Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Comic Relief & Weird News, Mar. 30th

As someone who's seen a million horror movies, this cannot be good! In Bordello of Blood, Lilith's heart was used to bring her back . . . maybe we should figure out whose brain this is before we start poking it with a stick. Or maybe it's just something a saber-tooth zombie squirrel buried to snack on later.
Brains on Campus

PETA complains that milking is cruel to cows and says we should be kind to a cow and drink human breast milk. Company develops human breast milk ice cream. Now, scientists create cows that give human breast milk. The plot thickens.
Human-like Milk from Cows

I went to the Chernobyl nuclear site and all I got was this lousy tan.

Barbie being a Stepford Wife. NOT suitable for children, btw, so don't let them look over your shoulder at this. Nobody wants to face the question, "Mommy, why is Barbie holding that severed head and smiling?"

The first print run of What Every Man Thinks About Apart From Sex has sold out. And what does this best-seller say? Nothing . . .Two hundred blank pages.

Those of us who have sold on eBay know that some auction items (used lingerie and well-worn shoes/socks) are best avoided because the auctions attract a lot of perverts. So what was this police department thinking?
Course, the advantage for the police department is that they've already got a list (and mug shots) of folks that would pay big bucks for these.
G-Strings Fund Police Department

Are you prepared? Sure, the government does those "disaster readiness" promos for tornadoes, floods, earthquakes . . . what about zombies?
Zombie Apocalypse Basics

From @Queryaddict:
A man walks into a bookstore. "Where's the self help section?"
The clerk says, "If I tell you, won't that defeat the purpose?"

From @funnyoneliners & @PaulyMortadella:
I always add "capers" to my grocery list because I love madcap hi jinks and fun.

And one more from @funnyoneliners:
Well, I see no one turned up for first day of ninja school... or did they?

Monday, March 28, 2011

I Can't Die, I'm the Hero of This Story!

There was a scene in a sitcom where a man at a cocktail party entertained a man (and the man's bubble-headed date) with tales of his adventures in Africa. He was describing a time when his gun jammed and the lion, sensing the adventurer was helpless, began creeping slowly toward him, its eyes locked with his eyes, its teeth glimmering in the sunlight.

He pauses for dramatic effect.

Bubble-head pipes up and says, "Did it eat you?" . . .

~ ~ ~

The writing advice I've received says "anyone who writes in a genre where survival of the protagonist is in question cannot write in first-person point of view."

Makes sense to me. Obviously, if "I" lived to tell me this story, then "I" didn't die. Right? No more than the African adventurer could have been eaten by the lion.

So, logically, most horror and other thriller/adventure type stories have to be written in third person.

You can, of course, find ways around this. One post-apocalyptic zombie story I read ended with a zombie picking up a notebook and staring at in confusion. The notebook had been carried around by the protagonist, and he used it to record his thoughts and feelings so he wouldn't go insane from being alone. Obviously, the protagonist would have only abandoned the notebook upon his death.

That's one way of handling first-person point of view and still raising the question of whether the protagonist will survive. There are others. Generally, we're discouraged from doing these kinds of endings because they come across as contrived. And, they break the "Point-of-view Laws." After all, if we've lost the point-of-view character, then there's no point-of-view and we can't "see" what's going on. No point-of-view, no story.

Or maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe readers view the story as unfolding in real time, so the "I" isn't a hindrance. In other words, the "I" isn't telling you the story; you are watching it unfold in real time right beside the protagonist. You are there! Maybe you aren't going to survive, either!

What brought me to pondering this topic was I've come across a lot of posts and interviews lately where writers say they usually write in first-person, and a lot of these people write stories where the question of the protagonist's survival is the main plot.

In the interest of scientific research (lol), I popped over to my bookshelf and checked out the POVs. All of the novels are in 3rd person (from King to Koontz to Matheson et al.). About 10% of the short stories are in first-person.

So, as a reader, how do you feel? Do you like/dislike/don't mind the "and then they found his notebook" endings? When you pick up a book and it's in first-person point of view, can you get past the point of view and still worry about the protagonist's survival (do you feel you are there with the protagonist)?

