Herc-o-meter and Vamp-o-meter

Herc-o-meter: This morning, bright and early, I revised the Hercules/Nonna back story. Here’s the scene count and the word count. I’ve started outlining a new scene at the zoo to do several things: interconnect Polly and Hera, give Polly a chance to be jealous of Diana, and give Leo an idea that strange things are afoot. Next session I’ll work on that scene, and the Savage Dogs match.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
26 / 44
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
41,087 / 45,000


Vamp-o-meter: We’re down to the last scene, and about two pages of the old single spaced text. I’ll finish writing this next session, proof it the session after that, and ship it off some place.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
10 / 15

Now, to work on a wide variety of things, including getting wardrobe around for next weekend’s convention.


Herc-o-meter, Vamp-o-meter

I did what I set out to do today, which brings our Herc-o-meter up to:

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
25 / 44

Word count is 40, 611. I’ve shored up the El Toro match, written an important investigative piece for the kids, and reorganized quite a bit. Our next scene is THE PAST, or how things came to be the way they are. It’s an important scene, and one I’ll enjoy writing.


Two Vampires and a Panel Discussion: Revisions continue apace. Here’s the meter:

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
6 / 15

This one won’t take long. We’ll see what it’s length is, and see where we’d like to send it. My guess is that I’ll try this puppy out at Abyss and Apex.

Off to dinner theater!


This Just In!

I read at Icon on November 1st at 5:30 pm at the Coralville Marriott. So, this is what it is to be a professional at a con, to be asked to read!

If you were me, what would you read?

1. An excerpt from Hulk Hercules: Professional Wrestler, coming from Cats Curious
2. An excerpt from Sister Night, Sister Moon, coming from Drollerie
3. The Gossamer and Veridian scenes from Cornstalk Gypsies to promote flood relief
4. An excerpt from the agent tempting Substance of Shadows.

The first one is the only one with humor potential. I’ve read scenes from G&V before at Wiscon, but they were different. And I read the beginning of SNSM at Convergence.

Input appreciated.


The Other Shoe

Here we are again. My work life is just weird right now. As in waiting for something to do.

A meeting that I had this morning was canceled because my partner in crime had to stay home and take care of a sick kid. I checked on all of the other people I need pieces from to put together, lessee, in no particular order: flowers for a sick faculty member, my research trip to Chicago, the grammar goals for assessment, any of the L5 courses I’m working on, the CCID paper proposal, and the evaluation I have to write for the teacher I observed this week. No forward movement on those things possible. Wow. I am stymied. Tuesday deja vu.

So, I checked the 4 composition papers that came in early (tonight it will rain comma errors all over my driveway…), futzed around on the Internet, and ate my lunch early. In 38 minutes I get to go upstairs and listen to Health Science teachers talk about how to prepare second language learners for their clinicals. There will be stuff to do AFTER that. I also take the students to the library for research training. There will be papers to check AFTER that.

I know something’s going to give on all these projects. I have the sinking feeling that all the deadlines will free themselves at once, and I will be inundated in too many projects. It’s always like that, isn’t it? Insert cliche about raining and pouring.

Maybe this is God’s way of training me for the publishing industry. Scramble. Wait. Scramble. Wait. Don’t forget to oil the parts every once in a while, so they continue to work with the least friction.

I should have bought the writing work with me. Foolish Catherine. You thought you’d be working today, didn’t you?

May you all have not so frustrating, productive days.

Short Story Two

I’ve taken a look through the old stock. While there are some interesting characters that can be salvaged in there, most of it is dreck you guys don’t get to see. BECAUSE IT WOULD BLIND YOU!!!

That said, there are two short stories in there I’m willing to revise and send around.

Two Vampires and a Panel Discussion: A B-movie actor and vampire killer takes a trip to Vampire Con with his trigger happy sidekick to visit his fans and bask in former glory. Unfortunately, real vampires decide to take advantage of his appearance.

Jackal’s First Hunter: The younger brother of a secret agent accidentally gets involved in one of her missions.

Both of these still work pretty well, miracle of miracles.

Just for fun, this should give you an idea of the first story.


“Watch this scene,” said Reginald Rath. Mark Maxwell took another swig of his Miller and eyed the screen. A younger Rath, back in the days when he only had to dye part of his hair to keep out the gray, opened a coffin, pulled out a sharpened table leg and a mallet, and pounded the leg deliberately into an undead chest. Blood splattered on the vampire hunter’s face, but Rath only squinted briefly and continued to pound, undaunted.

