Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Fives: Cover Envy

I say this with all genuinosity, Lurkdom: THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY. It's been a high-class craptastic week for yours truly and this weekend couldn't come fast enough*. That my weekend starts in about three hours emphasizes the hooray factor.

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned my process for buying music is to go by the title. With books, 98% of the time my buying process is driven by the cover. If it's pretty, I'll pick it up. Other factors come into play then, but that's not what today is about.

For someone who picks books based on cover art, there aren't many that I would sell my soul for. If Michael Whelan's art graces the cover, it's a safe bet that it'll catch my eye, so I've excluded him from my list and only focused on "recent" covers.

All images are courtesy of Goodreads**.

Cassandra Clare's City of Bones. Every time I saw the book in the store, I'd stop, stare, and pick it up. Why it took me three years to finally buy it, I'll never know.

Once I finally did pick the book up, I found out the artist is Cliff Nielsen, only the artist of my favorite Wrinkle in Time cover ever.

Janice Hardy's Darkfall. I haven't read any of The Healing Wars Saga, but that is going to change.

Mayandree Michel's Betrayal. It's just so... gold. And pretty.

Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush Hush. I know, I know. It's Twilight with angels. But the cover really caught my eye.

Confession time: It's the reason I bought the book.

Oh, don't give me that look. You saw it coming. All roads lead to the Tower, after all.

What covers (books or otherwise) have grabbed your attention lately?

Go check out what other people are picking over at Paper Hangover!

* It helps that a good friend will be coming up for the weekend. That alone deserves cupcakes.
** With the exception of Darkfall, which I got from Janice Hardy's site.
______ hit of the day: Need No Company by Hardcore Superstar

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The End of Days

Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works." Revelation 20:13

Recently, I have heard news reports about a group of people (led by an organization called Family Radio) who believe that "Judgement Day" will be on May 21, 2011. It is also their belief that this day will be followed by five months of torture for those on Earth and will culminate with the end of the world on October 21, 2011. During these five months, according to the book of Revelation, men will be plagued by locusts, fire, and the dead rising from their graves.

"When there's no more room left in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth..."

Okay... so that last quote isn't from the Bible, although many people seem to think that it is. As most horror fans will know, it actually comes from the film Dawn of the Dead. Just goes to show how iconic a film can be in that a line from it can be confused with biblical scripture. Not only that, many people believe that the end of days will signal a zombie apocalypse as well. Unfortunately, if you read the Bible, the walking dead don't really seem all that exciting. While the Bible does talk about the dead being resurrected from their graves so that those who died before the second coming of Christ can be given new life to be judged, it really doesn't say anything about the dead moaning and groaning around our cities and country sides looking to eat our brains. Darn!

Ken Foree delivering the famous line in original Dawn of the Dead

But driving to Chicago yesterday, I happened to see one of the many billboards being put up all over the country announcing May 21 as Judgement Day. And further investigation of this organization's many websites reveals that they really want you to believe that after May 21 and leading up to October 21, zombies will be roaming the world looking to torture those who were not taken up during "The Rapture." Oh, if only.

I'm just as much of a fan of a real zombie apocalypse as the next horror loving girl. But I'm afraid I just don't think it's going to happen next month. I could be wrong though... after all, the man who has predicted that May 21 is the big day has also been wrong before. He previously predicted that Septemeber 6, 1994 was going to be Judgement Day. Oops! Missed that one slightly.*

Ken Foree making a special cameo in Dawn of the Dead remake

But just in case the dead do rise from their graves in the next couple of weeks, keep these important things in mind--

1. Go buy a gun NOW. Don't wait. I'm pretty sure most places have a waiting period in which to get your firearm. May 21 is coming soon. You don't want to wait and not get your hold cleared. Then again, once the apocalypse strikes, you can probably just loot and steal the guns. In that case, be sure to have a baseball bat on hand to smash some store windows.

2. Head to a remote country location, but away from too many churches. Churches have graveyards, and you can see where that will lead! The more desolate the location, the better. There will be less zombies coming your way and less people trying to mooch off your supply stores.

