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Friday, December 30, 2011

Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, Dec. 30th





All zombie toys are great, in my book.
10 Incredibly Great Zombie Toys


I guess I'm a cross between "book geek" and "Star Trek geek."
Infographic of the Day: what type of geek are you?


Everything you ever wanted to know about zombie fiction:
Let's Talk Zombies (Part 1)


This is amazing!
Alien Banana
I wonder how many bananas the artist had to go through before this one. If it's real, then the artist is my new favorite hero.


Free eBook:
John W. Campbell, Collected Editorials from Analog, selected by Harry Harrison


This time of year is ripe for "Top 10 of the year" and "Best of the year" lists.

Top 10 Sci-Fi Epic Fails Of 2011

NPR's List of The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy

The Top Ten Books of 2011, by Brian Keene

Best of 2011: Non-Genre TV Gets Scary


This is just crazy enough to make me want to see it.
'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' Axes Questions In Two New One-Sheets


Have a great weekend (and wonderful new year)!

Monday, December 26, 2011

No rest for the wicked (writer)



November and December have been crazy-busy. Along with my husband's heart attack (and my requisite "helicoptering" over him, watching everything he eats and does like some kind of "anti-fat Nazi"), I've written and finished/polished six short stories that are now out in the world, looking for a home. It's a new personal record and I'm quite proud of it . . . but I sure am tired.

The stories I've worked on these last two months are:

"Alecsander's Empire" (a vampire in the throes a mid-life crisis);
"Spring Fever" (water isn't always the healthy choice);
"Optilin" (what price happiness?);
"Amazing! Incredible! Sea Mongrels" (nostalgia can be deadly);
"Sal's Choice Cuts" (a ne'er-do-well son makes something of himself);
"Sympathy for the Devil" (Satan hires a publicist).

Whew! Talk about a weird mix.

Never one to rest for long, I'm hard at work on a new short story already.

Next Monday's post will be about my plans for 2012 and the projects I'm hoping to tackle in the new year. 2011 has been a bit of a tough; I'm ready to say goodbye to it and ring in an bright, shiny new year full of promise.

Here's wishing you and yours a wonderful 2012!

Monday, December 19, 2011

"Logo" is awfully close to "loco"

I’ve been going crazy trying to create a logo for my writing.

The high school I went to in New York required students to choose an area of study (like a major), and mine was graphic arts. So although it’s been a long time and my art abilities are rusty, I decided to have a go at making the logo myself.

My first idea was to do something with a crow. Crows are great horror icons, plus I have a special affinity for them because I used to have a pet crow (named Edgar Allen Crow). But I’ve seen many other writers use crows in their logos (including Stephen King), so I was afraid they were an overdone symbol.

My next idea was to do a logo with a zombie. Better, but I write about more than just zombies.

Then I thought about doing something with a skeleton, but all the drafts I did came across to Halloween-ish. But I still liked the idea of bones.

A skull and crossbones is the generic logo for my test run of business cards, but I quickly saw the error of my ways with that decision. A skull and crossbones looks terrific on the business card next to the words, “Dark Fiction Author,” it doesn’t look quite so terrific on the address labels where there’s no explanation: just a skull and crossbones beside my name and address . . . talk about sending up red flags for the US Postal Service! Besides, I’m a horror writer, not a pirate.

Then I had a brainstorm: my old business cards had a hand holding a quill, an excellent visual representation for writer; my new business cards have a skull; what if I combine the two ideas and have a hand dipping a quill into a skull as if the skull were the ink pot? Bingo!

First I tried all-black, just like the logo on my business cards. But that didn’t really do it for me.



Then I tried a little more detail, but didn’t like that, either. I decided maybe the problem with this one was the lack of a lower jaw.



I finally settled on this one: 



I think it's a perfect fit.

The quill represents writing.
The skull represent horror and mysticism, so that covers my horror and fantasy.
And the skull looks as if he might be smiling a little, fitting since some of my work is comedic.

Perfect!

And if you look in the address bar, I even made my first favicon. It, however, needs a little more work. Can you tell it's a skull? Like I said, it needs work.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, Dec. 16th



Looking to try a new writer?
Discover your next favorite author using Literature Map
(Want a direct link to the tool? Here it is: http://www.literature-map.com/)


Rats. Didn't see this until AFTER my birthday. Oh well, there's always next year. I wonder what the folks at "Berry Sunshine Bakery" would say if I came in and asked them to make me one of these? (insert evil laughter here)
The Evil Dead Necronomicon Birthday Cake


Top 10 Alien Films


That Riddick movie's finally on again after cash flow problems


18 riveting reads that'll make perfect holiday gifts
(and don't forget Zombidays: Festivities of the Flesheaters. It makes a great stocking stuffer, too).


82 Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction Books Available in December


If I ever win the lottery, my house is going to end up FILLED with things like this:
Build Your Own Bates Mansion Kit
You thought houses decorated with velvet paintings were the definition of tacky? Try a house that's decorated in movie-prop-house-must-have-exploded-in-here: a life-size Alien Queen in the corner, a giant cube from the Hellraiser movies as a glass-topped coffee table, the full collection of The Walking Dead action figures on the shelf . . . home, sweet, home.


The sets look good!
Prometheus: Official Photos Released


Who needs Tony Robbins when we've got Yoda?
10 Pieces of Advice from Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies That Can Transform Your Life


What's the Best Book They Ever Got for Christmas? Famous Authors Share with USA Today


Have a great weekend!

Monday, December 12, 2011

My New Google+ Author Fan Page

I am not one of those people that has to have the latest gadget or gizmo. I hate software upgrades (new and improved, my white butt). I resist change in any form. If it ain't broke, why fix it?

As an example . . .

The laptop I do most of my writing on is eight years old. The first Windows computer I ever owned (a lovely Packard Bell circa 1995) still sits on the desk in my daughter's room (hey! It's got some simple-but-addicting games on it that you can't get anymore)!

I reluctantly gave up my old flip phone a few months ago, only because of the massive rebates they gave me, including a "throw money at her if you can pry the old garbage phone out of her hands" rebate. By the time all the rebates were added up, they actually paid me to take a new smart-phone. Otherwise, I'd still be using my old flip phone.

Until I dived back into the writing life last year, I'd never visited Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, MySpace, or any of the other social networking sites. Just more new-fangled software, I figured.

And some of them I really could have lived my whole without ever signing up for (let's face it: MySpace is dead, at least for my demographic). Some of them have proved very useful and I can't imagine living without them (much like my smart phone; they knew once I started using it, I'd be hooked). And others I neglect but wish I used more. Like Facebook. It seems like it could really come in handy, but every time I learn to do something, they change things. So every time I sign on, I end up spending half an hour wandering, lost, trying to figure out where they put everything after the last upgrade.

Google, however, is a whole different story. I love Google's broad reach (they're into everything) and I think it's creepy at the same time. But mostly I love it. So when they came out with Google+ (a Google version of Facebook, squee!), I was ready to jump on board.

But they wouldn't let me. Invite only? What the hell!?! So I waited. And waited. And waited. Pretty soon I started feeling like the fat kid during team-picking for dodgeball.

