Merry Krimmus, Y'all

Ho-lee shit. Y'all. It's Krimmus in, like, three days. I don't know where the year done went, but it's all a blur to me. Mainly, I've been doing my reclusive thang, with nothing around me but the sound of keys clackin', pages flippin' and Wampa using the lower branches of my Krimmus tree as an on-ramp.

That and the baleful glances I been gettin from Little Face, who is a poor widdle tabby fing widda nasty case of stomatitis (Check those gums, cat people. Despite the eyebrow-singeing kitteh breath). He's taken up a lot of my days lately with a crapload of back-and-forths to the vet.
Even helping Wampa with the lights didn't cheer Facey up.
Though Wampa remains inordinately pleased with himself nonetheless.

So. Yeah. That's what I've been up to. Second revisions almost done, and on time, too. When all's said and the fat lady done belted out her aria, it took me about a year to crank out an MS. And I'm feeling pretty good about that.

Anyway, I just wanted to say Merry Krimmus and thanks to everyone who checked in with me or left a comment on an older post. I'ma be back at the blog come the New Year, when I think I might host a blogfest, a quick sorta What Kind Of Writer Do You Want To Be kind of deal. Thinking rules'll be simple: jot down 3 adjectives that describe the kind of writer you want to be and 3 specific ways you'll work toward that in 2011.

Anyone game? I'll figure out a date and post more about it next week, if the National Arbor Day Foundation hasn't locked me up for my egregious abuse of wrapping paper, if Little Face hasn't locked me up for my egregious abuse of the kitty crate or if That Guy From NaNoWriMo hasn't locked me up for my egregious abuse of procrastination.

I hope everyone finds a little peace this Krimmus, Saturnalia, Hanukkah, Solstice, Kwanzaa, Modraniht, Pancha Ganapati, the celebration of the Signature of the Constitution of the Republic of China, Yule, Sadeh, or otherwise holiday season. I hope your day is bright with paper and that you don't have to sit at the kids' table for dinner, like mine did at Thanksgiving :)
Left, Dez, 15, Right, Gabriel, 14.  Don't they look thrilled?
And may you also one day find a Wampa 'neath your tree, who makes all holidays joyous. Holiday holla!

THIS, y'all, this is why I do it.

So, y'all know I'm pretty fanatical about reading. In fact, I read more than I write, and that's a whole helluva lot. I make it my business to get through 2-3 books per week, if the vagaries of the new gig and time allow. And there's a reason for it. I could easily say I don't have time to read but -
the truth is, if I don't have time to read, 
then I'm not a serious writer

Books are my university, my mentors, my safety net, my go-to for writing advice. So I thought I'd share a few of the things I've read recently, and little snippets that taught me something:

From Ramsey Campbell's THE INFLUENCE:
"Hermione almost dropped the flashlight. The lit wall nodded toward them..."

What it taught me: Tis a small thing, but my first instinct when writing about a flashlight would be to view it from the vantage point of the beam of light. I like how he turned it around, and had the wall nodding instead. Nice.

A reviewer wrote, "When other horror writers were cranking up tension [with] physical horror, Campbell managed by sheer writing skill. This is very much akin to what one might expect had Camus or Sartre ever written a supernatural thriller." Damn.

From Daryl Gregory's PANDEMONIUM:

"Kansas had the purity of a sixth-grade math problem, an exercise in scale and stark geometry."

What it taught me: To look at description seriously freshly, to really see a scene and come at it from an unexpected angle. Who woulda come up with something mathematical to describe a landscape??

A reviewer wrote, "Daryl Gregory can write like a son-of-a-bitch." I'll say.

From Joe R. Lansdale's "The Night They Missed the Horror Show" (full story at that link, tho it's not for the faint of heart) from his collection of stories, BY BIZARRE HANDS (I'll pull out a couple of snippets):

"They tied Leonard's hands behind his back. Leonard began to cry. ... The chain took up slack and Leonard felt it jerk and pop his neck.  He began to slide along the ground like a snake. ... When he hit the bridge, splinters tugged at his clothes so hard they ripped his pants and underwear down almost to his knees. ... Leonard picked up speed and the chain rattled over the edge of the bridge, into the water .... The last sight of Leonard was the soles of his bare feet, white as the bellies of fish."