3. Stock up on food and water. It does no good to barricade yourself in a farmhouse if you run out of stuff to keep you alive! Trust me... locking yourself in a shopping mall may seem like the smartest thing, but studies have shown that it is not. Might I suggest watching several episodes of Extreme Couponing.** These crazy people have learned how to make "stockpiles" of stuff that make their homes put Sam's Club to shame. Best of all, they work the system so that most of their supplies end up being free!

4. Watch a LOT of zombie movies... not only can you view them as educational films, but really... who doesn't love a good horror movie marathon with friends! It may be you last chance to hang out with your buddies before you all die.

Good luck, friends! I'll see you all back here on May 22 to see how our emergency plans are working out! Oh, no... what if Judgement Day kills the internet?? That really would be torture!

*Please take my criticisms with a touch of Robert Burns-esque satire. I consider myself a (slightly non-practicing) Christian, so I am in no way making fun of anyone's faith or beliefs. However... true Christians believe no one can predict the end of the world, so why should this guy be an exception? He's not. He's done this before and has been very wrong.

** Possibly the most disturbing show I've ever seen. These people spend at least 70+ hours a week clipping and hunting for coupons. Then they spend six hours at the grocery store literally buying hundreds of boxes of pasta because the combination of coupons make them all free. I'd rather have my brains eaten than live my life in this way.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Songs to Write By

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

Today's topic: If your WIP or favorite book were music, what song(s) would it be?

For my WIPs, I don't have any set songs, but more like set musical styles.When listening to music, I go for the auditory aesthetic* and less on the lyrical content. It usually takes me months (sometimes years) before I pay attention to the lyrics.

For FALLING TO NORMAL, I listened to a lot of 90s rock. Even when I updated the setting to present day, the soundtrack didn't change. Candlebox and Alice in Chains will always work in Cheyenne's world, no matter what.
Favorite Candlebox Song: You
Favorite AIC Song**: Nutshell

For PHOENIX RISING, I've been listening to a lot of atmospheric, prog rock. Don't question, because I can't explain. I've balanced that with a healthy dose of metal***.
Favorite Prog Rock Song**: Panic by Anathema
Favorite Metal Song: I can't pick one. Sorry!

For that untitled and yet to be determined genre project, I listen to a lot of music with goth/industrial influence. This includes but is not limited to tons of Nine Inch Nails, Bauhaus/Peter Murphy, and Ministry before they sucked.
Favorite NIN Song: Wish
Favorite Peter Murphy Song**: Roll Call
None of the songs mentioned are representative of my current projects, but are included on those playlists.

And favorite book? It's not just a song, IT'S A CONCEPT ALBUM.

* Or lack there of depending on the noise.
** Currently. All is subject to change at the whim of me.
*** If you've been paying attention to any of the hits, this won't be a shock. It should be expected.
________ hit of the day: Cash is King by Ike Reilly

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Purple People Beware….He’s Hungry

Confession: I'm a reluctant townie.

I lived in the same town my entire life, not even moving away for college*. Even though I have moved four times, it was only to another section of town. That I might be permanently stuck here hasn't escaped my notice, but living here is convenient and familiar**. Not to mention filled with things that make you go "huh?"***

Even the grocery store where I shop has moments that throw me, though most of that is food related craziness. (Orange soda ice cream topping anyone?) Though today's post isn't about food.

It's about this.

Monday, April 25, 2011

One of Those Days...

It's Monday and the day job has thrown me in Excel hell. My brain is brimming with ideas for my WIP and all I want to do is go home and crank everything out.

So, there's no real post today. Instead, enjoy a picture of Hubby wearing a cheeseburger on his head.

Come back tomorrow for our regularly scheduled programming.
_____ hit of the day: Coward by Black Light Burns

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Fives: Show More S

Yours truly is working on a shortened week with way too many plot bunnies jamming up the brain space*. So hooray for Friday, Paper Hangover, and lists.

You should know that I'm pretty rigid in my literary tastes**. I like non-sparkling, non-emo vampires. I prefer my preternatural beings to literally have bite. I'm not a fan of "classic literature" nor do I like books where the message bitch-slaps you across the face. If you're sending me a message, don't make it obvious.