Eventually, I did get my invite (and a few days later, they seemed to open it to the general public, go figure). And I like it, but I'm still learning my way around.

And now, gasp and surprise, I just found out that Google+ does fan pages, just like Facebook! Happy, happy, joy, joy.

If you are like me, and had no idea this was possible, check out this awesome article and instructions (plus links to other instructions) on how to set up your Google+ author fan page:

Inkygirl: How to Set Up an Author or Book Fan Page on Google+

I set up my Google+ fan page and added a badge for it on this blog and my web page. You can visit my author page by clicking the Google+ badge below:


Brenda
on Google+



Of course, just because I set it up doesn't mean I know what I'm doing . . . it's another site where I spend most of my time wandering around, lost. But I'm excited about being lost, so I guess attitude makes all the difference, lol.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, Dec. 9th

First, let me apologize for Monday's missing post . . . or make excuses about it, anyway: the whole household has been down with a particularly nasty strain of the flu this week. Tis the season, I guess.

Okay. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.


Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, Dec. 9th




1st look at the Prometheus cast channels Ridley Scott's Aliens vibe


Recent Science Fiction and Fantasy Books that Make Perfect Gifts


Gift Ideas For 10 Major Species Of Science Fiction Fan


As much as I love zombies (and you know I love me some zombies), there has to be more to a story. You can only watch characters run from zombies for so long, and that's how I was starting to feel about The Walking Dead toward the end of season one. It was becoming the same old: "Oh no! It's a zombie, run!" thing over and over again.

I'm enjoying season two more because now we are getting into the characters. Here's my summary of the two seasons:
Season 1: "The Walking Dead" (and the monsters) are the zombies;
Season 2: "The Walking Dead" actually refers to Rick and his group of survivors, and they can be just as monstrous as the zombies.
It's a much deeper and more enjoyable story in season two, and there are still plenty of close calls with zombies (the zombie-in-the-well scene was AWESOME, even though it was illogical)!

As the blog-writer says, the show is far from perfect, and they have to be careful that they don't spend so much time slowing down the story and focusing on characters that we swing the other way (not enough action), but I think they're at least on the right track. Maybe season three will have them hitting that perfect balance of action and character.
The Walking Dead Season 2: Stop and Smell the Dessicated Roses


3 new titles in speculative fiction


Cowboys & Aliens has inspired a bizarre new UFO theory


Aliens on Ice!


Tis the season for giving!
Gift Guide: Shark Attack Mug


15 geekwear gifts as much fun to give as to receive


Have a great weekend!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, Dec. 2nd



Bibliophile Stalker: Short Story Collections for the Aspiring Speculative Fiction Writer


No prison could ever hope to hold Riddick. He's like the Chuck Norris of outer space.
10 Great Prison Breaks from Science Fiction and Fantasy


I saw this movie as a kid and loved it back then. I don't remember much about it except the sky was super-cool (not only cool in color-effects; I think the radio-active sky made noise, too), the vehicles were awesome, and the cockroaches freaked me out. I seem to remember doing a lot of research on hissing cockroaches back then, just to make sure they weren't really man-eaters (cut me some slack, I would have been nine or ten at the time). I'm afraid to watch it again now, especially after the review below. Maybe I'll never watch it again and let it just remain a golden movie in my memories.
Review: Damnation Alley


21 must-have sci-fi Blu-rays and DVDs that'll make perfect holiday gifts


My personal recommendations (excellent collections of short stories): Stephen King's Skeleton Crew and Book of the Dead, edited by Skipp & Spector (these collections are so good I own two copies of each).
BLOGBUSTERS Best SF, Fantasy & Horror Short Stories


Guess what's going on MY Christmas list!
Velvet Painting: The Alien Queen


A Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Publishing Blog Hosted by Publishers Weekly


The Zombies that Ate the World: Book 1 Review:
“In Los Angeles in the year 2064, the dead have risen..."


Looking for something new to read?
SF Signal's list of free fiction


My two favs (aside from Close Encounters, of course) are Body Snatchers and Alien.
Top Ten Sci-Fi Movies of the 1970s
These are the movies whose scenes are burned into your mind forever: Donald Sutherland doing the point-and-roar, sculpting mashed potatoes into Devils tower, that baby alien taking its first breath on the dinner table . . . great stuff.


Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Real Life Fear

One of my favorite movie lines is from Diary of a Mad Black Woman. When the main character (who's just spent the night on Madea's couch after being thrown out of her mansion by her husband of eighteen years) runs into an old friend in Madea's kitchen. The friend, now a drug addict, is twitchy, pale, and gaunt. After she leaves, the main character, stunned, asks Madea, "What happened to her?"

Madea pauses and says, "Life."

Life happened to our family this month when hubby (who's only forty-two) had a heart attack.

We were stunned. He has almost no family history of heart attack, he's not super-overweight (just pleasantly chubby), and his job, though not strenuous, involves a lot of walking (so it's not like he rides a desk all day).

We were on day three of deer hunting when it happened. We hadn't seen any deer so we were planning on going wide the very next day. These last few years, deer hunting has been tough. We put on a lot of miles and end up in some very remote places. Luckily, that day we were sticking fairly close to home.

We happened to be scouting a slough only ten miles from home when two deer came up out of the valley. The promptly jumped back down into the valley when they spied our truck. Hubby decided they had probably laid up just over the ridge, so he decided to go take a look. My fun meter was already pegged out, so I decided to stay in the truck.

He went over the hill, spooked up the deer, and got a shot off at one--but missed. He climbed back up out of the valley and returned to the truck. "Take me home," he said. "My chest hurts."

I took him home and he had a sandwich. After half an hour, his chest still hurt . . . and the pain had spread down his arm and up his neck. After that, things happened fast.

First they did an EKG and blood test. Everything was normal, but they decided to keep him overnight. I expected to return the next morning and bring him home (everything was normal, right?), but when I arrived, they were doing an ultrasound on his heart.

In the middle of the night, the enzymes in his blood spiked, indicating tissue death. He'd had a heart attack (the enzymes don't show up in the blood until hours after the heart attack, most of the time).

So now they were scheduling him for an angiogram, where they inject dye and look for blockages. Halfway through the angiogram, I was informed they found a blockage. His angiogram had become an angioplasty where they feed in a wire and place a stent! Afterwards, when I went back to see hubby, he said, "Did they tell you what happened?"

I said, "Yes, they found a blockage," thinking it couldn't get any worse.

But no, it can get worse: not just a blockage, it was an 80% blockage . . . in a forty-two year old man!

So this month has been full of doctor appointments, cardiac rehab, and extra-long shopping trips (we've had to rethink and replan our whole grocery list--it's not easy eating healthy).




