Monday, May 30, 2011

Gone Fishing!

Enjoying the extended holiday weekend with the family, in a somewhat Hemingway-esque manner: a lot of fishing and the occasional adult beverage (okay . . . maybe slightly more than "occasional," lol).

Tonight we'll gather around the firepit and share fish stories.

Regular blog posts resume on Wednesday.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, May 27th

Raining outside? Stay in and read some
Free Fiction

I was too young when the Dark Shadows soap ran, but it sounds like it was right up my alley: zombies and vampires AND a soap opera? Bitchin!
And, of course, I love the whole "Tim Burton-Helena Boneham Carter-Johnny Depp" movie team.
So I'm really looking forward to seeing this movie.
Dark Shadows set for 2012

Uh . . . Nazis on the Moon?
Iron Sky

Break out the popcorn and plan a movie night.
20 Science Fiction Films You Really Should See

Nooooo! But a Star Trek stop-animation movie done by Tim Burton? THAT I could get behind.
Rumors of Star Trek animated series

It is tough to find real news on this movie. Rumors swirl, it's been "in the works" forever, and it has two different release dates (most news articles set it for 2012, while has it listed as 2014). But it's something I'm looking forward to, so here are some of the best news tidbits about it (just remember that all of it has to be taken with a grain of salt, as it all may change tomorrow)!

Brad Pitt Starring in World War Z

World War Z Casting Started

More World War Z News

What is World War Z?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Comic Relief & Weird News, May 25th

Rapture Fail.
Some of these people left their jobs? Boy are their faces red this week:
"Um. Mr. Johnson? About that 'Ha, heathen sinner, you'll be here next week but I won't' letter I left for you on Friday. . ."
But chin up, little campers! There's always 2012!
In the meantime, somebody buy Mr. Camping a calculator, so he can finally get the math right.

And on a related note:

I'm sure that everyone mom of a teen girl can relate to this one (like me; raised . . . three . . . teen . . . girls; the tenth circle of hell is a vacation in comparison). The difference is, we've all done this IN OUR HEADS, not for real . . .

Weird . . . but incredibly cool

Last week, I posted about how the CDC's Zombie Apocalypse was an ingenious way to get the word out about disaster preparedness. It worked too well!
"Zombie Apocalypse" campaign crashes website

Creepy . . . definitely creepy!

Just don't put it anywhere near a Disney store! Headline: Thousands of children traumatized after seeing Hello Kitty eat Mickey Mouse!

Lol. Lots of pages on this one, but worth it!

I thought I finally found my groove. Turns out, it's a rut.

One day Gramma sent her grandson Johnny down to the water hole to get some water to cook dinner. As he was dipping the bucket in, he saw two big eyes looking back at him. He dropped the bucket and hightailed it for Gramma's kitchen.
"Well now, where's my bucket and where's my water?" Gramma asked him.
"I can't get any water from that water hole, Gramma" exclaimed Johnny. "There's a BIG ol' alligator down there!"
"Now don't you mind that ol' alligator, Johnny. He's been there for a few years now, and he's never hurt no one. Why, he's probably as scared of you as you are of him!"
"Well, Gramma," replied Johnny, "if he's as scared as I am, then that water ain't fit to drink!"

Monday, May 23, 2011

Putting Stories Into Little Boxes . . .

I hate, hate, HATE picking a genre label for my stories. It's a necessary evil, of course, with an accent on evil.

I'm dealing with it more lately because I've been doing the Story-A-Day May challenge and writing a lot of short stories. Labelling the short stories is often more of a challenge than the writing!

Up until recently, I have been using the "category criteria" I learned long ago:
Horror fiction: fiction to invoke fear (which is why Twilight can have vampires but not be horror);
Sci-fi: the fiction of possibilities (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, et al.);
Fantasy: the fiction of impossibilities; (thus, Star Wars, while sci-fi-ish, is really fantasy).

Of course, the divisions are much more complicated than that these days.

Book Country has come up with an interesting genre map:
Book Country Genre Map
It can be very helpful for targeting which genre a story falls under, though I disagree with some of the categories.

