Writers are nuckin’ futs

Chuck Wendig agrees.

My particular fave point:

5. Quiet Loners
Whenever they find some whackaloon with a collection of severed heads in his freezer, they always trot out the neighbors and you get that classic line: “He was always so quiet.” And the assumption becomes, oh, that seemingly nice-and-quiet chap next door needed his quiet time because he was too busy with his hobby of decapitating dudes. On the other hand: hey, maybe him being quiet and alone all the time made him crazy. Maybe you spend too long cooped up with yourself the carpet starts moving and the wallpaper shifts and the room starts to whisper, You know what would be awesome? A sweet-ass collection of severed heads. Get on that. This is probably a good time to remind you that writers happen to spend a lot of time alone and cooped up with themselves. Just, uhh, putting that out there. What, this old thing? Just a hacksaw.

I’d add another:

Social Cues
What? Doesn’t everyone ask people at cocktail parties what it would take to get them to drive a car off a suspension bridge or break into someone’s house for the sole purpose of raiding their refrigerator and eating meat naked in the kitchen sink? (true story–that actually happened, but I’m sure a writer somewhere had already put it to paper before that) Writers should go out in public at least three times a week to interact with people who are not writers. Not only does that teach us how to behave like normal people for a few minutes (one hopes), but it can give you lots of good ideas for secondary characters.

Happy reading, happy writing. And put that hacksaw away, where nobody can see it.

What? Friday AGAIN?

Holy crap. Wasn’t it just Friday last week?

Where DOES the time go?

Briefly, the power of humor continues. It made HuffPo. One thing I appreciate about defusing nastiness with humor is that it doesn’t leave you feeling dirty afterward. Laughing is a soul-lift. Silliness lightens your mood, and for a moment, you’re not carrying a ton of baggage or dealing with the day-to-day. You’re in that moment, enjoying it. Savoring it. And sharing it, I hope. And in these times, especially, we could all use a good laugh.

All right, that said, let’s have some Friday fun stuff.

Photobombs. That’s when you’re trying to get that photo, and something messes it up. Maybe it’s something in the background, or maybe it’s something in the foreground. Here are some amusing animal photobombs. HuffPo had some good ones today:

CLICKIE to go see.

Here’s the first one, which I think is one of my faves in the series:

Source: HuffPo via Photobomb.com (resized here)

There’s one of a squirrel that had me laughing, too. Which reminds me. Get your honey badger fix. If you’ve missed out on the honey badger meme, let me help you. Here’s the original documentary clip on the sheer badassery of the honey badger. You only need about 30 seconds of that to get the point. Now here’s Randall’s take on the honey badger, and therein, a meme is born. CLICK for it!

And finally, for the more literary-minded, check out this list of author addictions. I loved Balzac’s description of his coffee addiction, but OMG who knew about James Joyce? He also wrote some pretty raunchy letters (TOTALLY NOT SAFE FOR WORK, if you click that link in the James Joyce addiction section, so be aware!). Again, who knew?!?

Go see what past writers struggled with HERE.

And there you go. Hope you have a groovy Friday. Happy writing, happy reading!

The power of humor

Hi, folks.

I bring this up because I love humor. Especially the genuinely funny kind, that pokes fun not only at the world, but also at oneself. If you have the ability to laugh at yourself, you have the ability to change the world.

I say this because there’s a hilarious movement afoot over at Twitter. A rather mean-spirited personage over there was tweeting horrible and generally false things about a group of people. Which happens all the time, as you know. People say and do crazy crap on the interwebs on a daily basis, and get away with it all the time. But for whatever reasons, this time, somebody decided that the best way to deal with the mean-spiritedness was humor. Whoever that was got a whole bunch of other people to do the same. And they told a few people, and they told more people, and then before you know it, the mean-spirited hashtag became an absolutely hilarious celebration of the power of humor to derail nastiness.

Want to know more about it? Check here, here, and here.

So I thought I’d send you to some authors who have a similar kind of ribald, delicious, wonderful way of looking at the world. Because humor is generally subjective, and it can be a powerful tool in the right hands.

In no particular order, read Florida-based Carl Hiaasen. Start with his 1984 Tourist Season and go from there. His characters and dialogue will have you in stitches, and his sly grilling of the world in which we live only adds a delightful twist of the humor knife. Along those lines, Janet Evanovich‘s Stephanie Plum series always has me laughing out loud at the antics of Jersey girl-turned-bounty-hunter Plum.