He's doing better now and back at work. I told him if he ever scares me like this again, I'm going to have them revive him and then kill him myself.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, Nov. 25th

Next, after Prometheus?
Ridley Scott Reveals New Details for Blade Runner Movie


Bruce Campbell Talks Evil Dead Remake: No Ash


Why, oh why!?! Gimme back my Bruce!
Bruce Campbell's Cameo in Oz Has Been Cut


From io9:
10 Crazy Scifi Plot Devices That We’d Like to See


Booksellers’ picks of the year: science fiction and fantasy


Now we're on to reboots of reboots of reboots . . .
Godzilla Reboot Finds a New Writer


10 Modern Must-Read Sci-Fi Masterpieces


Love these . . . but my fear of commitment keeps me from getting one (forever is a mighty long time). It took me 38 years to get my first tattoo and it'll probably be another 38 years before the next one.
Freaky Zombie & Monster Tattoos


Not a lot of info here, yet. Just enough to pique our interest.
AMC Developing Science Fiction TV Series, ‘Thunderstruck’


There's an app for that:
Get Popcorn Horror on your phone


Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Where I Find Story Ideas

I'm often asked how I come up with story ideas. Actually, people usually ask, "Where do you come up with these weird ideas?"

I rarely have a shortage of ideas. Since I write horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction, my version of story creation usually involves taking a prompt/headline/situation and asking:

1) What is the worst or weirdest thing that could happen with this?

2) How could this threaten humans/humanity?

3) How could an alien race use this to their advantage?


Prompts
Prompts are great for story creation, you just have to twist them around to the kind of writing you like to do. For example, this prompt from Toasted Cheese prompt calendar:

Write a story or poem based on an old wives' tale

The first old wives tale that popped into my head, I hate to say, is the one boys were told when I was younger: you'll get hairy palms if you self-gratify (do they still use this old wives tale?). So let's say the old wives tale is true. How will that affect the dating world? Will someone invent a pill to make it stop? Or will a whole new salon-industry develop catering to men's special shaving needs? Does it happen to women, too? This would make a great comedy-fantasy!


Or how about this one (the origin of which I've forgotten):

A cross-country train trip opens your eyes to another way of life.

Maybe the train rider meets hobos and decides to become a drifter. Maybe the hobos are really vampires. Our rider still decides to join up with them. Or maybe the hobos are a superior race of being, the "parents" of all humanity, and they've gotten so fed up with how badly we've turned out they've given up on us and are all now living a simple, unfettered life away from their disappointing children


News & Headlines
Sometimes I uses headlines and news articles. Like this one:

Butt Injection with Fix-A-Flat Leads to Arrest

There are lots of stories with this one! Maybe there's a new product call "Fix-Your-Flats" that's a home breast-enhancement product. Or maybe there's a whole seedy underground of "MacGyver-like" body enhancements and augmentations. Or maybe an unintended consequence of this sort of body modification is that the people who have it done begin to mutate (or turn into zombies) thanks to these foreign chemicals being injected.


Or I use nature-related articles. Like this one:

Seaweed's Chemical Weapons Killing Corals

Sound familiar? Change it to "Plants" Chemical Weapons Killing "People," and you've got the premise for the movie The Happening.


Or how about this one:

New Life-Forms Found at Bottom of Dead Sea

Hmm. What kind of life forms? Maybe a new parasite that gets a taste for humans and is inadvertently transported to a larger body of water where it thrives? Or maybe a nice, highly-contagious microbe that starts a world-wide pandemic (especially since we'll have zero immunity, since the thing has just been floating around in the bottom of the water for eons). You can get lots of great stories out of this one!


Mashup Situations
And sometimes I use mashups, taking a normal, everyday situation and putting in a horror character as the protagonist. A lot of my comedy falls in this category. For example:

A vampire having a "mid-life" crisis;

A zombie forced to take a job at a large retailer;

Satan trying to learn how to use social media.

What kind of soccer mom (or hockey mom) would a werewolf be? What if Bigfoot's stock portfolio tanked and he had to go get a job instead of living his life of leisure in the big woods? What if your company was bought out by another and your new boss was a Harpy . . . literally?


Stories are all around us. The key is to take a kernel--a prompt, a headline, a situation--and let your imagination run wild.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, Nov. 18th

I had no idea they were planning a sequel, but it sounds like they are beyond the, "Hey maybe someday we oughta" stage.
Beetlejuice Sequel Requires Michael Keaton's Return?


Coming to theaters in January:
Underworld Awakening: Extended Theatrical Trailer Released


More information on the Evil Dead remake:
Evil Dead Remake Logo Treatment and Synopsis


Ron Howard says not to hold your breath for that Dark Tower movie


How cool is this? First Mr. Depp gets to work with Keith Richards and now Alice Cooper!
Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp Will Appear in Dark Shadows





I think the poster where you can't quite see the girl (just her hand writing in the drops) is spookiest.
Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Why Rejection Doesn't Matter

One of the toughest parts about being a writer is dealing with rejection. Statistically, it's unavoidable. But it can be a career killer . . . if you let it.

Rejection fills us with self-doubt. You get that little slip of paper or short, terse email and you think:

This story sucks;
my writing sucks;
I suck!

Why am I even doing this? Am I crazy, or a glutton for punishment? Who am I kidding, anyway, thinking I could be a writer?

The fact is good stories, good writing, and good writers get rejected. It could be the story isn't a good fit for the market, or the story just didn't click with that particular editor/first-line reader . . . but it might work for the next one, or the next one after that.

The perfect example is the recent batch of critiques I've gotten from my critique group. While it has, as expected, led to some great suggestions for improving the story, it's also proven that taste is subjective-- a great lesson to remember when those rejections start coming in.

For example, I had one critiquer who actually said:

"I wasn't going to critique this story at first because I didn't think I could do it without being hurtful." Ouch. The person went on to say that they thought the story was puerile and juvenile and lame.

The next critiquer said it was the funniest thing they've read in a long time and it actually made them laugh out loud.

Even one specific joke in the story had readers divided: half of them liked it, half didn't. It was a small-penis joke with a George Costanza "shrinkage" reference, and women found it funnier than men (go figure).

But the point is, not everyone liked the story. I feel like I'm on the right track with it, since it had about a 75% "I enjoyed it" rate, but I know what I'm going to face once I finish polishing it and send it out:

if I send it to an editor who has the same taste as "puerile & juvenile" guy, it's going to get rejected;
if I send it to an editor who has the same taste as "I laughed out loud" guy, then there's a good chance it will be accepted.

The battle is finding that editor: laugh-out-loud guy (or gal).

When it comes back rejected (as it inevitably will), I just have to remember to tell myself, "Nope. That wasn't the guy," and send it back out again.

As further proof that it's all subjective, I pulled a boneheaded move and sent another story to the same magazine twice. It's a rookie mistake and my face is red (and I still haven't figured out how it happened), but I'm glad it happened. The first time, the story came back with a typical form rejection, "Not for us." The second time it came back with, "Not for us but a great story. Please send more." What??? It makes no sense, but who cares! I'm sending them more, lol!

So don't let rejection get you down. Keep sending the story out until you find "that guy"-- the guy who gets your story. It may take a while, but he's out there, somewhere, and it's up to you to find him (or her).

