJazz

For those of you not familiar with the YouTube guy known as “chazzthejazz” in most social networks (or Charles St. Micheal in his actual videos), he is a rather irreverent east coast actor. And while he leans more to the right as opposed to my left of center leanings, I get his sense of humor. Quite often it is obscenely off color, but then again… so am I. Follow along, it’s a windy road. Use the buddy system. Hold hands if you need to.

He has a schedule of events, one day being “Drinking and Smoking”, a video where he drinks, smokes (vapors) and talks about whatever strikes his fancy. This past week there was one where he was talking music and bands. Though he was part of a Queen cover band at one point, he told a story about a friend doing music in LA in the 80’s. If you want to get it straight from the tap, I’ll embed the video here. It is just under 30 minutes though.

For those looking to get straight to the point, in the mid 80’s, even though there were bands in every bar on the strip, you could step into any pawn shop on Sunset Blvd. and see the most amazing vintage guitars hanging on the wall. So, in theory, you could get a hell of a deal on a really sweet guitar. But that wasn’t it.

Each piece hanging on the wall represented the corpse of someone’s dead dreams. They came out to LA to break into music and were left with selling their piece to be able to eat, get home… so they could live. It hit me pretty strong considering the story of one of my favorite bands, Wayland. It had some parallels.

They had gone out to LA and were told they were a midwest band. They needed to tour. To play the midwest. They needed to live where their home was, the heart of their music. So they did. Phill’s white guitar didn’t wind up on the wall somewhere the memorial to the death of a dream.

manuscriptsWhy do I bring this up? Musicians aren’t the only one facing this. I was in a meeting with an editor here in town. His office is the attic of a three story house. And, as you would expect from an editor, the attic is filled with books, more books, a couple desks… some more books. You get the idea. I sat at one desk and he sat at the other. We talked over a length of bookshelves that held manuscripts. Two of them stood out to me. The name written on the page that bound them together catching my attention.

It really pressed upon me on the drive home. The well-known and prolific author whose name was on those manuscripts died recently. The man was gone from the world, but there his story sat, awaiting revisions. Awaiting print. They may decide to release it as is, it may get a polishing by someone else to ready for final release. The holder of his estate (his widow) may choose to leave it unreleased.

The thought of the last novel of this great writer potentially being unreleased reminded me of that Les Paul hanging on the wall of a pawn shop in LA. The final display of a lost dream. Though in this scenario, it isn’t the dream of the artist that is potentially lost and gone from the world, but the dreams of the readers that would be inspired by the last telling of a tale this man would ever do.

Of anything in the last couple years, this is the most motivating. I can think my writing is crap. If nothing else I need to have someone else tell me that. Because even if my stories fit a niche market and I need to self publish to get them out in the world, I’m fine with that. The idea that someone’s day could be lightened by the story of me doing horrible, horrible things to my main character, but it wasn’t… seems like a loss to me. A loss for both of us.

The music of Wayland, Halestorm, Bobaflex and others inspires a lot from my stories. They drive them. Their art fueling mine. What if somewhere, some kid would feel the same connection to something I write? That seems like the best reason ever to keep going. Doesn’t it?

Having problems staying focused? Unsure if the effort and time put into this art is worth it? Consider the potential loss to the other person and what potential to create they may lose by not having that inspiration. Sit your ass in the chair and write.

Stop planning. No more outlining. You don’t need Neil Gaiman’s fucking gazebo* (unless you are Kelly McCullough). Sit your ass down and write. I have heard the first million words you write are shit. Best to get them out of the way early.

*with compliments to Doyce Testerman on the quote

Only One Road In…

Mitch Arnold of Wayland

Mitch Arnold of Wayland

“There’s only one road in and one road out of Reno.”

-Wayland, Reno

So I have been have working through further posts on my playlists. Part of what is halting me is Camp NaNoWriMo. Everything seems to take back-burner when you are writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days with a 40 hour a week day job. Also it seems to be the heart of concert season. Shown by the fact that I went to yet another concert for Wayland. This time in Janesville.