What it taught me: To be unflinching. I actually had to put the book away and go watch, like, Dr. Phil or something to clear the horror from my head and stop my hands from trembling. It still chills me. And I'm nowhere near unflinching enough in my own work - YET - but I know that's where I need to be.

A reviewer wrote of the short story, "[Lansdale] digs in with a keenly honed medical saw. The reader laughs and screams and falls dead silent. Maybe in the same paragraph." Yeah. And shudders and feels ill. Great work.

From "My Pretty Pony," a short story in Stephen King's NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES: 

"All those days, stretching away across the plains of June and July and over the unimaginable horizon of August."


"Grandpa knocked another roll of ash off his cigarette with the side of his thumb. The boy believed Grandpa was so lost in thought that the wind was smoking practically all of it for him."

What it taught me: That even tiny shards of realism can be poetic.

These are the tiny lessons I pick up from books. Seriously, if you're not reading a lot, you're missing out on the tiny gems, the turns of phrases, the character-revealing dialogue -- all the ways you can bend the language. No education like it.

Me? I just finished Mike Shevdon's SIXTY-ONE NAILS (nifty little Feyre novel, outta my genre but I read everything), and have to take a break from Hawking's THE GRAND DESIGN (that shit makes my head hurt), so I'm casting about for the next in my TBR pile...we'll see what it turns up. So what are you reading?

Ooh, a ghost story.

In a few minutes, I'll be finishing up some work for the new copyediting gig. And you know what time it'll be then?

 That's right; time to pack up the chirrun and go see PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2. Squee!

Check out this trailer and tell me you aren't shivering in anticipation.

Shivering yet? No? Okay, so it's just me. Though part of that quivering is due to the movie's big-budget release (this time 'round, PA1 writer/director Oren Peli had $3 million to play with as producer and a new director, Tod Williams).

The first was made on a shoestring ($10K), and I think that always tends to make filmmakers more hungry, more desperate to get the thing right. So I hope the mayjuh duckets doesn't ruin this one. Mo' money, mo' prollems, right? And I read this NY Times piece on the sequel, and, yeah, I'm a little noivous.

But still. I'm not ashamed to say I dug the first one - and that a question it prompted served as the inspiration for the current MS. So I'm hopeful for this one.

Here's a quick discussion of PA2 through the eyes of a paranormal investigator.

Here, Peli discusses PA 2.

If you care, here's a sit-down with Peli from last year.

ENN-EE-WAY. So tell me, did you see the first PARANORMAL ACTIVITY? What did you think? Gonna see the second?

Courage, you.

Since my last post was a big black ingress into the equally big and black tumble dryer of my mind when it's blazing with big, black things (like frustration, fear and mistrust of one's own process), I thought I'd do a drive-by post offering something bright and magnificent: courage.

Also, thanks to Daryl Gregory's PANDEMONIUM (dudes, buy it now, run quick, I'll wait) I'm freshly inspired.

Anyway, here's editor Alan Rinzler's toasty post on building some courage. An excerpt:

"Appreciate the difficult things you already know how to do, like teaching a class of unruly teenagers, climbing a tricky trail, or writing a letter to someone who owes you money. Or skydiving, for the adrenalin junkies out there!  That mythic, over-the-edge leap into the abyss.

This accomplishes two things: If you pick the toughest thing you’re able to do that isn’t working on your book, it’s relatively easier to sit alone in a room and move your fingers over the keyboard. And it can poke up the can-do confidence and bravery thermometer in your head. That may stimulate some wild new idea to escape your unconscious."

Good words, right? Right. Back to work with me, now with bonus(!) courage. Be brave, folks.