“The first take of that scene,” said Reginald to Mark enthusiastically, “the fake blood shot into my eye. Took us three days to shoot that scene.”

Mark burped. “No foolin’?”

“That’s not the longest it ever took us to film a scene. In I Was a Vampire Czar Lee Christopher had this scene with a horse and some borscht that—“


And so it goes. I’ll probably be working on this when I need a break from Hulk Hercules.

I’m out of here. My elbow is shot, and so I’ll spend the rest of the night doing…something else.


Herc-o-meter: Scenes and Research

Today’s work so far.

Writing the first draft of a Tim and Bianca scene writing to Dr. Livy. It’s also a sweet scene where Tim asks Bianca out in spite of her youthful insecurities.

Writing the first draft of Tony encounters Marshall again. It’s a really playful exchange with Tony and his friends at lunch about how to handle the bully. When I was writing this scene, I think I figured out Nate’s character and Alex’s characters, so I went back and changed Alex to Nate in the spitball scene. Alex is the tae kwon do confident Korean kid. Nate is the kid who exacerbates bully trouble. George is the goofy offbeat kid. Mike is the amiable nerd. Got it.

Writing the first draft of Nonna talking to Livy about Leo. Discovered that Leo doesn’t necessarily understand that he’s Hercules. That changes a lot, so I need to re-envision the next parts of the draft.

Spent some time reading up on wrestling maneuvers to revise the El Toro scene .

ETA: Couldn’t quite manage the revision of El Toro’s match. I need to let that sit. Information has been modified accordingly, and I’ll start there next session, adding in Tony and Bianca to the audience, and labeling the wrestling commentary.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
23 / 44

And if you’re curious about word count,

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
40,876 / 45,000

Mark Henry’s Happy Hour of the Damned

The Mindbridge book group took a look at Mark Henry’s Happy Hour of the Damned. We figured Halloween and zombies were a great match.

The group was divided on Amanda’s likeability, but most of us were pretty sure that we weren’t supposed to find her a sympathetic protagonist. She sings on the level of parody, and we had a great deal of fun reading Mark’s rendition of satirical undead chick lit. Some of the science geeks wanted more zombie biology and gore. Michele thought Amanda would worry more about her undead nail issues. All of us enjoyed the footnotes, play lists, and drink recipes.

While Mark didn’t fly in from Seattle, and we’re not sure he’d trust a book group that met in a coffee shop, he took some time out to answer some of our questions.

As I read the book I noticed that it was very visual and driven by what is observed. I wonder if there has been any talk of picking this up for TV?

Actually, funny you should ask. About a month after my agent sold the series to Kensington, I get this call from Jim about some interest from Showtime and another network (that’ll go unnamed). I was shocked, really. Within a week they’d hammered out an option deal and Showtime has attached a writer. The pilot and series arc are in the works. I’m crossing my fingers that things go well with that. But you know how these things go. Still. I’d love to see Amanda, Wendy and Gil chowing down scenery.

What drove you to write a zombie centric book?

I’ve always loved zombies, since I was a kid. My mother checked out reels of Night of the Living Dead for my 5th or 6th grade birthday party and showed it on our living room wall. What an awesome present. Of course, we didn’t make any friends in the neighborhood with that one. After that my enthusiasm snowballed and I’ve seen pretty much every zombie movie you can think of. When it came to writing, though, I drew more from Douglas E. Winter’s takes on the 80s “me” authors Bret Easton Ellis and Jay McInerny. His shorts, Less than Zombie and Bright Lights Big Zombie, stuck with me all these years. Brilliant parodies. It seemed like chick lit was ripe for a similar take and since zombies were my thing it was a perfect fit. So I spent some time with Candace Bushnell (her books, not her–though I have an interesting story about that) and some others and found that their style was not unlike my regular voice. Just as sarcastic and snarky. So I gave it a shot.

What are your influences for the book?

I guess I answered that in the last question. I always think this is an interesting question though, because so many urban fantasy writers come at it from the fantasy side and I was never very interested in the fantasy genre. I read primarily literary fiction, memoirs and mystery. Oh…and horror. I love horror. So that’s really where a lot of this comes from. Plus. I’m so desensitized to the stuff that it doesn’t scare me, I guess that’s why my characters are like they are. Even when they do horrific things, I just shrug it off. Thank God for an agent and editor with similar sensibilities.

Where did you come up with Amanda’s personality?

Amanda’s way more like me than I’d like to admit. I write a lot and so spend a great deal of time alone. When I’m in public, I go one of two directions. Either I’ll be completely social and laugh a lot, or I’ll be irritated and isolate. Can you tell I’m a Gemini? The other parts of Amanda are really grounded in my social group who are beyond snarky and completely averse to political correctness. Thank God.

How much of you is in the characters of the book?

Damn. It’s like I’m psychic with these questions, I seem to be answering each one in the previous response. Weird. I think all writers put a little of themselves into their characters. We draw on what we know. Our internal reactions to things need to be there. The other thing is, I was a psychotherapist for 12 years. So I’ve got hundreds of clients’ experiences to draw on. I’d never choose a single one to turn into a character, but there are elements, definitely.

What are you trying to say about Starbucks, really?

Yeah. Come on. There was really no other choice as a means for a zombie outbreak. Particularly in the Northwest where, I’m not kidding when I say, there is a Starbucks or indie espresso place on every single corner. They’re everywhere. I couldn’t not incorporate that into the book. It’s quintessential Seattle. And, honestly, if I were planning to launch a plague. That’s how I’d do it.

Will we find out more about the characters’ backgrounds in future books?

Absolutely. Things definitely get amped up in the relationship between Amanda and Wendy. They’re not nearly as alike as it seemed in Happy Hour. Nor is Gil quite as pulled together. All it took was to get the three of them on a Road Trip of the Living Dead and watch the dysfunction emerge.

What role will Persephone have in future books?

It’s only Persephone in their heads. No one calls her that in public. She’s still Elizabeth Karkaroff and she’s Amanda’s new business partner, so she’ll be around, though in a limited capacity until book three, Battle of the Network Zombies.

Why did you decide to use the inserts and footnotes?
That’s an interesting question, because I can’t pinpoint the moment when the decision was made, though I expect they were made separately. The footnotes showed up on a whim, I’ve no doubt of that and they’re definitely tricky to keep up with. Lots of people have a problem with them, saying that they take them out of the story. Not much I can do about that, at this point. And I have way more people say that they like them than don’t so they’re staying. The inserts diminish a bit in the second book as it’s not so influenced by music, but there are things like signs and keychains and stuff that I loved from childhood books.

Again, thanks so much for taking the time to spend with Amanda and her ghouly gang. I hope it was fun for y’all. Make sure to swing by if I end up at a signing near you.

State of the Shadows

In the interest of pretending I don’t care, no, that friendly email I received from Mystery Agent this morning in response to my news that I was posting things off didn’t give me that thrill of excitement and woohooness. Nope. Uh-uh.

Gods, what a rank amateur we’re dealing with here…

Status then. FYI, Mystery Agent isn’t the only agent with Substance. Another agent still has the full read, and is still considering the manuscript. Trisha Telep also has to reject me properly yet. And there is YET another agent I can submit to, should I get a hankering.

Also, Abby and Vince’s little story is out at Drops of Blood. Wanted to support their first efforts as an Urban Fantasy ‘zine, even though cash is not an issue there.


What next? Obviously, Hulk Hercules.

I want second draft done before I take my wrestling road trip to Chicago on the 15th. Then I’ll come back and tweak it with what I’ve found out. I’ll be looking for some readers once I’m done with the second (and viewable) draft, before the tweaks. Kizmet, you’re in for sure, and I’ve got your email address from before.

Anyone else? I’ll need it back no later than November 25th, before all turkey breaks loose, so I can send it by its due date.

I should have my professorial paper proposal done as soon as Mr. Iwahara gets me his short bio. I’ll have to nag starting Monday, maybe. I know there will be additions to that in January.

Two more winter projects if there’s time with HH:PW. One is a story for the Interfictions annual based on the last days alive of Susy Twain. I would love to get that in. I also have wig making articles to get off to AniCoz.

Then I intend to begin a short story barrage! I want to go through some old short stories and update them, send them out, and write a couple of new stories. All this with an eye of applying to a writing workshop for professional development.

Of course, plans are totally subject to change, based on any trains that pull into the station. We writers must be flexible.

I need to decide on my next long term project. It was going to be YA vampire killers. I’m not sure if after HH:PW, I’ll want something deeper to do. Maybe it’s time for Dead Grrrlz after all. Who knows what the mood will be.

So, more for me, this post, than you. Do you guys like projecting yourself into some far flung, pre-planned future of what you’ll be writing?


Fait Accompli: Substance

Zokutou word meter
389 / 389

Well, that’s a wrap. Now to write the accompanying missives, and get this back off to the agent.

We return you to all Hercules, all the time.

Keep your fingers crossed for me! I’m sure the suspense will kill me for some time to come, and I’ll have to pretend that I don’t mind. AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! I mean, we’re cool…