For example, I just wrote a short story about life after nuclear apocalypse. There's a lot of science (the effects of radiation on people, animals, weather, etc., and the long-term environmental repercussions), but it also has lots of scary monsters. Is it sci-fi or horror? According to the Book Country labels, it's actually "weird fiction." But I don't think many readers are familiar with the term, so it's probably not a good idea to label a story that way (except, of course, to send it to magazine markets that are looking for "weird fiction;" then it's a handy label, lol).

Being a glutton for punishment, I decided to play around with the Book Country labels and see if I could tighten and improve MY label (since I'm supposed to be categorized so readers have an understanding of the type of writer I am). My "marketing spin" description was "writer of dark speculative fiction and humorous urban fantasy," but I'm not sure that speaks to the average reader (plus, according to Book Country, my humor work isn't "urban fantasy" but "comic fantasy.")

According to the Book Country breakdown, I write in these categories:
Supernatural Thriller;
Environmental Thriller;
Dystopian Sci-Fi;
Alternate History Sci-Fi;
Soft Sci-fi;
And pretty much every category of fantasy (with horror, weird fiction, and comic fantasy being the main focus).

I'll toss out the "Thriller" label right away, because I think it just muddies the water. That puts us back to "I write horror, fantasy, and sci-fi" (horror deserves it's own mention, since it is the main focus of my work).

So there we are. After all the fancy infographics and descriptions, we are right back to the simplest definition of all. The "KISS" principle (Keep It Simple Stupid):

I write horror, fantasy, and sci-fi.

Anyone else struggle with the box their work should go in? Or worse, like me, struggle with their "writerly" label?

I'd love to hear how you found your label!

~ ~ ~
Story-A-Day Update

(notice I used the "KISS principle" on these labels, lol)

~ ~ ~
Links for Writers

21 Excuses for Why Your Novel Isn't Finished Yet
(My writing laptop has a malfunctioning "J" key; I discovered this while drafting a novel in which the protagonist's name is Josh. Seriously).

Best Articles for Writers (archived)

Harry Potter on His Journey to Publication

Antagonists: The Alpha and Omega of the Story

Put Your Flabby Writing on a Diet

And don't forget to follow me on Twitter for daily writing links!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, May 20th

Who knew the government had a sense of humor?
When you think about it, this is ingenious. What better way to get the word out about disaster preparedness than to bring the zombie geeks (like me) on board? I'm putting these badges EVERYWHERE!
 I've read most of the books on this list (but, sadly, not all).
40 Classic Books Every Horror Buff Should Read

Another remake? Is it just me, or is Hollywood wallowing in nostalgia (either that, or Hollywood has a bad case of "Phfft. I could do that movie SO much better).
Carrie Remake?

CW has a witchy series coming out in the fall! Just wish the characters were a little more Witches of Eastwick and a little less Pretty Little Liars.
Secret Circle

I am not a fan of movies geared toward the youth market. I do like Shrek, I liked the minions in Despicable Me . . . and I loved Coraline (I know, I know--completely uncharacteristic of me). So I'm actually looking forward to ParaNorman.

Have a great weekend, and don't forget to gather your zombie apocalypse preparedness kit!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Comic Relief & Weird News, May 18th

And people wonder why dogs hate mailmen!
A New Twist on "Going Postal"

Wow. Talk about product placement & branding.
Get Your William & Kate . . . condoms?

When I saw this headline, the LAST thing I was thinking was melatonin brownies . . .
US State Riled Up Over "Relaxation Brownie"

Truth in Advertising: A Book That Finally Reflects What Parents Are REALLY Thinking.
A Bedtime Story?

Interesting . . .
Rejected Book Covers vs. The Final Product

Hmmm. When I found this flowchart, hubby laughed his butt off. Then I asked him, "Well? Which kind of redhead am I?" I didn't get an answer because he suddenly remembered he had to go change the oil in both our cars (as well as two of the neighbor's cars).
Which Awful Redhead Stereotype Are You?

When the waitress in a New York City restaurant brought him the soup du jour, the Englishman was a bit dismayed.
"Good heavens," he said, "what is this?"
"Why, it's bean soup," she replied.
"I don't care what it has been," he sputtered. "What is it now?"

