Archive for category Humor

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

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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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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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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

Blog Hijack: I Aim to Misbehave

Not me, I have better hair -AND- an immunity to iocane powder

Not me, I have better hair -AND- an immunity to iocane powder

By Jay Donovan
Poor Kristen fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous of which is “Never get involved in a land war in Asia” – but a couple steps down is this: “Never leave your Tech Guy in charge of your blog.”

Kristen called me Saturday to see if I could approve comments for a couple more days and said it would be easy since she didn’t have anything to post for the first time in a long while.  Being a kind soul, of course I agreed.

Five minutes later, an epiphany…

TheOuterLimits-Screenshot-old

I control the Horizontal.
I control the Vertical.

So I called her, got voice mail, and left this message: “Hi Kristen, it’s Jay. I just thought of a blog post to put up for you.” And I’m not proud about my loss of control, but I couldn’t help myself—I ended the call with an honest to God *maniacal laugh*.

You’d think she’d know better than to allow me to get used to having so much power. Especially since I used up all my willpower by not filtering last week’s posts through the ValSpeak filter.

You don’t believe me?  I find your lack of faith disturbing.

It think it is time we demonstrated the full power of this filter.
Set your course for Kristen’s last post: Learning to Drop the Donkey.

Original text:

All of us want to do a good job. We want to put our best foot forward. We all say that we want feedback and critique, but deep down, if we are real honest, we want people to love everything we say and do.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality. We can’t please everyone, and it is easy to fall into a people-pleasing trap that will steal our passion, our art, and our very identity.

Now witness the power of this fully armed and operational blog-messer-upper:

All of us want to totally do a bitchin’ job. Us guys want to totally put our best foot forward. Us guys all say that we want feedback and critique, man, but deep down, oh, baby, if we are real honest, like, wow, we want guys to totally love everythin’ we say and do.

Unfortunately, fer shure, this isn’t thuh reality. Us guys can’t please everyone, like, and it is easy to fall into a guys-pleasin’ trap that will steal our passion, oh, baby, our art, fer shure, and our super identity.

See what I could have done. Yet I resisted. But Kristen has to further tempt me with an idle blog, and her unable to see her site, let alone stop me.  *Maniacal Laugh* Sorry, #20 of the Evil Overlord list gets me every time.

Um, now what?  Anyone have a suggestion?  Bueller?

This blog moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

This blog moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

 

“I’ve got one.  The question isn’t ‘what are we going to do,’ the question is ‘what aren’t we going to do?'”

Good thought Ferris, how about a Kristen roast?

“That’s a righteous idea.”

 

 

 

Post your favorite Kristen story in the comments. I want good ones.  Sweet ones about Kristen pulling you back from the ledge. Funny ones about Kristen’s top #KlutzClub moments. The goal here is not just to make her ears burn, but to make to make her blush the entire time she’s in places the Verizon guy fears to go.

Here are the rules; I like my roasts medium-rare. Comments which are too mean will be nuked and replaced with that photo with you and your Aunt Gertrude from when you were 11.  Yeah, the one taken a split-second after her dog barfed down your shirt.  It doesn’t matter how I got a copy of it. Worry instead about it being the next big meme.  *Maniacal Laugh* Did it again. Damn!

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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 is writing an “Expansion Pack” on the proper use of pen names to supplement Kristen’s “Rise of the Machines”. He 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 the upcoming WANACon and hosts WANA’s WANAIntl & authorkristenlamb.com websites

Find him on Twitter at @jaytechdad or on Facebook

118 Comments

Ebola, Swine Flu and The Kardashians—Why is a Zombie Apocalypse So Intriguing?

NYCZombie

Braaaaiiiiinssss….with some salsa, please. And a refill on my merlot?

Just made it in from a whirlwind week in NYC at Thrillerfest. I am so tired I want to DIE, yet my stupid biological clock still has me up at dawn despite how exhausted I am. Of all places, though, NYC seems to be the favorite place for moviemakers to destroy or infect. That and LA. Though I will mention the aliens never land in Texas.

Probably because the movie would be 15 minutes long :D.

One of my close friends, Piper Bayard, wrote a fabulous book, Firelands which deals with a post-apocalyptic world where religious fanatics now rule a world in ruin and use food to control the masses. In the spirit of her book, I wanted to discuss the apocalypse. That and I just spent a week in NYC walking through “mystery puddles”…which makes me wonder….

Why is the zombie apocalypse so fascinating to us?

Never Underestimate Zombies

One of the wonderful parts about being a writer is we are really well educated…too well educated. Any writer worth his or her salt reads…a lot. I recall (back in college) reading The Hot Zone, which is an absolutely terrifying book. Terrifying in its premise, sure. But also terrifying because it is based off real events.

For those who don’t know, Ebola actually made it to the United States in a shipment of infected monkeys back in the early 90s.

String-like Ebola virus particles are shedding from an infected cell in this electron micrograph. Credit: NIAID

String-like Ebola virus particles are shedding from an infected cell in this electron micrograph. Credit: NIAID

Ebola happens to be one of the most frightening diseases I’ve ever read about. Ebola Zaire, the most virulent of all the strains, essentially liquifies a victim within less than 12 days. The mass destruction it does to the body is the stuff of nightmares.

The virus does a number of nasty deeds to the body, but namely it attacks all the connective tissue from the inside out causing catastrophic internal hemmorhaging. This means the organs (including the brain) essentially turn to pudding because there is nothing left to hold everything together.

As a response, the body throws out all its clotting agents trying to keep the infected person alive…until it runs out of clotting agent and then the person just begins to bleed…from EVERYWHERE. Blood teeming with active virus begins to pour from the nose and mouth and eyes until the victim is rendered a puddle of infected blood, bone and tissue.

Um, cleanup on Aisle Five?

This is how the virus spreads—via blood contamination. The victim is literally dead before they die, their face sliding off the bones because nothing is left to maintain/support the facial architecture.

*shivers*

What makes Ebola especially horrific is that it’s only a few peptides and mutations from being something airborne. If something like Ebola spread like the flu? We’re toast. This is what The Hot Zone addresses. A version of Ebola (similar to Zaire in burn rate) really made it to the US…and it spread through the air like a cold.

I won’t say any more because this is a really fabulous book, but part of why it was so scary is IT FREAKING HAPPENED.

Ebola happens all the time in Africa and how do they deal with it? I call it the Three B’s—bleach, bury and burn. When a village has an outbreak, the authorities will cut down trees to block any roads leading to the village…and wait for everyone to die. Ebola Zaire has roughly a 99% kill rate. Almost no one ever survives. Authorities wait for everyone to be dead then torch the place.

Happy Monday! :D

The Scary Part About Viruses

Viruses are a lot like politicians and Kardashians. They are parasitic and they will adapt as much as needed to survive. If they burn through a species, they’ll change to be able to burn through another. If contamination via blood isn’t working? A virus is fully capable of changing tactics, like marrying Kanye West and naming it’s kid something seriously stupid like North West.

Sorry, forgot we were discussing Ebola.

As populations get larger in countries like Africa, China and South America (ideal virus petri dishes because of climate and population density) we are invading areas of rain forest no human has ever set foot in. A virus might be inert or less virulent because local wildlife has developed immunity over time, and then? Virus spots the equivalent of a Twinkie on two legs (people). NEW JUNK FOOD!

Viruses have no long-term planning capabilities. They suck at having an IRA or even going to college. They just want to consume no matter the expense to the host, much like deadbeat in-laws.

Yes, this is me.

Yes, this is me.

But Isn’t This Why the Zombie Fascination is So Strong?

I love vampires, wizards, werewolves and the like, but zombies hold a unique fascination. Why? Because I think deep in our collective subconscious, we realize this is something that could happen…which is why you need a plan (but that is totally another blog).

I was one of the fortunate first people to get Swine Flu. Hey, I’m an early adopter. What can I say? I contracted Swine Flu a year before we had a pseudo-pandemic. I had 105 fever for almost 12 days, and not only did I want to die? I wanted to die, be cremated, then have someone shoot my ashes it was so bad.

We live in a scary world. Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Ebola, and the Kardashians.

Come on! The Kardashians already have a reality show and have invaded QVC. If they manage to marry and breed faster? We could be looking at a world filled with mindless people wearing too much lip gloss and trashy shoes and being permitted to name their own children *shivers*. If a Kardashian meets up with Ebola? They could spread through sneezes and unwashed hands. Next thing we know, we are filled with botox, unable to move our foreheads or articulate an intelligent thought.

Sounds like zombies to me.

What are your thoughts? Most of us aren’t afraid of a vampire invasion, but zombies? A lot of us still get that niggling, “What if?” Why do you think we do that? Is it because we think it might happen? Is it because we’ve spent too much time watching The Bachelor or Toddlers and Tiaras?

I know you guys are geeks and have thought this through, so I would LOVE to hear your thoughts!

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 novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

NOTE: My prior two books are no longer for sale, but I am updating them and will re-release. My new book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE.

At the end of July I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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73 Comments

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