Friday, December 31, 2010

Update for the week: I have been working, but not on my nonfiction like I wanted to. I was asked to do another project, but I'm not going to tell you what it's about right now. I don't want to jinx it.

I decided to post one of my favorite stories for your reading pleasure. I hope you enjoy!

The Soul Collector

Rain waited in line to receive her assignment. The smell of sulfur tickled her nose, and volcanic rock crunched under her talons. To her left lay a vast sea of molten lava, and to her right was another line, which was filled with the souls of the newly dead on their way to torment. Rain didn’t pay too much attention to them. She raised her arms up and extended her wings over her head. The middle joint on her right wing popped, followed by the grinding of cartilage, and Rain winced in pain. She hated when she slept on her wings wrong; it always put her in a foul mood. She snarled as she was handed a scroll, and with a quick flap of her wings, she leapt into the air.

She made her way across the desert to the maximum security fortress that was surrounded on all sides by the rolling sands of nothing. There was one road that approached from the south and connected with a highway 50 miles away. Rain perched on top of a guard tower and stared down at the men in the exercise yard. Most of them were trying to protect themselves from the dry dust-filled wind that constantly blew across the landscape. They huddled in packs and pushed their shoulders up to shield their faces. Their gazes were directed toward the ground, although most of them wouldn’t have been able to see her if they had looked up.

She glanced around the complex and noticed a two story building set apart from the others and surrounded by another set of gates topped with razor wire. She pushed off from the rooftop and made her way toward Death Row. Rain entered through the bars on the window and made her way across the ceiling to the hall and turned to face the cells. A soul that was ready to be collected shone with a blue hue that could be seen from miles away and through walls. She found her target and headed to her right.

The man was sitting on the edge of his bed with his elbows resting on his knees, fingers entwined, head bent low. She poked her head through the bars and growled when she sensed another presence. She glanced at the window and noticed and angel sitting on the edge. She flipped onto the floor, and threw her shoulders back as she folded her wings. Rain threaded her arms through the bars and clasped her fingers together.

“Jeremiah,” she hissed, “I didn’t expect to see you.”

The angel nodded his head, causing his brown curls to bounce onto his forehead.
Rain was used to working with angels; it was part of the job description. Each one was there to collect a soul, and it generally wasn’t until right before death that they knew who would get it.

“You really shouldn’t be here.” She lifted her right arm and twisted her wrist in the air and pulled it down about six inches. Where there had been nothing before, a scroll now appeared, and she pointed the end toward Jeremiah. “We have the necessary paperwork. This one is ours.”

Jeremiah’s lips curled into a smile and his dark eyes twinkled. He readjusted himself on the windowsill and pulled his legs under him so he was sitting cross legged. “The decree of the council is not always final. God still has the opportunity to pardon His servants at will.”

The anger began as a tingling in Rain’s chest that spread out first to her arms, then to the rest of her extremities. She snapped and the scroll disappeared. Pushing her way through the bars, she made her way across the room and scaled the wall so she was face to face with the angel.

“We had a deal!” she snarled.

Unaffected, Jeremiah shrugged. “God has rescinded His judgment. He has the priority, you know. He felt that is wasn’t our responsibility to decide the fate of the mortal’s soul. He thought it best to leave it up to the man.” He placed a hand on her shoulder and lowered his voice. “There is the possibility that he could be going with you.”

Rain pulled her lips back so her pointed white teeth were exposed. She dug her claws deeper into the cement wall to keep herself from swiping out and spilling the angel’s intestines. Every muscle in her body ached to tear Jeremiah apart, and her stomach growled for the fresh meat, but it was against the rules. Both sides were entitled equally to the soul, and any show of aggression on the collector’s part would result in an all out war, and neither side had the army to engage in such a campaign, especially Hell.

She hissed again and flung herself out the window.

Cursing and spitting, she hovered in the air. She saw movement out of the corner of her eye and took off toward it. For a brief second, she hovered over the coyote before diving and digging her claws into its fur. The creature yelped in pain, and Rain didn’t stop until it was nothing but a few chunks of fur and flesh. With the back of her hand, she wiped the blood from her lips, and then made her way back to the prison.

She found the men in the mess hall, quietly eating dinner. She found a perch in the corner of the room and took in the scene. One man, about fifty yards to her right, was looking directly at her, his fork frozen in the air in front of his mouth. The other man sitting at the table with him bumped him with an elbow and asked him what was wrong. Pulled back into reality, the first man stared at him blankly for a moment before telling him nothing. He glanced back at Rain for a brief second, then lowered his head and finished his meal.

Rain pulled her lips back into a smile. She was always surprised by the people who were able to see her. Sometimes it was a child, sometimes a priest. She had even been sensed by a blind man. It didn’t seem to matter that the individual be deeply religious or atheist. No one knew why some humans were sensitive and others weren’t, and it wasn’t like the angels and demons were spending the time to figure it out. Rain thoroughly enjoyed when a human could see her; it was one of the few pleasures she endured.

As the man left the dining hall, Rain made it a point to follow him. He went back to his cell and sat on the bottom bunk. She flapped into the corner and stared down at him. She guessed that he was somewhere in his mid-fifties. His hair was white and lines creased the corners of his eyes. He avoided eye contact with her, and rubbed his hands together, which shh-shhed like sandpaper. She made her way down the wall so she was directly in front of him, and noticed that he had tattoos of Celtic crosses on his neck and the number 26229 stitched over his right breast. Rain could tell that he was sweating, and he glanced at her briefly out of the corner of his eye. Prisoner 26229 attempted to get up from the bed, but she placed her arm in front of him, trapping him in the small room. He shifted from one foot to the other and wiped his hands on his pants.

“Are you going to kill me?” he whispered.

Rain smiled again. “No. That’s not my job.”

“What do you want from me?”

“A moment of your time.”

Prisoner 26229 sat back down on the bed and glanced nervously from the open door to the floor. Rain positioned herself so she was crouching in front of him.

“What are you?” He brought up the courage to look her in the eyes for a brief second.

“I am a soul collector.”

He stopped rubbing his hands together and sucked in a breath. “Are you here for Devin?”

Rain nodded.

Prisoner 26229 slapped his thigh and shook his head. “I knew it. I knew that f*cker was going to Hell. He may have found faith and been preaching the word to other inmates, but that don’t change a person’s soul.”

Rain felt the anger well up inside her again, and she dug her claws in her fist to keep from lashing out. “There is no guarantee that he is going to Hell.”

The man pushed his eyebrows together and met her gaze. “What do you mean? The bastard tortured and murdered eleven people. He doesn’t deserve Heaven.”

Rain pushed herself up and buried the claws of her feet into the wall. “I agree with you one hundred percent. But it’s not that easy. Because of God’s loophole with repentance and salvation, a lot of undeserving souls go to Heaven.”

Prisoner 26229 gritted his teeth and grasped the side of the bed. Rain watched his knuckles turn white and his face turn red. “That piece of sh*t, after all the horrible things he has done in his life, may get to go to Heaven because he repents his sins?”

She folded her arms across her chest. “It’s not that easy, either. Souls that find salvation on their death beds do not automatically make it to Heaven, they go through what you humans have termed Purgatory. There, they must pass certain tests that prove they truly believe in God, and if they don’t, they go to Hell.”

The man let go of the side of the bed and placed his elbows on his knees. He leaned forward slightly. “What kind of tests?”

Rain shrugged. “It depends on the sin. For someone like Devin, he would become a guardian angel.”

