Thursday, October 28, 2010


This is Hatshepsut peeking out from behind the blue blanket. It was vet day for her and for Cuillean. Time for that once yearly event wherein I insist they allow a stranger to look at them, listen to their lungs and hearts, and maybe even draw a bit of blood. Big Drama, and, listening to their howls of protest, Big Trauma. When it was all over, though, not much had happened to either girl. I know there's no reason to fear a stethoscope - but try telling that to a feline yanked from her territory and transported to a strange location where some guy she doesn't know is pressing a cold bit of metal and plastic to her ribs. We'd stepped firmly outside the feline comfort zone. The worst part all morning was that the vet suggested both girls could use a diet.
Sigh. Couldn't we all?

It occurred to me as I chuckled at my girls' histronics that maybe I shouldn't's fast coming up on NaNoWriMo - National November Write a Book in a Month kickoff. A number of my fellow writers are girding their pens and computers to take part this year. I did NaNoWriMo once. It scared me silly. See? Now you're laughing at me. What was so inherently frightening about writing 2k words a day? I'd never done it. It was outside my comfort zone and I seem to recall indulging in a fit of Big Drama of my own. Fast forward two years to being on deadline – something else I’d never done – ask my beloved husband about my sang-froid. I was calm, composed…you aren’t buying this are you? Okay. I was a total, psychotic nutcase. My family took to speaking slowly, in low, soothing tones whenever I looked up from the keyboard. Sort of like the tone of voice I’d used in the car to quiet wailing felines.

And yet, after a few years of acting school, and lots of years of writing stories, I’ve discovered that I feel most alive when I’m outside my comfort zone. I might be quaking in my tennis shoes. I may have adrenaline burning a hole in my chest from the inside out, but I’m awake and alive. I don’t advocate leaping out of your comfort zone and straight into danger. I don’t recommend becoming an adrenaline junkie. But inching your toe out of your safety zone once in a blue moon clears out the cobwebs. Try writing something that scares you (for me it was a torture scene). You don’t have to share it with anyone, but see if, once you’ve done it and the relief eases, whether you don’t feel just a little bit exhilarated.

The cats? They were exhilarated to be home and let out of their carriers so they could run off and commence snubbing me for betraying their trust.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Yes, the ubiquitous fall foliage shot. It's thematically correct. Really.

A friend, Jeffe Kennedy, updates her blog every single weekday. You'll notice I don't. We were chatting yesterday about a group blog we've both signed on for - the Word Whores. There are seven of us. We’ll each have a day of the week to post our musings. The group came up with a list of 52 topics for the year that we would each write to. Yeah, there's a story here regarding how all of this came about, but it's not mine to tell...this is Allison Pang's (as opposed to Frankenstein's) monster. That and I suspect the story of how the Word Whores got started will be part of our 1/1/11 kick off of the blogsite. More on that as events warrant.

Back to my envy of Jeffe's disciplined blog posting schedule. I'd made some comment that I'd get started writing my blog posts in advance so they could be scheduled to post automatically. That way, my chances of missing a posting were lower. Jeffe seemed surprised by that - she was just going to blog on her scheduled days as they happened and wasn't I disciplined to write my posts ahead of time.

I quickly disabused her of that notion, pointing to my sporadic updates of my own blog. I so envy people who seem to be able to arrange their lives in such a way that they can sit down every single day and actually pull words from their heads. My life defies that sort of thing. As soon as I say “Henceforth, I shall rise at this hour, sit my butt down in my office chair, and WRITE”, life replies “Oh yeah?” and throws some crisis into my path that requires I be someplace else at precisely the time I’d fenced off for work. Jeffe gently pointed out that if I wanted to be one of ‘those’ people who could sit down at a specific time each day to write, I had to be willing to disappoint my friends and loved ones by saying no some of the time. I had to get to a point, she suggested, wherein I could say I can’t do x – this is a work day for me. “It seems like some people just don’t consider writing serious work,” Jeffe noted.

Oh. Including me, apparently. If I took my own work and time seriously, I’d guard it. I began seeing how I’d created (and how I continue to contribute) to the problem. Okay. Issue identified. Now. To change…

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Selection Pressure

If you required any further proof that I'm a hopeless geek (see previous post on the matter), I bring you the IM conversation I had on Tuesday with Jeffe Kennedy and KAK.

