Dead Like Me: Life After Death; Weather

First, updates on the new Dead Like Me movie, which is out in January.

And Wikipedia gives you the rest of the poop.


Next up, Iowa driving sucks. I’ve been in 3 drifts, busted through two, done three whirly road circles, and ended up in a ditch. Today. I’m staying home. For the rest of my life.

Time to revise some.


ps Thank you, Sybil’s Garage, for the expected, but polite rejection.

Dead Like Me

Today begins the features I plan to do on favorites. Most of these are works that inspire me as a writer. I wish I could pull this off, be as adept at story telling as these creators are.

I’d like to start with Dead Like Me. Recently, this previous Showtime offering has become my favorite televison show, ever. You may wonder why.


The premise: Georgia Lass, underambitious, skeptical underachiever, is hit by a toilet seat from a Russian space station and becomes a Reaper, one of the beings that isn’t really dead, but collects human souls until it is time to move on, which is apparently some randomly determined cosmological event. Georgia and her family grapple with her death and the changes it inevitably brings. Georgia gets used to her new life and colleagues, both in her work as a Reaper, and in her job as a Happy Time employee, as Reapers must still eat and pay rent. The show centers around the relationships, trials, and travails of the Reapers and Georgia’s family.

What is Cool:

1. Georgia’s growth. Georgia narrates every show, and thinks more profoundly about the world around her as she matures while she is dead.

2. The interpersonal relationships among every character. The show doesn’t skimp on the relationships of characters in almost every way. These relationships are complicated and life like.

3. The unexpected. Georgia’s annoying boss at Happy Time, Delores Herbig, is one of the most redeemable and caring characters in the show. The Reapers are bundles of complexity. When you think you have one figure out, you discover you don’t. The same can be said of Joy Lass, Georgia’s mother. And Kiffany, the waitress at Der Waffle Haus. The plot surprises.

4. Unlikeability. The show is not afraid to make us dislike the characters, as well as like them.

The Not-so-Cool

1. After two seasons, cancellation. You can’t pin this one on me. Usually, if I like a show, like Journeyman, I doom it. However, I didn’t like this one until it was canceled. There was a lot of room to still tell stories.

The Hopeful

1. There is a movie coming this year.

If you are looking for a fantasy based in reality that doesn’t try to do too many impossible things at once, and is character driven, I recommend this. I recommend this for writers and film makers who want to work on becoming more character centered or more relationship centered. It’s just good work.

Right. Gotta see to some more party prep.


Faerie Stories: Three Groups, One Rural Fantasy

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
11,369 / 90,000

Doesn’t that make me look like the wonder writer? To come clean, I started this story some time back, and what I’ve just done is written a new 1000 words, and then gone back to salvage what scenes I wanted to use. I thought originally about progressing through this book linearly, but I’ve come up with what I think is an interesting organizing scheme for it.

In case you’re interested, this series of books is called Gossamer and Veridian, and details the soap opera lives of three distinctive groups of magical beings in Iowa. Officially, that makes this rural fantasy, and at least in the modern setting corn punk. 🙂

My thinking about writing a faerie story is that lots of people use classical European faeries, and I want to use them too, but I want to use them in juxtaposition to other groups of faeries, to sort of make a larger commentary on how societies blend and work together. In the story will be four distinct threads:

Desert Tales: This is the Arabian nights part of my story. Iowa has many groups of immigrants, and in our area, we have a great many Sudanese immigrants. The Sudanese immigrants bring their own legends and stories with them, and the ones from Khartoum and Obderman have an interesting blend of Arabic and African culture. The stories here will take place in both their magical land and Iowa.

Carved in Stone: Iowa is well known for its German population, but it also has a Scandinavian heritage. This plot is about the trolls who guard the gates between Gossamer (the realms of imagination) and Veridian (our realm). With references to the customs and traditions of Scandinavia, this will be the most rural and Iowan part of my story.