Until you do, remember what they say about opinions: opinions are like a**holes, everyone has one.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, Nov. 11th

A lot of my friends wanted to be rock stars when they grew up. Now they can.
Alice Cooper Debuts 'Nightmare' Mobile App

I think I read the first book in this series . . .
The CW to adapt Kim Harrison's The Hollows for TV

Books that straddle the genre line (and a good example of how it's sometimes hard to classify spec-fic stories)
The Intersection of Science Fiction and Horror

Adds a whole new spin to family game night!
The Walking Dead board game

You know, I think I'm pretty okay here, at least in winter. Zombies would surely lose locomotion at -40 degrees, don't you think?
10 real locations that will help you survive the zombie apocalypse

Don't get excited about the title of this article. There's no new horrible creature on the horizon; Mr. King is branching into historical fiction with a tale about the JFK Assassination.
Stephen King's New Monster

How cool is this! I would love to go see this show. I'm a big fan of H.R. Giger, too (naturally), and I loved the small showing and print sale of Giger art I got to see in San Fransisco years ago.
Triptykon Frontman Displaying 'Death Mask' Art

More info on the upcoming Evil Dead remake.
Plot details from the Evil Dead remake

This is a great list to check out for movies you might have overlooked or to remind you of the movies you used to love (horror movie nostalgia night, anyone?)
io9's 50 Scariest Movies of All Time

Don't forget, if you're looking for a good zombie read pick up a copy of Zombidays: Festivities of the Flesheaters. It also makes a great stocking stuffer for the zombie fans in your life!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 7, 2011

What's My Line?

Two buzz words in the writing profession right now are "brand" and "platform."

For those unfamiliar with the terms, brand is the word or phrase that tells the buying public what to expect from you, and your platform is where you stand to throw your brand at everyone (figuratively speaking, of course, though standing on a platform and throwing books at people might work. The subsequent lawsuits for head trauma would probably zero-out any profit gained from such an event, though).

For example, Stephen King's brand (at least until recently) has been horror. It's what people expect from him. John Grisham's brand has been legal thrillers.

I've been thinking about my brand lately, and believe me, coming up with a brand (and catchy tagline to represent my brand) isn't as easy as it sounds.

I write in three main genres: horror, fantasy, and sci-fi. I write so very little sci-fi that it probably doesn't matter if I leave it out of my brand.

So okay. I write horror and fantasy. Makes it more succinct.

BUT, now there's the problem of how big the fantasy genre is. There's a HUGE difference between the humorous contemporary fantasy I write and sword and sorcery fantasy. Somebody looking for a book like Lord of the Rings is not going to be interested in my story about the vampire having a mid-life crisis, but they are both "fantasy."

So instead of just saying I write "horror and fantasy," a more apt description would be:
"I write horror and humorous contemporary fantasy . . . and occasionally sword and sorcery fantasy or sci-fi."

Ick. That's not catchy at all!

Of course, if you want to complicate things (like they need complicating), some classification systems list horror as a subset of fantasy. So I could just say, "I write fantasy." But most people looking to read horror aren't going to head for the fantasy section.

Sigh. What's a writer to do?

Okay. How about, "Horror and Dark comedy," since most of my fantasy is humorous urban/contemporary fantasy? It clears up the whole sword and sorcery expectation. And it's certainly better than "horror and horrific comedy," which just makes it sound like I write bad comedy (which I certainly hope it isn't).

My warped brain next came up with, "Shits and Giggles." It fits! But I don't think it's appropriate and a lot of people won't get it.

Side note: for a while, I wrote under my initials, "B.M. Kezar." Then my husband said he didn't like it because "BM" made him think of "Bowel Movement." I almost kept it, because I think that's a very appropriate name-association for a horror writer, don't you think?

I finally came up with:
"Monsters and Magick"
or
"Zomedy Writer"

Zomedy writer is nice and catchy, but it's one of those things that needs explaining (I write about zombies and monsters, and I write comedies that often have monsters as main characters: zomedies). And having people read my tagline and saying, "I don't get it" is not the reaction I'm looking for.

I think Monsters and magick is more descriptive because most of my horror involves creatures and "magick" makes one think of the fantasy genre. . . but again, it doesn't take into account that most of my fantasy isn't sword and sorcery and that it's usually comedic.

Then I came up with "Wicked and Witty," but "wicked" makes it sound like I'm writing erotica (and won't erotica fans be disappointed when the only heavy breathing in my stories is from people running away from zombies?).

"Nightmares and Necromancy"? Ick.
"Shivers and Smiles"?
"Ghouls and Gags"?
"Monsters and Mirth"?
Ick. Ick. Ick.

So what's a poor spec-fic writer to do? How does one turn: "Horror (usually with monsters), humorous contemporary fantasy, sometimes sword and sorcery, and sometimes sci-fi" into a short, catchy brand tagline?

I'm still working on it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, Nov. 4th

Are you ready to go Geek?
Geek 101 -- A Primer for Your Entry Into Geek Culture


The chest-burster bride and groom cake is my favorite!
18 beautifully grotesque horror cakes far too disgusting to eat


Check out Zombie Spock: "Live long and . . . eat brains!"
Vader, Spock, Spidey and 26 other sci-fi icons as rotting zombies



These make me wish I was an artist. This page is huge, so it takes a while to load.
120+ Epic, Stunning, Creative & Scary Zombie Design Inspirations – Illustrations, Art, & Photography


Best news EVER! Wonder if they can get Bill Murray and Woody Harrelson to at least do cameos?
Fox Developing a Zombieland Series



My state gets "Invading Canadians." Try and find a parking spot around here on the weekends and you'll know it's true.
Map of the United States of Scary Things


Picks Of The Week: Science Fiction Books


Dang! Shoulda had this list sooner. My kids saw most of these . . . wait . . . that actually explains a lot. ;)
Horror Films that Scar Children


And if you think your stomach is strong enough:
The Most Disgusting Horror Movies
I loved Jeff Goldblum's "Brundlefly," especially the inside-out baboon. I haven't seen the rest of them. I don't think I want to.

That's it for this edition. Have a great weekend!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Oh Come All Ye Zombies!

I feel like Steve Martin in The Jerk: "The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!"

In my case, it's: "The zombies are here! The zombies are here!"
  



Zombidays is AVAILABLE!


At long last, the wait is over! Eighteen holiday-themed zombie stories fresh off the presses just in time for your holiday reading. This anthology (from Library of the Living Dead/Twisted Library Press) includes my humorous short story, "Inhuman Resources." What happens when a big retailer hires their first zombie employee for the seasonal rush? It gives "Black Friday" a whole new meaning!

Pop over here to pick up your copy of Zombidays: Zombie Holidays! I'll wait.


Okay. Back to business!

November, joyous and dreadful, is just around the corner. Every November, I attempt to juggle deer hunting all day with doing NaNoWriMo at night . . . and I try to do it while still maintaining basic personal hygiene, making sure my dogs don't think I've moved without a forwarding address, or letting my floors accumulate so much cat hair that it looks like I've installed seventies shag carpeting. It's not easy, believe me. And now I've added a crit group and a writer's group to the November schedule, plus I'm trying turkey hunting for the first time. I'm a glutton for punishment!

But this November is going to be a little different: I'm not technically doing NaNo, I'm doing something NaNo-ish.

