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.