Thursday, December 29, 2011

Zombie Mimes!

It's Christmas week, so instead of boring you with a blog, I'm posting one of my favorite scenes from my manuscript, Neeta Lyffe 2: I Left My Brains in San Francisco.

"Hi! Welcome to Zomblog!  It's Time to Re-kill!  This is Kelsey Gardenberger, and behind the camera is Ron Potter, and we are reporting to you live from Fisherman's Warf, where zombie exterminators Rii and Hi Lee of Bay Exterminations have been called in to take out a zombie."
Kelsey stepped to the side, and Ron panned the scene.  Police held back spectators who had cell phones to film the event, but she noted that the actual news crews had not arrived yet.  What luck that they'd been interviewing Rii and Hi when they got the call!  On the ground lay a man in a black and white striped shirt and black pants with suspenders and gold make-up on his rotting skin.  He pounded on the air with imaginary fists, then felt along imaginary walls with his hands.  Where he should have had fingers, only mangled skin and bare bones showed. Rii and Hi, both in protective gear, watched the prone figure and spoke among themselves.  The zombie continued his act unconcerned, except to pause now and again and make drinking motions, then point to the top hat waiting beside him.
Ron panned back to Kelsey.
"So as you can see, our zombie is actually quite docile.  Many times, the undead come back and try to establish the routines they had when living.  In this case, the undead--the 'Wasted Mime'--has been doing the same routine, literally, for twenty years in exchange for beer money.  He apparently disappeared a couple of days ago, and came back to resume the routine you see now.  We've been told that all morning, he's acted out his burial and clawing himself out of his coffin--and apparently making some good tips!  Someone finally noticed something was amiss when he dusted off his hands and part of his palms fell off."
Ron pointed at the scene.
"Okay!" Kelsey said.  "It looks like Rii Lee and Hi Lee have decided on their strategy.  Despite the fact that the zombie appears so docile, it could turn violent at the slightest provocation--and if you don't believe me, check out 'Don't wave that thing at me!' on the Zomblog archives."
Rii, head to toe in a red rubber HazMat suit and motorcycle helmet with flames and their company logo, yelled for the police to push the people back further.  The crowd, of course, hustled to get a better view.   As the police struggled to push them away, Rii turned their back on them and took his position.
Kelsey growled in sympathy.  "Hey, people watching this?  When an exterminator tells you back up, for pity's sake give them room!  Even if the undead don't come running at you--and anyone who watches this blog knows zombies can run!--there's always the danger of splatter.  Fortunately, the Lees have a lot of experience exterminating before a crowd.  Oh, and if you're wondering where we are…"
Ron angled his DoDroid so watchers could see they were perched on top of the Bay Exterminations Van.
"Ron!  They're starting!"
Ron focused on the Lees.
While Rii stood by with a power blaster of anti-zombie foam, Hi ambled up to the prone zombie, sword relaxed but ready at in his left hand.  He watched the undead mime struggle against the imaginary coffin, nodded appreciatively, and tossed a twenty into the hat.  Immediately, the Wasted Mime started clawing with fervor, dug himself up, and brushed himself off.
Now some of the crowd in the front stepped back, but those behind them did not budge.
It picked up the hat, checked the money.
The crowd took in a breath.
It faced Hi.
Hi made a polite little bow.
The crowd gasped.  Cameras flashed.
The zombie bowed back, deeply and theatrically.
Hi lashed out with his sword, its blade cutting deeply and theatrically into the zombie's neck.
The re-killed corpse folded over.
The crowd broke into wild cheers.
Kelsey smiled big for the camera.  "And there you have it!  Looks like a mime isn't such a terrible thing to waste after all.  I'm Kelsey Gardenberger and we just had Time to Re-kill on the Zomblog."

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Moonless darkness stands between.
Past, the Past, no more be seen!
But the Bethlehem star may lead me
To the sight of Him Who freed me
From the self that I have been.
Make me pure, Lord: Thou art Holy;
Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;
Now beginning, and always,
Now begin, on Christmas day.