I'm doing ShoStoWriMo. And yes, I just made that up.

I decided I'm not going to waste my time writing another novel until I make progress on the ones already languishing. Instead, I'm going to spend November working on my one true love, short stories. How many short stories? Who knows! But I'm working on them!

I've set myself a goal of 1500 words a day. Compared to the 1666 required for NaNo, this is going to be a breeze. Right? RIGHT?

And for my ShoStoWriMo, editing is allowed but it doesn't count toward the 1500 words per day.

I'm still going to track my progress on the NaNoWriMo site, but I'm not going to upload my final word count or claim "winner status" since my modified participation doesn't follow the established rules of NaNo.

What about you? Are you doing NaNo, skipping it, or trying something else altogether?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, Oct. 28th

This is, hands down, the best thing I've seen on the web this month:
The Thing: The Musical
Warning: Definitely not suitable for children, squeamish adults, small pets, or anyone who hasn't already seen The Thing. In other words, the musical includes graphic, gory clips (yay!)

Get with the program!
All Hallow's Read
I love the bookmark. I've printed out some to give away in books . . . and one for myself.

William Shatner's 10 Favorite Space Movies

I hate those stickers people put on the backs window of the SUVs and minivans, with all the little pig-tailed girls and even the $#@%! family dog and cat. But these I want!
FEARnet's Gift Guide: Zombie Family Decals

SFSignal MindMeld:
Books That Authors Recommend to Their Friends

Makes me want to drive to Illinois (which is saying a lot)!
The First Annual MALEFICIUM Dark Art Exhibition

Love the "Zombie Crossing" one.
15 Sign Hacks

I have to admit, I've been a little disappointed by Terra Nova so far. But I'm still watching, hoping it will improve as I start to bond with the characters a little more (and I'm really hoping they'll explore the world more). So far, the character I'm most interested in and intrigued by is the leader of the rebel "sixers" . . . and I'm not sure that's a good omen for the show. In fairness, I also got bored and wandered off from Falling Skies, and the character I found most engaging on that show was the leader of the rebel group. He also had the best line I'd heard in a series in a while: "Being the leader of a post-apocalyptic gang of outlaws has been exhausting." I think it's bad news for a show when the secondary characters and villains have better dialogue than the protags/heroes.
Axiom's Edge: Is Terra Nova the Worst Science Fiction TV Show in Recent Years?

Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, Oct. 21st



What if Dr. Seuss wrote The Call of Cthulhu?


If you haven't read I Am Legend yet, please do. In my opinion, the novel has more emotional impact. You really start to feel Neville's despair. I liked the Will Smith movie quite a bit, but I still prefer the book.
Meet the Sci-Fi Author Who Inspired Real Steel and a Dozen Other Films


I haven't seen all the movies on this list, but I agree with Zombieland in the 10 best and Rave to the Grave in the 10 worst.
10 Best & 10 Worst Zombie Movies (Stuart Bedford at Whatculture!)


My own list of the best zombie movies would include:

     Zombieland

     28 Days Later

     Army of Darkness (technically, it counts)

     Undead (yes, it's a little cheesy; but when he fights those zombie fish ... best ... scene ... EVER!)

     Return of the Living Dead (1985) One of my top favorites. When the zombie breaks out to the music of "Do you want to party?" What could be better than that? And all those split dogs, barking their little half-heads off? Or how about the zombie who says, "Send more paramedics" like he's ordering take out? Love it!


And, if you CRAVE a few zombie movies to celebrate Halloween, here's one heck of a list:
Zombie movies



I would add to this list, Night Things, by Thomas F. Monteleone.
The Most Terrifying Books of All Time, by paulgoatallen from the B&N Community


Or, if you're looking for a shorter read:
33 scary stories you can read RIGHT NOW from great horror writers


Have a great weekend!

Monday, October 17, 2011

To NaNo or Not To NaNo?

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is only two weeks away and I'm still not sure what I'm going to do about it.

I really should just skip it this year because I already have too many irons in the fire. I have several short stories I'm revising, a couple of new ones I'm drafting, plus several novels already languishing in the revision stage.

And time is a huge factor this year. With family commitments and medical issues, I've had to be a barracuda about carving out dedicated writing time as it is. Plus I've joined a writing group and a critique group, too, which takes another nip out of my already over-taxed schedule (and they both fall in that "sacred for writing" category, so there's no way I'm giving them up)!

There's another factor about it that's been weighing on my mind: do I really need another novel? I already have several half-written novels and a few in the revision stage. My inability to bring any of them to a finished state makes me wonder if I'm just not cut out to be a novelist. Maybe short stories and novellas are my calling. Not everyone can do both, and maybe that's the case with me. I haven't given up on noveling, yet, but I probably shouldn't start a new one until I at least finish one of the others.

Of course, if I don't do NaNo, I'm going to feel like I'm missing out. I enjoy the challenge. I like having a definite daily goal that I'm accountable for. You can make a deadline and goal on your own of course, but it seems weak and less urgent to say, "I set a goal of . . .," as opposed to "I have to get in 1667 words today for Nano." It seems to make it more official, more urgent. And, of course, there's the camaraderie of knowing that a whole lot of other writing maniacs are struggling right alongside you, all over the world.

I am thinking of compromise. I'm considering writing a novel of short stories. In a way, it would be like melding Story-A-Day with NaNoWriMo. I can either write the stories as a series (they all have a thread through them--same setting, same characters, etc.--but are stand-alone stories, too. Or I could write it as just a collection of short stories with no thread tying them together (a single author short-story collection). At the end, I can revise and polish them and either send them out as individual shorts or try to have them published as a collection (which I've heard is difficult, but I guess I won't know for sure until I try).

I'm still not sure which way I'm going to go: write a novel for NaNo, skip NaNo, or write a short story collection for NaNo. But I'd better make up my mind pretty quick!

Are you doing NaNo this year?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, Oct 14th

Samuel L. Jackson's death in Deep Blue Sea is one of my favorite movie scenes. Let's be honest, at some point in your life, haven't you had the urge to chomp some boring motivational speaker? I know I have. Teamwork? I've got your teamwork right here.
Greatest Random Out-of-Nowhere Deaths in Science Fiction and Fantasy

And speaking of Samuel L. Jackson . . . here's a little video where
C3PO goes all Samuel Jackson

Um. As much as I love the franchise and all its components, this game reminds me too much of the old Atari "Pitfall" game. Instead of scorpions, you've got face-huggers.
Aliens: Infestation

They'll make the movie whenever they can find a full cast.
'Gossip Girl' Blake Lively Also Shuns The 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' Project

I would definitely watch a series based on The Fifth Element or Starship Troopers . . . Mystery Men, not so much.
8 more '90s sci-fi films that oughta get their own TV spinoffs

I would LOVE to see Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash. Would it be any good? Probably not, but I'd still watch it just out of gleeful curiosity. Of course, it would only work for me if Bruce Campbell was Ash and Robert Englund was Freddy. I'm a purist.
7 Doomed Horror Flicks You'll Probably Never See

That's it for this week. Have a great weekend!


Monday, October 10, 2011

Curb Your Enthusiasm? No way.