That said there are certain things I'd like to see more in fiction, but not all of these are for the greater good. (Example: One of those highlander bodice rippers should really poke fun at Highlander.)
  1. Stronger girl protagonists. Maybe it's because I went to an all girl's college, but it grinds my gears whenever there's this totally pointless, helpless whelp of a girl who does nothing but do "girly things" like cook. Oh and  that she needs the boy to save her***.
  2. Something piss-my-pants hysterical. Mandy Hubbard's You Wish had me hyperventilating at the hair salon. I want more things that cause inappropriate whooping.
  3. Satire. I can't think of any in the YA market. If you do, please tell me.
  4. Sleaze/Glam Rock Femoirs. Femoir as fake memoir, not female memoir. The sleaze/glam rock scene is alive and strong, Lurkdom. I want to see it on the shelves because it. would. be. awesome.
  5. Subpar Writing. It would make publication that much easier****. (I'm kidding, of course. Sort of.)

* Which, contrary to science, is extremely small.
** Coincidentally, I'm like this with my music too. But with both, there is always an exception to the rule.
*** I'm looking right at YOU, Bella Swan. You have set feminism back maybe 70 years.
**** Not that my writing is crap. It's not. But think about it: if my competition was Nemesis... Let's just say I know better than to use the phrase "love juices."
__________ hit of the day: Thunderkiss '65 by White Zombie

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Zombie Hats! A Guide for our Zombie Readers

Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

You asked for it... I will deliver! Actually, my friend Mary suggested a theme of "zombie hats" in her comments during our 'Race to 150' contest. I think she was just being silly, but I thought, "hey, why not?" Once I committed to humoring her, my next concern was, "will I be able to find enough information on zombie hats?" Turns out, there are lots of zombie hats in existence! Zazzle and Cafepress have tons of people who have created hats with a zombie theme. Even one hat displayed a trio of Zombie Corgi dogs! Very random...

But instead of just displaying a hat you can buy online, let's discuss something academic. We all know that zombies are permanently terminated by killing the brain, usually by a shot to the head. Because zombies are so vulnerable in their heads... why is it that we don't see more zombies wearing protective head gear? Literally, why aren't they wearing special zombie hats or helmets? Zombies may not be the most intelligent, but all "living" beings know enough to protect that which can be damaged. And there is debate that zombies will have some residual memories of their humanity. And in some instances (Romero's Land of the Dead), zombies learn. They adapt.

For any zombies out there that are reading this blog, guess what? I found a hat/helmet just for you! For a mere 340 dollars, you can own your very own bullet proof helmet! This helmet exceeds basic military specifications, and weighs only 3.2 pounds (beware of decaying neck muscles; the weight of the helmet may decapitate you accidently). Made from multiple layers of Kevlar and other materials, this helmet will provide maximum protection and comfort. Don't get caught in the crossfire of an angry mob without one. You'll be thanking me later.

This Zombie Hunter is prepared... why aren't you??

And thank you to everyone who entered and participated in our 'Race to 150' contest! Our followers are still growing and we encourage everyone to still spread the word. I have a feeling there will be more contests in the future, so please join the ranks of the Lurkdom. Also, keep the suggestions coming, and your idea may be our next entry!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kiss Comparison Checklist

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

Today's topic: Compare your first kiss with your favorite character's first kiss.

Ugh. No matter how hard I try, I can't eradicate my first kiss entirely from my mind. That I want to should give you a hint of how not-stellar it was*.

If you've been lurking for a while, you've probably picked up on the fact I was a late bloomer and that High School Alicia still pictured herself as the tragically dressed, frizzy-permed, brace-face Middle School Alicia**. Why any boy would want to kiss me was baffling.

Turns out no boys did. Well, there was one. Unfortunately for me, he was also a male whore.

And this is where I compare my first kiss to Georgia Nicolson's kiss with whelk boy*** by way of checklist.

Coincidentally, he fell off the face of the planet for MONTHS after this. The next time I saw him, I was totally ready to hurl my register till at him. There's more detail than this, of course, but with my luck, this will be the day that said First Kiss boy will discover my blog and then awkward emails will ensue.