On holding your own fucking hand

Brief-ish post, cuz the Zoe, she's a-writing. (And finding a minute to chill with the always awesome Alesa Warcan! Shout out!!)

Anyway, today Zoe's actually a-bitchin. At herself (and you'll forgive the peevish tone, cuz Zoe's also a-pissed. At herself.) For plowing through the Internetz, looking for The Right Answer. While knowing all the while that of course this is what I'd find:

There is no got-damned right answer. 
Because there is no got-damned answer at all.

What I needed an answer for? A desk absolutely, positively littered, shelled, shrapneled, pasted, papered, hell--sown with notes. And all are pretty interesting, pretty chirpy, but also pretty fucking DEADENING.

Cuz now that I'm at shit-hitting-fan stage, i.e. it's climax time, I'm exploding under a barrage of notes that zoom in like Japanese Zeroes (Zoe remember this; don't forget Devon's doing that; wait your demon looks like this; be sure to drop this little theme-bomb in here like so; ooh here's a cool bit of dialog don't forget to put it here). Too late to duck and cover. FUUUUCCK!

It's drowning a sista. So much that I can't write forward for fear of missing something important, something that might be scrawled on the back of an AT&T bill envelope or Post-It, way the hell at the bottom of a messy stack of notes.

So I actually fired up the netz and searched "novel writing too many notes".

I'm serious, y'all. I actually looked for an answer to that. Today. Sheeshy-fucking-SHEESH.

And what did I find?


Big surprise. Cuz you know what the answer is? *sound of crickets chirping*

Right. At least that's what the answer is out there. And I already knew that. Just as I already knew the answer to The Great Note Kamikaze of 2010 is in here.

(Like ta hear it? Here it go: 1) don't paper your desk with notes in the first place, DUH. Keep 'em in a notes document. All in one place. Take the time between writing pages to organize those fuckers chronologically, story-wise, so you don't get bogged down. 2) Forget the notes while you're drafting. Notes are for revision.)

And something else I noticed? When I was frantically flipping through notes, they all felt...old. Because I'd already incorporated them into the MS organically - i.e. my brain had hold of most of 'em the whole time. I just didn't trust it to.

So. In case you're like I was just this morning, searching for the Right Pep Talk, the Right Tip, the Right Answer, the Right Hand-Holding, know this:

There ain't be no fucking right answers. And there ain't be no right fucking hand-holding.

Hold your own hand. Trust yourself. I mean, it's your own got-damned process, isn't it?

On Being A Brown Recluse...

So what if my introversion is a knitted body tube? You got a problem with knitted body tubes? Huh?
Yanno, many a week'll go by without an update here; I think I'm averaging about five posts per month. I routinely forget to check RallyStorm to see what's coming up for my Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog chain. I get around to checking my blog roll updates only rarely. Commenting on blogs? A scarcity, lemme tell you.

Also, I NEVER answer the phone (Hubs'll call a thousand times before I pick up; he'll stare when the ringing home phone fails to rouse even a flicker in my eyes; my son, Gabriel, will race to my cell when it beeps with an incoming text alert, absolutely boggled that I don't seem to care.). And don't get me started on social engagements (they are SO few and far between).

Why venture outside when my head's already teeming with life inside?
So what am I doing with all that time to myself? Being a brown recluse (yes, I'm brown, AND can be particularly venomous when need be). If I'm not writing, I'm reading. When I'm not doing that, I'm jogging or working out a couple times a day. Damn you, scary all-day sitting!)

Though I'm happy to haunt the rooms of my house, which is isolated in itself, way out in rural Georgia (I'm talking cow country, y'all) -- I do have moments of guilt. Gee, Z, you really should read more blogs. Answer the phone. Meet friends for dinner. (Working on the latter: seeing Alesa Warcan soon for BBQ & shenanigans!! *waves to Alesa*). Most times, the guilt goes sidewinding away after a bit.

Other times, I look elsewhere to justify my reclusivity. To wit: a fellow kindred recluse, Danielle Steel. This is what she had to say about hiding out at home when writing (part of a post on her writing process).