Okay, honestly it was a miniature music festival called Redneck Fest Reunion. Even though the later part of the night we were there for seemed decidedly non-redneck in nature, who were we to argue? The last three bands to play were Wayland, Royal Bliss and Bobaflex. A deal for the $10 at the door to get in.

Phill showing the guitar who's boss

Phill showing the guitar who’s boss

I know, get to the point. Part of the point was to share the photos my wife took at the event. Yes, every photo on this page was taken by Mrs. Zombie with her new SLR camera. We bought it last year to replace the first digital Rebel we bought her, with all the lenses being compatible. As we were closer than at the Acoustic New Year, she managed to get some awesome shots.

The other reason is to do my part to get #RENO trending. Reno is their latest single that releases on iTunes and the radio in the next couple of weeks. Honestly, I think this is one of their best songs. Ranks right up there with Welcome To My Head for me. WJJO already has an acoustic recording from the last sound lounge they did over there. In theory you can request it now. Once it releases, I am sure they will be playing it light crazy. But requests never hurt.

If you’re not from Madison, direct your station to their YouTube channel for a preview and the contact for them. For the acoustic version of Reno, link to this video below…

Now, you may ask yourself if Mitch is really singing Reno in the photo at the top. I am pretty sure he was. Like 83% sure he was.

Tyler Coburn of Wayland

Tyler Coburn of Wayland

Even though I have put their songs on the playlists for several of my stories under construction, you may also wonder why it is I am pimping this band out like one of my favorite authors. Maybe it is a belief that art is connected. Through the written word or the prose set to music. Possibly it is due to the inspiration their music has given me and the way it has grown on me over the past year and a half. Or the sheer number of shows they do in the area.

Dean Pizzaz of Wayland

Dean Pizzaz of Wayland

Honestly, I think it has to do with interaction. I see a few bands like Wayland that are dealing with fans in a similar way that Felicia Day did back at the beginning of The Guild series. They engage the fans. Interact on Twitter and Facebook. Hang out at the merch booth after a show signing things. If they see you enough at shows they will recognize you when you show up. I assume if they don’t they will treat you as if they did. Foremost, they appreciate you.

The concept of the statement of “I appreciate you” is a whole other can of worms, and topic of its own blog in the future. But these guys seem to embrace the concept wholeheartedly. Both on and off the stage.

They don't play, they put on a SHOW

They don’t play, they put on a SHOW

Any band that can type in four letters to a reply in Twitter and get me to bring booze soaked cupcakes to a show has got to be pretty good at inspiring and involving fans. I know some of you out there are thinking that isn’t a tough sell, but apparently I have many people fooled into believe I am not an introvert. I’m a writer. If I didn’t have a really needy older dog, I would write at home an even fewer people would ever see me. As it is, I still don’t feel right saying hello to any of them at a show. And my wife won’t act as my public relations as she tends to at conventions. Or at least how she used to.

Phillip Vilenski of Wayland

Phillip Vilenski of Wayland

Sure at Romantic Times I can hand out cupcakes to a bunch of authors sitting around an editor I know and then pick on them for accepting food from someone whose name they don’t know, but musicians are different. They are social people by nature. Or at least their art is. In my defense, I have practiced the art of indifference for decades. It was tempered in the fires of choir and drama class through high school and college. The art of public speaking, maintaining character and test taking were the best classes other than creative writing and English I took in school. But again, my introverted nature (or lack thereof) is a topic for yet another blog post.

Robin was getting artistic here...

Robin was getting artistic here…

The band I’m discussing is a touring band. Seriously a touring band. Like 320 or 330 shows last year. One of their standing hashtags (as well as themes on their concert shirts) is #alwaysontour. At 330 shows in a year, that’s no boast either. Check out the Wayland facebook page for information on the band and their touring schedule. If they are showing near you and you love classic rock, they are worth the time to go see. If you are a listener to your area’s rock station, call up and demand they play this music.

Dean playing the bass line

Dean playing the bass line

And if you do make it out to their show and you like it, stop by the merch table. Buy the EP for $5, or a t-shirt proudly proclaiming yourself as a Wayland Warrior. Get your CD signed, the guys will sign anything. Each dollar you spend keeps them on the road. It keeps them on the road, writing new songs, and singing. I have already bought 4 copies of the EP (and given away three of them to other people), and have more Wayland shirts than any other kind of shirt other than zombie shirts. Let’s face it, I am Zombie Joe.

