Tag Archives: zombies

Stories that Stick

Happy Friday everyone! Casey Wyatt here.

With the holiday season in full swing, I wanted to share some of my favorite books in case you’re looking for gifts or something different to read in all your “free” time.

Either because of the characters or the adventure, these are the stories that have stuck with me over the years. Sometimes, I re-read them (except for #6, explanation to follow), other times, the memory is enough to make me smile.

By no means, is this a list of all my favorite books. Absent, but no less loved, are The Lord Of the Rings trilogy, A Christmas Carol and all of Harry Potter. Instead, I wanted to offer more obscure titles that maybe you’ve never encountered. And I do admit that some of these have a sci-fi/fantasy bent (but I can’t help that!).

1.In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker – a 24th century cyborg named Mendoza time travels to Elizabethan England to the garden of Sir Walter Iden. While there, she falls in love with a monk name Nicholas Harpole. While there’s a romance, this is really speculative fiction and is the first of an epic series about the mysterious Company – Dr. Zeus, Inc.

2. Spring Moon: A Novel of China by Bette Boa Lord – I first read this book as a teen. I distinctively remember that you could choose among an assortment of different colored covers. I choose a pink one with red lettering (which I still own). At the time, I knew next to nothing about China, let alone about the turmoil at the turn of the twentieth century. But I never forgot this tale about Spring Moon and how she survived her country’s massive social upheaval. I re-read this book several years ago and it was still as poignant as I remembered.  If you are a fan of Lisa See, check this book out.

3. A High Wind In Jamaica by Richard Hughes – this book was out of print for many years but returned in the early 2000s, when I first learned about it. This story is a dark comedy about a group of siblings on their way home to England after their Jamaican plantation home is leveled by a hurricane. Along the way, their ship is hi-jacked by pirates who have no idea what they are in for. And it begs the question, who is more wicked? The children or the pirates?

4. The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett – A wacky variation of the story about the guy in the in the red suit. In the land of Discworld, Hogswatchnight is in danger when the beloved Hogfather goes missing.Death’s granddaughter has the task of finding him before disaster ensues. With appearances by a down on her luck tooth fairy, a nasty assassin, and Death himself, this is a satirical holiday tale like nothing you’ve read before.

5. A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote – A short story that I read in high school English class. Young Truman recalls holiday visits with his aunt and their annual mission to find ingredients to make fruitcake. I believe this tale sneakily contributed to my fascination and enjoyment of fruitcake. Yes! I admit it. I like fruitcake!

6. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks – This book scares the crap out of me. Written in fast-paced, first person, documentary style, this story is so plausible, it’s freaky! And, since Brad Pitt will be starring in the movie version (which I am sure will bear no resemblance to the book), you might want to check this out. If you read Stephen King, you can handle this. Don’t be put off by my nightmares! I’m just a big scaredy cat when it comes to zombies

7. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley –  Everyone has a book that they read a zillion times as a kid. This was mine. I took it out of the library so often that I knew its exact shelf. My love of Beauty and the Beast traces back to this book. And I suspect my love of romance too.

Who wants to share their favorite (not as popular) stories? And what books are you looking forward to reading in 2013?

It Was A Dark & Stormy Night …

And it’s not even Hallowe’en as I write this.

Thea Devine here, waiting on the storm, and feeling that an unbridled hurricane can be every bit as scary as a supernatural Hallowe’en scenario. For one, it comes out of nowhere with its own unearthly sounds. You’re at the mercy of its driving winds, and the full force of its destructive and uncontainable nature. You’re powerless and yet you try to defeat it every time.  And when you survive it, you feel as if you’ve gone through some mystical transformation.  You feel superhuman.  You feel you’ve cheated death.

Maybe that’s why Hallowe’en — and ghosts, ghouls, vampires and zombies — has such a powerful hold on the imagination.   Life beyond death, no matter form it takes, is beyond seductive, and perhaps worth the price you might have to pay.

It’s fun to fictionally play with the idea of life beyond eternity. But that’s underscored by the certain knowledge mortality is just around the corner for all of us.  That’s why we write about the monsters, the ghosts, the storms.  Leaving something tangible behind is a way to conquer the beast. Wading into the storm gives you strength.  Manipulating fears with words makes you feel superhuman again.   Overcoming the threat gives you the sense that you can surmount anything.

Hallowe’en always reminds me of the times I watched the classic horror movies with a friend who lived several floors above our apartment.  She would have to go up two or three flights of steps in a dimly lit stairwell after we watched that week’s movie.  Now, remembering those nights, I wonder what would have happened if she’d just disappeared.  In the stairwell. That was barely lit.  Her footsteps echoing and then suddenly, not. With no witnesses. And no clues.  And she was never found.  Ever …

Are you a ghosts and ghouls Hallowe’en person?  Or a princess and fantasy Hallowe’en person?  Your favorite old horror movie?  (Me, The Mummy — love 1920’s Egypt )  Any Hallowe’en moment in your life that you could make into fiction?

Thea Devine has been delving into the world of vampires with The Darkest Heart, and its sequel, Beyond the Night (April 2013 Pocket Star eBook). There are no vampires in her just reissued erotic contemporary novel, His Little Black Book, available now.