~ ~ ~

In other business, I'm rolling out a new blog schedule. I'm still trying to find that perfect balance of being able to blog AND still get other writing done, especially since this novel revision is taking 400% longer than I planned.

So the new schedule will be three days per week instead of five:

Monday: Still the same "From the Desk of" posts, with updates on projects I'm working on and observations on the writing life. But I'll be adding links for writers, which used to be a separate Friday post.
Wednesday: "Comic Relief." Again, the same Wednesday postings: weird news peppered with my snarky comments and humorous links. Just a new and improved name.

Friday: "Spec-Fic Friday." News and information from the worlds of horror, fantasy, and sci-fi. This post used to be the Tuesday "Your Frightly News" post.

So the only thing that's getting abandoned is the Thursday "Things that go bump in the night" post. The rest of the postings are the same, just in a more condensed format for a three-days-per-week posting schedule.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Links for Writers, Mar. 25th

Are your characters scared?
Gladiator's Pen

A very comprehensive list to help you create a fantasy world that feels real
Fantasy World-building Questions

Bob Mayer's Blog:
Seven Keys to Unforgettable Characters

Lydia Sharp on
Revising a Short Story

10 Ways to
Embarrass Your Characters

Guidelines for Manuscript Format
(still a hotly debated topic)

Excellent post covering everything from Plot Structure to the Synopsis
The Basics of Fiction

Novel Building:
The Journey from Seedling to Bookshelf

Links of the Month (February)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Vampires !''''!

Wikipedia: Vampire Vampires

Vampire mythology dates back to at least the medieval period, though some say the myths are older than the Bible.

Myths and folklore often evolve, changing to fit societal norms, fears, and attitudes. Vampires are a great example of this.

Vampires have transitioned from horrific (Nosferatu), to intense/sexy (Dracula), to jaded (Blade's gen-x vampires), to glittering, broody hunks.

Whether this change is good or bad is up for debate.

An interesting part of vampire lore is that a vampire culture exists: real people who actually drink blood (usually as a spiritual or bonding act). I can't really comment intelligently on it because I don't know much about it. I also can't understand it, because I'm squeamish about blood. I may like to splash a lot of blood around in my horror stories, but I avoid it in real life. While I was working for a large retailer once (the night shift, of course), we discovered red droplets all over the floor in one of the aisles. I could have safely entered a nuclear reactor with all the protective gear I put on (and I was just watching someone else clean it up).

One wonders whether there would be a vampire society if mythical vampires had remained in their Nosferatu stage? Probably not. Or at least the folks who practice vampirism wouldn't want the term associated with them.

Vampires have a huge fan base, though many publications (and people) say that we've hit the saturation point (they've been done to death, excuse the pun). Personally, I can never get enough of vampire stories. I think it's just a matter of putting a new spin on an old myth, as I did in my story, "Alecsander's Empire," where a Dracula-type vampire suffers through a mid-life crisis.

Of the vampire types (scary, sexy, jaded, broody, or real), I'd have to say my favorite vampires would be the mutants in Blade 2, only because I prefer my vampires scary (and those crazy buggers were scary).

Who's your favorite vampire?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wacky Wednesday, Mar. 23rd

I didn't do it . . . I swear!
Electronic Road Sign Warns 'Zombies Ahead'

Wow . . . just . . . wow. There are so many jokes I could make, but I'm trying to maintain a fairly PG-13 rating here.
Cavity Search Produces 50 Bags of Heroin

Who knew working at Taco Bell could be so high risk?
How Much For Burritos?

Geek cake fail:

Alternative movie posters for

22 Geeky, Sexy, and Cool
Sci-Fi Inspired Tattoos

From  @IVKelly
Notice in a Library Statutory Warning: While reading Kama Sutra, please hold the book with BOTH Hands.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Walking Dead AND Stephen King? Squee!

While nothing is ever definite in Hollywood, it looks like a Cloverfield sequel might still be a possibility.
Cloverfield sequel? Someday
(and in the article sequence, the January post on Cloverfield news says, "it may never happen." You just gotta love the movie biz)!