Prisoner 26229 frowned. “What would that prove?”

“That he can do something kind for humanity.”

A silence passed between the two, and Rain found herself thinking about Devin. It wasn’t fair that he should be able to save his soul, especially after raping, torturing, and murdering eleven women. Rain had been a soul collector for over forty years, a relatively short time in the scheme of creation, but in that time she had taken many souls. She had lost quite a few, also. Losing the minor souls didn’t bother her much—those who had committed adultery, were greedy, or committed suicide—because they weren’t hurting anyone but themselves. But she couldn’t abide losing a murderer. Individuals who had to murder during times of war or to protect themselves, Rain could be a little more lenient with; she understood that certain circumstances required certain reactions. But those who did for the sheer pleasure or in the heat of passion, they deserved to rot in Hell.

Rain had been a nineteen year old optimist in the summer of 1962, and had just started her sophomore year of community college. One night, while walking back to the dorms from a night class, she was brutally attacked and murdered by a drifter making his way through town. She had been an atheist at the time, so her soul was sent into limbo. Her task to get into Heaven was to create miracles, such as bleeding statues, weeping pictures, and other phenomena, but Rain couldn’t do it. The only thing she could think about was getting revenge.

She left her post in Italy and made her way back to the States where she haunted the man who had killed her for several years before he finally killed himself. She relished every moment of it, too. Since she was a ghost, she never needed sleep, and she made sure he never had a moment of peace. He believed that he was doing God’s work by ridding the world of females who challenged the patriarchal system, and he would stalk a victim for a few days before eventually slitting their throats. Since he already believed he was hearing voices in his head, Rain made sure she gave him a conflicting message. And the bangs and bumps of what she believed was a normal haunting set him more on edge. He still killed a couple of girls under her watch, but with persistence, she finally drove him to the breaking point, and he took his knife to his own throat.

She watched and waited for the soul collectors to arrive, then dispatched of them before they could take his soul. She carried it herself into the pits of Hell. Many of the higher level demons were so impressed with her passion and desire for revenge, she was given the position of the collector she had murdered. Angels in Heaven threw a fit and demanded that she be locked up for what she had done to their collector, but since she wasn’t an agent for Hell at the time, they really couldn’t touch her. The only thing they could do was ban her from Heaven for eternity.

Rain knew that by becoming a soul collector there were certain rules she would have to obey. The first of which was that she couldn’t kill an agent of Heaven. Rain was willing to follow all the laws that had been placed between the two factions, as long as it meant she could send as many murderers to Hell as possible.

“You’re nothing like what I expected you to be.” The man’s voice brought her back to her present situation.

“What did you expect?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. Something more evil I guess.” He held up his hands and flinched, although Rain never moved. “I mean, not that you’re not scary. Your voice is like a chainsaw murdering an eagle.” He shivered. “And those claws. Fuck, I don’t want them tearing into me. But all in all, you remind me of a Ray Harryhausen creature.”

It wasn’t the first time Rain had been compared to Mr. Harryhausen’s creatures; several other people had made the same comparison. After the fourth time, she decided she was going to find out what they were talking about, and discovered the reference from one of his Sinbad movies. The creatures had been referred to as Furies, but they were nothing more than Tormentors. They kept the tormented from enjoying the wonderful foods that had been set at a table. Rain was shocked at the resemblance. Like her, their scaly skin was blackish purple and their black eyes faded into their sockets. Their horns were only a couple of inches long, and although they had breasts, there were no other sexual organs. The only conclusion Rain could come to was that Mr. Harryhausen could see demons.

Rain pulled her feet out of the wall and positioned herself so her face was inches from his. “Would you like me to be more evil?”

The man visibly began to sweat, and he leaned away, shaking his head with small jerky movements. “That’s not what I meant.” He whispered. “I just didn’t think a demon would spend the time talking to a human. Or show itself in true form.”

Rain shrugged and backed against the wall, folding her arms across her chest. “Even we get a little lonely now and then. And I can’t change shape. I’m not a shape shifter. Besides, did it ever occur to you that maybe the reason I’m being so nice to you is because I will be back one day to collect you?”

The color drained from the man’s face and his breathing became shallow. She reached out and touched Prisoner 26229’s face; he flinched as her ice-cold fingers brushed his cheek. Rain curled her lips into a smile, and with a quick flap of her wings, left the man alone in his cell.

She made her way back to Death Row, and watched as Devin prayed with the priest, asking for forgiveness for all of his sins. She hissed and glanced over at Jeremiah, who met her gaze with the same smile he had earlier. The anger flooded her body again, but she kept it in check until the inmate was taken to the chamber he would die in.

Rain licked her lips as they strapped him to the table and inserted the IVs into his arm. She stood in the corner on one side of the room, and Jeremiah was on the other. They both already knew what the fate of his soul would be.

As soon as his last breath escaped, the blue hue rose from his body. At first, it took the shape of the man before crumpling into an orb. Both angel and demon approached it as it hovered in the air. She glanced over at Jeremiah, he was still smiling, and fought back the urge to rip the flesh off his face and suck his brains out of his eye sockets. He pulled a small golden box out of the folds of his robe, and gently placed the orb inside. There were two chains connected to either side of the box with a bracelet on each end. Rain watched Jeremiah snap the cuff around his wrist before attaching her own. The pair made their way to Purgatory, which lay half way between Heaven and Hell in a parallel universe.

Purgatory looked like a typical waiting room that could be found in any doctor’s office or hospital on Earth, with benches and tables full of magazines. The receptionist’s windows were at the far end of the room, and there were both angels and demons handing out assignments and sending the souls on their way. Rain shivered as they entered the room. Millions of souls were waiting to be told what to do; some patiently, some not. The room always seemed to be in chaos as the majority of the souls didn’t realize that they were dead, forcing angel and demon advocates to explain their situation. This caused a great deal of confusion and disbelief, which could erupt from the soul in a display of violence or uncontrollable sobbing. Then there were the escapees; souls who believed they could make a run for it and return to their body before it was placed in the ground. Someone was always getting tackled, and there were always the deafening sounds of sorrow and curses echoing through the air. Rain was glad she didn’t have to work there.

The two of them took their soul to the admissions window, and Rain handed the angel the scroll she had been carrying. The woman took a brief look at it before tossing it to the side. She took the name of the soul, their names, then told them to take Devin to the waiting room. The found an empty seat in the middle of the room, and the ball unfolded into a human form, almost tangible but thin like tissue paper. He glanced around his surroundings and blinked.

“I’m dead, aren’t I?” He whispered.

Jeremiah knelt next to him to explain the situation, but Rain turned and went back to Hell.

A few weeks later, Rain stood on the edge of a precipice, overlooking a pit where souls were tortured by having their skin removed in strips and replaced with layers of broken glass, maggots, and salt. She heard movement behind her and turned to see Jeremiah and two other angels being accompanied by two guard demons, creatures that looked like hairless dogs and stood eight feet tall with large bulging muscles, white burning eyes, sharp teeth and claws, and a nasty disposition. It was rare for an angel to enter the realms of Hell, and if they were to deviate from between the two beasts, they would have been shredded on sight. Rain noticed for the first time that the smile had faded from Jeremiah’s face, and his normally soft dark eyes had an edge to them. She took a few steps forward and met them halfway.

“Jeremiah,” she tried to suppress her own smile, “I didn’t expect to see you.”

He stopped abruptly, causing one of the beasts to turn and snarl sharply. Rain held up a hand to calm it down.

“Where is he, Rain?”

She shook her head and pushed her eyebrows together. “Where is who?”

“Devin. He is missing from Purgatory.”

Rain folded her arms across her chest and felt the anger rise in her chest. “Well ,I have to say I don’t know, Jeremiah. The last time I saw him was when you and I dropped him off.”

Jeremiah huffed. “Don’t lie to me. What did you do with him?”

Rain covered the space between her and the angel in a few seconds and stuck her face right into his. She grabbed his face with her right hand and placed her claws on his cheek, not deep enough to break skin but deep enough so he would know they were there. The other angels went to move in, but the guard demons stopped them with a show of their teeth.

“Don’t you dare come into my home and accuse me of stealing a soul!” she growled. “I may not have been happy that God rescinded His deal, but I still play by the rules. Check my files. I haven’t broken a rule since becoming a collector.” She released his face and took a step back. “Besides, souls go missing all the time from Purgatory. If you recall, it took you several years to find me when I left.” She folded her arms across her chest and shrugged. “I’m sure he’ll show up in time.” She waved nonchalantly, and the guard dogs began to herd the angels out.

She watched Jeremiah glance over his shoulder and narrow his eyes to slits. She smiled at him before he vanished from sight.

A few months later, after Rain was sure that Jeremiah was no longer following her, she made her way back to the prison. She went to Prisoner 26229’s cell and found him laying in bed, reading a book. He flinched and grabbed his chest when he noticed she was in the room.

“Jesus! Don’t you give some warning when you enter a room?”

“I need the package,” was the only thing she said.

He flipped himself off the bed and crouched in front of the wall. He placed his fingers in the holes her claws had made months earlier and pulled out the brick. Reaching in, he pulled out a wooden black box, six inches square, with a silver lock. He stared at it for a moment before handing it to her.

“You will make sure that the piece of sh*t goes to Hell, right? That’s where he belongs.”

She took it cautiously, and pulled it next to her chest. The anger that had once flooded her body was replaced with electric excitement. “Of course.”

“How do you plan on going about it?”

She looked up at him and smiled. “It’s not hard to torment an already tortured soul. Certain situations always trigger their animal desires. I just have to make sure he’s in a situation that keeps those desires fed.” She turned to leave the room when she was stopped by the prisoner’s voice.

“You remember our deal don’t you?”

She glanced at him over her shoulder and raised her right hand, pulling a scroll out of thin air. “I’ve got the paperwork right here.”

She noticed his body physically relax, and she snapped the scroll out of the air. With a quick flap of her wings, she disappeared into the dark sky.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's snowing again here. Supposed to be a pretty big storm. Of course, I'm stuck in the car, which doesn't do very well in the snow, so I'm sure it will be a doozy!

I love days like this. The sky is gray with clouds and the ground is white with snow. I really like it when it's a white out and you can't see 5 inches in front of you. There is something very cleansing about a blanket of white over everything. I like it a lot better when I'm tucked into my house instead of at work, but what can you do? I can spend all day tomorrow basking in the white wonderland.

Are you ready for the New Year? Have you made your resolutions and To-Do lists? I don't know why New Years is such a big deal. Really, it's just another day. So what if the last 2 digits on the date changes. I never make resolutions, and I rarely stay up until midnight (normally, I turn into a pumpkin after 10:30).

This year is different, though. My spouse and I won tickets at a banquet, so we're going to a New Year's Eve bash at one of the local hotels. I don't really know how I feel about that. I don't really like people, so I'm not excited about being in a crowd, and I don't really drink anymore, so I'm not really excited about being in a crowd of drunk people.

Have you ever noticed that New Years seems to be the holiday where everyone turns into a drinker? Why is that? Why do you want to ring in your new year with a headache, nausea, and that feeling like someone used your mouth as an ashtray?

If you can't tell, New Year isn't my favorite holiday. I've actually had some really, really bad New Years (one that ended in the emergency room), so I'm a little hesitant about celebrating. I hope this one turns out all right...

Since tomorrow is a holiday, I still won't be posting any new recordings. I will try and post a short story for your reading pleasure, but I have to find one first. I really do hope that everyone enjoys and safe New Year. See you next year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Fudge Incident of 2010

My parents have a schipperke named Simon who is about 10 years old. He's a funny little dog. He loves it when us adults come home. He stands at the top of the stairs, yipping and barking his greeting. If you don't get upstairs fast enough, he's starts whining and making his barking more insistent, like that's going to hurry you up. When he sees you, he jumps on you, then puts his little paws together and waves them through the air like he's begging.

As much as he's excited to see us, he's not particularly fond of the kids. He tries to hide from them, and when that doesn't work, he snaps at them when they touch him. I don't worry that the bites will hurt because, like most small dogs, he has problems with his teeth and actually had most of them removed. Plus, the kids need to learn not to mess with him. I've told them multiple times, but you know how well kids listen.

Simon also has horrific allergies. He's allergic to poultry, chicken and turkey, and cotton. Cotton! Whoever heard of a dog that's allergic to cotton? Isn't pretty much everything in the world made out of cotton? I think he allergic to pollen and trees, too, among a few other things, but I don't remember (yes, my parents actually had him tested, and they showed me his little book that listed all of his allergies. That was years ago, though, and I have more important things to worry about!).

After Mom and I got home from the mall, the boys and I went into the kitchen to have lunch. After our meal, we decided to have a piece of fudge for dessert. (Oh, it is the best fudge ever! If you've never had Fanny Farmer Fudge made by my grandma, you are soooo missing out!) Remember, we were in the kitchen. I mentioned that Simon doesn't like the kids, until they have food. But since he's allergic to everything, we have to be very cautious he doesn't get anything. Anyway, the 23 month old had his piece of fudge and was walking across the kitchen floor to see me, and accidentally dropped it. As expected, the dog swooped in and sucked it up before you could blink your eye.

The 23 month old starting crying because he wanted his fudge, I was yelling because the dog had it, and my mom was in the living room trying to figure out what the hell was going on. Once I figured that scrumptious, melty piece of chocolate sugar was gone, I tried to go on with my life. Not my mom. Now it was her turn to start yelling. She pointed out to me that chocolate was poisonous to dogs, which (duh!) I already knew, but I pointed out to her that he didn't eat that much (and, in reality, it varies from dog to dog. Some it can affect profoundly, and others might not be affected at all. However, in most cases, it takes quite a bit of chocolate to actually poison a dog). Besides, it's not like my child did it on purpose.

The next thing I knew, she was putting on her shoes and getting out Simon's leash. I asked what she was doing, and she told me she was taking him for a walk. I just shrugged and walked off. I didn't know what she thought a walk would do, but if it made her happy...

I went into the kitchen where my dad was, and he just kind of looked at me. He said, "Your mother is very stressed right now, she'll be fine later." (Side note: My mom is the church organist, and she had the Christmas Eve service to do that night. According to my dad, she always gets like this beforehand, but I have no recollection.) I told him that if they were that worried about it, we could squirt some hydrogen peroxide down Simon's throat and make him throw up (I don't recommend doing this without talking to a vet first or being outside. From what I hear, it's pretty much instantaneous vomiting). He said that was probably a bit drastic and that everything should be fine (honestly, I wasn't worried, I was just trying to be proactive).

After the whole ordeal, the dog turned out to be all right. He didn't even have an allergic reaction. And, my mom was fine after the church service and a glass of wine. Aren't the holidays such a magical time of the year? Nothing like getting together with family for a jolly good time!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. I know I did. It was so nice to get out of town and relax. I still didn't sleep very well, but that's par for the course anymore. Had a wonderful time with my family and have some great stories. I'll start with one I call:

Indecencies in the Mall

My mom and I headed to the mall on Christmas Eve morning to find the 23 month old some snow pants. We started at one end, couldn't find any, so planned on going to the store on the other end. On our way out, my mom stopped at a makeup counter to get some makeup. By this point, the 3 year old remembered that there were things to play with, so he kept running ahead, wanting to get on the rides. I kept calling him back, telling him to be patient, and he always reluctantly returned. This happened about three times.

By the third time when I called him back, he stood next to me and huffed, claiming, in a very loud voice, "I'm so sick of this sh*t!" (Yes, as a matter of fact, he did learn that phrase from me.) Both my mom and I looked at each other, trying to stifle a laugh. I actually had to bite my lip. Others in the mall were chuckling, also. Probably because they've been through it. After I choked my chuckle down, I calmly told him that that was a bad word and only mommy's and daddy's were allowed to use it. We then headed to the other end, and he got to play on the rides.

I have to say that I'm very happy Christmas is over. I feel like a weight has been lifted and I can get back to my normal life. I have to admit, I, too, was getting a little sick of this sh*t! Tomorrow I will tell you about what I've dubbed: The Fudge Incident of 2010.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Movie Review Monday

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009)



When I was a senior in high school, I got really into graphic novels/comics. Specifically, Alien, Predator, and Alien vs. Predator comics. It was a short-lived fascination, mainly because I ran out of time, and the most recent graphic novel I've read is Watchmen (which I loved!). Apparently, I should have been reading superhero comics. I absolutely LOVE these cartoons.



The story focuses on what the world would be like if Lex Luthor became President of the U.S. Everyone seems to believe that he has really changed, except for Superman. He doesn't think Lex will ever change. And, of course, he doesn't. He's still as evil as he's ever been.



Batman and Superman become public enemies because they refuse to be controlled by Lex, even though he is the president. To keep Superman out of his hair, Lex creates an eloborate set up that makes it look like Superman is attacking him, then shows it to the public. Batman becomes a fugitive because he helped.



With these two on the run, and with a huge reward offered by President Lex, it brings all kinds of criminals out of the wood work to try and stop them. Some of the villians I'd never even heard of, but I'm sure I would've known who they were if I read the comics. But it's not only villians that are hunting them, but the good guys as well. Since they fight for justice, freedom, and the American way, they take their orders from the President. See where this is going yet?



The film was wonderful because it was simple enough for my 3 year old to follow (and you know how much he loves Batman right now), yet had enough layers to keep me entertained. I love how the film juxtaposes Batman and Superman, the light and the dark, but they are both fighting for good. It is just so interesting to watch how they interact with one another and the differing styles when it comes to fighting crime (I really liked that aspect in Batman/Superman: Apocalypse too).



There were also a bunch of heroes that I didn't even know existed. I know I'm very naive when it comes to heroes because I haven't read any comics, and it makes me want to find out more. I'm gonna have to start checking out more superheroes. Like my 3 year old, I'm pretty enamoured with them right now.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I don't have a lot to talk about today, and I more than likely won't be posting the next 2 days. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season, and I'll be back to my regular schedule next week!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I was a little worried yesterday that we weren't going to have a white Christmas. Sometimes I wonder why I think about these things. We woke up this morning to a TON of snow. On the one hand, I'm very excited about it, but on the other, it really sucks. I have to go to the dentist tomorrow and I have to go to my parents on Thursday. With any luck, the roads will clear up in the next couple of days. If they don't, not too much I can do about that! Oh, well. It's just that time of year!

The ebook saga continues. In the most recent article, Borders and Barnes and Noble seem to be having some major financial issues. People keep talking about how the traditional role of publishing and physical books will always be around, and I'm sure they will, but the numbers seem to be leaning toward ebooks. Even I'm thinking about getting an ereader.

There are a lot of benefits to ebooks. 1) They take up a lot less space in your house. 2) They are generally cheaper. 3) Authors get more royalties from them. (There are downsides, too, such as how do you do international copyright and others I'm probably not aware of.) As I contemplate whether or not I want an ereader, I think about the attachment I have to physical books. I wonder: is the reason we are so attached to them because we don't know anything else? Think about it: all our lives we've only had books. We never had the technology before to have ebooks. What will it be like for our children? Will they prefer ebooks to books?

To me, it's not the look, feel, and smell of a book, though that is nice, it's the actual act of reading. Most of my work day is spent staring at a computer. When I do my freelance editing, it's on the computer. I get the same information from the screen as I would a book. Plus, ereaders are usually small enough to curl up with in bed. They're really starting to look good...

Like I said, I don't think physical books will disappear entirely. Again, there is the sentimental value tied to books. I also don't think that kids books would be very fun to read on an ereader. But who knows? As technology continues to evolve, the future might hold ereaders that kids books look wonderful on. (Plus, look at the stuff that Leapfrog is coming out with.) Again, it's not the act of physically holding the book, but the time spent with my kids. If they can look at a screen and enjoy it the same, that's good enough for me.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Movie Review Monday

Scooby Doo Meets Batman (I don't even know when it came out)

I know, I know, not my typical weekend movie choice. I was dealing with a sick kid and spouse (I had a little touch of it, too), in addition to going to a birthday party, a Christmas party, and traveling for family Christmas stuff. This was the only movie I had time for while the 22 month old was sleeping and I was resting on the couch. My mother-in-law bought this for the 3 year old.

Can someone please explain to me what the fascination was and is with Scooby Doo? I have never liked that show. I liked the intro, with the creepy eyes and the bats, and I remember every time I watched it I would think, hope, and wish it was something other than Scooby Doo. Obviously, it never was.

The DVD has two episodes on it that feature Batman and Robin. The old, campy Batman and Robin. I don't mind the silly Batman, the Adam West version. In fact, I remember watching those shows when I was young and being entertained. I'm still kind of entertained by them, but can only handle them in small doses. (Watching it got me to wondering when Batman turned into the Dark Knight. Does anyone know? I might have to do some research on that...) That part of the cartoon was all right, but the part with the Mystery Gang, I couldn't handle it. Really? How in the world did those kids ever solve a case? They are morons. Everyone thinks that Scooby and Shaggy were smoking dope, but I think every one was dipping into the bag.

The animation is subpar, too. Repeated backgrounds and scenes, heavy black lines, not my favorite. In one episode, there was a least 2 minutes, if not more, of Scooby and Shaggy trying to get to a door, but the floor was moving so they didn't make any progress. Do you know how long it took them to figure it out? Too damn. Then, to top it all off, a laugh track. A laugh track! Who in the hell puts a laugh track on cartoons? It's not like it was filmed in front of a live studio audience. I decided the only reason the laugh track is there is because the cartoon isn't funny, and the producers knew it, so it clues the viewers into the parts that were supposed to be funny.

The 3 year old enjoyed the cartoon, but he has very simple tastes right now. As long as Batman is present, he's happy. At least it kept him out of the way for a brief time so I could relax. I just hope I don't have to watch it again for a loooong time!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Update for the week: I got ONE movie write up in my nonfiction done. That means I only have 5 more to do and I'm done with chapter 4. I still have at least 2 other chapters to write. I meant to start on another, but time has not been my friend this month. I'm planning on attempting to write a paragraph this weekend!


In other news, I have an article/review posted here. Bryan Bove is the brother-in-law of a friend from high school, and he was kind enough to check out my book and talk to me. Check it out and tell me what you think. I was also asked to do another interview, but I'm not sure when that will be posted. I will let you know!


Last Friday, I posted the first half of my email zombie story. As promised, here is the conclusion:


The Last Hope
Part 2

From: computergenius01@email.net
Sent: Monday, September 09, 2013 10:20 PM
To: sasha@cdc.email
Subject: RE: Is anyone out there?

Sasha,

You have no idea how thrilled I was to receive your reply. I cried when I read it--I hate to admit that, considering I’m a grown man, but given the circumstances, I’m entitled to a little emotion.

I am so happy to hear there are others who made it. I’m sure it goes without saying that I’m pissed at how the virus was created. Of course, there’s nothing that can be done now. With any luck, the insurgents have been taken care of and are burning in Hell.

I assume that since you were going to your computer to look at a picture of your daughter that she is not with you. I can only hope that she is some place safe and not dead, but given the circumstances, I must assume the worst. I am sorry for your loss. My dad died a couple of years ago from emphysema, and my mother is in a home with advanced Alzheimer’s. I never married. Human relationships are actually kind of a mystery to me. I’m like my friends. All my relationships are through the computer. The one person I really had contact with was my neighbor across the street. When I saw her dead body, it suddenly became very clear to me how alone I really am.

The pounding has stopped, and I am enjoying a moment of silence. I am anxiously awaiting rescue. Please let me know what I need to do.

Ecstatic to know I’m not the only one,

Dillon


From: sasha@cdc.email
Sent: Monday, September 09, 2013 10:22 PM
To: computergenius01@email.net
Subject: RE: Is anyone out there?

Dillon,

Thank you for your concern about my daughter. To tell you the truth, I don’t know what’s happened to her. Her and her father are in Georgia, and I have no way to contact them. If there was some way I could get them to get on the computer, I could talk to them through email or maybe even the video camera. What I would give to see their faces one more time.

I’m sorry to hear about your family. Despite what you’re feeling, you are not alone. You have me, and you are going to get through this. Everything will be fine. I’m here, and I’m listening.

Sasha


From: computergenius01@email.net
Sent: Monday, September 09, 2013 10:28 PM
To: sasha@cdc.email
Subject: RE: Is anyone out there?

Sasha,

There is a way that I can hack into your husband’s computer and turn on the camera, assuming his computer is on. They won’t necessarily know that I’m looking at them, but you’ll be able to see if they’re all right. I might be able to write a program also, a computer virus actually, that would make their email pop up without them opening it. Again, the computer would have to be on and you would have to give me their address, but it’s possible. I’ve been working on it here, trying to send it out with some of my messages, hoping to get a hold of other survivors, but so far it hasn’t worked. I’m still working out some kinks. But since I have nothing but time right now, it shouldn’t take too long to fix.

I appreciate knowing that I’m not alone and that I can talk to you about anything. You have no idea how much that means to me. I would definitely like to continue this conversation later, but it is getting late, and I am going to try and get some rest. I haven’t slept a wink in 3 days, and it is starting to takes its toll. I hope you are still there when I wake up.

Dillon


From: sasha@cdc.email
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 6:08 AM
To: computergenius01@email.net
Subject: RE: Is anyone out there?

Dillon,

I just received word that they will be sending in helicopters to search for survivors in the Denver area. If you can make it to your roof, be up there in 1 hour with a white sheet. It is very important that you have the sheet. Do not wave it in the air. Lay it on the roof and sit in the upper left hand corner. This will set you apart from others who may be waving sheets for visibility. This will let the rescue team know that you have been in contact with me and you are not infected. You will be brought directly to our safe haven instead of going through quarantine. I need your computer skills, so please follow these instructions closely. I hope to see you in the next few hours.

Sasha


From: computergenius01@email.net
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 2:28 PM
To: Undisclosed recipients
Subject: Keep the faith

I don’t know if anyone will get this message, but an email saved me, so I have to try. There are survivors. The zombies have not destroyed everyone, nor will they. The military is working tirelessly to set up camps and shelter for those who are left alive. Right now, there is one outside of Denver, near Windsor. I will send information about other cities when I receive it. Helicopters will be doing flybys of the cities and towns, so please try to be on your roofs and visible. They are not all military; private citizens and news crews have volunteered their craft and time to help the rescue effort. If you see anything in the sky, try to flag them down. They will rescue you if they can.

Until then, there are a few simple rules to make sure you survive the outbreak. First, and most importantly, if you know or have someone near you who has been bitten, kill them. If you cannot bring yourself to do that, get them as far away as possible. Even if it’s a loved one, they WILL kill you. Right now, there is no cure for this virus. It is much kinder to put the victim out of their misery now. DON’T let them suffer as the undead. To kill them, you must destroy the brain. Beheading them will NOT do the trick. They still have the ability to bite even without their body. Smash their skulls, put a bullet into their brain, anything.

Know that the CDC and the military are working very hard to find a cure. Unfortunately, it won’t be anytime soon, and our safety is more important than thinking loved ones or friends can be saved. Please, do NOT think that you can save your friends or family members. Even if they find a cure, those who have been infected will never be human again. The cure will only work to protect us survivors.

Even though things look bleak, have faith. If you receive this, please email me back. Tell me your location. Tell me your story. Sometimes the best way to get through a difficult situation is knowing there is someone else out there who has been through the same ordeal. Sometimes it’s just nice to have someone to talk to. You will be saved; one way or another.

I hope to hear from you soon,

Dillon

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Oh, dear god is this week over yet? I don't know why, but I can't sleep for crap. I think it's just the excitement and stress of the holiday. It seems like we're just go, go, going. I need a vacation!

So, my spouse asked me to watch a show called "Ghost Adventures" last night. It's on the Travel channel. Basically, it is the answer to "Ghost Hunters," but this is a much more dramatized show. Instead of going into a place to disprove that ghosts exist, they play up the scariness. The particular show I watched was when the group went into Bobby Mackey's Music World. Supposedly, the place is haunted by a demon and they did an exorcism there. If you ask me, it was a bunch of hooey.

I believe in ghosts, and I've had an encounter of my own, but this was a little too far fetched. It was almost unbearable to watch. I guess every so often the Ghost Adventures group hosts what they call public investigations and hundreds of people can show up. That seemed extremely odd to me. I mean, you get that many people together, and it's not hard to freak out. Everyone plays off everyone else's fears. I definitely like "Ghost Hunters" better, even though they have some moments that cause me to roll my eyes. They at least try to approach ghosts scientifically.

Speaking of making ghosts scientific, I am reading a great book right now, "Spook" by Mary Roach. In it, she examines how science has tried to figure out what happens after death, if ghosts really exist, and if we actually have souls. She has a great writing style that infuses both humor and fact, so it makes for a very entertaining read. I'm really enjoying it. It's my little way of escaping at the end of the day and NOT getting any work done!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I got my Christmas present yesterday. After hearing I don't know how many times that we're never going to have another cat, my spouse got me a cat. It was supposed to be a surprise, but she came from the shelter, and they have to call to make sure it's OK. I guess they've had other people give pets as gifts and the poor animals come back. It was still pretty shocking. It had to be my spouses idea, though. I would love any kitty that came into the home, but he's picky, so he had to decide which one he wanted.

I named her Alia (Ah-lee-ah). They called her Rose at the shelter, so I kept that as her middle name. I wanted to name her something from Batman, for the 3 year old, but I didn't like the name Salina (Catwoman), so I did a search for women heroes. Alia was a Green Lantern without a past, so I thought that was very fitting (I also just found out that it was the name of Paul's sister in Dune. How could I forget that? But I think they pronounce her name differently).

My Alia was a stray, so they don't really know how old she is, but they think she's around 9 months. She already had a litter of kittens. She seems so tiny to me. Of course, it's been a while since I've had a kitty in the house. She seems a bit thin, too. Part of it is probably her age, but her head seems a little big, so part of it is probably malnutrition. Not that the shelter did it on purpose, but they have a lot of animals to take care of. No worries, though. We'll get her plumped up in no time!

According to the officer at the shelter, the poor baby had been there for 107 days. Part of that was because she had to wait until her kittens were weaned, then no one wanted her. If there were kittens there, I can understand why. Most people want the babies. They are so cute and cuddly. Not us. We needed a cat who was a little older who could hold her own. After all, she is in a house with a psychotic dog and two little kids. A kitten would probably have gotten eaten!

My spouse is a little worried that she's going to be antisocial because all she's done since she came home is hide. I keep trying to remind him that she just underwent major surgery and is in a new house. Again, she was a stray so I don't think she's ever had a home. My plan was to take her home and put her in her room (she has her own room with her kennel and litter box with food so she can get away from the craziness), but as I was filling the litter box, the 3 year old was helpful and opened the kennel door. She got out and hid under the recliner. She's been hiding ever since.

At one point last night, after the boys went to bed and the dog was pinned in a room, she did venture out and under our bed. Normally, the cat stays in her room overnight so that she doesn't get into things or on top of the counters, but we let her stay out so she could explore on her own terms. She scared the crap out of me at 2:00 am. I'm not used to having kitties in the house anymore, so her meowing was unnerving (plus, when you've had dreams that your dead cat is still in the house meowing, *shudder*). I went out and scritched her and showed her where her food and litter box was, and she followed me back into the room. She jumped up on the bed for a minute, but she quickly got down.

I'm very excited to have a cat back in the house. If left to my own devices, I probably wouldn't have gotten another one. I kept thinking up a million excuses of why it was better without one. It will take some time for everyone to get used to each other, but we will. Like I said, my spouse is very worried that she's going to be antisocial. When he went to pick her out, I guess she was very playful. I told him to give her time. She'll be like that again. I'm just sure of it. If she ever comes out of hiding, I'll post a picture!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This month is going by too fast. I can't believe it's the middle of the month already. I feel like I have accomplished nothing (and, really, I haven't!). But, I have been having fun hanging out with my friends and family. I'm trying to feel better about my priorities, which don't really include writing right now. Although, I have been getting a little work done. I know once the craziness dies down, I'll be right back in the saddle.

Other than that, nothing exciting has been going on, and I really have nothing to talk about. The kids are getting more and more excited about Christmas Day. It's very cute. It's what this time of year is about.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Movie Review Monday

The Walking Dead - series (2010)

I finally watched the season finale of The Walking Dead. All in all, I liked the series. I thought they did a great job with the zombies, and the story line was pretty interesting. I really liked in the finale how there was a flashback to the first zombie attacks. Personally, I thought that would have made a better start.

In the flashback, Shane goes to the hospital to save his friend, Rick. There are a bunch of military people there, and they are lining up patients and nurses and shooting them. I don't know if they are planning on giving more back story in the next season, but I thought that story would have been an interesting arc, too. It would have been cool to see how the plague started (or when it started affecting the population) and where the people were and how they all came together. The whole survival thing is all right, but I think it would have made things more suspenseful if they started from the beginning and gave us the history of some of the other characters. Just me.

The other issue with starting with Rick's story is that it limits the perspective. I'm sure it was a conscious choice on the part of the writers, because you have to start a story somewhere (plus, it's based on a graphic novel, and I'm not sure if that story follows Rick. I'll have to check that out), but when they do try and follow the other characters, it feels off. I mean, as the audience, you've invested so much time and energy into Rick, you know where he's coming from. He's fleshed out. But, I don't think he's that interesting. I mean, the beginning of his story was great. He's looking for his family. But once he finds them, it seems like his journey is over (I know it's not and now they have to survive and he's the only one who keeps hope alive...). The other characters are just kind of flat. Like I said, if they had started the series following them from the beginning, I think I would be more invested and care more about them.

I will be watching next season, just to see where the story goes. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am very glad this series is bringing the zombie back into the spotlight. I hope the trend lasts for a while!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Update for the week: I actually did get some work done on my nonfiction. I think I got a couple of pages written. It felt good, but now I need to do more!

Don't forget, I am postponing my recordings until after the New Year, but I will post my email zombie story for you. My friend, Martin, who was also supposed to be in the anthology, has posted his story on his blog. Check it out if you get the chance. It's good! Now, without further delay...

The Last Hope
Part 1


From: computergenius01@email.net
Sent: Monday, September 09, 2013 4:44 PM
To: Undisclosed recipients
Subject: Is anyone out there?

This is it. My final, last-ditch effort to find other survivors. I don’t even know if it will work. I created a program, a spam program, to send this message to random recipients. I can’t send it to those in my address book. They’re dead. I know they’re all dead. They are the type of people who live on their computers. The only time they move from in front of their screens is to go to the bathroom. If they don’t reply to an email or IM in 5 minutes, something is seriously wrong. I hope this reaches someone. Anyone.

My name is Dillon, and I live in Denver. It has been 3 days since the attacks began. I have been in my basement the whole time. I was actually down here when the attacks started. I work from home and have an office here. I’m not worried about them getting into my house, they can’t. I live just a few blocks away from downtown, so I have bars over my doors and windows. I’m safe. I have food and water, but it won’t last forever.

When the attacks first started, to be honest, I just thought it was a typical day. I heard screams from the neighborhood and police sirens. I didn’t think anything of it until I took a break and clicked on the local news. There was a report about how the recently dead were returning to life and attacking humans. At first, I thought it was a joke, but the more I poked around on the internet, the more information I found. It was happening worldwide. No one knew how it started. Does anyone reading this have a clue?

After a while, I mustered up some bravery and headed upstairs. I kept my back to the wall, my gun in my hand. I could still hear the screams and sirens outside. When I made it to the front window, I took a breath before parting the curtains. I couldn’t believe the destruction. Black smoke was curling from Republic Plaza. Bodies were laying in the middle of the street, covered in their own congealing blood. In the neighbor’s lawn across the street, the 86 year old woman I said good afternoon to when I checked the mail was being devoured by two people with yellowed skin and deep sunken eyes. There were people running down the streets, some carrying weapons and others with suitcases and kids.

I ducked back inside my house. My stomach had cramped and dots were dancing in front of my eyes. I sunk to the ground, taking deep breaths and swallowing thickly. It all seemed like a dream, like I was watching a movie. Someone or something clomped onto my porch and rattled the storm door. I jumped to my feet and headed back to the basement, locking the door behind me. I didn’t know if it was a zombie or a looter, but I knew I didn’t want to run into either.

I only ventured up one other time to get food and water. I remember being shocked by the silence. There were no more screams. No more sirens. There wasn’t even a cricket chirping. Just my own breath and the squeak of my shoes on the linoleum floor. It was unnerving. I saw the destruction, the death, and I can only hope that I am not the only one left. Although, I wouldn’t really be surprised. If there is someone else out there, I hope and pray that you will get this message.

Dillon


From: computergenius01@email.net
Sent: Monday, September 09, 2013 9:37 PM
To: Undisclosed recipients
Subject: Is anyone out there?

It has been 5 hours, and I have not received a reply to my first email. I generated another spam list, as well as resending it to the people on the first list, in the hopes that this reaches someone. The zombies have been pounding at my door for nearly 2 hours now. From the basement, it sounds like a soft thumping. I was able to ignore it for the first hour, but like a leaky sink in the middle of the night, it’s starting to grate on my nerves. I hope someone answers this soon, but I’m beginning to think no one will. Maybe this was a stupid idea. Who checks their email during the apocalypse?


From: sasha@cdc.email
Sent: Monday, September 09, 2013 10:15 PM
To: computergenius01@email.net
Subject: RE: Is anyone out there?

Dillon,

My name is Sasha, and I want to reassure you that you are not alone. There aren’t many of us, but there are survivors. It must be fate that I even got these. Normally, as you mentioned at the end of your email, checking my email would be the last thing on my mind. I only did so because my husband recently sent me a photo of our daughter, and I needed to look at it. Imagine my surprise when I found new messages in my inbox.

I read both of your emails, and I completely sympathize with your situation. We are in Windsor, so we are close, but Denver is a hot zone, which means attempting a rescue mission is suicide.
Here is what’s happening:

For lack of a better term, zombies have taken started attacking. The plague, if you will, started somewhere in the Middle East. The insurgents were experimenting with biological weapons and discovered a virus that would reanimate the brain and turn the corpse into a killing machine. It took 24 hours for the virus to reanimate the body. At first, the effects would only last a few hours and would only work on the recently killed/dead (recently being within the past 12 hours), then the virus would die. The terrorists would inject the bodies of freshly killed soldiers, knowing they would be stored on base until they could be shipped home. They were hoping to thin our ranks. For all intents and purposes, it worked.

The military tried to keep it quiet, they didn’t want to start a panic, but the tactic got out of hand. The insurgents figured that if it worked this well on the soldiers, it was bound to be devastating to the U.S. population. They coordinated attacks of the major cities. I don’t know how they smuggled the virus onto the planes, but they did. From what we understand, they then targeted the homeless. They murdered them, injected them, then set them back out on the streets. They planned it perfectly. The only thing they didn’t plan on was the virus mutating. Instead of the virus dying within a few hours, it learned how to sustain and could be passed to a living host. Now, the only way to destroy the virus is to destroy the brain of the host.

I’m sure you’re reading this and wondering how I know all of this. I was there, Dillon, in Iraq when this first started. I’m not a soldier, I work for the CDC. I know it sounds crazy, but from what we understand, they have been working on this virus for months now. It has only been recently that they found a strain that works. I don’t know why they weren’t stopped or why we weren’t warned, but it’s too late to worry about that now. I was called over about a week ago to figure out what was going on. While the terrorists were trying to perfect the virus, they would inject anyone they could find. The bodies littered the streets. The military knew it was some kind of weapon, but they didn’t know how to stop it. It was only a few days after I arrived that the first zombie attacked. The virus works fast and efficiently.

The original plan was to take out the U.S., but the virus has spread worldwide. We are working on understanding it better and developing a way to cure it, but it evolves too fast for us to get a handle on it.

We have a safe haven, a place where survivors can group together, and we will come get you and anyone else who has survived, but it might take a while. I need you to remain patient and strong, Dillon. We are doing the best we can.

Sasha
The conclusion will be posted next week!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

So this morning, the 3 year old says to me, "Can we open a present?" And I tell him no. He asks me why, and I say, "Because it's not Christmas Day." He looks at me and says, "But it's Christmas Season." I don't know exactly what that means, but to him I suppose it means he should be able to open a present whenever he wants. My response was to chuckle.

Kids and Christmas, it's just too funny. The excitement, the wonder, the hoping to get the right toy. I'm not a huge fan of Christmas. There are several different reasons why, but I'm going to just leave it at that. But I love to watch my kids get excited. It's almost makes the holiday bearable.

The boys have their Christmas pageant tonight, and I'm really looking forward to it. It means another night where I won't get any work done, but there are more important things in life. I will get to it eventually. I have to. The guilt is starting to creep in!

Isn't it funny how we feel bad when we don't write? I mean, I don't have any deadlines (thankfully!), I don't have to finish any of the stuff I'm working on if I don't want to, but I have this feeling of obligation to get it done. I feel like I've failed if I don't finish. What I really need is a day to do nothing but write, just get some stuff on paper, then I'd feel better. Unfortunately, I'm trying to save up my vacation for Christmas so I can go home and hang with the family. Sadly, I won't get any work done then. Wouldn't it be nice not to have a real job?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I've never been one to write trends. I follow the #1 rule and write what I want to write. But I find myself in the middle of a trend. If you haven't noticed, zombies are finding their way back to main stream.

My friend Jamie sent me a wonderful article that explains why this might be happening. It is tied to the economy, which, really, makes a lot of sense. George Romero created his zombies to be representatives of the consumer culture, especially in Dawn of the Dead. We are constantly bombarded with messages and images of things we need and things we should buy. When times are good, we buy those things without thinking twice. But when times are bad, we have to reassess what is important to survive. In a way, we wake from our zombie consumer state.

If you think about zombie films and books, the focus isn't on the zombie, they are just the catalyst that pushes humans into survival mode. The focus is on what humans are doing to stay alive. I'm a little behind on the Walking Dead series, so I just watched the second to last episode on Monday night (don't tell me what happens in the finale, I'm going to watch it soon!). One of the things that really struck me was when the humans were cleaning up the mess after the zombies attacked their camp. They were separating the geeks (what they call the zombies) into one pile to burn and the freshly dead into another to bury. Two of the people were dragging a freshly killed human to the burn pile, and another character freaked out, screaming that the humans were buried. One of the characters that was dragging the body commented that it didn't really matter, they were all infected.

This really struck me. After all, the "geeks" were human once, too. And those who were killed by the zombies would turn into one if the others hadn't destroyed their brains. The reason the character reacted the way he did and didn't want to burn that particular guy was because he knew him. He didn't know the others, so it was all right for them to fry. It's just fascinating to me; a really nice look into humans as a society and how they react to certain situations. That's why I like to write about them.

I'm very excited to be a part of this trend. Zombies have fascinated me since the first time I watched Night of the Living Dead, which was about 15 years ago. I never thought I'd be writing about them. Even if zombies weren't coming back into vogue, I would still write about them. Heck, even my first novel, which I started when I was in high school, has zombie-ish leanings (I'm not going to tell you more. If you've read it, you know what I mean. If you haven't, you better pick up a copy!).

Speaking of trends, I had a fabulous dream the other night that I might turn into another YA book. The only catch is that it involves vampires. I'm not really a vampire fan, and, like I said, I don't write trends, but I'm thinking by the time I actually get around to writing it, vampires will have faded. That could work either way for me. That could mean that no one wants to read it at all or it might be refreshing. We'll have to see. I ran the idea by a couple of coworkers, and they thought it sounded fascinating. Like I said, we shall see!