Scrabble Withdrawal

Greetings! Suze here. I’ve got a problem. A withdrawal problem. My drug of choice? Online Scrabble.

For months now I’ve been playing online Scrabble, pretty much every day. Now, I’ve been good. Seriously. I’ve limited myself to playing with only a few people–my sister, Aunt Nancy, and a couple of friends. I could easily be playing Scrabble all day long with everybody I know, plus random strangers, and I’d never get anything done. It reminds me of the endless Monopoly and Scrabble games said sister and I would play as kids when our parents would ditch us to go bowling or to play softball. We had our own rules, including double points for dirty words–unfortunately, the online version does not allow for this, and I always feel a litle sad when I have the letters for a particularly choice nugget and don’t get my bonus. Sigh.

Suddenly, there is no more Scrabble. I’ve heard the site was hacked. Hacked? Really? Don’t you computer hackers have anything more important to do, like uncover government conspiracies, expose criminals and bring them to justice, or steal precious artifacts from museums as part of some larger caper? You have to attack an innocent game that brings joy to so many people?

And yet, I can’t help but feel that this may have happened for a reason. A personal reason, that has unfortunately had wide-rippling consequences across the vast sea of Scrabble devotees. (Sorry, everyone!)

Right now I’m working on a story that has me out of my comfort zone. A paranormal romance novella, with zombies and everything. The idea came to me and seemed like so much fun, I couldn’t let it go. So for the time being, I’ve replaced my Scrabble habit with a zombie habit, and it seems to be working. The story is flowing. I’m on track to finish it by my target date. I’ve temporarily feng shuied (sp?) my life, and I rather like the results.

What about you? What’s your online game of choice? If you don’t play (gasp!), have you stepped out of your comfort zone recently?

Kung-Fu Ya!

Happy Friday everyone! Casey Wyatt here!

I’m briefly poking my head out of the writing and editing cave to share a few thoughts with you.Let’s talk guilty pleasures! Also, I want you to imagine the song – “Everybody was Kung-Fu Fighting” playing in the background.

Got that song stuck in your head?

Good. Consider it my gift to you today!

One of my favorite things is martial arts movies. They are bold, fast and action packed. Kind of what I strive for in my books.

Kung Fu movies don’t spend a lot of time on back story or beat around the bush when it comes to plotting. Most of them get right to the point. Hero or Heroine versus the world!

That doesn’t mean the movies don’t tell a story. The drama is there in between the flying fists and swinging swords. Modern martial arts movies tend to be more fantastic than their predecessors with amazing high-flying wire work action.

I also love Jackie Chan movies. He combines a sense of danger (he’s famous for his own stunts) along with humor (his Buster Keaton style of Kung Fu).Chan, raised in Chinese opera (check out his biography for a riveting tale) balances a compelling every man hero thrown into extraordinary circumstances. In his movies, sometimes there’s a love interest. Or the world to save. And if a few bad guys get their butts kicked in the process, even better.

Like the romance genre, I think there is a tendency for martial arts movies to be looked down upon (oh, you watch those movies). The badly dubbed versions don’t help. But still, like a romance novel (oh, you read those novels), I find them to be fun, satisfying and a worthy way to spend my free time.

Remember – to the tune of “Kung-Fu Fighting” – tell me your guilty pleasure! (Bonus points if you mention – chocolate, Downton Abbey or Zombies!)

I Like it Rough

Hey, everyone. Welcome to our blog!

I’m Casey Wyatt, Friday’s Scribe. I write Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. I’ve always loved stories with magic and otherworldly elements. Growing up, I was a geek fan girl of Fantasy and Sci-Fi books. I still enjoy them. I’ve since expanded to include Romance, Urban Fantasy, manga, anime (okay, I know anime’s not a written genre, but it’s a great art form), and anything with zombies!

As a writer, I love to write steamy romantic encounters, dark scenes, and subject my characters to emotional or physical chaos.

So, about the title of this blog – I like it rough. Yes, I do. That first, rough draft.

The only draft where, creatively, I’m allowed to do whatever I want. No criticism, no doubt, and no English teacher rules allowed. No self-editing along the way. And it’s not easy to do. At least not for me. In my day job, when I write,  I’m the creator and editor at the same time. Totally efficient for business writing.

Not great when writing a novel.  Embrace this reality. There’s no such thing as a perfect first draft.  Accept this fact too - there is no such thing as a perfect manuscript either. Trust me. Believe these truths and you’ll feel a lot better.

On that happy day, when the first draft is done, for a brief shining moment, I marvel at my creation. It’s an awesome sight to behold. I savor the “I finished it” high. Ah, such sweet victory.

Then it’s back to reality. The internal critic/editor runs wild.  Here’s where I fix the typos, delete things that don’t make sense, plug the plot holes, and correct the wonky grammar (commas and I have a love/hate relationship). After that it’s off to my trusted beta readers and critique partners. And then a final round of polishing (only the changes I agree with).

I’m a firm believer (this is also from hard-won experience) in letting the book go. It will never be perfect, so please, I’m begging you – do not revise your book over and over. That is just a rat hole. An excuse not to move on. As NY Times bestseller, Jessica Anderson likes to say: “you’re re-arranging the furniture”.

Send your book out into the world and move on to the next one. If you don’t continue writing new material, you’ll never grow your skills.

Viva the first draft. Scribe on!