Stephen King rumored to be
writing an episode of AMC's The Walking Dead
(doing a Snoopy happy dance)

I am a big fan of Alice, but the last movie left me disappointed. And now I'm confused: didn't Jill die already? (not that it matters in the world of the Umbrella Corp; death is only a minor inconvenience)
Resident Evil 5

Next installment of The Dark Tower and a time travel book
Stephen King's next two books

Another remake (of a remake, no less):
Cat People

Old news, but interesting:
10 Best Sci-Fi Shows Cancelled After One Season
I was nuts about Alien Nation. I loved those sour-milk swigging immigrants.
And to that list, I add two more shows that shouldn't have been cancelled:
Automan (I ♥ Cursor!)
Tremors: The Series (I ♥ Burt Gummer!)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Put Down the Paintbrush & Step Away From the Room

A little comic relief first:

Horoscope for writers

As a Scorpio, I'm delighted to hear that my dreams are finally coming true, especially since I'm so very behind on revising the novel I'd want the 4-book deal for. It sure takes a lot of the pressure off if the publisher finds me. :)

Now for those of you who notice these kinds of things, you'll notice that this post is a little later than usual. Why?


No, that's not the title of my latest short story. That's what's been happening this weekend (and spilled over into today).

I had grown tired and annoyed staring at the walls of my writing room (because that's what we writers do, you know, stare into space; it's in the job description). Before I inherited it, the room was home to two teenage girls sequentially. It survived thirteen years of tape and nail polish and eyeliner (and one wall half-graffiti-ed with some kind of invisible glow-in-the-dark spray paint). And it showed.

Compounding the problem was a set of curtains I had made that looked fabulous but only made the walls look even more decrepit next to them.

So I went through 9000 paint chips and picked a color that matched the curtains (sun-kissed apricot).

Then when I went to purchase the paint, a different color caught my eye (water-lily blue).

To make a long story short, I ended up picking the new paint color. Then I had to find different fabric for curtains because my new-old curtains no longer matched. Then when we painted, we realized the lack of baseboards really shined the spotlight on how crappy our painting skills were. How else does one cover up the gap between the wall and the carpet? You can't paint all the way to carpet--believe me, I tried, and I've got a few spots of water-lily plush pile for my pains. Now I need new carpet! So I had to go on the quest for the perfect baseboards . . . Hero's Journey, my eye!

The lesson here is: change is bad! My one little idea ("Hey, this fabric would make great curtains for the Hemingway room") bloomed into a full project that took weeks of seeking materials and three whole days of actual manual labor.

And why did I become a writer? Oh yeah: because I don't like manual labor!

Never, never again. Next time I want to redecorate, I'll just move instead. It's easier.

Here's a pic. The curtain fabric is just draped over the curtain rod because I haven't had time to actually make the curtains yet.

But making the curtains (along with the rest of the upgrades: matching the crown moulding to the baseboards, new outlet covers, etc. etc.) can wait. I've got a novel to revise, dang it! I'm swearing off manual labor for a while.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Plants Chock Full of Vitamin D-eath!

This recent post got me thinking about plants:

Under normal circumstances, plants really aren't that scary (or that fascinating, to be perfectly honest).

Sure, there are a lot of poison ones (like the Bittersweet Nightshade that spontaneously grew in my back yard) and irritating ones (poison ivy, stinging nettles).

There are even carnivorous plants. I have some pitcher plants I grew from seed.

And yes, I know it's a horrible picture. But dammit, Jim, I'm a writer, not a photographer.

But we can generally avoid the poison/irritating plants if we're careful, and the carnivorous plants are too small to pose a threat to us.

But with a little imagination . . . plants can be horrifying.

In an episode of the Tremors television series, Perfection Valley was infested with acid spitting plants;
The Happening was about plants getting their revenge (in a passive, I don't-know-if-I'm-really-all-that-scared kinda way);
The Ruins centers on carnivorous vines at an archaeological site;
In  a Creepshow short, Stephen King trades his man-pelt for an eco-friendly shade of green when a meteor brings down a creeping crabgrass.