And for those of you who enjoy LGBT books, with strong and colorful LGBT characters, please do yourselves a favor and read Joan Opyr’s books. Idaho Code and From Hell to Breakfast are jaunts along the lines of the 1930s Thin Man series, with Nick and Nora Charles. Slapstick comedy, witty banter, mysteries, and very human musings from Opyr’s characters make this pair of books a must-read. And for another Opyr book, which contains elements of her amazing humor but in a completely different vein, catch her Shaken and Stirred.

And please do yourselves a favor and read Mari SanGiovanni. Greetings from Jamaica, Wish You Were Queer. I’ll sum it up thus: Large Italian family. Trip to Jamaica. Hijinks ensue. Need I say more? And the sequel’s out. Camptown Ladies, which I’ll sum up thus: Large Italian family. Sister buys a campground, hires sister as cook. Brother’s girlfriend is contractor who works on the camp. Hijinks completely ensue.

Laugh often. We could all use a bit more of that, yes?

Happy reading, happy writing, happy!

Fun reading

Hey, folks. If you get a chance, start reading Janet Evanovich‘s Stephanie Plum series.

Plum’s in Trenton, NJ (so get ready for a slew of Jersey references and jokes). She’s half-Italian, half-eastern European (not sure which country), and she’s one big lovable screw-up who ends up working as a bail bondsman for her cousin, Vinnie. With an uproarious cast of secondary characters like Lula, the prostitute-turned sober file clerk at Vinnie’s to Stephanie’s completely off-the-wall Grandma Mazur whose regular hobby is attending viewings, you will laugh out loud through every single one of these books.

From the second book, Two for the Dough (1996):

“They had a closed casket all right for Moogey Bues,” my grandmother said to my mother. “I got to see him anyway on account of the accident.”
My mother’s eyes opened wide in alarm. “Accident?”
I shrugged out of my jacket. “Grandma caught her sleeve on the lid, and the lid accidentally flew open.”
My mother raised her arms in appalled supplication. “All day I’ve had people calling and telling me about the gladioli. Now tomorrow I’ll have to hear about the lid.”
“He didn’t look so hot,” Grandma Mazur said. “I told Spiro that he did a good job, but it was pretty much a fib.”
Morelli was wearing a blazer over a black knit shirt. He took a seat, and his jacket swung wide, exposing the gun at his hip.”
“Nice piece!” Grandma said. “What is it? Is that a forty-five?”
“It’s a nine-millimeter.”
“Don’t suppose you’d let me see it,” Grandma said. “I’d sure like to get the feel of a gun like that.”
“NO!” everyone shouted in unison.
“I shot a chicken once,” Grandma explained to Morelli.
I could see Morelli searching for a reply. “Where did you shoot it?” he finally asked.
“In the gumpy. Shot it clear off.”
(pp. 63-64)

If you’re a writer of fiction, Evanovich’s characters and characterization often carry a lot of her narratives. Want to get a taste of what great characterization is? Read the Stephanie Plum series.

All rightie, happy reading and happy writing!

Thursday giggles and iconic pizza

Hi, kids! Sorry about that; been a bit under the weather. Caught this awesomely hilarious bit Jon Stewart did about the Donald taking Sarah Palin out for pizza in New York.

Now, for those of you who don’t know, New Yorkers are proprietary about their pizza. And well they should be. There’s a wonderful pizza heritage in New York, and I do think that there is, in fact, something about NYC water that makes the dough as good as it is. A native New Yorker told me that, too.

So it’s no wonder that a New Yorker will want to take you to a New York pizzeria to try the “real deal,” like Lombardi’s, America’s first one. Originally opened in 1897 as a grocery store, it became a pizza joint in 1905 when New York issued mercantile licenses. Though pizza didn’t become really popular in the U.S. until after WWII, Lombardi’s kept on selling until 1984, when it closed but reopened it 10 years later, and the traditions continued.

So here you go. Jon Stewart on New York pizza:

source: The Daily Show

Zombie Apocalypse lore

Okay, so maybe it’s not quite “lore” in the classic sense of the word, but it IS a quirky tale of “life” during the ZA, as captured in haiku by someone who is turning into a zombie and then becomes a zombie.

This clever documentation of the ZA is Zombie Haiku, by Ryan Mecum, published in 2008 by How Books.


Zombie Apocalypse via haiku. Who knew how much fun this could be? For those who don’t know what a haiku is, it’s a form of poetry that is three lines, each line with a designated number of syllables. In this case, 5-7-5. That is, 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second, and 5 in the third.