I'm so excited, my head is going to split right open and butterflies and confetti are going to fly out (or gleeful imps and hell-fire). Last week was a great week, writerly-speaking.

First, I attended the Muse Online Writer's Conference. There was so much great information presented, I'm going to be going over my notes and handouts for the next six months! And I got some excellent critiques/comments on my work . . . including a few that resulted in palm-to-face, "oh my god I can't believe I did that" moments . . . like thirty exclamation points in a 500 word piece. But you can be rootin-tootin sure I'm not going to make those mistakes again (or at least, not until the embarrassment wears off, lol).

Second, a new local writing group started, with real live people! Though undead ones would be cool, too, as long as they refrained from eating my brain.

Writing, by it's very nature, is pretty solitary work. We spend so much time running around in our own heads, like Jonesy in Dreamcatcher . . . I'm sure that can't be good for a person. And being a writer from a small town makes the problem so much worse. There aren't many opportunities for interaction with other writers. There's not even a NaNo group near me. The only municipal liaison in the whole state is halfway across the state from me. We do have a once-per-year writing conference at the local college, and they've even added a one-day writer's workshop to it, but that's about it.

And while on-line interaction is great, but sometimes you want that in-person, real-time connection. After the college's writer's conference workshop, I always come home amped up, ready to write, bursting with enthusiasm about writing . . . that in-person experience, being around other creative people, is like falling in love with writing all over again.

So I'm really excited about the group!

Eight people plus the coordinator showed up, which is a heck of a turnout for an event in my town that doesn't involve hockey sticks!

So I have two things that have "fed my writerly fire" this week. What feeds your writerly fire?


Friday, October 7, 2011

Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, Oct. 7th

New book on the Alien franchise:
Alien Vault: The Definitive Story of the Making of the Film

Cute and creepy:
Everything's Better With Legos--Especially Scary Movies

What Leia and 22 Other Sci-Fi Characters Would Look Like as Vamps

You can guess which one I'm going to read first! You had me at "Apocalypse."
10 Worthwhile Science Fiction and Fantasy Books for October

Or if you're looking for a free read:
Free Fiction

Sneak peek (sneak listen?) at the soon-to-be released
The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor

"America's Next Top Model" meets "Men In Black"?
New Alien Project from "Reaper" Crew

Now THIS is art! But I think he kind of looks like Bob Dylan.
The Day Billy the Kid Got Ambushed by a Horde of Zombie Potatoes

Have a good weekend!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Side effect of writing: neurosis

After several chaotic weeks, I "lost my groove" with writing and ended up floundering. Not really writer's block, more of "writer's drift": no motivation, not sure what to work on, every project I had in the works looked like crap . . . . So I started doing some freewriting from prompts to stretch the creative muscles and get back into the grove. Thankfully, it worked and I'm back on my projects again. And I chalked the whole "off" thing to typical writer's neurosis.

But it made me wonder: does the rest of the world realize how neurotic we writers are?

I go through roller-coaster neurotic phases when I'm working on a project.

Stage 1: Creative Lightning.
I get a great idea for a story. I'm walking on air, and everything else falls by the wayside while I explore the idea. I get up in the middle of the night (poor hubby) and rush off to my writing room. I'll be having a conversation and suddenly my face will light up and I'll run off to my writing room mid-sentence. I'm full of energy and enthusiasm about writing, and life is good!

Stage 2: Magic.
Engaging, likable characters spring to life, plot points fall out of the sky, the scenes practically write themselves! I'm a writing machine and this is going to be the best story EVER! My magnum opus!

Stage 3: But how does it end?
I get the story mostly drafted, with a great premise, engaging characters, witty dialogue, an exciting roller-coaster plot with monsters so scary you'll have to leave the lights on . . . but how the hell is this thing going to end? Usually I come up with 942 cliche endings (blow the monster up, anyone?), but a decent and satisfying ending takes days. Here's where I decide that writing sucks. This is also where stories get put on the back burner or abandoned permanently.

Stage 4: So what's this little piece of genius going to be called?
The most dreaded of stages. I'm TERRIBLE at titles. I actually have a novel-in-progress (okay; perhaps "mostly abandoned novel" is a more apt description") called "Space Spiders." I know, I'm not proud of it. I power through this stage because if I've gotten this far, I'm not going to let a stupid title hold me back.

Stage 5: Oh my God! Did I do that?
This is actually the stage I hate the most. It's also the one that leads to the most bruises because I end up slapping my palm against my forehead so much. I'm not too bad at spelling, but my grammar and sentence structure often needs a lot of work. And I'm famous for plot holes during the fevered writing stage, and they don't get caught until this stage. Like the time I was writing a story that involved people knowing how they were going to die. Early in the story, a secondary character revealed his cause of death was designated as "old age." But at the end of the story (5000 words later), I had him get killed by a zombie. I couldn't even fudge it and say "old age" meant "old dead zombie" because the zombie was a young soldier that had died three days earlier. Sigh.

Stage 6: Just go away!
By the time the story is all polished and the best it can be, I'm usually sick of it. So I send it off, glad to be rid of it and hoping that somebody publishes it so I never have to look at it again. This stage is full of relief and excitement.

Stage 7: Tick, tock, tick, tock.
I start on a new project, but the old project is never far from my mind. I Check my email 492 times a day for any word. I start having conversations with myself:
"Maybe it's taking so long because they like it so much. They're reading it over and over, delighted with my clever story skills."
"It's just taking so long because they have nine million other submissions to read."
"Maybe. But I'm sure they'll like it, once they get around to reading it."
"Or maybe they're passing it around the whole editorial office, laughing at it. Holding it up as an example of what NOT to do."
"No. I worked hard on it. I spent weeks polishing it. It's good."
"Yeah, but you've read a lot of dreck. The people who wrote the dreck probably thought it was good, too. Maybe yours is dreck."
(by this point, I'm hyperventilating)"Oh god, I hope they like it. Please, please like it."

Stage 8: The Tribe has spoken.
This stage can play out in two ways. Sometimes it's a "We would love to publish your story." Yay! I'm king of the world! I spend the next few days tweeting, blogging, and Facebooking, telling everyone where the story will be. I also tell everyone in real life that I meet, including the crossing guard at the elementary school that my kids don't even go to. The crossing guard smiles. "That's nice." She scowls and waves her arm. "Now move along. You're holding up traffic."

But the statistical reality of the situation is, more likely than not, it will be a rejection. Boo, hiss. They suck. I suck. My writing sucks. The world sucks. I should go out and get a real job.

Stage 9: Put on your big girl panties.
Okay, back in the saddle. So it wasn't for them. It might be exactly what the next magazine is looking for. I send it out to the next one and keep on moving other projects through my writing stages.
 
Yes, I'm a glutton for punishment.
 
 


Friday, September 30, 2011

Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, Sept 30th

Normally I don't watch Deadliest Warrior, but the one airing last week caught my eye:

Vampires versus Zombies

If you've never seen the show, the premise is the old comic book chestnut: if Spiderman and Superman fought, who would win? But the show takes it to the next level and pits even historical warriors together (ninjas versus pirates, that sort of thing). In the episode that caught my eye, it was "If vampires and zombies went head to head (fang), who would win?"

