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:


     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.