(By Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1844-1889.)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Woo-hoo! Neeta 2 is done!

On Tuesday, I put the finishing touches on Neeta Lyffe 2: I Left My Brains in San Francisco, and sent it off to writer friends for critique.

For the rest of the year, I intend to catch up on some stuff, figure out my schedule and tasks for at least 2 months, watch movies, enjoy my kids, read books and goof off.  (And if Penny sends the copy edits ofr Live and Let Fly, I'll do that, too.)  In January, I'll hit the keyboard again to finish The Old Man in the Void.

Sometimes, I must admit that I like having written even more than writing itself.  I get random sparks of happy for days just thinking that I've accomplished another novel and that I enjoy the story, too.   I know some writers get a kind of doldrums once the writing process is over, but for me, it a chance to rev up for the next dream.
Rapunzel: What if it's not everything I dreamed it would be?
Flynn Rider: It will be.
Rapunzel: And what if it is? What do I do then?
Flynn Rider: Well,that's the good part I guess. You get to go find a new dream.

How about you? If you're a writer, how do you feel after you put the last words in the file and know it's time to send it off?  If you're not a writer, how do you feel after finishing a big project?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Review: Firedancer by S. A. Bolich

Government Noseys:  Bought this one.  Worth more than 99 cents.

Synopsis From the website:  Jetta ak'Kal, once the most talented Firedancer in all the clans, is haunted by the memory of a failure that took the life of her beloved. Asked to protect a village that has never known fire, she must battle both their prejudices and her growing certainty that her enemy—the Ancient, the living, elemental fire—has learned to think. And the Dance that controls it is failing...

Review:  I got to hear Sue Bolich read a portion of this book at WorldCon and loved her vivid descriptions of her dancer.  In fact, Sue talked to me about it for my blog (See below if you missed it the first time.) I found the book itself lived up to the promise of the first few pages I'd heard:  rich in description, with great excitement and deep feeling.  The story was well thought out, and I loved the characters.  One thing I really appreciated was that while the characters had amazing abilities, they weren't superhuman.  They had limits, felt pain, were injured--and didn't incredibly recover the same day or perform amazing feats with the effortlessness of their pre-injured bodies.  The romances were natural and believable.  The worldbuilding is amazing, too.  I'll be asking Sue about using bits of her book as examples in my worldbuilding classes!  Overall, just a wonderful book, definitely worth getting.  I'd especially recommend it for ladies in their teens and up, and for anyone who is a dancer.

Purchase on Amazon for Kindle


Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Novel's Journey: Neeta Lyffe 2 First Draft Done

What do you get when you combine a husband away for business, a furnace that won't work, and a story that gets a hold of you?  I got the conclusion of Neeta Lyffe 2; I Left My Brains in San Francisco!

Last week, Rob had to go to St. Louis for some meetings, and my car was in the shop, and then the furnace broke, so it was the perfect time to curl up under covers with my laptop to give me heat and just write.  I averaged 4000 words a day until I got to the end.  Woo-hoo!  I think I also have found my upper limit: 5000 words.  After that, my typing speed is holding me back, as is my ability to imagine and write at the same time.

However, just because I got to the end of the story, does not mean the manuscript is ready to go.  This one has had an interrupted history as I waited for information from sources in the oil refinery industry.  Also, when it came down to the end, some great new tweaks (and characters) introduced themselves, so my work has been to go back and weave in elements so that the first half and last half mesh better.

to do that, I printed out the manuscript, and am outlining it, trying to get a feel again for the flow of the story and the placement of the elements, and where I can naturally add sideplots.  Once I've finished, I think I may have to do this again, this time making columns for each plot to ensure that they are progressing at a proper pace.  Once again, I have a story where one character carries the main storyline, but the supporting stories are handled by a multitude of others. 