For my part, I always make a point to spend money on some swag and usually $5 or so directly into the gas fund. The amount tends to weigh on how many people show to the event, the size of the venue, and how much money is in my pocket at the end of the night.

If you are on Twitter, link up to this with the #RENO hashtag to get it trending. Or, if you love rock and roll, click onto their website or Facebook page and find out when they are playing near you. You shouldn’t be disappointed.

Are you not entertained?

Are you not entertained?

Story Inspiration: The Playlists

Every author has a different process. The guideline that has stood the test of several writing conferences seems to follow the formula of – this is the one and only true way to do things… unless something else works for you, then do that. For me, music isn’t only a needed feature, but it is significantly related to the piece I am working on. Each and every project has it’s own playlist. While some have to avoid anything with lyrics, I embrace it.

I say this for several reasons. Well a couple of reasons. At least two. Halfway decent ones.

One of my favorite bands as of late has been Wayland. If you are following my feeds in Facebook or on Twitter you have likely seen several posts about going to their shows or cool things coming up from them. Around a year ago or so, I was unaware of them. My initiation into the Wayland Warriors revolves a lot around not only the music, but the band itself. They mimic many aspects of my favorite writers, or celebrities in general.

So let’s take it by the numbers…

1. Their Attitude

During the course of the year, I have checked out many of the videos the band has posted. In a couple of the interviews they related how much satisfaction they get when fans write them/tell them about how a song affected them or inspired them. While bringing in the money is always a possibility, and really should be a goal, this attitude is the target of an artist. A real artist.

2. Their Interaction

Before and after a set, the group is always around the bar or the merch booth. They talk with fans, engage them and seem to really listen to them. These are the people that will be financially supporting them and will potentially pass along the fever to join the Wayland forces like a zombie-infected bite, so it makes sense. This is a lot of what I think draws people to new media, and they are enacting a similar model.

3. Their Music

Describing the music is difficult. It boils down to the song they are playing. For my part, I see them as a rock band in the truest sense of the word. It can be hard and heavy; or it can be melodious and harmonized; or it can be something powerful that moves you from the gut – it all depends on the song. Several of the songs have lead me to the next point.

4. Their Inspiration

Remember my point on fans being inspired by something they played? After finishing up with Under the Hood, I was looking into a second book with those characters. One not for charity, but for regular publication. With the bad guy involved there would be a lot of empathetic and telepathic battles going on. When looking for songs to fill out the playlist that would live on the iPod/iPad for writing, I came up with a couple to represent the bad guy in question (Blood by In This Moment and I Miss the Misery by Halestorm), but for the hero I was looking for something. A song that would become Dukes’ anthem of sorts. And in going through the music I had on hand I came up with Welcome to My Head.

Welcome to My Head was one of their big singles off their EP. I bought it at the first concert I saw them in. It’s a thing with me, support local artists/writers morphed into a support touring bands rule. Especially ones that frequent your local area or are local to your area. It didn’t register at the time, but the lyrics to the song fell right into place with the idea I had for the climactic showdown between my Honkytonk Hunter and the Monster(s) he was to be facing.

Though I have linked it before, I’ll include the video below for those who haven’t yet heard the song…

5. Their Personalities

While all of this is good, the personalities of the people in question meshing well with mine will lock that association into place. It will draw me into going out to their shows. It will keep me listening. New songs coming out will likely find their way into my next projects if their themes mesh with whatever I am writing. Hell, it kept me out at Brat Fest, sitting in the rain to listen to their set. (It was a light rain, but still…)

Next blog post, I will go over some of the other artists that are sitting on my writing playlists. As well as picking apart what it is about these songs specifically that marries them to the stories I am working on.

Until then I have to run. I am making a bunch of my Iron Druid cupcakes (renamed to their original Irish Car Bomb theme) to bring to the concert tomorrow night. Yes, there is booze in them. No, they aren’t vegan. Yes, they use real sugar, real butter, and reach Dutch process cocoa powder. Photos will follow if I remember.