Lurkdom, tell me: how did your first kiss rate?

* It also probably explains the exact reason why I don't do kissing scenes.
** Fact: At times, I still see this instead of Present Day Alicia.
*** This may or may not be her first kiss. I can't remember since it's been a while since I've read Angus, Thongs, & Full Frontal Snogging.
_________ hit of the day: Found You by Satellite

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Huzzah! The Query Letter Blogfest is Here!

Do you know what today is, kids? The nineteenth. And while that has tons of crazy importance in a certain fictional world that involves this poem, it's also important on this plane because today's our query letter blogfest. *hands out celebratory mochas*

If you've already signed up, hooray. If you haven't, there's still time.

The rules:
  • Post your query letter on your blog.
  • Read and critique* on at least 5 other query letters.
When critiquing a query, here are a few questions you should ask yourself. (Thanks to Pam & Quita for putting these up.)
  • Tell whether or not the letter hooks you--is there a pitch line apparent somewhere through out the letter?
  • Determine whether or not you GET what the novel is about.How is the sentence flow? Transitions? 
  • If you were an agent--would you request pages? Why or why not?

So simple, right? Let's get to it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Race Has Ended!

Over in Boston-land, it's Marathon Monday where people from all over decide that running 26 miles from Hopkinton to Boston makes perfect sense*. It's appropriate that the Race to 150 winners get announced today.

What 120 entries looks like
Through the awesomeness of Hubby, a hat, and over one hundred bitty scraps of paper, winners have been decided.

Scarf Winners
Erin and Debra Elliott!

Handmade Critter Winner

Titling Assistance**  Winner
Amie Kaufman!

Cupcakes of Awesome Winner

Cookie Prize Pack Winner

Divergent ARC Winner

Grand Prize Winners
Shae (Zombie Survival Kit) and Glenna (Writer's Survival Kit)!

Miranda or I will contact the winners shortly. Thanks to all who entered!

As a reminder, tomorrow is the query letter blogfest. You still have time to sign up.

* Yours truly believes marathons should be reserved for the ancient Greeks.
** Originally I wasn't going to include this, but he was so insistent after seeing everyone's comments on him coming up with FALLING TO NORMAL.
______ hit of the day: Carpathian Forest by Carpathian Forest

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Fives: Freaky Friday

Freaky Friday was a book and multiple movies where a daughter and mom swap places. Hilarity and Hijinks ensure. This was one of my favorite books as a kid. So when Paper Hangover dropped this week's Friday Fives topic, all I could think was "I'm titling this bitch as 'Freaky Friday'."

This is kind of hard for me since I never am like "OMG I want to be them." At least, not from what I can remember. Like, I'd never want to switch places with Roland, even if it was a good day and he was still in training.

And since it's so flipping hard, I've only managed to do four. You know what that means?

Four For Friday: Friday Fives Edition

  1. Georgia Nicolson. It may be the way Louise Renison wrote everything, but things in Georgia's life seem pretty wacky, which I like. And in true Freaky Friday tradition, hilarity and hijinks would go on.
  2. The Cheshire Cat. One of my favorite books and one of my favorite characters. I'd love to be able to disappear like that. Just. Once.
  3. Sandy or Dennys Murray. Out of the entire Murray clan, they're the most pragmatic (something I'm not) and everything comes ridiculously easy for them. I'd love to know how that works.
  4. Wonder Woman.
What fictional character would you want to switch places with?

Also, don't forget to enter our contest. We're 6 followers away from closing and you know you want to be one of the final six.

_______ hit of the day: Mr. Crowley by Tim Ripper Owens

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Zombies Ahead! Be Alert!

Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

It's that time of the year again-- the weather is getting warmer, flowers are blooming, and... road construction has started back up again. I don't know about you all, but I hate construction. Before I moved to Chicago, I was frequently making the three hour drive up to the city. But with all the stupid construction, it would turn that drive into four hours or more. It's beyond frustrating to get stuck in road work that seemingly never produces any real results. We've all experienced it-- broken up roads, shut down lanes, and endless orange cones stuck on the same stretches of road for years and years. Are they seriously working or not?