So a lovely zombie haiku from the cover of this book is:

Biting into heads
is much harder than it looks.
the skull is feisty.

source: cover of Zombie Haiku

The premise of this collection is clever, as well. It starts with a few lines of description of a survivor of the ZA. He originally started the poetry journal as a way to “capture the beauty of the world” through haiku. But then along comes the ZA and he writes hastily: “To whoever might find this, my name is Chris Lynch, and I’m pretty sure I’m dying. In face, if you are reading this, then I’m probably already dead. Not that anyone will be around to read this…from what I’ve seen, I’d guess this is the end of everything.” So as you start reading the haikus he’s written, it starts out all happy happy joy joy and then you notice he’s documenting the ZA, though he’s not aware that this is the case. He haikus about something in the news that says people are acting weird, but he turns if off. Then,

As I start my car,
my neighbor just keeps staring
and doesn’t wave back.

(p. 7)

He doesn’t realize, even with all the car wrecks and traffic and “drunk guy stumbling into traffic” what’s up. He gets to work, nobody’s there and one of his coworkers is “eating spaghetti in her car without utensils” and she smashes her head through the glass and tries to grab him, with glass sticking out of her neck. Anyway, our hero ends up not so lucky, and in the hands of a zombie mob. You see his metamorphosis through his clever haikus:

My skin is drying,
my veins are much ore pronounced
and I’m turning gray.

(p. 30)

one thing on my mind,
only one thing on my mind.
I’m going to eat you.

(p. 32)

Somehow, this zombie haikus being a zombie, and the illustrations and “dirt” and “blood smears” on the pages only add to the macabre, dark, hilarious fun in this book. The author’s handwriting morphs, too, and you end up seeing the world through the eyes of a zombie, whose haikus are short and sharp, like the staccato bursts of gunfire and the single-minded focus of an eating machine, which is what zombies are.

A seriously fun, clever, and wonderfully twisted book. See the ZA through a zombie’s eyes!

Happy reading, happy surviving!

Freaky Friday!

Hey, folks–

Before I get into this, head on over to Women and Words and discuss the Lambda winners. Congrats to all!


So I’m doing a “staycation” for Memorial Day, and I thought I’d let those of you who are doing the same know that if you’ve got cable, the SyFy channel is running monster movies, most of which are so horrendously bad that you have to watch the heinosity unfold, like some kind of slow-motion train wreck. Must…look…away…but I can’t! How about this fabulous 2010 gem, MEGA PIRANHA!!!!

Giant mutant piranha eat their way from the Amazon toward Florida. OMG, is that Greg Brady? As the news guy? Holy crap. Anyway, here’s one of the more twistedly hilarious scenes from the movie, where our hero has to fend a bunch of these flying giant piranhas off:


And yesterday’s gem was the 2007 Ice Spiders, where mutant spiders invade the Colorado Rockies and end up hanging out on ski lifts jumping onto skiers. BIG spiders. Wild colors. Seriously. I am not making that up. And they make crazy noises, too, like chirps:


Anyway, Happy Memorial Day and while you’re having fun and hanging out with friends and relatives, maybe take some time to remember what the holiday is really about, and think about those who have died in service to the nation.

No Rapture, but how about a Zombie Apocalypse tip?

Hi, kids–

Well, I suspect you’re still here. News reports are saying NOTHING IS HAPPENING cataclysmically. No word, either, from the predictor of said Rapture, Mr. Harold Camping. Family Radio is playing nothing but devotional music and hymns, unrelated to the Rapture.

This is why stuff like this makes me think of cults. Seriously? A guy in New York blew $140,000 of his personal savings to put up ads and billboards and posters. [shaking head]

Anyway, this is just a funsies post about the ZA (which of course is WAY MORE REAL than the Rapture [I’m laughing]), but there are also good tips for basic disaster preparedness.

The CDC got into the “preparing for a zombie apocalypse” thing with this post, because they realized that whenever somebody mentioned Zombies in a Twitter feed or Facebook or something comparable, traffic went up. Zombies are popular, so the CDC used ’em to get us thinking about disaster preparedness.

Here are some tips from the CDC release, FYI:
Water (1 gallon per person per day)
Food (stock up on non-perishable items that you eat regularly)
Medications (this includes prescription and non-prescription meds)
Tools and Supplies (utility knife, duct tape, battery powered radio, etc.)
Sanitation and Hygiene (household bleach, soap, towels, etc.)
Clothing and Bedding (a change of clothes for each family member and blankets)
Important documents (copies of your driver’s license, passport, and birth certificate to name a few)
First Aid supplies (although you’re a goner if a zombie bites you, you can use these supplies to treat basic cuts and lacerations that you might get during a tornado or hurricane)

So, no Rapture, but it was cool that the CDC got into the zombie fun.

Happy Rapture Day!