This has been a lot of fun, as I can introduce some of the quirky elements that I loved in Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator.  We won't have forums this time, but we will have a Tweet analog, called Babble. I also added some more zombie sightings in San Francisco, which I was able to do with the suggestions of folks on Facebook.

Hopefully, by next week, I can announce that I'm sending it to critiquers and beta readers.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Review: The Twelve by James Burk

Dear Government Noseys: I met James at WorldCon, and we did a book exchange, which is how I got this.  I'm glad I did because I enjoyed it!

Synopsis from the website:  Valtierra, a city-state, is governed by archetypes. Every two years they choose twelve men and women to wear the masks and to become the Wise Old Man, the Fool, the Mother, the Harlot, the Warrior, and the rest of the council. But now Valtierra faces hunger, decay, and an enemy on their border and, when the need for leadership is greatest, one mask is worn by a foreigner and one mask hides a traitor.

Mini-review:  This book is one of a kind.  Burk takes a seldom used approach to story telling, one that could easily have flopped but in this case made for fascinating reading.  Each chapter is told from the point of view of one of the twelve council members.   What you get is a wonderful tapestry of attitudes and impressions that still allow the story to progress without confusion.  While the book has adventure, it's really about people--their relationships and their duties to themselves and to the masks that represent a portion of Valtierra's population.  As a former military officer and wife to an officer who has been a commander, I liked Warrior Alton's command style and logical thinking.  If I must give a downside, it would be that sometimes the characterization repeated itself, so that I at times skimmed paragraphs where the Old Man is again thinking about what the Fool is like, etc.  However, they were not so distracting, and others might appreciate them.  Overall, I would recommend to anyone who enjoys medieval style fantasy, political machinations, or a truly unique read.

Read and Excerpt or Purchase at

Purchase from Amazon:  Kindle or Print

Thursday, December 08, 2011

My Novel's Journey: Neeta Lyffe 2 Gets new Life

This is my sister, Gina, modeling as Neeta.  How cool is that?
I had a rough time in the past week trying to get back into writing Neeta Lyffe II:  I Left My Brains in San Francisco.  The information I got from my contact at the oil refinery helped while confusing me at the same time.  I just didn't know how to get it all coordinated.  I also found that I needed to have more scenes earlier to set things up.  Finally, I was a little disgusted with the last couple of scenes I'd written at the end.  They were good scenes, but I didn't like Neeta taking charge of coordination when she really needed to be chopping zombie heads.

Here's the thing about us authors--sometimes, we really really hate discarding something we worked hard on.  But when we finally gut ourselves up to it, we can move on to write something even better.

The oil refinery analogy worked only up to a point, but they're making fuel out of manure in Neeta 2, so some stuff didn't work.  Rather than trying to shoehorn my refinery to an existing model, I needed to let go of it.  Then, of course, the perfect model presented itself--Digestion!  it will no longer be the more accurate refinery processes I'd been aiming at and had done hours of research on, but it's going to be a lot more fun--and this is humor, after all.

As I started putting in the scenes, which is really a medly of actions with several characters rather than a straight-line progression with Neeta, I realized that the scene I was sticking on wasn't going to work.  The old scene had an inexperienced zombie exterminator manager with a doctorate thesis trying to force his ideas for large scale zombie infestation on a situation that didn't fit.  Neeta was having to put him down and take over in order to save lives.  It was a good scene and I wanted her to have a situation where she asserted herself, but it made her coordinator instead of exterminator.  And why do we read about Neeta?  Because she kicks zombie butt.  I finally axed the scenes--about 2000 words--but once I did, other more natural situations showed up for her to regain her confidence.  As a bonus, Doctor Storm Matterston still got to be an admin weenie, only a slightly more successful one--and he even got to flirt with someone.  He's a happier character, now.

I'm building steam, and think I can finish this beast by the end of the year, which is my goal.  However, if I'd insisted on clinging to past work, research and ideas, I think I would have spent the week banging my head against the wall. 