Me: You know. I never see anything about zombie dietary preferences. Do they like the brains of smart people better than the brains of less intelligent folk? Or are less intellectual brains sweeter because there's not so much stuff in there? And then, what sort of selection pressure would zombie predation put on homo sapiens? Would it select for intellect one way or the other?
kak: think the plaque build up on diseased brains makes 'em like rice-candy?
Me: LOL! EW!!! Crunchy!
Jeffe: I think plaque would be more chewy, actually
kak: hmm, chew toys for zombies
Me: Brain flavored nougat?
Jeffe Kennedy: and the glia has a decidedly different texture, where they're usually more like oatmeal, when alive. or jelly
Me: So if it maintains any shape outside the skull, it's gone bad?
kak: twizzlers, now in Brain flavor!
me: Assuming disease = bad
Jeffe: pretty much the brain only retains shape outside the skull if you've preserved it first. formalin for the win! so we always perfused and preserved brains before removing them #morethanyouwantedtoknow
Me: So that makes the whole notion of zombies as mindless sort of not work. They'd have to know that in order to get a meal of brains, they'd have to preserve the skull. Otherwise, they're scraping gray matter off available surfaces.

No. I don't remember how we got on this topic when ostensibly we were critiquing the first chapter of my third book. I wonder if that bodes ill for that book? I don't even particularly care for zombie movies, though if the World War Z movie is made and is half as good as the audiobook was, I'll be right there. Yes, okay. I'll confess a fondness for the first Resident Evil movie, but I'll maintain that's an infatuation with the soundtrack (and the "You're all going to die down here" Red Queen) as opposed to the whole zombie trope. I appreciate the social commentary that zombie stories represent. Regardless, it had never occurred to me that I might end up writing a zombie story. But I find the moment once I start asking questions that intrigue me, questions like 'what sort of selection pressure would zombie predation place on the human race' I'm doomed. I have to write about it. I have to play with the idea on paper. Or in pixals as the case may be. So how about it? Do you suppose zombies hunger indiscriminately for brains? Or are they capable of detecting and appreciating the nuances of texture and flavor that accummulated knowledge might represent and then hunting specifically for the brain type they crave? How does that impact the few human survivors and the dwindling generations that follow them? Don't be shy. This is for pseudo-science!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Terminal Geek

It is my assertion that geeks are born, not made. Yes. This is me at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and proves my point. I'd always hoped and prayed that I'd grow out of being a geek. Mom assured me it was a phase. This photo proves otherwise. In it, I'm clearly well into adulthood and clearly still a complete geek. I'm not certain what gives that away - the superhero glacier glasses, the Big Cat Rescue tee shirt, or my obvious delight at having just seen the crawler that carried the space shuttle to the launch pad.

Whichever, it's plain I won't outgrow the geek thing.

I posit that there's this geek continuum. Everyone has a measure of geekiness within, but once the measure passes a certain point, those of us affected are doomed to lives of social awkwardness compounded by a damning sense of fashion and a fascination with arcane (and typically useless) bits of information. This is why I write books. The truly odd collection of data stored in my head actually comes in handy. Attempting to use that same data at a party is a guaranteed conversation killer. I've also observed that everyone else at said party has the disturbing tendancy to sidle away whilst throwing me sidelong looks. Maybe I should stop watching all the forensics shows?

In an attempt to throw off my geek shackles, I even went to acting school. I'd learned not to talk serial killers at supper. Point for me. I flattered myself that I'd done a great job of pretending to be a normal person - maybe not hip, maybe not entirely cosmopolitan - but reasonably normal. I'd discovered that black jeans, a nice black turtle neck and a sedate jacket of some kind had a chance of making me look much less like a fashion victim. It's what I wore to the recent Emerald City Romance Writer's Conference. I'd even put on makeup. I looked respectable, I thought. Respectable and normal.

I was so pleased with myself for pulling off the disguise. Then, my lovely and hard-working agent, Emmanuelle Morgen mentioned she'd like to see Steampunk proposals. I might have said I had two chapters of just such an animal, did she want to see it? "Oh, yes!" she replied, her face lighting. "You're just the nerd to do Steampunk!"

Born a geek - die a geek. Might as well embrace it. But I swear I won't talk serial killers at the dinner table unless you ask. But I will tell you about the Lego blaster still in my possession.