So what about you? Any plants (real or imagined) that have their roots in your nightmares?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wacky Wednesday, Mar. 16th

Maybe he thought he was calling the concierge: "This is the worst hotel I've ever stayed at!"
Jailed Man Calls 911 with Gripe

Edward Cullen he's not.
Arizona Man Gets Probation in Blood-Sucking Case

Maybe they should pick up Timex as a sponsor
2012 London Games Countdown Clock Stops

Sounds like the title of an off-off-Broadway show.
Excuse Me Ma'am. Is That a Monkey in Your Bra?

And winner of the Best Article Title . . . Ever . . . award:
Chinese Man Gets an Anus After 55 Years
Makes the Lion's courage and the Tin Man's Heart quests seem like a cakewalk.

If Super Mario Bros was adapted into a live-action indie drama

Irony Bear

I had to download this one in order to read it, but you can probably read it online if you've got good eyes. Or you can just bookmark it and read it later.
Procrastination Flowchart

Coloring Books for Grownups

A quote from @5tevenw
Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.
(I think this is especially important for writers; in our line of work, we run into a lot of ass . . .  I mean, nay-sayers and doubters)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hello, My Name is Brenda, and I am a . . .

Writer? Author? Scribe? While I still prefer the term PenMonkey*, it doesn't quite look right on a business card. (*term courtesy of Chuck Wendig)

There's a lot of discussion about writers "owning" their title. So many of us shy away from telling people that we write, as if we aren't "real" writers because we aren't published or only have a few publishing credits.

But today I'm going to assume that you, like me, own your title. You admit that you write.

Great. Admitting it is the first step. But now that you've cleared that hurdle, how do you admit it? What terminology do you use?

I generally just say, "I am a writer." But when I "got serious" about my writing and started "building my platform," I noticed most writers use the term "author."

I know part of it is just preconceived notions. For example, when you hear, "Bob is a biker," you probably picture him as a big dude in a leather jacket, probably with tattoos, probably with a mustache. Of course, Bob may be 5' 2" and wear polyester Urkel pants pulled up to his chin. But the label calls to mind a certain preconceived notion of what a biker "should" look like (or how he behaves).

And maybe that's my problem with using the word author to describe what I do: I picture Hemingway, Eudora Welty, etc.

Or maybe it's just the sound of the word itself. I usually pair it with an adjective, and some pairs sound better than others:

Horror writer rings better than Horror author;
Romance writer rings better than Romance author;
Children's author rings better than Children's writer;

As a matter of fact, "writer" generally sounds more musical to the ear than "author" when tied to most adjectives.

So maybe "writer" is the better word.

However, when used without the adjective, author generally sounds better:

Official website of author Brenda Kezar

sounds much better than

Official website of writer Brenda Kezar.

So maybe that's why "author" sounds better when describing the literary giants: they don't usually have that extra adjective dragging them down.

So am I just picking nits with this whole thing, or have some of you ran into the same problem? And what do you call yourself?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Links for Writers, Mar. 11th

Excellent post from Suzie Quint on making sure your characters have distinct voices:
Are Your Character's Voices Distinctive?

From The Seekers:
The Smartest Writing Advice I Ever Got

From the Graceful Doe's Blog
Favourite Helpful Writing Posts 2010

From Julie Musil:
Writers: Take a Tip, Leave a Tip

From Write It Sideways:
10 Resources to Help You Write a Great Short Story

A great resource! Bookmark this one, you'll want to come back often! Thesaurus for emotions, symbolism, settings.
The Bookshelf Muse

The Writer's Resource Directory


Bluestocking was kind enough to bestow a blog award on me (thank you so much!).

The rules of the award: list four guilty pleasures; pass the award on to six great blogs.

My four guilty pleasures:

1) Watching "America's Next Top Model." I'm pretty sure I can get kicked out of the "Zombie Fans of America Club" for admitting that one. ;)

2) Books, books, and more books. I almost never trade them or sell them; I horde them after reading. Sometimes I re-read them. Sometimes I just sit and look at my bookshelves in all their weighted-down glory.

3) Texas Roadhouse Dallas Filet. No one should in good conscience actually eat the amount of food that comes in this meal (rolls, giant cheese-egg-and-crouton covered salad, 8 oz hunk of meat, big ole baked potato). But I lick the plate clean.

4) The casino. Not really a guilty pleasure, because I can rationalize it as work-related. I'm not much of a gambler but I love watching the huge variety of people and making up backstory. They probably think I'm creepy. That's okay; I can live with that.

It was tough narrowing it down (can't I pass it on to ten or twenty?), but here are the six I'm passing the award on to:

Janel's Jumble

The Life and Times of a Writer

Electric Shock!

C.M. Villani

Dawn Brazil's Brilliant Babbles about Books

Deborah Lawrenson

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Flying Jellyfish? Snotballs from the Stratosphere?

Quick and fascinating update related to the UFO post:
Britain Releases UFO Files
But get 'em quick, they are only available for a month!

Today's creatures are the "flying jellies," mysterious creatures reported in the sky. They are also the "explanation" behind the rain of jelly that sometimes occurs in places (not unlike the rains of frogs and fish that sometimes occur), and the bits of jelly sometimes found in locations in the early morning and later dissolve in the sun.

Hmm. Maybe all those blackbirds that fell dead from the sky a few months ago ran into a flock of migrating sky-jellies? No reports of flowers growing (a la the original "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"), thank goodness.

Links for more info:

The Cryptid Zoo: Atmospheric Beasts

Atmospheric Jellyfish

Flying Jellyfish

National Geographic: Blood Rain and Star Jelly

10 Craziest Things To Fall From the Sky

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wacky Wednesday, Mar. 8th

This amuses me way more than it should.
Celebrities as Disney Characters

Well, they do kinda look like Snausages.
Dog eats diabetic man's toes

Wow! And I thought Marie Antoinette's "Let them eat cake" was harsh.

Guess who's going to have to repeat their "sensitivity training?"

Thank you, thank you, Charlie Sheen. You've given me so many laughs over the last few weeks. You really are a fricken rock star from Mars.
(don't forget to check the comments section on this article; there are even more merchandise sites listed)

When I first saw this, I thought it these people had way too much time on their hands. But after I thought about it a while, I decided I'm going to do it, too . . . but my lip creature is going to be Cthulu! Or the spider-head from John Carpenter's The Thing.

My daughter couldn't understand why I found this one so hilarious.

Make that 51: check and make sure that you've seen every episode of House being aired in the marathon on USA right now (or whatever show they are currently marathon-ing).

Um. This doesn't sound like anyone I know.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Not crap, could be crap, admitted crap, and hopefully not crap!

Looking for a free read? Check out SF Signal's Free Fiction:
SF Signal: Free Fiction for 3/5/11

Think you know Zombies?
Zombie Movies Ultimate Fan Quiz

Deja Vu:
Blade Runner Prequels and Sequels on the way

He gets bonus points for admitting it. Let's hope the next one is better.
Michael Bay admits Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen 'was crap.'

Squee! Another show that I can't wait to see. I haven't been this excited about a series since Tremors was a series on SciFi!
Terra Nova

Monday, March 7, 2011

My Writing Den

And I do mean den, because I crawl in there like a bear going off to hibernation and, like a bear being woke prematurely, it's dangerous when people drag me out of there. I actually have a Shrek-style "Beware of Ogre" sign hanging on the door.

Anywhoo . . .

I'm very fortunate to have my own private writing space. It used to be my daughter's bedroom and I took it over once she moved out on her own. And little by little, I've been making it mine.

At first, the decorating scheme of the room was no big deal. I moved my cherry-wood writing desk, my bookcases, and my computer desk in and set to work.

No problem.

Then, when hubby and I had our first bucks mounted, we weren't sure where to hang them (one is just antlers, the other is called a euro-mount: a complete skull with antlers). I thought, why not my writing room?

No problem. And the writing room was christened, "The Hemingway Room," lol.

Then, while shopping for fabric for who-knows-what-craft project, I fell in love with a fabric pattern called "A Rustle in the Dark," thin brown trees against a rich orange and gold sunset-sky.
"Those will make perfect curtains for the Hemingway room," I told hubby.