"I don’t talk to anyone..., don’t return calls, don’t see anyone, and don’t leave the house. I go from my bed to my desk, to my bathtub at the end of my workday, then back to bed, and then back to work. I work about 20 to 22 hours straight, sleep for 3 or 4 hours, and then go back to work. And I do that until I have told the story and the first draft is finished."

So, at least it's not just me. Though, even if it were, I'd be nowhere to be found when it came time to explain myself. Cuz it's just me. What about you? Introvert? Extrovert?

Being an Ass to Your Characters

This week's topic comes courtesy of the ever-cool Lydia Kang, who axed, "What part of yourself have you put into a main character? Why?" (See what Laura and Danyelle had to say about it.)

Characters swim into my psyche mostly intact. And since ye olde subconscious is holding the net, there's all kinds of Zoe-bits in each one - the flotsam, jetsam and half-chewed fish from the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald of my brain - which means I now gotta work to make sure they're, yanno, them and not me. And one of the ways I do this is by probing as deep into dey biznass as I can

chiefly by being an ass to them.

Easy way to get another angle on your character? Take the scene you've already got in mind, then run it aground. Got her arguing in a diner? Drop her on a ship's haunted prow while some fucked up apparition screeches toward her - and her only escape is the black churn of water. What does she do?

Is he in a school cafeteria breaking up with his girl? Drop that motherfucker into the funeral of his ex's mother. What does he say? Female detective chasing dude through a Noo Yawk street? Plant her in Afghanistan, bleeding from friendly fire. What happens now?

Remember, you ain't gotta USE any of your alternate scenarios or even write 'em down. Imagining is plenty. Just like we grow best outside of our comfort zones, our characters develop more fully when you take THEM out of YOUR comfort zone (i.e., your planned scene), just to see what happens.

So, yanno, it's cool that my brain comes pre-populated with characters. It's cool if they snatch bits of my personality as they scramble out of my gray matter. It's not cool if they all look, eat, curse and otherwise act like me. That's how I separate church and state, anyway: First realize they're Bits o Z, then swap their situations to see how they act which helps make each one unique, whether they be sons, daughters, captains, cooks - or the North Wind or the Witch of November :)

Sweating Through Writer's Block

The inimitable Carol Kilgore of Under the Tiki Hut fame has courageously offered me this award:

I say courageously because the award involves sharing seven things about yourself - and anyone who opens up to floor to yours truly is a brave soul indeed :D

But because I'm so damned contrary (thanks dad - you said it best!), I'm gonna do it differently. So in a red-faced, panting, sweating, cursing and oh-my-god-my-legs-are-falling-off twist, I offer you my best seven tips for breaking through writer's block, in lieu of seven random tidbits about me :D (Awardees at the end.)

Sweating Through Writer's Block
1. Get your ass up from the computer. Then, do what I do every day:
2. Walk. (I jog/walk 2 miles every a.m.) Then watch the ideas pour out like sweat and curses.
3. Later, do 3 sets of 10 girl push-ups. (This is especially great if, like me, the Huffington Post terrified you about the dangers of all-day sitting.)
4. After push-ups, do 3 sets of 10 dips. (Start with 5 if it sucks.)
5. Yes, dip right off the coffee table. (Ignore the cats. Bemused little fuckers.) Then plank for 30 secs.
6. Imagine the burn in your abs is writer's block. Burning's for pussies anyway. (Didn't I say ignore the damn cats?) Then: 
7. Finish up with 3 sets of 10 squats.

By the time you're done, you'll feel so freakin' bionic that NOTHING is gonna stand in your way. (Definitely not no pansy-ass writer's block.) Or you'll feel that everything's gonna stand in your way because now, thanks a lot Zoe, you can't even stand at all. (Fucking quivering quads.) 

BUT. Your blood'll be pumping furiously, delivering lovely little oxygen fruit baskets to your brain, which'll charm the PANTS off the block and it'll cave. See if it doesn't.