Fred got home from his Sunday round of golf later than normal and very tired.
"Bad day at the course?" his wife asked.
"Everything was going fine," he said. "Then Harry had a heart attack and died on the 10th tee."
"Oh, that's awful!"
"You're not kidding. For the whole back nine it was hit the ball, drag Harry, hit the ball, drag Harry."

Some guy just gave me half of a peace sign.

Chuck Norris once ate an entire bottle of sleeping pills. They made him blink.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Giving it Away?

Should writers submit their work to non-paying markets?

I came across this very interesting discussion over at the Library of the Living Dead:

Giving Away your Writing to 'for the Love of...' and 'for Exposure / Publicity' Anthologies

When I decided I was going to pursue a career in writing, I also decided I was going to be a professional writer. I was going to treat my writing as "the business of art." I was going to have office hours; I was going to write on a regular basis, submit on a regular basis, market my work, and generally conduct myself in a professional manner.

When I started out, I heard a lot of experts advising writers to "start small" and submit to non-paying markets first to build publication credits and gain name recognition.

While I respect their logic, it didn't make any sense to me (not to mention, "starting small" is not something I'm inclined to do . . . with anything . . . EVER, lol). Write for free? That doesn't sound very professional. defines professional as:

Following an occupation as a means of livelihood or gain.

A later definition in the list is even more pertinent:

A person who earns a living in a sport or other occupation frequently engaged in by amateurs.

And, in turn, the definition of amateur is:

a person who engages in a study, sport, or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit or professional reasons. 

So, according to  the very definition of "professional" is someone who gets paid (or attempts to, lol).

For me, that's the clincher. If I'm going to be a professional writer, then I expect to get paid. Right from the start, I decided I was only going to submit to paying markets.

I do understand the logic behind the advice to submit to non-paying markets. They do add credits to your publication history and, in theory, "get your name out there." I'm just not sure if it works beyond theory.

Do unpaid publication credits really carry any weight with pro markets? Or are they viewed on par with getting an opinion piece published in your local free shopper paper? Most non-paying publications have standards that are just as high as those of paying markets. So they should carry just as much weight as paying markets. But do they? Reality and public perception are often too very different things (as the continued debate about self-publishing shows).

And do they really get your name out there and garner name recognition? How many authors have you "discovered" thanks to seeing their name again and again in small presses? Probably very few, if any. I think the chances of building a name are better shooting for the higher-paying markets, which usually have a higher circulation and therefore offer a better chance of getting your name out there in front of more readers.

Even small paying markets don't offer much opportunity for name recognition.

For example, I had a story in the Loving the Undead Anthology. It was a paying anthology, but the publisher went out of business and the anthology went out of print not long after its initial print run. So while I was paid for my contribution, it obviously failed at "getting my name out there." If it had been an "exposure only" anthology, it wouldn't have benefited me at all. I would have given away a story and hardly anyone would have seen it. Worse yet, selling it later as a reprint stinks because a lot of markets don't take reprints and those that do usually pay less for them. So the story would have been written for nothing other than the joy of writing the story. Great, but not what I'm aiming for in my goal of being a professional writer.

I'm not knocking non-paying markets. And I'm not knocking anyone who decides to start with non-paying markets. Everyone has to choose the path that works best for their own writing career. This is just an explanation of the reasons why I chose, for my own writing career, to raise my flag with the "pay the writer" camp.

~ ~ ~
Story-A-Day May Update:

So far, so good: ten (business) days, ten stories. You can see the complete list of my progress over on my Story-A-Day blog.

~ ~ ~

Links for writers:

Best Articles This Week for Writers

Tough Lessons From a Debut Novelist

Writer Reality Check

Secrets To Being a Super-Prolific Short Story Writer

54 Tips For Writers From Writers

Friday, May 13, 2011

Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, May 13th

Who doesn't love free reads?
SF Signal Free Fiction

Looking to share the love?
10 Sci-Fi Novels to Give People Who Hate Sci-Fi

The only thing I take issue with is that they think they're going to solidify Lara's place among Ripley and Sarah Connor, the greatest female action heroes of all time . . . good luck with that.
Iron Man Writers Rebooting Tomb Raider to Tell Us Lara's Origins