I know all the road work creates jobs and stimulates the economy, and that's all great. But it sucks going at a slow crawl and never really knowing what's going on ahead. Why are we going so slow? Is there a wreck? Is it only one lane? Are both lanes closed? Is there a detour? Not to mention the HUGE fine you'll get if you're caught speeding in a work zone. It makes me stressed just writing about it!

Is there anything that could make work zones more entertaining? Apparently some hackers in the last few years have found a way to put a smile on drivers' faces... or put panic in their hearts. By tampering with the digital construction signs, pranksters have started warning drivers not of closed lanes, but Zombies Ahead!

Just a few weeks ago, signs in South Carolina cautioned drivers that there were, "Zombies Ahead," and on other signs stated, "Watch for Hunters" and "Be alert for Tanks." A similar incident occurred in Texas back in 2009 with just the warning of zombies ahead.

Although officials claim they don't know how or who changed the signs, apparently it can be pretty easy to reprogram those signs given a certain set of circumstances. Most workers don't bother to change the factory default password setting to change text and a smart hacker can know the code for certain sign models. Also, laziness on the part of workers and not locking the back panel make for quick and simple access to the keyboard. Although it is a misdemeanor in most states to tamper with the signs, it seems like law enforcement officials had a good sense of humor about the prank and were able to easily change the signs back.

What would you think if you saw a sign warning of Zombies Ahead? Would you laugh or have a moment of nervousness?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Scars of Yesterday

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

Today's question: What is the story of your best scar?

While I think about what scars I have and whether there's a story to go with it, I would like to direct you to the awesomeness of the internet where you can watch baby bald eagles*!

So, scars.We all got them. And while I'm not ready to talk about my mother working as a lunch lady in my middle school while I was there, I suppose I can talk about something physical.

Confession: I don't have many scars.

In fact, there are only two I can locate: one on my wrist and one on my inner arm.

I have no clue how the inner arm one happened. It was like I woke up one day and BOOM! there it was. I'm going to blame Stripey and the Claws of Death.

I remember the origin of the wrist one, and before you think it, no it wasn't from that. The slash on my wrist happened in art class. With a piece of poster board. Yep, I accidentally slit my wrist with a piece of poster board and it was deep enough to leave a scar**.

The best scar however isn't even mine. It belongs to Hubby. Back in October we had gone to see High on Fire--one of Hubby's favorite bands that is extremely heavy, dirgey, and fast--at The Middle East***. We were in the downstairs portion of the club, which has more floor space and a raised area near the bar. Since I'm short and everyone else at this show was twenty feet tall, we stood on the raised section of the floor. Hubby got excited during the chorus of one of the songs and fist-pumped.

And punched a sprinkler.

He bled and thought a small band aid would cover it. Since his fist was consistently in the air, we didn't know how bad the gash was until we got out of the venue. He needed 19 stitches and now has a permanent V on his knuckle.

Don't forget to check out YA Highway to see what the other participants are saying!

* This might distract me for the rest of my life.
** A scar that now looks like a misplaced palm line.
*** The Middle East is this pretty awesome restaurant/club in Cambridge that I've been to more in adultdom than during college. 
_____________ hit of the day: Secrets of the Earth by Ghost Brigade

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Task-Setting for Writers, Part IV: The Power of "No."

Welcome to the final installment of Task-Setting for Writers. If you missed a week, you can read the previous three weeks here.

By now it's been established that we're here because we need help getting everything done that we want to get done. Case in point, this week I spread myself too thin: date night with Hubby, the final meeting of my old crit group, my second meeting of my new one, not to mention some girl time with a bestie. Oh and probably some housework. Notice how I didn't mention anything about writing on that list*.

Part Four: Just Say "No"
In order to achieve our goals, we have to be selfish. Sometimes.

This is harder than it sounds because no one wants to be that way. It comes off sounding terrible and that we're being uncooperative. We want people to be able to rely on us, but while we're being selfless, we forget about our own needs. Coincidentally, the chronicness of saying "yes" to everything creates a lot of stress. Something we all know something about.