Srsly, every time the MS just won't be-freakin-have, I move. Works every time. What doesn't work every time is my adherence to blog award rules. NO ideer how many folks I'm 'posed to pass it on to, but here's 3:

1. Alesa Warcan. Dude. You need more than one award for putting up with my non-responsiveness. :D Especially when you went and made me an amazing award like this!! Thanks! See u at Fox BBQ in October!

Explosions. Gore. And my name. Sigh. Alesa, you get top marks. Thanks!

2. Alex J. Cavanaugh. This blogger with such eclectically cool movie interests kicks so much ass. And I loved his blogging tips from his recent series. I definitely want to know seven new things about him.

3. Laura Diamond. Because, as I said in a comment yesterday, Laura gave me such a boost with an Up and Coming Blogger feature way back when. Never forgot that. Thanks, Laura!

So whatcha sitting around fer? Get up, get your blood moving and elbow drop the crap outta writer's block!!


A Blog Award & Gunslinger Hijinks

Before we get to the gunslinging below, let me say that, in the best way to start a Monday since coffee and a run, Ricki Shultz kicked my week off right by tossing me some blog award love this morning:

As it's some pay-it-forward style razzmatazz, I'm to hand it over to 15 blogs that I've recently discovered (more or less). So that's a big 10-4 and another thanks(!) to Ricki, as well as the 15 blogs it goes to next:

1. The Vegetarian Cannibal
2. Janna Qualman
3. DJ Kirkby
4. Milo James Fowler
5. Kristopher & Crew
6. Carl @ I Like Horror Movies
7. Laura @ My Dear Trash
8. Deniz Bevan
9. Melissa J. Cunningham
10. Karen G of BBQ fame!!
11. Nicki Elson
12. Angie Ledbetter
13. The Scribbling SeaSerpent
14. Kelly M. Olsen
15. Carol Kilgore @ Under the Tiki Hut

Psst! Guys! Don't look now, but it's a #seguefail!!:

Just when I was bemoaning the lack of new television (tho, at least I still have Fringe and The Walking Dead this year and Joe Hill's Locke & Key next year), there's THIS news:
Pic from
Yep. That's a rather dark tower. And yep, that's a gunslinger. And you know what THAT combination means:

Stephen King's THE DARK TOWER!!!

Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsman and Brian Grazer are working on the story of Roland & co. for a film trilogy & television series of Stephen King's Dark Tower epic next year. Y'ALL. I don't know about you, but I can't freakin' WAIT to see Roland amble out with his big-ass revolvers blazing. Susannah! Cort! The Man in Black! Hell, SHARDIK!!! Hot damn!! 

Let's see, I love this shit so much I named a cat Roland, I won't ever buy a semi-automatic handgun - cuz I HAZ to haz me a revolver, and there MIGHT be a Dark Tower easter egg or four in my current WIP :D

THIS is cool...

While I'm definitely a visual kind of creature, I do love me some sounds. That's why I squeed in my mouf a widdle when I saw sound designer Ben Burtt's latest book: THE SOUNDS OF STAR WARS:

I'm sure I've said it before, but like the White Stripes, it bears repeating: My favorite STAR WARS sound comes from this guy in Episode II:

Behold the awesomely rippling roar of the Reek as he lumbers out in the first few seconds of this clip (beware, it's a really fleeting coupla seconds, and doesn't last nearly as long as it oughta):

Even so, isn't that just the most delicious sound??

Ah...the bleeding dark...

This is my brain on darkness. Any questions?

The dark n' lovely Lolly Jane Blue, without the perm. C/o Caitlin R. Kiernan's blog.

Wait, you do have questions? Okay, I'll post the two I get the most:

Why do you write horror? How can you read that stuff?

1. I write horror because it makes me a better person, a better mother, a better fatalist, a better dreamer, a better thinker, a better jogger, a better fighter, a better fear-er, and a more wicked wife (trust me on that one, folks. My hubs, The Great Kevinsky, lays down with darkness every night. Makes him a better optimist).