So, if something you're doing isn't working, instead of trying to power through it, back up and try it from a new angle, even if it means tossing out a great idea, disregarding research or killing off a character.  You may find that something even better rises from the ruins.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Got an Excuse for not Writing? No More!

While I was at WorldCon, I got the meet Howard Taylor, whose comic, Schlock Mercenary, was nominated for a Hugo.  We got to talking and he mentioned his podcast, Writing Excuses.  As a testimony to how great this podcast is, someone at his booth insisted on telling me about it.  Now, I present it to you:

Book tour: Italian for Tourists by Jo Linsdell

I've known Jo for many years, but I wish I'd known her when I actually lived in Italy.  I think I'd have adored her book, Italian for Tourists.  She's touring it this month, and sent me this great Q&A.  If you know someone who might get stationed in Europe or is going as a graduation present, (Wish I could!) then this is a great gift!

You're currently on tour promoting your book Italian for Tourists. Tell us a bit about the book.
Italian For Tourists: Pocket Edition is a basic guide to the Italian language covering phrases and words most needed by tourists. It includes all the words and phrases a tourist is likely to need during their stay in Italy as well as a pronunciation guide and a map of Italy.

The phrasebook is divided into 17 chapters including; Emergency, The basics, Common expressions, Learning Italian, Greetings and introducing yourself, Transport, Hotel, Sightseeing, Asking and giving directions, Food and drink, Health, Shopping, Offices and bureaucracy and Signs and notices and more.

I came to Italy from the UK in June 2001 and now live in Rome working as a freelance writer. I wrote the book drawing on my own experience. A tourist doesn’t need to know everything about Italian grammar or the in’s and out’s of buying an apartment. They want to have an easy to use reference book of the language they will need to use and understand during their stay.

Italian for Tourists is a project that has grown over time. How so?

When I first came to Rome I worked as a receptionist in a hostel near the Vatican and would often help by giving tourist information and language tips to people staying at the hostel. So many people told me I should write a book about it that I decided I would.

It started out as a simple ebook but I got loads of requests for a print version which lead to the paper version. Response was great and so I decided to relaunch in print as a pocket edition in 2009 giving the book a much more professional look. Again feedback and sales were great.

With an increasing number of people moving over the the digital publishing world, I started getting requests to make the book available in more formats and so this year I added Kindle and Nook editions too.

Italian for Tourists is my baby. It has grown with me from the very beginning of my writing career and much to my satisfaction, on public demand. I'm very proud of the whole project.

Tell us a bit about the homeschoolers kit you made to go with it.

Everyone likes something for free. I decided to plug into this idea and create a simple exercise book that is available for free download from my website It contains questions to test your knowledge of the Italian language and all answers can be found in the book Italian for Tourists.

I called it the homeschoolers kit because it's perfect as extra lesson material for those who study at home or as a skills test for those trying to pick up some words and phrases before their holiday. Given it's simple and easy to use nature, it works well for all age groups.

Where can people purchase a copy of your book?

Italian for Tourists is now available from most online bookstores including Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Waterstones. You can get a copy from my storefront at Lulu too or visit the ibookstore on itunes.

Book Blurb:

Italian For Tourists: Pocket Edition is a basic guide to the Italian language covering phrases and words most needed by tourists. It includes all the words and phrases a tourist is likely to need during their stay in Italy as well as a pronunciation guide and a map of Italy.

The phrasebook is divided into 17 chapters including; Emergency, The basics, Common expressions, Learning Italian, Greetings and introducing yourself, Transport, Hotel, Sightseeing, Asking and giving directions, Food and drink, Health, Shopping, Offices and bureaucracy and Signs and notices and more.

Jo Linsdell came to Italy from the UK in June 2001 and now lives in Rome working as a freelance writer. She wrote the book drawing on her own experience. She explains “A tourist doesn’t need to know everything about Italian grammar or the in’s and out’s of buying an apartment. They want to have an easy to use reference book of the language they will need to use and understand during their stay”.

Purchasing Links:

Promotional Video:

Authors Website: