Archive for category Humor

Book Promotion that Makes an Impression—Don’t Advertise When You Can PADvertise

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Since most of us are neck-deep in work and NaNoWriMo, I thought it was time to talk about something OTHER than writing. How are you going to MARKET that NaNo novel by December 3rd, 2014?

Only amateurs need “revisions” *rolls eyes*.

We all know what we are writing is PURE GOLD begging to be unleashed  available for purchase in time to pay off all the money we’ll spend on Christmas gifts. That and being a NYTBSA by the end of January of 2015 is a great start, right?

Any of you who regularly follow my blog know that I am totally out of my mind a bit eccentric. Saturday, Hubby took pity on me and let us go out to eat (a rare treat around here). As I closed the door to the stall, I noticed all the advertising on the back of the bathroom door. This cluttered wall of ads made me think about all the authors spamming non-stop about their books on Facebook and Twitter.

In fact, just a couple days ago, a writer who’d never even said, “Hello” asked me to promote his new sci-fi book. Suuuuuure, right on that.

Some writers are becoming worse than an Amway rep crossed with a Jehovah’s Witness. I mean, can the author book promotion get any more invasive?

Wait…

Maybe it can.

I’ve blogged so many times about the dangers of automation and how spamming people is counterproductive. I’ve talked until I am blue about how advertising our books has a terrible ROI (return on investment) and how most people don’t pay attention to it. Ah, but then it hit me. The main reason spam doesn’t work is because people ignore it and no longer “see” it, but what would they see?

Panty Prose—Not Advertising, Padvertising (TM)

We all know that roughly 85% of readers are women, and what do women need? Panty liners. YES, but what do they need more than springtime fresh girl parts? More FREE! books. Indie authors shouldn’t spam about their latest book release or .99 cent promotional sale.

Why?

Because it’s rude? No! Because it is obnoxious? Not quite. Because it smacks of desperation? Not at all. The reason authors shouldn’t spam about their books is because spam is for amateurs.

The real writer of the Digital Age doesn’t settle on blasting out non-stop self-promotional tweets. That is SO 2012. The REAL writer of the Digital Age realizes a captive audience is a a buying audience.

Catch readers with their pants down with Panty Prose.

Panty Prose is perfect for the indie author. Most readers are female and even females need something to read in the bathroom. We at Panty Prose (an imaginary division of W.A.N.A. International) have teamed up with Always against their will to offer your readers the best deals right in their pants. PADVERTISING.

Panty Prose not only offers you Padvertising to a guaranteed clientele, but we have all kinds of layouts to suit your Padvertising needs. Technology is your friend with Panty Prose. Put your book where it counts…

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At Panty Prose, we even make it affordable for you to place your face in your reader’s pants…

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As you can see, Panty Prose is inserting your ads into a virgin market begging to be tapped.

Why are all the romance authors giggling?

Anyway, while others might see a protective strip that gets tossed in the bin, we see an unused space to Padvertise your latest novel AND save trees! Instead of throwing away that paper strip, we can print catchy lines from your book so fans can collect them ALL…

Kristen Lamb, Author Kristen Lamb, WANA, We Are Not Alone

Make Your Readers Want MORE….

Make Your Readers Your Fan for ALWAYS….

My writer pal, Chad, was happy to step in and help me with a mock up of The Panty Prose Motivational Series:

Panty Prompts for Writers:

PantyPrompt

Serious Chad, the choice for the Serious Writer.

Panty Praise:

Available in "You're Losing Weight" and "No, Your Butt Doesn't Look Big at ALL"

Available in “Yes, I Noticed Your New Hair Style” and “No, Your Butt Doesn’t Look Big at ALL”

Panty Prose is dedicated to keeping women fresh while selling your books. Attending a writing conference? Well, there is a bathroom and everyone knows that even agents have to go potty sometime. Why not help them out? Keep them springtime fresh and give them your query. Elevator pitches are for losers, when you can use the Panty Pitch. The Panty Pitch comes in three fragrances, Sonnet’s Eve, New Office Supplies, and Double Espresso.

Panty Pitch:

Save agents time and keep them fresh!

Save agents time and keep them fresh!

Panty Prose for the Published Professional is a smart, savvy way to stand out from all the competition that still is relying on scheduled tweets, auto-DMs and posting ads on new FB friends’ walls.

Make an impression that will last for Always.

Yeah, I am a wee bit tired from NaNo and not enough meds. You know you’re punch-drunk (and have no social filters) when you spend a full day Photoshopping your face on a pic of a panty-liner, LOL. When I’m tired, my humor gets warped, even for me. But you know I am on to something!

W.A.N.A. is dedicated to giving you the evil genius you need for success. Aside from Panty Prose, what other “free spaces” could we exploit for book advertising? You know, to catch those who missed our 23 tweeted links, 6 auto DMs and five form letters.

So what do you think? Has the book spam gotten completely out of control? Are there other ways you can think of that are utterly invasive creative ways to market our books (Keep it PG, Please :D )? Does promoting/book marketing feel about as bad as Padvertising? ***Btw, it doesn’t have to be ;) ***

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of NOVEMBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE (without using something as AWESOME as Padvertising), pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook

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100 Comments

Planning Travel? Five TSA-Approved Weapons of the Zombie Apocalypse

ZOMBIES!

ZOMBIES!

Next week, I hop on a flight to teach The Master’s Series in Seattle at the Emerald City Conference. I’m always so blessed to serve and I LOVE that area of the country. SCORE! But, flying has become particularly…terrifying. This only adds to my already irrational fears because—face it—I’m a writer and we have pathologically overactive imaginations. Writers INVENTED The Dark Side…literally .

And yes, we’re in scary times. My go-to coping mechanisms for fear? Crocheting, violent video games, Jui-Jitsu, gallows humor, and tasteless jokes.

You know you’re a writer when the rest of the world sees the neighbors “got new carpet” and you wonder inside if the wife is present and accounted for O_o.

*checks roll of discarded carpet for smells of decomp*

Whenever I travel, I have a number of fears.

1) The ONE time I don’t leave my home clean enough to perform open heart surgery will, of course, be the trip where I die in a fiery crash. Thus, as a good luck talisman of sorts, I have this compulsive need to make sure every stitch of dirty laundry is clean and put away. It’s my psychotic-and-pretty-much-fully-delusional-insurance against plane crashes.

2) If I wear cute, impractical shoes, the plane will have to make an emergency landing in some desert and then I will have to hump it out of Death Valley in those Betsey Johnson Iron-Maidens-for-the-Feet. In my mind I die not because I didn’t have a way out, but because I foolishly chose fashion over function.

We miss dear Kristen, but she left this world looking ADORABLE!

3) The Zombie Apocalypse will strike when I am away.

Every single trip, I have the same fear (I blame this on being a Gen-Xer). All I can think is, Gee, I hope the Zombie Apocalypse doesn’t start when I’m in Seattle and away from Hubby, Spawn and all the guns. I know normal people don’t think things like this, but you guys are writers, so you totally understand.

And I know some of you have been through this with me before on other trips, but it’s HALLOWEEN! AND helllooooo? EBOLA?

Zombies are a totally appropriate topic, and everyone should be prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse anyway. You can laugh now, but if a horde of brainless freaks hit the streets of your town, you will be thinking, I didn’t know the presidential campaign was coming around so early.

Ooops. Inside words stay inside. Zombies don’t like politicians anyway. Empty calories.

Where was I? Oh, yes. You will be thankful that weirdos people like me thought this stuff through.

Today I am frantically trying to get as much work done as humanly possible before I leave. I’m also wondering if hand sanitizer can really help me all that much in the face of a deadly filovirus, and I assume a portable flamethrower is not TSA approved. There goes my prevention plan.

But of course, it is impossible for me to travel without thinking of the Doomsday Zombie Separated from Home Scenario.

Yes, this is me.

Come on! If the zombies strike Seattle, then I have to make it cross country (because I HATE open water and that is a LONG way home to Texas). But who knows if the outbreak is contained to just the west coast? And then I have to figure out how to ride a dirt bike and we all know how well that went the time I tried it. Then I have to stay alive long enough to make it all the way home to rendezvous with Hubby because he is SO NOT doing this without me!

Hubby and I are way to excited about this…

Be prepared….

You shall not pass!

Am I wrong to be a little freaked out about leaving home? In Texas, I HAVE a plan. We have weapons, ammo, a fallback point and lots of GF food. We can also raid the burned out shells of Central Market, Sprouts and Trader Joe’s as we flee to the ranch. But to leave out of town? I can’t bring nail clippers on a plane, so this presents a new challenge.

This is what always happens in the movies. The protagonist leaves for some innocuous business trip, and that is precisely the moment that some corporation trying to create a new kind of permanent Botox screws up. Then the protagonist is in for a cross-country zombie-fest with only the hope of being reunited with loved ones to cling to.

YES, I do have an overactive imagination. It is why it was better I become a writer than an accountant.

I am a really odd duck. Yes, that’s a nice “shocked face.” Thank you for being polite. No, seriously. I think these things through. I am the person who gives SAS Survival Guides as Christmas gifts.

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Want to see zombies? Wait until the end of NOVEMBER.

But I am in a bit of a conundrum since the terrorists ruined travel FOREVER. What can I pack in case of the Zombie Apocalypse?

The people in the movies are never prepared, which is why I am then required to shout expletives at the screen to make-believe people who can’t even hear me.

Anyway, since my life is not a movie…yet :D…I’ve had to get creative. Here are my Top 5 TSA-Approved Zombie-Killing Weapons. Make it through airport security and rest assured that you will be prepared should the Zombie Apocalypse strike when you are on vacation or business travel, because you just know that an apocalypse never strikes at a convenient time *rolls eyes*. I think AAA and the airlines should give these kinds of travel tips, stuff we can actually use.

Top Five TSA-Friendly Zombie-Killing Weapons for the Apocalypse 

1. Justin Bieber CDs

Being attacked by a horde of brainless freaks? Play some Justin Bieber and they are guaranteed to start dancing and crying and believing that Justin like seriously like looked right at them! SQUEEEEEEE! This method is guaranteed not only to distract the zombies, but it might even attract some Justin Bieber fans to give the zombies a snack so they aren’t busy chasing you.

The TSA isn’t crazy about Justin Bieber CDs, but they aren’t yet officially listed as weapons of terror.

Yet.

2. Cheap Hairspray

I would go for the industrial size can if you check a bag, but also at least 40 bottles of the travel size. They are under 2.5 ounces, so the TSA can’t exactly stop you, and if you wear big Texas hair they might not even bat an eye.

Hairspray, of course, is easy to make into a flamethrower, and also to do your hair. Duh.

Everyone has camera phones these days so it is a pretty safe bet that people will be taking pictures of the Zombie Apocalypse. And on any footage captured? Naturally, you want to be looking your best.

3. Bubble Wrap

To the TSA, bubble wrap just looks like you are OCD about packing your stuff and making sure it doesn’t get jacked up. What they don’t realize is bubble wrap can serve as a Zombie Early Warning System. Scaling fences and cars running from mindless monsters can be tiring, so you need to get your rest.

Just use the bubble wrap to form a perimeter. When they step on it? The noise can wake you up and then, when they are distracted playing with the bubble wrap—because, seriously who can resist freaking BUBBLE WRAP?—you can bust cap in their @$$. Not exactly a weapon, but the zombies end up dead–er, so who cares? Close enough.

4. Lady Gaga Meat Dress

It’s like a Ghillie Suit for slaying zombies. Just make sure you wrap this in the bubble wrap to keep it from leaking on your other stuff. And I might advise freezing your meat dress.

Swap the shoes for something more functional, like sausage sprinting shoes.

Swap the shoes for something more functional, like sausage sprinting shoes.

Not only will freezing your meat dress keep it fresh for the flight, but wearing freezing cold meat can a) help you stay cool while running for your life b) serve as a cold compress for any injuries you might sustain c) makes excellent body armor d) will keep anyone of the opposite sex from remotely hitting on you, thus preventing the sexual distraction that normally comes before a zombie rips your skull open e) can be used as food until it get’s that greenish slimy look f) but once it does get green, slimy and stinky, you will fit right in with the zombies, thus the Lady GaGa meat dress becomes the perfect zombie camouflage.

The downside is the zombies might not eat you, but you could die of e-coli, so make sure to fully cook your meat dress before consumption

The TSA might be iffy on this one. I know we can’t transport produce across state lines, but no one at the airlines would answer my questions about the meat dress. And now my phone is clicking. I think it’s been tapped.

5. A Bag Full of Legos

Need to trip up a pursuer? Toss a bag of Legos on the stairs and listen for the scream. To the TSA agent, you look like a loving family member bringing a child a toy, but little do they know Legos have a dark side and sharp edges.

The Spawn claims it isn’t a mess, it’s preparation.

Well, those are the Top Five TSA-Approved Zombie-Killing Weapons.

Any TSA friendly weapons you would like to add? I have to pack for the potential Zombie Apocalypse conference, and, to be honest, I can’t think much past great shoes for running and hair utensils that can be sharpened to kill. I’d love some additional suggestions to add to the bag.

Do you have weird travel rituals/fears? Do you have a fear of dying and loved ones finding your house a mess? Why would we care anyway? Do you see a shower curtain or a great hiding place for an ax-killer? You KNOW you say the rolled-up-carpet-dead-body *stares at you*.

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of OCTOBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook

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46 Comments

Why Are Zombies Consuming Our Culture?

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This poster for sale HERE.

Eh, it’s Friday, so we’re going to have a little fun debate. ZOMBIES. I never actively intended the undead to be part of my author brand, but strangely? It fits. Just take one glance at an author trying to make deadline (hmmm, word choice?) or someone who’s been through Revision Hell? The term “Walking Dead” fits. These poor souls shamble around moaning. They wear stained clothes, coffee mug in hand and have that creepy thousand-yard stare.

Don’t shoot! Well, unless it’s a tranquilizer gun because that is the only way many writers in these stages are going to get any sleep.

Jokes aside, why have zombies invaded pop culture?

The Spawn and Zombies

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It started out kinda cute. It was Halloween and Spawn was three. But first, a tad of backstory so y’all have context.

When Spawn was slightly less than two, he began to speak…beautifully. His third word was “dinosaur” and it was as clear as if an adult said it. I was so excited. He was talking! And just like every child I’d cared for in the past, he was speaking early, intelligibly and articulately. Then he was in a terrible accident and knocked his four front teeth into the maxilla. $20,000 of emergency maxo-facial surgery later? I had a baby bat who rarely spoke and hid his face.

Back to Halloween, 2013.

So Hubby and I were thrilled when all of the sudden, from the back seat, we hear this tiny voice say, “ZOMBIE.” That is SO OUR BOY!

Everything became about zombies and we’re still not exactly sure how since it wasn’t like we’d done anything to actively introduce him to the topic. I was addicted to documentaries about physics at the time.

Anyway, Spawn began making up zombie songs.

My husband loves heavy metal. All the sudden, I hear a growly toddler voice “singing”:

Zombies and BABIES

Zombies and BABIES

Meet you in the dark. Eat you in the park.

ZOMBIE! ZOMBIE! ZOMBIEEEEEEE!

….ohhh-kay

I confess, I laughed. I encouraged it because at least he was talking and singing. Then one day I hear him singing the Zombies and Babies tune, but the lyrics changed.

New song?

Zombies and Pears

Me: Zombies and pears?

Spawn: Yep.

Me: What kind of zombie eats pears?

Spawn: *matter-of-factly* Vegan Zombies.

And HOW do you argue with THAT?

And the ZOMBIE SAGA Continues…and CONTINUES

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At first it was cute, then adorable. But after almost a year of nothing but zombies? I’m a bit weary. But, the only time I can even understand half of what he is saying is when he talks about zombies. He tells stories, makes up songs, asks lots of zombie-related questions, makes zombie rhymes.

And for those who have followed this blog, my four-year-old son was fired from preschool for his love of zombies. No, he didn’t bite or attack anyone, he just liked to wander around the playground with a blank stare and moan. Clearly the school didn’t see he was BORN to run for government office.

So now Mommy is homeschooling (unschooling actually). What I’ve decided is if he wants zombies, that’s what he’ll get. Think of all the topics! ZomBIOLOGY 101.

Prevention, pathology, epidemiology, history, plagues, prions, viruses, the CDC, ethics, and on and on. Either I will burn him out and he’ll find something new, or at least I can have fun, too.

But it does beg the question…

Why Are Zombies SO Popular?

My friend Kevin Lucia is a horror author who’s taught for WANA International and guest-posted here about this often misunderstood genre. One particular Lucia post was fascinating because he spoke about how “horror” often reflects much of what we’re facing as a society. For instance, after the invention of the A-Bomb, radioactivity was all the rage. Movie theaters and comics offered up all kinds of radioactive spiders, lizards, superheroes, super villains etc.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre came on the heels of the Vietnam War, a war which decimated accepted rules of combat and exposed authorities as flawed, corrupt and untrustworthy.

Now we exist in a world where we are no longer fighting countries or governments, we’re fighting ideas/behaviors—The War on Drugs, The War on Obesity, The War on Terror.

War of Words

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Most of these “wars” are rife with ambiguity. Which drugs are the enemy? We’re Janus-faced. Our government burns poppy fields while doctors hand out Oxycotin like candy. The DEA torches marijuana fields, but then we can order “special” brownies in Colorado. Meth is evil, but then elementary schools are swimming in amphetamines (ADD meds).

Talk about confusing.

Then there is The War on Obesity. Sigh. I’m close to 170 pounds, but I wear a size 8. I fired my last doctor because he kept sending me for tests to figure out why I was so “morbidly obese.” Despite the fact that all my tests came back the picture of optimal health and my diet is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, soda-free, low in sugar and no processed carbs, organic, non-GMO and I work out constantly, I was “fat.”

Ironically, if I wasn’t a white female, I’d be “curvy.” The African American nurse was my strongest ally and thought the doctor had four holes in his head. She made it a point to tell me I was beautiful and to ignore him.

But this is a fair question. What IS fat? In a world where J.Crew is offering up the NEW Size 000? Who the hell knows anymore?

The Shapeshifting

The terrifying part (for me) is that ideas are malleable and can be redefined. “Terrorist” is all about perspective and personal value systems. I’ve had people on Facebook call gun-owners domestic terrorists and viscously attack me for having guns. Of course, the interesting part is many of them live in major metropolitan areas. Politics aside, a large portion of these detractors don’t live in places where their definitive position at the top of the food chain not is static.

Image courtesy of Texana

Image courtesy of Texan

 

We’ve had nests like these (above) at our property, even beneath the HOUSE. I’ve nearly stepped on a rattlesnake countless times. Also at our ranch, we’ve been battling a MAJOR wild boar infestation. Wild boar can weigh hundreds of pounds. They’re viscous, invasive, aggressive, territorial and have long razor-sharp tusks that rival a French chef knife.

Cell phones rarely work out there, and even if they did, it would take at least 30 minutes for outside help to arrive.

New Kinds of War

Also, these days there is NO way to really know or see the enemy. The enemy (like Vietnam) can be anyone and everyone. It isn’t a soldier dressed in a blue or red or green uniform. Men, women, children, babies, elderly are all potential killers in many parts of the world.

Interesting how this parallels with the idea of zombies. However infected, the zombie is just as much a victim as its prey. A virus “recruits” universally and doesn’t discriminate.

A Universal and Politically Correct “Enemy”?

Original "Red Dawn"

Original “Red Dawn”

I was a child of the 70s and 80s. We were a seriously un-PC generation. We fought the Russians daily in our backyard and all watched the 1984 Olympics with more enthusiasm than any Olympics since. Our goal? BEAT THE RUSSIANS. Then the Iron Curtain parted, the Berlin Wall fell and a world with two major axes of power crumbled.

Also, with an increasingly globalized world most of us live in very heterogenous populations. I live in a relatively small satellite community in DFW. I see Vietnamese, Koreans, Indians, Muslims, Africans every time I go to a grocery store. This notion of we are ALL in this together? Clearer by the day.

Sure we witness human-against-human war all the time on the news, which is why I limit how much I watch. But my opinion? The biggest threats we will face in the future are not people, but biology.

Beat the Russians Bugs

In the 80s and 90s, doctors threw antibiotics at EVERYTHING. We’re seeing all kinds of superbugs emerging. I was an early adopter and contracted Swine Flu the year before it paralyzed the US. I’ve never been so sick in my LIFE. I had a boiling fever (104-108) for two weeks and it took THREE MONTHS to fully recover.

Add in SARS, Bird Flu, Mad Cow Disease, MRSA, Flesh-Eating viruses, Tuberculosis, The Kardashians and Honey Boo-Boo?

It makes sense that zombies would be part of the national consciousness when every time we get sick we need GODZILLACILLIN to tame a simple ear infection.

Zombies—A Social Observation? How We Feel About Others

Image via Pink's Galaxy Flickr Creative Commons

Image via Pink’s Galaxy Flickr Creative Commons

Zombies. Mindless. Unaware of anything but their own hunger.

A couple posts ago, I mentioned going to yoga to decompress and have quiet time away from the noise of our fast-paced world. The woman next to me texted THE ENTIRE TIME. She couldn’t set down the cell phone for an HOUR.

REALLY?

Fifteen years ago, if a car was going 20 mph in a 50 mph zone and weaving through lanes? Probably a drunk. NOW? Likely texting or looking at a phone.

I was at a 7-11 trying to buy water to bring to the park. I happened to be behind this young 20-something with his pants nearly to his knees….on a PHONE. The poor clerk kept having to redo the transaction because this guy was chatting away and kept hitting the wrong buttons on the swipe pad.

It took everything for me not to rip the phone out of his hands and yell, “I’m happy you are wearing underwear, but don’t need proof. Please pull up your pants, hang up the phone and give this person working to HELP you the respect enough to be present. You are not the only one in this world and there is a line of people behind you who’d kinda like to buy stuff too and not stare at your @$$ any longer than necessary.”

How We Feel About Ourselves

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I can’t speak for all the world, but I can speak for Western culture. Every time they give us a new “time-saving” tool, they just pile on more stuff to do on our heads. When I was in the corporate world, there were people who bragged that they hadn’t taken a vacation in a decade.

Please do, because you are a worn out jerk and everyone HATES YOU.

If you took a vacation, it was frowned upon and not-so-subtley punished. Even taking SICK DAYS was punished. When I worked in paper, I got pneumonia. They forced me to come to the office (loaded with paper fiber) and we were located next to a concrete plant so the air was full of concrete dust…but then had NO IDEA why I wasn’t getting better.

Many of us deal with workplaces that would rather us lumber in with 103 degree fever than take a day off.

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Thanks for infecting the rest of us.

So why ARE we fascinated with zombies? Many of us spend a lot of time burned out and surrounded by stupidity. We’re medicated, caffeinated and indoctrinated. I don’t know about you, but I seriously miss my BRAAAAIIIIINS. I also miss when Spawn loved NASCAR. Sigh.

What are your thoughts? Why have zombies taken the place of Godzilla and Giant Spiders from Outer Space? Do you think the zombie craze is a reflection of our social angst? Or maybe we relate to the poor zombie more than we’d like to admit?

It’s Friday, let’s have some fun and be Armchair Anthropologists and Sideline Sociologists!

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of JULY, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

For those who need help building a platform (HINT: Start as EARY as possible) here’s my newest social media book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE. Only $6.99.

TOMORROW!!!!!

SATURDAY is my ANTAGONIST CLASS. NYC Time 12:00-2:00. Use WANA15 for $15 off. Have an idea for a book? Stuck and can’t move forward? Keep starting books you can’t finish? THIS class is the cure! You get two…okay usually more like three hours of instruction, the recording, detailed notes AND you can upgrade for personal consulting to help you repair or construct your masterpiece.

 

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73 Comments

Nothing Says “Forever” Like a Dead Mother-In-Law Solitaire

momring

Original image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Stephen Durham

Ah, tax season spring! May is crammed with holidays, birthdays and weddings. Hint: Mother’s Day, which is bizarrely close to Cinco de Mayo when even white people drink tequila to celebrate something…um, regarding Mexico. I’ve been running a million miles an hour to prepare for DFWWWCon this weekend and after a week beating up the poor flashbacks, I figured it was time for something fun. And nothing lightens the mood like death :D.

I’ve recently hit 40, which means most of my mail consists of flyers for AARP, discounts on hearing aids and prepaid funerals. Yay. Nothing to make a woman still feel young and sexy like a prepaid FUNERAL.

Anyway…

My family is pretty strange when it comes to the subject of “death.” And not like anyone is, per se, “normal” about death, but my family takes weird clean OFF “The Munster Family Scale” and lands us somewhere into the domain of a cross between Rob Zombie and Monty Python.

“The Zombie-Python Scale”?

Likely, this laissez faire attitude stems from a number of primary causes (beyond the obvious answer “mental illness”). One? Occupational. Mom was a nurse and came from a medical/military family. Dad? All soldiers and farmers.

Yeah, talk about gallows humor.

The second factor? Genetic. I come from Vikings, and science has “proven” there is a genome embedded in our DNA that demands that, upon expiration, our bodies must be placed on a wooden ship in the middle of an All-You-Can-Eat-Buffet, then piled in gold, pushed out on the water and set on fire.

Fire, fire, heh heh. Heh heh. Fire.

Heh.

Sadly, I have yet to find a local government official who will grant me a permit to be set afloat in my cousin Randy’s bass boat into Benbrook Lake then shot with leftover fireworks. Just kidding. Not about the permit, but the leftover fireworks part.

We’re TEXANS and there NO SUCH THING as “leftover fireworks.”

Anyway, when I was in the fifth grade, my teacher died, which really sucked, not just because my teacher died, but that it was the WRONG teacher. MY teacher, Mrs. Emmet, was awesome. The Demonic Embodiment of Science Education I had to spend an hour a day with, however, DID NOT die. I think it was because she was feasting slowly on the souls of fifth-grade children…

…and the guinea pigs near her desk that kept dying under strange circumstances (which were never fully investigated).

No, Demon Teacher lived, and is probably still alive today because she likely possesses a painting that ages in her stead. AWESOME Teacher is the one who had the heart attack (and DEMON Teacher looked strangely younger the next day).

But I digress…

The school, being confused and benevolent, brought in a grief counselor. Though, looking back, I think the grief counselor was the same dude wielding a leaf-blower earlier that school year. Grief Counselor told us to go home and discuss the subject of death with our parents then write a paper.

Great idea.

THANKS. Thank you for scarring me even further for LIFE.

So, I go home and ask my mom how she wants us to handle her passing on. Her answer? Taxidermy. She wanted to be made into something useful, like a lamp. She was even gracious enough to allow my brother and I to share her. I could take Creepy-Mom-Lamp for six months and brother could have her the other six months.

Yeah, right on that, Mom.

My Dad? He wanted to be cremated then his ashes strapped to a rocket and spread in space, an idea which everyone thought was sheer lunacy until Gene Roddenberry made it “cool.”

And I imagine the only reason CPS wasn’t called when I turned in my paper was because it WAS the 1980s. This was back in a time when it was permissible to banish your kids who wouldn’t stop running through KMart to go sit in a 110-degree station wagon and fight over a single Slurpee.

Fast-forward to 1999 and my father passes away. Since NASA and I weren’t exactly close and their security people already knew what I looked like, the rocket idea was out of the question. This meant Dad’s ashes went on a high shelf in my closet until I could make another plan. Then one day, years later, I’m all cleaning out my closet.

WTH is that blue box? I don’t remember putting that….*reaches and box falls*

OH HOLY HELL!

Yes, it was my father. In…my…shoes.

You CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP, PEOPLE!

I had to vacuum up my father, and he’s now laid to rest with cremated flip-slops, cat fur, dust bunnies one of my favorite earrings, and I hope that makes him happy after being a smart@$$ about that “being blown up in space” crap.

And it is now 2014 and Mom is still intent on the whole “taxidermy” idea, though I’ve informed her that I’m going to have her stuffed in the squatting position so she can water my front garden. Strangely, that threat hasn’t bothered her enough to deviate from Taxidermy Funeral Course.

I’m happy I’ve broken the Cycle of Weird, though. My husband is Clean-Cut-Boy-Scout-Air-Force-Military and he wants to be buried in a graveyard with a tombstone where we can go talk to him and bring flowers and chocolate offerings like NORMAL PEOPLE.

Me? I want to be cremated and made into a diamond so my son has a ready-made engagement ring for his beloved. How could a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law be ANY closer? THAT is family (and being frugal—Hey, “waste not, want, not”). It’s also a great excuse to gain some extra weight. A skinny dead mother-in-law is good for little more than a tacky nose ring, which might impress some young Waffle House waitress from the trailer park, but not a gal suitable for MY boy.

But a mom-in-law with some MEAT? I might make a nice 2 carat solitaire. Not large enough to catch a Kardashian gold-digger, but big enough to impress a young lady with more than a G.E.D.

So, yes, I want to be made into a diamond (princess cut, of course), but NOT before my consciousness is uploaded into a microchip and implanted in Hubby’s head…so I can keep annoying him for eternity.

You know, *rolls eyes* NORMAL :D.

Okay, yes maybe I’ve gone off the reservation with this post (not the first or last time), but the whole “made into a gemstone” idea seems better than taking up space in a grave…that is later claimed by imminent domain and then the city builds something super-depressing over you like a Baby Gap.

***This is why all Baby Gaps are haunted, btw. It’s “science.” Don’t argue***

Then there is the made into a tree thing, which is a close second choice, but in Texas? With OUR weather? That’s just DELAYED CREMATION.

What are your thoughts? Well, maybe you don’t want to share those, unless you have some cooler ideas. Not “cooler” ideas, though cryogenics holds promise *rubs chin contemplatively*.

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of MAY, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

I will announce April’s winner after waking from the conference coma early next week.

If you want more help with plot problems, antagonists, structure, beginnings, then I have a FANTASTIC class coming up to help you!

CLASS COMES WITH HANDOUTS AND FREE RECORDING.

Understanding the Antagonist

If you are struggling with plot or have a book that seems to be in the Never-Ending Hole of Chasing Your Tail or maybe you’d like to learn how to plot a series, I am also teaching my ever-popular Understanding the Antagonist Class on May 10th from NOON to 2:00 P.M. (A SATURDAY). This is a fabulous class for understanding all the different types of antagonists and how to use them to maintain and increase story tension.

Remember, a story is only as strong as its problem ;) . This is a GREAT class for streamlining a story and making it pitch-ready.

Additionally, why pay thousands for an editor or hundreds for a book doctor? This is a VERY affordable way to make sure your entire story is clear and interesting. Also, it will help you learn to plot far faster and cleaner in the future.

Again, use WANA10 for $10 off.

I’ll be running the First Five Pages again at the end of May, so stay tuned.

And, if you need help building a brand, social media platform, please check out my latest best-selling book, Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World.

 

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79 Comments

A Merry Klingon Christmas–Holidays for the ADD Nerdy Introvert

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I LOVE giving all year, but especially at Christmas. I so enjoy the thrill of listening to people throughout the year, paying attention to what they want or need or can’t bring themselves to buy (but they really want it). I especially love shopping for the Angel Tree and buying bags of awesome food for the food bank. There are few things more rewarding than standing behind someone in line who’s struggling and embarrassed they have to put things back…then stepping in and saying, “It’s all on me. Merry Christmas.”

Hey, I vividly remember being so broke I had no power and lived on .99 boxes of crackers. I wouldn’t trade those days for the world, because it makes blessing others a million times better.

This is why I want to be a bazillionaire. Not only so I can have a solid gold statue of Darth Vader, but it would just be too cool to sit in a restaurant and pay for someone’s meal and never say a word. Or buy someone’s groceries as a surprise. Or carry around hundred dollar bills and, when I see someone in need, say, “You dropped this” and wink so they know it’s a blessing.

Anyway, first I was kidding about the solid gold Darth Vader statue (plated is fine). I really wanted to talk about Christmas shopping.

I generally have one of two plans.

Plan A: Organized Kristen

This is where I make a list and, throughout the year pick up special items for each family member and put them in labeled boxes. In known Kristen History, this has happened three times. But one time might just be urban legend.

Okay, two times *hangs head*.

Plan B: Running-With-Her-Hair-On-Fire-Kristen

detest crowds. I am (believe it or not) an introvert and need to be medicated to shop in a store where there are more than twenty other people (aside from staff). For years, I did all my grocery shopping at 4 a.m.

Plan B is where I wait until 6:00 a.m. Christmas Eve to do all my shopping in an hour. Hey, so everyone gets Snuggies and Chia Pets, right? Kidding. In modern times, capitalists have learned to accommodate slackers like me. Often, stores restock and the selection is great, the prices better and NO PEOPLE.

SCORE.

I’m one of those people that does better shopping last minute, and not only because I’m lazy. I am terrible at waiting. If I get someone a super cool gift too early? They’re likely to get it at Halloween (and then I just end up shopping on Christmas Eve morning anyway). But one year, I did have the World’s Most Epic Present and I waited.

This was back when my dad was alive and I inherited this gene of “not being able to wait until Christmas morning to give the universe’s COOLEST gift” from him. For weeks we giggled, “I got you the BEST GIFT EVER. You are NEVER going to guess!!! Muah ha ha ha ha!”

The waiting was sheer torture for both my dad and for me. Then, finally….Christmas morning arrived. We squeeeeeeeeeed as we handed each other the PERFECT GIFT….

….and realized we’d both bought each other the SAME thing. A language series (tapes, dictionary, etc.) on How to Speak Klingon.

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Hey, I suppose the geek doesn’t fall far from the tree.

So, QISmaS botIvjaj ‘ej DIS chu’ botIvjaj!!!

(That’s “Merry Christmas” in Klingon. I’m going to put this on ALL my cards next year provided I am organized to send out cards next year. Might start now…)

So Merry Christmas to all of you. Thank you for your generosity and love all year long on my blog. You have no idea how much all of you mean to me. I love hearing your thoughts, ideas, opinions and just seeing you. I’ve had a really tough two years (orders for Hubby to deploy to Afghanistan, The Spawn’s accident and $20,000 of maxo-facial surgery, six deaths and three major surgeries, and on and on and…on).  I don’t think I would have made it without you guys. I couldn’t have remained positive without all the love you guys so freely give because you are made of AWESOME.

What about you? Do you have any cool holiday traditions that don’t involve bail money? Suggestions? Hey, I know when I am out of my depth and am humble enough to consult the World’s Most Brilliant Hive Mind (y’all, DUH). Any funny Christmas stories? Are you a slacker or are you organized? Have you ever had the situation of buying the same present for another person? What’s the best/worst gift you’ve ever gotten? What’s the best gift you’ve ever GIVEN? It’s okay to brag :D.

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of December, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less). Comments for guests get extra POINTS!

I hope you guys will check out my latest book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World and get prepared for 2014!!!!

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68 Comments

Santa Claus Recruited to Improve NSA’s Public Image & Head Intelligence Operations

Image via Flikr Creative Commons courtesy of Kevin Dooley

Image via Flikr Creative Commons courtesy of Kevin Dooley

Lately, Brave New World has become one of the hottest selling novels, and many of us have become even more suspicious of that white panel van that passes our homes daily. Sure it has ice-cream and plays tinkly music, but that cover is so thin Stevie Wonder could see right through it.

After the whole Edward Snowden whistle-blowing debacle earlier this year, the Obama Administration and the Intelligence community have been up to their ears in hot water and bad press. Spying on regular citizens with no cause or warrant? Invading privacy and throwing the 4th Amendment out the window? Reading our e-mails? Monitoring our Internet? Those activities are just the sort that create an image problem.

Thus, sources tell me (sources being the voices in my head) that, in order to get back in the good graces of the American public, the current administration has decided to appoint Santa to head up any future intelligence operations. Come on, Santa IS the perfect fit.

Santa Knows Everyone and Everything

He knows when you’ve been sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake…

Revised for the Intelligence community:

He knows what you’ve been surfing. He knows the shows you hate. He knows if you vote red or blue, so be good if you know what’s good for you…

Alright, maybe a little clunky, but still a clear warning for all of us to behave. Santa can spot all kinds of terrorist activities like 1) putting the roll of toilet paper with the paper feeding under not over, 2) paying retail 3) wearing white shoes after Labor Day 4) listening to too much any Justin Bieber and 5) possessing lukewarm appreciation for the sheer AWESOMENESS of Grumpy Cat and more…

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All I’m saying is why didn’t they recruit this guy earlier? How much time and money could we have saved locating Osama bin Laden? One would think that being omniscient is an automatic YES! for being hired to the NSA. Um, duh?

He Travels Beyond Light Speed

This guy travels the world faster than Google. Think of how much more efficient spying would be if we could do it as fast as Santa. Santa can hop down a few hundred million chimneys, eat cookies, take time to nicely stack presents with an appreciation for presentation and then LEAVE with no proof he’s been there other than missing cookies and that new iPad we asked for beautifully wrapped and left under our Christmas trees.

Which brings me to my next point…

He’s Untraceable 

People have been searching for this guy for CENTURIES yet he still leaves no evidence…even after the invention of DNA profiling. IN, OUT, GONE. Perfect recruit for the Intelligence world. He’s never even been located on radar. Maybe Santa could instruct our government how he makes the sleigh the perfect stealth aircraft. Maybe we’ve been underestimating “Reindeer Technology.” We could TOTALLY use that kind of help.

Image via Flikr Commons courtesy of Mark Dumont...

Image via Flickr Commons courtesy of Mark Dumont…

Who knew these things were so FAST? Why aren’t physicists in Cern running THESE guys through the Hadron Collider?

Enemies Would Underestimate Him

Santa shows up, and all the bad guy is thinking is one of two things:

1) Why is some guy from the mall dressed as Santa at my house?

2) OMG! It’s TOTALLY freaking SANTA!

Nobody expects to be capped by SANTA. No one pulls out a weapon or thinks of self defense when faced with this cherub-faced man known for his superlative gift-giving skills. Santa could double-tap any ruthless dictator before they could ask, “Hey, did you bring me that nuclear device I asked for in my letter?”

Santa Has More Doubles than Castro

Even when the bad guys (known as the American public) catch on that Santa is in charge of the NSA, what can we do about it? He has doubles EVERYWHERE and thing is?

…..We never know which one is real.

This man is the perfect spy.

Uparalleled Work Ethic

Santa delivers billions of gifts and is paid in MILK AND COOKIES. This guy not only works cheap, but he’s FAST, so he could work for ALL our security agencies—NSA, CIA, FBI, ICE, and Facebook.

…and *spoiler alert*

He Isn’t REAL

This is really key because I’m pretty sure that imaginary creatures can’t violate the Constitution. Also, since he’s apparently immortal, the taxpayers wouldn’t have to pay for dental, health care or retirement planning. This dude works FOREVER and he’s got roughly 363 days of the year free, since everyone knows that his elves do all the shopping, building and wrapping.

PROBLEM SOLVED.

The government could keep spying on regular citizens because we just accept that Santa’s been doing it for centuries and we never griped before. He’s not only been reading our mail, but our THOUGHTS.

I mean right now, we’re looking at our government through Huxley-an glasses. What better way to improve their public image than have SANTA as the face of Intelligence?

HE GIVES GIFTS!!!

At least we’d have a trade-off for losing our Constitutional right to privacy. PRESENTS!

The Administration needs to recruit Santa NOW before someone else does.

What are your thoughts? How else does Santa make the perfect choice for spying on the entire world? Who might be a better choice? And, if Santa DOES spy on us, shouldn’t we get presents more often than just ONCE a year? Maybe people like me who left their Christmas trees up until MEMORIAL DAY aren’t just lazy white trash? MAYBE we were onto something. MAYBE it was really just to appease the guy spying on us. Bet you feel super silly now taking your trees down before MARCH.

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of November, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

Also, for all your author brand and social media needs, I hope you will check out my new best-selling book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World.

Make sure you check out all the awesome WANA International Classes. You take care of your family, why not yourself? Sneak away. We won’t tell. And Dollar Store Bags make AWESOME wrapping and they will all get better gifts once your book is a best-seller, right?

Yes, I am an enabler. But we are more fun :D.

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37 Comments

Blog Hijack Part Deux – WANA Goings On

By Jay Donovan
Yes, it’s me again, Kristen’s Tech Guy. Kristen has family issues hitting her hard and has been nursing a loved one back to health. We’ll have to wait for a future blog post to learn if Nurse Kristen is more Florence Nightingale or Nurse Ratchet.

FN
NR

AA
In her seeming desperation, she handed me the keys to her blog. Again…

You’d have thought she’d have learned after I hijacked her site last time. Then again, knowing Kristen, she’s aware that I ‘sampled’ a couple glasses of wine while TechGirl and I made lasagna. Kristen’s call for help at an ungodly late hour is most likely a ploy Sun Tzu would be proud of.

Regardless, challenge accepted!

Actually, this is a fantastic chance to catch everyone up on the goings on in WANAville.

WC

First off, thanks to everyone who joined us for the October WANACon Writers Conference. We appreciate your trust in us and hope you had as good a time as we did. For those who couldn’t join us, the session recordings are available for On Demand viewing here.

The next WANACon will be Friday February 21st and Saturday February 22nd, (hopefully) far enough from the chaos of the holidays that a conference track on what to do next with your NaNoWriMo creation makes sense, and close enough to Valentine’s Day for one on writing romance.

Keep up with all the details by visiting WANACon.com or joining our mailing list.

WI
WANA Classes are going On Demand
SA
We’ve heard you. And finally the technology allows us to bring you an “On Demand” class experience that is good enough to receive the WANA… ->

We’re not moving away from live classes, but with busy WANAs all over the globe, we’re structuring classes to be more flexible for those who can’t attend live.

We’ll be adding dozens of classes by amazing instructors over the next few months. Click for our Current Class List or to join our mailing list.

And a shameless plug…

TS

Book Tours in Your PJs

On Friday, my company, TechSurgeons is adding an new Author ServiceVirtual Book Tours. They’ll use the same tech WANA uses for WANACon and live classes. At an introductory price of $50, you can rent a virtual room for 6 hours for you and up to 10 others at a time.  You’ll be able talk to your readers, share web cams, instant message with the shy ones, display PDFs of sample chapters, extras, and ‘out takes’ or whatever creative ideas you have. Contact me for more details.

WTRemember WANATribe, -the- private social media site by authors for authors.

We have Tribes for all genres and interests. And if you don’t see the one you want, you can create it. Joining and using WANATribe is free.

As a thank you prize for reading putting up with my post, here’s a video of (I believe) George Clooney and Brad Pitt dueling with a flamethrower and fire extinguisher.  Inside sources claimed this was filmed just before they went to their respective makeup artists.

Okay, that was mean. Here’s an amazingly cool video of the Ohio State band performing their “Hollywood Blockbuster” Show.
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Geek in His (un)Natural Habitat

Geek in His (un)Natural Habitat

Jay Donovan is the official WANA Tech Guy and takes care of all WANA’s technology needs. He’s writing an “Expansion Pack” on the proper use of pen names to supplement Kristen’s “Rise of the Machines” and should be working on it instead of hijacking blogs and talking about himself in third person, but where’s the fun in that?

Jay’s company TechSurgeons LLC provides the geeky magic for WANACon and  WANA classes. TechSurgeons also hosts the WANAIntl.com & authorkristenlamb.com websites. He’d love to be your tech guy too.

Find him on Twitter at @jaytechdad or on Facebook

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30 Comments

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