2. I read horror because it sings to me. It lulls me deep when I sink into its smoky bed linens, curls my lips into a smile when it telegraphs its bleeding radio show into the glowing filigree of my brain synapses. It's like electricity, with more shudder.

What sings to you?


So, caught BROOKLYN'S FINEST Saturday night. And yanno why it didn't rake in the millions when it was released back in March, despite a cast that included Gere, Hawke, Cheadle, D'Onofrio, Snipes, and Tomlin?

Because it was*cough*...eak...


So, um. Yeah. Unless you want your readers to start glancing all shifty-eyed at the Valium when they've reached the endgame of your book, toss some redemption in there...even if shit's bleak, man. 

Make it worth it in the end.

The Old Masters

Got all squee-d when I reordered some Machen yesterday (*booksies!*). That's cuz I read a lot of early horror masters along with the modern horrorists - it's compulsive. Can't help it.

So who are your great masters, 
the influencers of your chosen genre? 

And do you read 'em regularly? Do your impatient 2010 sensibilities, like mine, wrestle with the clotted form of early fiction? How do you overcome it? Me, I just keep going back and re-reading 'til my errant sensibilities adjust. Here are a handful of the greats of my genre:

Arthur Machen (1863-1947)
Arthur Machen's The Great God Pan (1894) is considered one of the best horror stories ever written - not surprising, given that Machen's work underpins all that is metaphysical and malevolent in today's weird tales:

"There is a real world, but it is beyond this glamour and this vision...beyond them all as beyond a veil. I do not know whether any human being has ever lifted that veil; but I do know, Clarke, that you and I shall see it lifted this very night from before another's eyes."

Mary Shelley (1797-1851)

Did you know Mary Shelley's The Last Man is a precursor of dystopian fiction?

"Thus we began to feel, with regard to many-visaged death let loose on the chosen districts of our fair habitation... Nations, bordering on the already infected countries, began to enter upon serious plans for the better keeping out of the enemy."

Algernon Blackwood (1869-1951)

Algernon Blackwood
is the grandfather of the ghost story. His The Willows is also hailed as one of the best of all time:

"With this multitude of willows, however, it was something far different, I felt. Some essence emanated from them that besieged the heart. A sense of awe awakened, true, but of awe touched somewhere by a vague terror..."

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

Nevermore ponder this dark romanticist with weak, weary quotes about ravens. Get some new references via Edgar Allan Poe's first short story, Metzengerstein:

"'He is your own property, Sire,' replied one of the equerries. 'At least, he is claimed by no other owner. We caught him, just now, flying all smoking, and foaming with rage, from the burning stables of the Castle Berlifitzing..."

Howard Philip Lovecraft (1890-1937)
A machete'll get you through Lovecraft's adjectival thicket - all eldritch and enclosed by cyclopean walls of non-Euclidean geometry. But not for nothin' exists hoary plush Cthulhu, or the undying myth of the Necronomicon, spawned by H.P.'s "Nameless City"...  

"Remote in the desert of Araby lies the nameless city, crumbling and inarticulate...It must have been thus before the first stones of Memphis were laid, and while the bricks of Babylon were yet unbaked. There is no legend so old as to give it a name...but it is told of in whispers..."

Robert W. Chambers (1865-1933) 

Robert W. Chambers' The King in Yellow influenced many tales...

"This is the thing that troubles me, for I cannot forget Carcosa where black stars hang in the heavens; where the shadows of men's thoughts lengthen in the afternoon, when the twin suns sink into the lake of Hali; and my mind will bear for ever the memory of the Pallid Mask..."

Lord Dunsany (1878-1957)

There's just no not including Lord Dunsany. Everyone from Tolkien to Le Guin to Lovecraft has a hard-on for his collection of short stories, The Gods of Pegana:

" ...and Beyond it where lies the Silence, and the Rim is a mass of rocks ... and on it sat Trogool. Trogool is the Thing that is neither god nor beast, who neither howls nor breathes, only It turns over the leaves of a great book, black and white, black and white for ever until THE END."