I think the whole thing is a moot point. I don't think vampires and zombies would battle. Vampire lore generally says that they need live blood; zombie lore says that they need live flesh; thus they would never feed on each other and wouldn't need to battle.

Maybe vampires would be threatened or annoyed by zombies, and they would attack them (competition for food, for example). But the zombies would have little reason to fight back.

When faced with a fight, creatures fight back for three reasons:
1) competition (for food, mates, etc.);
2) survival instinct (the "fight" part of "fight or flight");
3) anger;

If you stick with the generally accepted principles of zombie lore, zombies don't feel anger. I've never seen or read a story where zombies have a competitive response (sometimes there's some snapping at each other while feeding, but no real competitive behavior). And how much survival instinct can they have? You can mow them down with a machine gun and they just keep shambling onward, never trying to dodge, duck, or run away. They clearly have zero "flight" instinct. I'd say they have no "fight" instinct, either. It's just eat, eat, eat.

So would zombies and vampires ever have reason to face-off in battle? If they did, wouldn't the vampires have a tremendous upper hand since they DO have a fight/flight instinct?

I only caught the end of the show, so maybe they covered all this earlier in the episode and I missed it. You can watch the full episode here:
Deadliest Warrior: Vampires vs. Zombies


Okay, back to our regularly scheduled spec-fic news, lol.


These blew me away!
Amazing Wizard of Oz Fan Art

Joe Allen Billy Bob Alvarez . . . Priceless!
Infographic: If Star Wars Characters Lived in the Real World

I actually (gulp) liked Battlefield Earth. Nothing about it was even remotely Oscar-worthy, but it was fun and interesting. And believe me, I've seen worse.
Alex J. Cavanaugh on The Worst Movies Ever
My own list would include Skyline and the Watchmen (or is Watchmen more fantasy than sci-fi?)

Who doesn't love free reads?
Free fiction

Kirkus Reviews:
The Genre Trap and How to Avoid It

Love, love, LOVE Shatner!
William Shatner sings Iron Man

Star Trek: The Next Generation heading for Blu-Ray

And to continue the unintentional Star Trek-themed news,
Shatner blasts Takei in new book

And last but not least,
Awesome flowchart helps you pick through NPR’s Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books

Have a good weekend!



Monday, September 26, 2011

Went Fishing, but the Fish Never Got the Memo

When I'm not writing, I'm usually outdoors. I do a lot of hunting and fishing. You really can't do much hiking around here: no hills, no mountains, no trees; and farmer's tend to frown on people hiking through their wheat fields.

This past weekend, I spent a lovely Saturday afternoon fishing with hubby, middle child, and her boyfriend. We fished some of the spillovers of Devil's Lake. I say "spillovers" because the lake has spent the last decade crawling out of its natural banks and has been swallowing up the surrounding farmland. The area around the lake has some rolling landscape (unlike the area where I live, which is miles and miles of treeless land that's flat as a board), so I'm sure that from the air, the lake looks like some sort of multi-tentacled monster.

Since the lake has swallowed our old fishing spots (one of my favorites is now under twenty feet of water), we had to find new ones. One of our new favorites is where the lake has spilled into what must have been a cow pasture just a few years ago.





The bit of high land below (where there is a farmstead) is now an island with a road leading to it.






And here's the road to the farmhouse, which is surrounded by water on two sides, and after it crests the little hill where the farmstead is, it ends in water on the other side.





The picture below is the old road to one of my favorite spots. This is a high spot where the road comes back out of the water. After it crests the hill, it goes back to the lake again. You can see where the old road is under the water because the cat-tails that grew in the ditch alongside it are still there, outlining it.





And here's another fishing spot with another road going into the lake. It takes FOREVER to travel to anyplace around the lake because most of the roads have been swallowed. Sometimes you have to travel 30 miles the long way around just to get from point A to point B, even though they might be only a few miles apart.





The fishing was terrible, which is disappointing because it's so much work to get around out there. We still had fun, though. Any day outdoors is a good day.
I think my daughter spent more time chasing bugs and playing with the wildlife than fishing. The "Wooly worms" were swarming, so she spent a lot of time playing with them. Wooly worms are normally orange and black, and in Kentucky, the folklore is that you can tell how bad the winter will be by how big the orange band is.

So we didn't know what to think when we found this blond (albino?) one. We just figured the area was originally settled by Norwegian and Swedish immigrants, so this must be a Scandinavian wooly worm, lol.






Below is what wooly worms are supposed to look like. He's curled in a ball, and my photography skills are subpar, so it's not the greatest picture. But you can at least tell he's fuzzy and orange and black.




It was a good day, in spite of the poor fishing.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, September 23rd

Yes, I'm sneaking in a "Spec-Fic Friday" post this week. Knock on wood, I'll be able to do it next week, too.


The new season starts October 16th!
Walking Dead Season 2 Promo Clip

An Indie Zombie-apocalypse movie:
The Year After Infection
I can't say I'm crazy about the title, but you know how I love zombie movies. The official blog for the movie:
The Year After Infection Blog

And for your playlist,
Songs About Zombies

On a personal zombie note, my little town is holding a zombie music fest in a couple of weeks. I'm sure it's meant for the young crowd, but guess what middle-aged woman is going to be there in full zombie regalia (including pig-intestines hanging from the stomach of my torn t-shirt) bouncing around in the mosh pit with the kids? :)

John Carpenter's The Thing (1982) is one of my all-time favorite movies. Although you can't always tell from the trailer--how many times have you watched a movie and discovered that the trailer was better than the movie itself?--this one does look like it might be good!
Trailer for The Thing

30 Persuasive Sci-Fi Propaganda Posters

I think the Jabba the Hutt one is a nice reminder to NOT eat too many cookies.
13 Tasty (and sometimes Terrifying) Sci-Fi Cookie Jars

LoL!
William Shatner on Star Trek vs. Star Wars


Have a great weekend!

Monday, September 19, 2011

What was your most-loved library book?

I was perusing the prompts over at NaBloPoMo and found this one:

What book did you always take out from the school library?

I spent a lot of time in both my school library and the public library when I was growing up (back in the days before we had the interwebs, lol), so I've got a long library-book history. But the one I remember checking out all the time was the Hodgepodge book. I don't remember much about it, but I remember the feeling of joy that I got every time I read it. It seems like it had a lot of folklore in it, some great stories, and a lot of rhymes--some of them a little saucy! Of course, they just probably seemed saucy back then.

So I looked it up on Amazon and discovered that I'm not the only one that was always checking it out. Check out some of the reviews for the book: The Hodgepodge Book on Amazon.com.

The only thing I'm confused about is the publication date on the Amazon listing. I know I read the book before 1986, so this one has to be a reprint (one of the reviewers also talks about reading it in the 70's, which is when I would have been reading it).

I may have to pick up a copy for the sake of nostalgia. Or if you have young readers, I'd recommend it for them (just check it for any saucy limericks first, lol).