Schwarzenegger's Next Film WON'T be Terminator

You know how I feel about remakes . . .
Fresnadillo Officially Lands Crow Remake

You know I'm gonna love this one: Zombies AND Corey Feldman? Bring it on!
Zombex Infects New Orleans

Any weekend that starts with a Friday the 13th HAS to be a good one! See you Monday!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Comic Relief & Weird News, May 11th

My favorite part of this story is the last line: "An Ohio highway patrol dispatcher told The Associated Press she didn't know the type of cereal involved." If it's some kind of breakfast grits or bran cereal, no big deal . . . but if it's something with marshmallows, that's a tragedy!
Crash Litters Ohio Turnpike with Breakfast Cereal

Sheesh! And I can't even get MY plants to last a year.
500-year-old Vine Survives Vandals

I need this kind of luck. If this had been me, the headline would have read, "Woman runs out of gas, gets attacked by flock of rabid hummingbirds, and car gets hit by a runaway dump truck." :)
Man Runs Out of Gas, Buys Lottery Ticket: Wins!

Uh . . . world's largest? How many "walk-thru purses" can there be?
World's Largest Walk-thru Purse

The 7 Most Impressively Lazy Employees of All Time

Oh my! My favorite is Chewbacca. Even worse . . . it's accurate!
Stereotyping You by Your Favorite Star Wars Character

Because I'm nosy:
A Peek Inside Famous Writers' Homes

From @funnyoneliners
I'm off for a quiet beer. Followed by fourteen noisy ones.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Working on Story A Day May

I finished my first week of Story-A-Day-May.
My goal for this challenge is to write a short story a day Monday through Friday. So far, so good. I've written four horror short stories and one urban fantasy.

It's not easy to come up with a new story idea every day, much less draft a (very) rough but complete story. I've been spending a lot of time going through writing prompt websites, prompt books, my own prompt files, etc.

After all the nitty-gritty work I've been doing the last few months on revision and editing, I decided this month's short story break would be time to bring some fun and play back into writing. I stumbled across a site about using Tarot cards for story generation, character creation, etc., so I ordered a set of Tarot cards. No blockbuster stories yet, lol, but it's a lot of fun.

I also entered a contest on the blog and won a set of Rory's Story cubes. It's a set of nine little dice with pictures on them. You roll them and then try to generate a story based on the pictures (kind of like those "here are nine or ten random words, work them into a story" prompts). I haven't tried them yet, but I probably will next week.

How about you? Are you doing Story A Day? If not, what writing challenges are you trying this month?

~ ~ ~
Links for writers: has a daily prompt

Forward Motion for Writers Lots of resources for writers, including an extensive list of prompts and generators. You have to be a member to access them, but membership is free. Has many prompts under the "freewriting practice" tab can be accessed from your profile. Again, have to sign up for access, but membership is free. And you don't have to post your work; I never have.

Start Your Novel has regularly updated, really awesome writing prompts perfect for writing speculative fiction.

Toasted Cheese has a writing prompt calendar with a prompt a day. Daily Flash Fiction Challenge A prompt a day, designed for their flash fiction contest. But you do not have to write flash nor do you have to enter the challenge Another daily writing prompt site. The Writer's Cramp Another prompt-a-day writing challenge.

Dragon Writing Prompts Lots of prompts here!

Using Tarot as a Tool for Writing

Tarot Spreads for Writers

Now . . . Get Writing!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Zombidays Cover Art Finalized!

The cover for Zombidays: Festivities of the Flesheaters has been finalized! You can preview it here: Zombidays.

This holiday-themed horror anthology includes eighteen tales of zombie mayhem:

Richard Marsden  -  "Revolucion de los Muertos"  -  Day of the Dead
Stephanie Kincaid  -  "Zombie's First Christmas"  -  Christmas
B. M. Kezar (that's me!)  -  "Inhuman Resources"  -  Thanksgiving & Black Friday
Tonia Brown  -  "Caveat Emptor"  -  Father's Day
Nic Brown  -  "A Grave St. Patrick's Day"  -  St Patrick's Day
Deborah Walker  -  "Burn Bright and Bide"  -  Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Night
Bryan Hall  -  "Reduce, Reuse, Reanimate" -  Earth Day
Patrick D ' Orazio  -  "What a Fool Believes"  -  April Fools' Day
Lee Pletzers  -  "He iwi tahi tatso"  -  Waitangi Day
Carey Burns  -  "Time To Eat"  -  4th of July/Independence Day
Derek J. Goodman  -  "If a Tree Falls in a Forest"  -  Arbor Day
Stacey Longo  -  "Zombie Mama"  -  Mother's Day
Keith Gouveia  -  "Dead Souls"  -  Valentine's Day
Rob Rosen  -  "Kill Phil"  -  Groundhog Day
Christin Haws  -  "Land of the Voting Dead"  -  Election Day
 Morris L. Crisp  -  "Bush Country"  -  Inauguration Day
Michael C. Lea  -  "Best Day Ever"  -  New Year's Day
William Wood  -  "Lest We Forget"  -  Veterans Day

I'll make an announcement once it's available! Very excited about this one, and can't wait to see how the other authors interpreted their holidays.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Comic Relief & Weird News, May 4th

If she does this for Easter, I wonder what she plans to do for his birthday!
Woman busted for buying hooker for dad, 80

Hitler reacts to Bin Laden news

Dude. You're using them wrong. That's not going to help your throat at all.
Man urinates on cough drops

And they say there aren't any good deals at school swap meets. : P
8-year old buys loaded gun for $3 . . . at school

Alas, poor Garfield, I knew him . . .
World's Most Unhealthy Lasagna Has 71,000 Calories

Bin Laden Tweeting from Hell

From @Georg_Grey 
If it weren't for electricity we'd all be watching television by candlelight. - George Gobel

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. Herm Albright

Funny and gross . . . and unfortunately, often true:
The worst public restrooms I've been in: a tie between the restrooms in a rural Flea Market (held year-round, inside a building) and a Kentucky Golden Corral (inexpensive buffet restaurant). The flea market bathrooms were bad because apparently everyone was used to using the outhouse, so the toilets looked like they hadn't been flushed all day . . . and around 2000 people pass through the flea market on any given day. The restaurant bathrooms were clean(ish), but every surface, including the backs of the toilets, was covered in food-crusted plates. I've never eaten anything so delicious that I couldn't stop long enough to use the restroom. Honestly! Who takes a plate of food to the bathroom with them!?!

Women are angels , and when someone cuts their wings, they continue to fly .... on a broomstick. We're flexible that way!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Project Burn Out (or, "Why I Hate My Novel")

I have this great article bookmarked:
Recover from Writing Burn Out

Most of the time, when I suffer from "Writer's Block," what I'm really suffering from is project-related burn out.

I'm one of those writers who has to be dragged, kicking and screaming, away from a project. The revision on my novel is a prime example. I planned for one month of revision (January). The novel was in worse shape than I remembered. Okay, so I'll need two months. That's it. Wait . . . make that three. No, no . . . I'm almost done with this first revision . . . I just need one more month.

I've been working on this first revision (FIRST revision) for four months!

Since I'm aware of my can't-let-go problem, I usually try to make sure I have at least two projects in the works at any given time. In theory, when I get sick of working on one project, I can switch to the other. Notice I said, "in theory?" Yeah. I had two projects going: novel revision and revision/edits on a short story. And just how is that short story project going? I don't know. I haven't seen it in over a month . . . maybe two!

So. I drew a line in the sand. No matter what, I was going to stop revising the novel, set it aside, and let it rest for the whole month of May. My May projects are going to be Story-A-Day (you can get info here) and (finally!) finishing up the short story I was supposed to be working on concurrently with the novel.

Instead of writing a complete story every day in May (unrealistic for me), I'm planning on getting at least 2000 words a day done, Monday through Friday. And no continuations; in other words, every day has to be 2000 words on a new story, so by the end of the month I'll have 22 new stories at least started (if I get most or all of them finished, that's icing on the cake).

And during this month, I'm not allowed to even open my novel file!

How do you beat writer's burn out?

~ ~ ~

Links for writers:

The Electronic Publishing Bingo Card

Forward Motion Writing Community

Encyclopedia of Weapons by Era

Internet Movie SCRIPT Database

Beat Blank Page Syndrome