The Mayo Clinic offers some ways on when and how to say "no." The most important thing to consider when saying no is whether you would say "yes" due to feeling guilty. This is one that gets me in as much trouble as eager to please. If you feel that you're trying to impress someone or avoid guilt, you definitely should say "no."

This week I'm going to work on limiting my engagements to include only things I know I can handle. What are you going to do?

Don't forget to join The Lurkdom and win prizes!

* Looks like someone hasn't been paying attention to her own advice.
_______ hit of the day: Haunted by Bella Morte

Monday, April 11, 2011

Space is Important

Welcome to a new week, Lurkdom! Unfortunately, I don't have a thought-out blog post in mind for today*. What this means for you is that I might just ramble stream-of-consciousness style**.

I've been thinking a lot about the different forms of writing space. Not just where I can park my butt, but the space in my brain and also on the page. Space may be the most important tool in the writing arsenal.

On the Page
Remember reading that dreadfully boring history text so jammed with paragraphs, you could barely jot a note in the margin? Weren't you always exhausted afterward? It's because there was no white space. Large areas of blank page trick our eyes into thinking we're reading less***.

Within a Project
Seasoned writers will agree: taking a step back from a recent WIP is a good thing. It gives you perspective on what you've done. Time apart also can help figure out that niggling plot point you couldn't quite nail.

Wall Space, Desk Space
I'm a fan of plastering paper on the wall to see how my story fits together and what needs to work****. When there are multiple subplots and other details, it's nice to spread it out and move things around. Also, what's better than a nice, clean desk? *glances at day job's workspace and cringes*

In the Brain
It's hard to manage coherent thought when life hammers at you all day. Bills, tasks, and other annoying non-writerly things eat into that special part of our brain that we leave specifically for all things writing. When this happens, it's more difficult to get into the groove. However, when there's nothing pressing, everything is awesome.

Right now space is working against me. My goal tonight is owning space.

How does space work in your daily life?

Also! We need 10 more followers to The Lurkdom. Join us and win prizes!

* You can or can't blame this on the conference scheduling coma I had most of the weekend.
** I feel like I should apologize for this in advance. Consider this the apology.
*** I guess we are since there are less words on each page, but overall is another story.
**** Unfortunately for me, bookshelves impede this process. 
__________ hit of the day: Euroshaman by Daniel Lioneye

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday Fives: Blah Blah Blah Hindsight

So the peeps at Paper Hangover changed it up. Now we're talking about five things. So think of this as a Four for Friday with a bonus.
  1. Take copious notes at every Gregoire function as they are great fodder for character traits.
  2. Embrace technology sooner. While long-handing will always be close to my heart, there are so many more things you can do with the computer.
  3. Realize that questioning your sanity is all part of the game. You're not the only one experiencing manic upswings or dark days of the pity party.
  4. Own stock in the mood stabilizer industry. Given how we can go from "Ohmigod, I have the best idea EVAH!" to a super-emo Eeyore in hours, owning stock this way would remove the need of the day job.
  5. My ass would get larger. The deeper I dive into a project, the more committed I am to the cause. This means I leave my desk/table/bed less and exercise falls to the wayside.
Don't forget to check out the other lists by heading over to Paper Hangover. Also, while you're at it, join The Lurkdom and win prizes!

What did you wish you knew before you started this journey?
_______ hit of the day: Tides of Change by Winds of Plague

Thursday, April 7, 2011

In Response to Zombie Sex-tacular-- Why Zombies? Why Not!

Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

Last week's topic was essentially zombie smut (if you're over 18, feel free to go back and read it here). One of the questions that seemed to emerge in the comments was, "how can you pull off zombie sex?" Our friends the zombies were of course compared to our friends the vampires. One reader mentioned vampires could be believable sexual objects because they can be humanized, but how could a zombie be written that way?

I thought this was an interesting point, but I think the answer is quite simple-- really, the same way any non-human character is humanized. Whether it is zombies, vampires, dogs, cats, or animated toasters... we humanize non-human characters all the time. Of course, sex isn't always thrown into the mix with stories, but that brings me to what I feel is an even more pertinent question-- it's not how can you use zombies, but how can you not use them?

When you think about it, when it comes to sex, or stories about sex with the sole intention of being hot to read or arousing (namely, smut), it doesn't really matter who the lead characters are. And not just sex stories, any type of romance. If we look at the increasing number of teenage vampire romances as an example, do the vampires even matter? Sure, it adds a supernatural spin, but otherwise, they are fairly simple stories that could occur without the vampires. Now, I haven't read any of the Twilight novels, nor have I seen the movies. But, clearly it is a huge fad right now. But why? Because of the vampires? From what I have heard, apparently abstinence is a big theme... and let's face it-- abstinent vampires? I think we can all laugh at the liberties taken with that particular mythos. The vampires seem irrelevant, and that all Susie Teenager really cares about is a love story where she can pretend she's the boring average girl who is caught in a love battle between two studs.

If you look at stories this way, zombies work so well, just like any other creature. They could easily be inserted into a romantic drama and be not only believable, but also entertaining. Love stories typically don't stray too far from a universal theme and formula. And that's why we love them so much! They're familiar, and deep down we typically know how they will end. The anthology I reviewed last week wasn't an example of great writing. But the point was the sex and the smut, so for a typical reader, the zombie guy may as well have been the living hunk down the street. Which is why I don't think a zombie sex anthology is a huge stretch (just wish the writing quality had been better.)

But a more clever approach, and one which I have talked about several times here, is the Generation Dead series. Well written teenage romance and drama, but with a unique twist by adding in zombies. Are the zombies essential to the universal themes in the story? No. The reader can relate because these are the types of relationships we all go through. But they certainly add an interesting twist, just as I'm sure the vampires add something of interest to the Twilight series. (Although for a really well written supernatural series, I recommend the Night World series by the Vampire Diaries author... the same author Stephanie Myers basically plagiarized from).

So, what do you writers and readers think? Is it hard to add supernatural elements into stories, be it vampires, werewolves, witches, or even zombies? Or is it easy to humanize all these unique beings because they already reflect what we see in ourselves as people? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Post that Ties Squirrels into Publishing

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

Today's question: Assuming we make it through the 2012 apocalypse, what do you imagine the publishing world will look like 100 years from now? 

Holy hand grenades! The Lurkdom grew overnight*. So hello to all who are new to The Lurkdom.

Today is all about the future and what I predict. Given that when I was 6, I envisioned that by the year 2025 we would be living it up like The Jetsons... yeah.

So 2111, by the miracle of science, I'll still be 29** and the world will be run under a dictatorship of squirrels. Because of their lack of reading skills***, the publishing world is in a state of chaos. The only good thing is that all reading material gets beamed directly to the brain.

Coincidentally out of this chaos, we will finally stage a coup against our squirrely overlords. Then Amazon and Apple will have an epic battle to the death. The victor will then rule us all.


And this is why I don't post pre-coffee.

Do you think Apple and Amazon will have a fight to the death in 2111?

* That means only 15 more people need to join before the Race to 150 closes. Tell your friends and if they say you referred them, you get an extra entry. 
** Which means  I'll still be lying about my age or I'll really be 29.
*** Though how they managed to become dictators without reading comprehension still baffles the world after 50 years. Clearly they must be the superior race if we haven't figured out a way to beat a bunch of illiterate rodents.
_________ hit of the day: Beezelboss by Tenacious D

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Task-Setting For Writers, Part III: Bargains and Compromises

Welcome to part three of task-setting for writers. You can read weeks one and two here.

There are some people out there that totally own the hand-off. My experience shows this happens with managers of some sort who drop the crap tasks on their underlings/interns. But your're not here to discuss my traumatic work history.

You're here because you want to know more about task-setting.

Part Three: Bargain and Compromise
This part should really be called asking for help when you need it.

I must admit, I'm having problems writing this post. While I can write a competent task list and do multi-task somewhat efficiently, I'm not good at this bargain and compromise thing. Since Wonder Woman was my idol as a kid, I like to think I can do everything**.