What about you: what book did you check out of the library all the time?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Smart phone, dumb user

I have finally embraced the new millennium: I bought a smart phone.

I did it reluctantly. I hate learning new technology. I'd rather have to face a shambling horde of zombies than learn new technology.

I've never been one of those people that runs out and buys every new gadget the second it comes out. If it were up to me, I'd keep using my same old gadgets forever. I try . . . oh do I try to hang on to the old technology as long as I can . . . but eventually I'm always forced to upgrade (I hate, hate, HATE those Microsoft emails: "As of such-and-such date, we will no longer be supporting product so-and-so").

The one benefit I could see from having a smart phone is that it would be a handy tool for a writer. Most have an app that's compatible with Office, so you can write notes (or scenes, etc.) and transfer them to the computer (my old phone took "notes," but then everything had to be retyped into the computer).

My smart phone also has voice-to-text, so I can dictate notes while I'm driving . . . that is, if I ever figure out how it works. I'll probably still be saying, "Wait? My phone can do THAT?" three or four years from now.

I've been using an embarrassingly old phone for several years. So long, in fact, that my account was flagged with a note that said, "Give this woman a gift card if you can pry her dinosaur phone out of her hands").

I even upgraded to the old phone (which was my first text-enabled, keyboard phone) reluctantly. Every time hubby mentioned upgrading my old flip-phone to a text-enabled one, I'd say, "What do I need that for? Damn, new-fangled technology." But I upgraded anyway since the phone was free with contract, and I was hooked. One look at the bill told me how much more I used texting than calling: call usage, 6 minutes;
text usage, 743.

Okay, so maybe I was wrong about texting. Maybe I DID need texting.

I felt the same way about smart phones. "What do I need all that junk for? Damn new-fangled technology. Like I have time to play Angry Birds."

But then I got a really good deal on a Droid. And though I'm in mass confusion over the thing, I can already see it's going to come in handy for my writing life (besides just the Office and text-to-voice apps).
For starters, I'll be able to Tweet from my phone. I tend to neglect a lot of my social media sites, but I love Twitter. And since I can post to Facebook from the phone, too, maybe I won't neglect FB as much. I can also access this blog from the phone and even post and check my beloved Hootsuite (which handles the posts for many of my other social media sites).

The more I explore the available apps, the more I find to make my writing life easier.
The steady march of technology is truly amazing. It won't be long until we have something we can just plug into our ear and we can just "think" our idea, and the device will transfer our thoughts to text and put it into a Word document for us.

And I'll probably still be saying, "What do I need that for? Damn new-fangled technology."

Monday, September 5, 2011

Do You Understand the Words that are Coming Out of My Mouth?

My daughter recently sent me a link to a comic on the web. The comic delighted her because whoever made it had suffered the same misunderstanding she once had:

(On our way to Kentucky to visit family, we stopped in a small local diner)
The waitress wrote down my daughter's entree order, then paused. "Okay, suge. Soup er Salad?"
"What?" daughter asks.
"Soup er Salad, hon?" the waitress repeated.
"Um . . . yes?"
"No, hon." The waitress shook her head. "Soup er salad?"
Dear daughter turns and looks to me in desperation.
I chuckle. "She wants to know if you want the soup or a salad?"
"Oh my God!" daughter laughs. "I was wondering what the heck a 'Super Salad' was!"

Being a writer (or penmonkey, wordsmith, or word-whore, whichever term you prefer) doesn't exempt one from misunderstandings. Take my recent exchange with the very same daughter:

"Miss X (her best friend) just got a tattoo gun," my daughter said.
"Really? She any good?" I'm still thinking about getting another tattoo.
"Yeah, but she's just learning how to use it. She's only doing oranges right now."
"Um . . . okay. Why oranges?" I asked.
"Good practice," daughter said. "I mean, she's already really good, but she wants to make sure she really knows what she's doing."
"Sure. But oranges are so boring! Why not hearts? They should be easy, too."
Daughter goggled at me a moment. Blink, blink. "Wait . . . what?"
"Unless she's just got a thing about fruits," I said. "But she could still do something besides oranges. Why not apples? She could get exotic and do mangoes. Or what about grapes? They're easy and cute, and everybody loves grapes."
Daughter shook her head. "How the hell is she supposed to put a tattoo on a grape?"
My turn to blink. "OH! She's tattooing ON oranges!"

Palm to face. I had a vision of Miss X, sitting with tattoo gun in hand, piles of pigskin surrounding her, each one emblazoned with a tattoo of an orange: a single orange; two oranges with a leaf; an orange sliced in half . . . .

But no, she was putting tattoos ON oranges instead of on pigskin.

Miss X, say hello to Miss-communication, lol.



Monday, August 29, 2011

Since I can't hibernate . . .

I guess I'll just have to adjust: it's back to school time!

I love back to school because it makes the neighborhood kids somebody else's problem for most of the day. I don't have to keep an eye on them all day or have their hooting, hollering, and destruction as part of the background noise while I'm writing (several of the kids in my neighborhood are practically feral; they roam in a pack and destroy everything that's not watched like a hawk; the new pack is still young--the oldest is probably twelve--and if they follow the pattern of prior packs over the years, they'll all have juvie records by the time they hit sixteen).

But back to school also means switching over to "winter routine." I feel a little like a tourist attraction: I have summer hours and winter hours. And every year during this adjustment, there are kinks to work out and problems to face until we find "our groove." This year, two new developments are making the adjustment period a wee bit more complicated.

The first is minor: a new task for my day. I went to move some railroad ties for my garden and could barely move my arms the next day. Yes, I know I'm getting older (harumph!), but I've always been strong. It made me realize that I spend a lot of time sitting on my butt, writing (and playing online poker). So I decided it might be a good time to add a little exercise to my daily routine. Of course, around here, going to the gym can be a problem. As if working out isn't torture enough, who wants to hop into the car and drive to the gym when it means you're going to have to spend twenty minutes scraping the windshield, drive over in -40 weather, walk across a parking lot, and then come out of a gym, hot and tired, and jump into a cold car for the drive home. Not me. The last thing I need is more obstacles to working out. So I picked up some exercise equipment and remodeled our homeschool room into a home gym. So far, it's working out pretty well. The equipment is right there, with no extra effort on my part required to go use it (I don't even have to change out of my PJs). And, since I have to walk past the room several times a day, I get a nice physical reminder (guilt trip) if the equipment remains unused.

The other scheduling adjustment is for my mother's cancer treatments. Her lung cancer is back, but this time in a location where they cannot operate. So she has begun a regimen of radio-sensitizing chemo (once per week) and radiation (daily). I take her to her chemo and remain on call the rest of the time for any problems that come up.

As part of the new-schedule-adjustment-period, I'm cutting back this blog to once a week. I'll be doing only the Monday posts for a while until:
A) I get adjusted to the new schedule and find my groove; or
B) I finally get the novel revised/edited/polished and get that albatross from around my neck . . .
whichever comes first (and why, oh why do I have the feeling that it's going to be A instead of B, lol; sometimes I wonder if the novel is ever going to be done!)

So wish me luck, wish my mother luck and a speedy and full recovery, and stop by again next Monday!