Gossamer: Traditional European faeries doing their magical thing. Lots of soap opera here, as this plot involves affairs, usurpation, rescue, all sorts of stuff.

Veridian: Where the three groups encounter each other, current, modern day. Not only will the faeries be influenced by their cultures, but they will also be shaped by current ideas about faeries, so some of them will by necessity be shaped into the faeries of UF and YA novels, as well as maintaining themselves in more traditional ways.

As I jot down the next notes, I will talk about the center of the story, The Solitary King, and how he is the hub, as well, as time threads.

We’ll see what happens tomorrow. There’s this Christmas party at my house…

Oh! And my first advance ever is coming in the mail. That’s very surreal to me, but very cool.

Stay safe in the weather out there!


Goblin Quest Book Discussion

Since my day was spent moving with the rest of the English department, tonight I bring you the cut and past method of journaling, and give you the low down on our reading group’s discussion of Goblin Quest, as well as Jim’s answers to various questions from the group. Enjoy, and I’ll be back with a little world building tomorrow. And, a word count.

Speaking of word counts, there’s A LOT of Jim Hines under the cut. A LOT.


Ian wondered how much editing happened to the book, as it seemed that the characters traveled fairly quickly from the death of the dragon on. Michele felt that this was a pretty good emulation of the D&D style, and that the “game” just wrapped up after the main character was finished killing the monster.

Most of the readers are also gamers, and they appreciated the allusions to a gaming campaign. The characters were all characters that they had encountered in their gaming taken to an extreme–the dwarf particularly pendantic, the fighter particularly arrogant, and the magician particularly mad. There was some discussion of some of the things readers had wished for, including gelatinous cubes, but on the whole they were pleased.

Michelle wondered if Jig and the goblins should have been more different than humans. Mark suggested that humor must be based on familiarity. Michele (yes, a different Michele) suggested that she felt the mix between the familiar and different was good, and the portrayal of goblins was what you’d guess from their threat level and their hit points.

Ian talked about how he could chart the growth of Jig as a character. About the time Jig ran out of tunnel to lead them through is about the time he stands up for himself. Cath suggested that she was really into the book for Jig’s evolution. That, and Tymalous Shadowstar. Ian really liked Shadowstar as well. Cath plugged Jim’s third book.

As a final note, Michele mentioned that her husband Jon blames Cath for introducing her to the books, and that he’s staying up late reading them. Cath mentioned that her job at their home is done.

Read below the cut for more of Jim’s responses to reading questions.

Continue reading “Goblin Quest Book Discussion”

New Book Begins and Goblin Quest

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
1,032 / 90,000

Yes, here it is! The first few words of The Solitary King. What a pretty word counter!

The first scene is REALLY rough, but could be quite pretty and mysterious if it revise it right (makes note to revise it right…) The second scene is fun, and has some good characterization so far. It feels good to have begun the new thing. We’ll see how long it takes us to get this one around and out and about.


Monday night, our group met to discuss Goblin Quest. Jim Hines, the author, has been on our group reading list, and has been kindly answering questions. I’m going to post the Q&A, as well as a summation of what the group thought about the book on the whole. The next post will most likely be dedicated to that, but here’s a smattering.

I asked Jim how much of himself was in Jig, his main character.

Oh, there are no similarities at all. Sure, I’m a fairly small,
nearsighted, balding guy who got picked on a lot in Junior High school, and Jig’s a scrawny, nearsighted, bald little goblin who gets picked on by absolutely everyone, but that’s just coincidence.

I mean, come on. Jig’s blue! I’m not blue. No similarities whatsoever.

More to come. 🙂

A final note: Michele has started working part time at Barnes and Noble. The other day someone asked her if she had a good book recommendation for someone who needed to both cheer up and relax. Her recommendation? Happy Hour of the Damned. The two elderly ladies loved her description of stylish zombies on the edge.

Adventure Day

Saturday went much as planned. We had Christmas dinners with two separate sets of friends, and spent most of the day in the car.

Sunday started in urgent care. For a change, Bryon has some issues, and he wasn’t sure if they were internal or external. The good news is that it appears that he has pulled muscles, so there will be no exciting medications or hernia surgery. It took us about an hour and a half to find out. Making good use of the time, I finished Ill Wind by Rachel Caine and started Body Bags by Christopher Golden.

We had another social day with another friend. I suggested maybe we should go home and rest, but Bryon was keen to keep our obligation. You could tell when the Advil wore off, because he became Mr. Cranky Pants. We went to see Delgo. It won a lot of European animation awards, and we discovered that Europeans have a much lower standard for animation than we do. It was like watching watered down Reboot, alas.

Of course, while we were watching the movie, the ice storm hit. We inched through Cedar Rapids and on home after a turkey carcass pickup and a grocery store run. At least the weather hadn’t hit our part of the state badly.

More bad weather this week! Will I get my bionic lashes tomorrow? Will the English department move on Thursday? Stay tuned.


So, today my plan is to finish the wig article revision, using tomorrow night to match up pictures. Then a department meeting, the few remaining finals, and my release from the bone doctor, if he likes the pictures of my healed arm.

Um…book group tonight! There will be some reporting on what people think of Goblin Quest.



We’ve been having quite the week. The short list

Tuesday: Blizzard
Wednesday: Christmas shopping
Thursday Work: ELA registration and hand holding
Thursday Night: Final paper grading, grade posting, and desperation pizza binge
Friday Morning: Finish Packing office
Friday Afternoon: ELA graduation ceremony

*blink* When I meant I was stepping away on Wednesday, I didn’t realize how much body surfing I would be doing on the big wave of my life. I’m making a VERY conscious effort to get back here tonight. I mentioned early on that this journal keeps me honest, and I need to weigh in with some creative process and keep the dogs of coordinatorship at bay.

With that in mind, tonight’s progress was revising the interview part of the costuming article. I also organized the materials section and wrote the basic directions. Next up: extensive detailing of the instructions.

Hope you are enjoying the holiday season and things are going well out there for you!


Little Dorrit: The Character Reversal

Another thing that Dickens does very well in Little Dorrit is the character reversal.

I am a sucker for the character reversal. In recent memory, an author who does it quite nicely is Maggie Stiefvater in Lament. As a reader, I love the bad character who defects to the other side. I am less fond of the good to bad reversal, but still enjoy it when it happens.

Dickens gives us three lovely and unexpected reversals in Little Dorrit. First, we should look at Flora. Flora is Arthur’s love interest from his youth, and she’s truly a nonsense spouting comical character. Yet, almost always alluded to underneath her bluster and romantic allusions is a good-hearted nature that is often reinforced by the good things she does for the other characters. Flora is much more complicated than she appears.

The second of the reversals is the most unexpected. Affery, the Clennam’s abused and confused maid, decides at the end of the story to stand up for her own rights and Mr. Arthurs, even though she is scared out of her wits. That a character we’ve written off reaches into herself and finds the courage to do this is inspiring.

Of course, my favorite reversal is the complex Mr. Pancks. Mr. Pancks is the rent collector for landlord Casby, who has an aspect of goodness, but is truly a greedy man. Pancks is referred to as a no nonsense tugboat. He altruistically undertakes to unravel the tangles of the Dorrit fortune, and becomes Arthur Clennam’s trustworthy friend and ally. In the end, he quits Casby’s service and exposes Casby for the greedy man he is.

Dickens has plenty of flat characters, comedic characters, and villainous characters in the sprawling novel, but I enjoy that he also delivers complex and multi-dimensional characters.

I’ll be reading some lighter work for a little while, but the next classic on my list is the Mervyn Peake Gormenghast trilogy, which combines aspects of classic literature and literature of the fantastic, goals I strive toward in my own work.