So what say you, O weary-eyed patron of the early, that which must needs be convoluted and arcane? 
Who be your masters?

Waiting = Woodsheddin'

Yoo-hooooo! Yeah, so it's me, and it's blog chain time. Topic:

How do you deal with waiting?

Foist of all, make sure youse check out Laura's, Lydia's and Danyelle's tricks for getting through da wait between query responses, critiques or revisions.

Me? Though I haven't been through a query cycle yet, I *haz* waited for a critique, and I definitely haz a plan to handle the 30-day quarantine of my MS. And the way I deal with it is by working on whatever's at hand. See, for me, waiting is

wood-sheddin' time.

wood-shed-ing [wood-shed-in]
- noun
1 :  craft-building work between WIPs that includes confidently writing & submitting short fiction, mowing through To-Be-Read pile, and transferring focus to sparkly new MS idea Zoe remarkably found the discipline to avoid during drafting of previous MS

2 : slow-dawning realization that the Previous MS is like deranged aunt hidden family-secret style in the turret and who appears to be safely tucked away from public view but who makes increasingly alarming thumps and bodily sounds when anyone comes to the door

3 : even slower-dawning realization that you do not, in fact, have a turret

4 : a rapid downward spiral of coffee, Internet blockage for Gmail's plausible deniability, and the consuming of any and all refined carbohydrates whilst realizing original definition of wood-shedding may have been delusional and, in fact, rather indicates that you, lovie, may actually be the deranged aunt in the turret that you do not, in fact, own, but that is part of the skyline of the Regional Residential Treatment Center For The Criminally Insane, Turret-Less, or Those Who Speak Creepily In Second Person.


Yeesh. So I actually *did* intend to write a serious post about my serious wood-sheddin' plans, and while I do actually have a packet of four short stories to carry me, one story per week, through my MS's 30-day waiting period, and while I do have a pipeline of about five novels from which to choose my next adventure...

...the fact is I'm not sure what in hell I'm gonna do when it's time to wait. All I can do is what I always do:

1. Focus on what's at hand. The next short story? That sounds good.
2. Be easy on myself and forgive myself my writing trespasses, which will no doubt extend to waiting.
3. Cheer myself up with Ray Bradbury's sexy, unabashed boxer-short style. Man's a rock star. 

20 Steps to a Teen's Epic Week

DISCLAIMER: Sometimes, I rather enjoy being an unconventional mom. Even when there are times, like last week, when it wears me the f*ck out. In fact, this post was to have been written last Friday, but I was too knackered to do it. So here 'tis now, though 'tis late.

20 Steps to Making Your Teens' Whole Week, Zoe-style:

1. Spring your 15-year-old, Desi, from his second day of 10th grade.

2. Liberate your 13-year-old Gabriel from his pre-first-day-of-eighth-grade required reading session. Who wants to read JOHNNY TREMAIN anyway? Not this guy:

3. Give 'em both some bogus reason like having to duck into Atlanta for some appointment on their behalf. Don't tell them until you arrive that your destination is the sidewalk in front of Criminal Records.

4. Enjoy their bafflement for a moment, then draw their attention to the sign in the window.

Yanno, the one that says #SPvsATL Round 3: The Signing 3 PM Today! Which explains why you've brought their homemade tribute Scott Pilgrim tee-shirts. Flash a grin as they hurriedly pull them over their heads.

5. Enjoy smug satisfaction that you're second in line. Especially when you know it's gonna look like this by 3:
Pic by Veronica Kai. And, yeah, it was that hot.
6. Watch your kid go from happy-to-sit-in-line to I'ma-kill-someone-with-this-if-we-don't-get-inside soon.

7. Make this face.

8. Then send boys inside to annoy Criminal Records staff by taking pictures of them setting up...

...and by indulging their strange fascination with Pocky.