The key is to acknowledge you need help. It can be something as miniscule as picking up a book of stamps, but if you know someone nearby who goes to the post office every day***, why can't they pick them up for you? If they do that, it will save you some time to do something else like sort laundry.

Of course, I know that some people have issues with asking for help. So let's think of this as striking a bargain. Hubby and I do this a lot and it usually involves the litter box. Let's work with the litter box as an example****.
Alicia: The litter box needs to be cleaned, but I want to finish this scene.
Hubby gives a blank look.
Alicia: Could you clean out the box?
Hubby goes back to playing Call of Duty.
Alicia: If you do, I'll throw in a load of laundry once I finish this scene. *pauses* I know you're down to your last two pair of underwear.
Hubby cleans litter box.

In the above contrived example, I got Hubby to take care of the litter because he really needs socks for the rest of the week. Laundry is less time consuming than dealing with the drama of the box. (The White One loves to sit in the box while you try to fill it with clean litter.)

Your turn: Go take a look at your task list. Once you've checked off everything you've already done*, what can you give to someone else?

* Like becoming one with The Lurkdom and entering the Race to 150 Contest.
** And in my fantasy world, I can. Including slam dunks.
*** You must know my mom.
**** The conversation as follows is NOT how it goes at Chez Gregoire.
______ hit of the day: Columba Aspexit by This Ascension

Monday, April 4, 2011

Need Query Letter Help?

In case you were wondering about Friday's post, the aliens versus paratroopers never happened*. My high school didn't excel in the "kick ass pranks" department. As it was, my graduating class thought parking someone's Jeep Cherokee on the walkway to the front of the school was clever**.

But it's a new week and that means back to business. Since the 99th Page Blogfest was such a hit, Erinn, Holly, Pam, Quita, and I are joining forces again this time to bring you the query letter blogfest.

Oh god, WHY?
Because we like each other and query letters (like cover letters) are spawns of the devil***. Oh and, it's like the most important marketing tool in your writer arsenal. First impressions mean something for a reason.

Fine. What do I have to do?
You can sign up at the bottom of this post. Once the day comes, there are only two rules: post your query letter and visit at least 5 other bloggers and critique their queries.

This isn't for the faint of heart. The only way we can get better is if we get feedback.

Uh... I just finished my first novel and have NO CLUE what to do.
No problem. Check out some articles:

And since I like working in threes, I'll stop there. But seriously, there are tons of places online that explain how to write a query letter. (You can also check out Query Shark, which I definitely suggest.)

And if you're new to the blog, please become a follower and enter the Race to 150 contest!

*Though it would've been ten thousand kinds of awesome if it did.
** To be fair, they also surrounded the car with traffic cones.
*** Disclaimer: The Pie's views on query letters do not represent all parties involved. As you know, The Pie has a mind of it's own.

____ hit of the day: Dead to Me by The Dreaming

Friday, April 1, 2011

Four For Friday

Today's the day where my gullibility gets attacked yearly. Because of that (and the fact I have some conference memos to draw up), I figured it would be good to celebrate by sharing some pranks.

Four For Friday: April First Edition

1. Paper Fish. According to my 9th grade French teacher, the French like to stick cutouts of fish on each other today. That this was an actual lesson is horrific*.

2. Aliens V. Paratroopers. When I was a junior, the senior class of my high school decided to stage a battle in the cafeteria that waged on through the final bell of the day.

3. Engagement. A now former friend decided to tell everyone that she was engaged. To a coworker and not her then-boyfriend. She let this go on for about 8 hours.

4. Gift Certificates. Definitely not an April Fool's Day thing, but still a prank. For my 25th birthday, a horde of people gave me a $5 gift certificate to Bickford's each. This is due to the fact that this is what my parents gave me for the same birthday.

One of these is a fake. Which is it?

Also, if you haven't you really should become a follower of The Pie and enter our contest. (Which might become more awesome shortly.)

Your turn: what's the worst prank you've been a part of?

* That I haven't retained any French fluency is also not a shock.
_______ hit of the day: Move It by Dope
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