Monday, December 6, 2010

I tried to record my new chapter on Sunday. When I was about 6 pages (9 minutes) into the recording, I messed up. I stopped recording and started again. I was about 4-5 pages into the new recording, when I messed up again. By this point, I wanted to tear my hair out. I know there is a way to edit recordings and fix those things, but it takes me longer to do that than it does to just start over. The program eats a lot of memory on my computer and slows things down to erosion speed. It's extremely irritating.

Instead of starting the recording for the third time, I had a little freak out. I started questioning why I'm doing what I'm doing and if anyone really cares. I put a post on Facebook and on my blog to see if anyone really listened. Basically, as I was recording, I looked at the clock and noticed time ticking away. I only have a small window to work when the boys are out of the house, and that window was slowly closing. I felt overwhelmed.

After my posts, my wonderful friends and family answered the call. It made me feel better. My friend Fran gave me wonderful advice. In it, she basically said that it doesn't matter how many people are listening but that 1 or 2 people give thoughtful feedback. She was right. It made me feel a little sheepish for even having a freak out.

But it is that time of year when time just gets away from everyone. There is so much to do with family, parties, shopping, cooking, etc. I know I don't have a lot of time, and I'm sure millions of others are in the same boat. So, for the sake of my sanity, I am going to discontinue the chapters until after the New Year. Don't worry, I will start again, and I will remind you where we are at in the story. I'm sure this will work better for everyone. I apologize for any inconvenience, and hope that you will continue to listen after the New Year. Thanks for being understanding!

I decided that since I won't be posting my recorded chapters, I will post excerpts from the zombie email story I wrote. It won't be published because I had a falling out with the publisher, and it's a pretty specialized story, so there probably isn't another market for it. I will start that on Friday.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Movie Review Monday

Tangled (2010)

I am so amazed at what technology can do nowadays. Even to a cartoon. The movie was absolutely visually stunning. The storyline, fabulous!

I have always been a huge fan of Disney. I don't know what it is about their films, but they always make me tear up, just a bit. I know how they are going to end, I know it will be happy, but the journey getting there is always so much fun. Tangled was no exception. The movie was essentially the story of Rapunzel, but they changed it. It worked out very well. This version made a lot more sense than the original, plus it made her a princess. You can't have a Disney heroine that's not a princess.

Unlike normal Disney films, there are actually two parents in this film, and they both survive. However, as is typical of Disney films, the heroine is not raised by her parents. Since she possesses magic powers, she is kidnapped and locked in a tower to be raised by, essentially, an evil step mother. Of course, when Rapunzel is about to turn 18, she starts to rebel, but what teen doesn't? Then, you throw a handsome young man into the mix, and you've got your formula for a movie.

Typical of Disney films, the music was absolutely wonderful. The film also did a great job of keeping both adults and kids entertained. Both the chameleon and the horse kept my 3 year old rolling, along with me. They were pretty funny. As usual, they made fun of other movies, which, of course, I can't remember right now. There was even a lot of references to other Disney films such as Snow White. It was just a great film.

It was really nice to take the 3 year old to this film. I really needed a break, and this was the best place to do it. Like I said, Disney is usually pretty formulaic, but there is a comfort in that formula. I didn't have to sit there and try and figure things out, I could just enjoy the film. However, since I can't usually turn the analytical part of my brain off, I did notice some socially significant messages in the movie. BUT, I am not going to put them in this review. Just know that the movie was highly entertaining, animated wonderfully, and fun for all ages.
I really need your honesty and help. Two people informed me that they listen to my chapters. If there are more of you, please let me know. This process is very time consuming, and if I'm just doing it for two people, I'm not going to waste my time. Please, please let me know if you listen.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Someone has answered the call, and Krista is heading into the West! How many zombies will she encounter? Will she find supplies? Find out what happens in Chapter 10.

Update for the week: Nothing. I have had no motivation. I've been so tired, I even almost forgot to upload this week's chapter, which, by the way, is right next to chapter 1 in the tab. I have no idea why it didn't get placed numerically. Thanksgiving kind of threw off every one's schedule, especially the 3 year old's (like he needs an excuse!), so sleep has been fleeting. You'd think after all this time I would be used to running on empty, but I'm not. I don't think you ever get used to that!

My goal is to get some work done this weekend. However, it will all depends on the spouse. He actually has to hang around the house to watch the kids for me. *Sigh* I envision yet another weekend where nothing gets done. Oh, well.

OK, enough wallowing. Here's my happy thought to lead you into the weekend. The boys were taking a bath last night and having a grand old time. They were splashing and throwing a washcloth at each other, which is apparently hilarious. Eventually, they had to get out, and as I was taking the 23 month old out, the 3 year old says to him, "Thanks for the party. It was fun." Soooo, I hope you have a fun party this weekend, even if it only involves throwing a wet washcloth at someone.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I read a very interesting post by Martin Rose yesterday. In it, he talks about writing as a "hobby" and what some of us do when we experience burn out. Basically, he claims that most writers don't think of writing as a hobby, which I agree with.

Hobby implies something you do for enjoyment or relaxation. While writing can be enjoyable and relaxing, most of the time it's not. A writer generally experiences the entire range of emotions when working on a project from excitement to doubt to depression back to excitement and everything in between. There is a lot of stress involved, too, because if you aren't working, you feel like you should be, so then you feel guilty. Or you're anxiously awaiting a response from an editor or publisher, and it's not coming fast enough. You try to stay busy, but that only works for so long! I doubt many people feel that while partaking in their hobby. I'm sure some do, but for the most part, if your hobby stresses you out, you quit doing it.

Writing is more of a compulsion than a hobby. It has it's high highs, which can be very addictive, and some pretty low lows. The difference between a writer and a hobbyist is that the writer has to write. Even if no one reads it or we don't become successful, we can't stop the need/desire to put words on a page. Trust me, I've been there many times. I've wanted to give up, move on to more rewarding things, but I can't. I get sucked back in. And don't get me wrong, I do enjoy it (most of the time). There is something magical about seeing your words, your creation, on the page.

Martin also points out in his blog that writers do have hobbies. But he says that all of these distractions lead to the ultimate goal: to write more. God, that is so true! One of my favorite past times, as I'm sure you know, is watching movies, but there is a hidden motive to that. Recently, the majority of the films I've been watching are research for my nonfiction novel. Yes, I can still watch and enjoy them (well, as much as you can enjoy some of the awful, awful remakes of slasher films), but I'm always thinking about what I will write about them. I don't do this with all the films I watch. I can and do veg out from time to time. I especially do this with certain TV shows that I like. But most of the time, I just sit there thinking: I really should be writing!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Can you believe it's December already? It seems like just yesterday we were playing in the wading pool out back. Time sure flies when you're procrastinating.

I haven't been able to muster any kind of motivation this week. I know it's only Wednesday, but it's not looking good. I've watched a couple of remakes so I need to start my write ups, but I just can't bring myself to do it. I sit and stare at the computer, wishing the words would just appear, then I give up and read. I know I deserve a little break, but if I take too much of one, I'll get complacent.

It doesn't help that it's the time of year when the spouse leaves for the weekend hunting. That really louses up my schedule. Plus, we have Christmas parties to attend. It's the crazy time of the year. I guess the one saving grace is that everyone else is in the same boat, also. The editors are probably going to parties and perhaps hunting, maybe even a vacation. However, that doesn't mean I can procrastinate forever. And I won't. I will find the motivation. I will. Even if I have to borrow it from someone! (Does anyone out there want to loan me some motivation?)