Sigh. Yes, that's Dez's hand. Yes, he was so knocked out by GIANT Pocky that he had to offer said hand for purposes of scale.
9. Happen to spot your husband's cousin, Anthony, who works at Project 96.1.

Hi, Ant!!

10. Listen to boys squeal like teenage girls when Ant hands us three of these:

Except they didn't look like this, cuz those were for Boston, and we're in Atlanta. But three free advance screening passes!
11. Bless the air conditioning when we finally get to line up inside.

12. Try to keep your 15-year-old from hyperventilating when they actually MEET these guys in person:

Oddly, Michael Cera is much less Cera-ey in person. Schwartzman, on the other hand, is just as Schwartzy as you'd imagine.
13. Hitch a ride home on their cloud nine; listen to Dez's shocked tearfulness about how "JASON FREAKIN' SCHWARTZMAN" got up and hugged him as he hyperventilated, and G's excited chatter about how Edgar Wright gave him some backstory re: the 4 1/2 tee-shirt G had made. Grin at autographed shwag.

Gabriel lucked out into being one of only about 5 who got personalized autographs. Nice!

14. Spend Wednesday recovering, and posting crappy cell-phone vids, such as the moment when director Edgar Wright (SHAUN OF THE DEAD, HOT FUZZ) entered stage right.

15. And when Scott Pilgrim himself, one Michael Cera, finally stumbled in.

16. Thursday, give 'em two pistol fingers of triumph when they return from school MUCH COOLER than when they went. Yanno, cuz they each got to take a friend to the Thursday nite advance screening.

17. Smile as you hear them, from two rows back in the theater, singing along to The Clash at Demonhead (a.k.a. the real life band, Metric, whose Scott Pilgrim tracks they'd downloaded weeks before).

18. Leave the theater with four boys and a hubs still thrilling after a movie that went something like this:

19. Promise to take them to see it again this weekend; grin as hubs frames this and puts it with all the other strange art on our living room wall.

20. Finally, know that, as one cool-ass mom, you KO'd the HELL outta the week :D

Any questions?

A Broad

Oh, hey, look! I haz a blog! Who knew? Sorry for the interminable delay in new posts, folks...I haz been trying to find re-entry into many things lately, including my life, including my book, including the blog.

And wow. It's not easy.

Now where the HELL did I put my ROBES??
So what do you do when your life feels like some exotic country and you're an alien abroad? To wit: I spent most of July holed up in isolationus extremus. I was child-free, my 13-year-old son having jetted to England with his British grandmum for the entire summer and my stepson having headed to his mom's for the same length o time.

While 'twas faboo getting all that lush writing time (10-hour days! 97 percent of the second draft done!), memories of that life now seem like a travelogue from someone else's journey. Like on BBC. Or one of Morgan Freeman's time-, space- and brain-bending dispatches from Through the Wormhole.

EsPECially since I've experienced some major WIP-us Interruptus lately. See, in the past two weeks, I've retrieved one son, hosted my brother for several days, road-tripped home to the D.C. urrea with said brother to retrieve the other boy from Dulles Airport, spent a week in that urrea visiting me mum, and then spent the last two days trying to get back to Atlanta from Dulles (damn you, AirTran!!!)

See, it's lovely as hell in the country of my usual life. But damn if I can seem to GET BACK to that country.
Got home last night. Cracked open the MS, which looked alien as hell. Tried to remember those blissful July weeks, which felt alien as hell. Mothered two newly-returned boys, who, being teenagers, are alien as hell. And don't get me started on reacquainting with my four kittehs. (Feline = alien. Aw, hell.)

So what do you do when your life is, like, Cambodia and you're from, like, Finland? Take pictures? Eat? Gesture wildly to the locals that you're, in fact, a local too, but just forgot your mother tongue - and hope it all comes back to you?

No. You ask Morgan Freeman what happened before this life, that's what you do. Cuz Freeman knows all. Sees all. And haz cool 3-D freckles.