Once I made and hung the curtains (which are lovely, by the way), every splot, blotch, and hole in the wallpaper stood out. Not that it would matter anyway, because the WALLPAPER stood out (muted smears of gray, mauve, and ice blue) . . . with brown, yellow and orange sunset-curtains against them. I decided I had to repaint.


Do you know how hard it is to match brown, orange, and yellow? You have your choice of: institutional beige, institutional grey, institutional slate, institutional green . . .

And yellow or orange, heaven forbid! I'm a horror writer. I can't write inside a giant smiley-face! How am I supposed to write about the zombie apocalypse while living in a banana?

After taping about nine thousand different color sample chips to the wall (and consulting everyone from my kids to the UPS driver), the popular choice is a rich-but-not-overpowering apricot. And everyone's response to my whiny, "but is it a color conducive to writing horror?"

"Yeah. It's sunset. It's the calm that takes the protagonist off-guard just before the zombies bust out of the ground and start eating everyone."

Sigh. Okay.

I just hope it goes with the carpet.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Links for Writers, Mar. 4th

First, a little comic relief.
You know you're a writer

Now onto the serious business.

The Science Behind the Block

Awesome market listing site, complete with submission-response statistics

Hey! Why ain't I on this list? ;)

Have a great weekend! See you on Monday!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What shadows glide in the murky depths?

Given the somewhat recent discovery of prehistoric fish in China (the Coelacanth, thought to be long extinct), Nessie (or creatures like it) have become more plausible.

When you think about it, the possibilities are staggering. There are still a few remote areas of land that remain unexplored, but vast parts of the oceans and deep inland lakes/seas remain unexplored. It's a whole 'nother world down there. Who knows what's lurking in the murky depths, waiting for us to stumble upon it (or to stumble upon us).

I've always loved horror stories that featured creatures from the deep. Part of it is my own personal fear (I'm petrified of water). But the other part is the possibility: the water remains almost as unknown as outer space. Instead of aliens attacking from outer space, why not "aliens" that have been here all along, just biding their time hidden in the water?

And with the size of Loch Ness (covers almost 22 square miles and is 750 feet deep in places), there are a lot of places to hide.

Links for Nessie and Nessie-like creatures:

The Legend of Nessie

Mystery Photo of English Loch Ness Monster

ABC News

Lake Champlain's Champ

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wacky Wednesday, Mar. 2nd

Remember that time I said I'd try anything once? I lied.
Video: Pizzeria serves grubs, snounts, bull penis

Um . . . they are calling it organic and free range? As opposed to breast milk from moms held in captivity?
Shop to make breast milk ice cream

Next year, this competition is going to take place in my front yard. I need to put up a fence, & digging post-holes stinks! As a matter of fact, I could use my roof re-shingled . . . anyone up for a nail-driving competition?
Japan's Annual Hole Digging Competition

And I thought I was protective of my cookies! I've never actually beat anyone over them (icy stares for cookie-snatchers, sure, but no physical blows).
Dispute over Thin Mints gets physical

Weird fact of the day:
Fact: About 7% of the average person's body weight is comprised of blood (via @YourLittleAcre)
So to lose that last stubborn 5 pounds, you could exsanguinate (don't try this at home!)

Whatever you do, DON'T SNEEZE!
The World's Smallest Aquarium

How to Ask Your Boss For a Raise

I heard Mayan calendars are selling like there's no tomorrow. (via @funnyoneliners and @SpacemanQuisp)

And words to live by (via @Georg_Grey): Just remember -- if the world didn't suck, we would all fall off.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Zombie Children's Books & Gothgirl Ponies

Zombie book for children coming in May:
That's Not Your Mommy Anymore

Did Olivia Wilde leave House to play Lara Croft?

More The Walking Dead news (can we ever get enough?):
The Walking Dead Game

Aw. I don't know if they'll find another little girl who hits that perfect blend of cute & spooky like the first Carol Anne.
MGM Back on Track With Poltergeist and Robocop Reboots

This one's not exactly news, but its too cute to not include:
Gothgirl Ponies

And last but not least, SF Signal has started a new community for sci-fi, fantasy, & horror lovers. Go sign up! "Come and play with us, Danny!"
SF Signal Community