Friday, January 30, 2009

Chapter 12 Makes 32,800 Words

Nice thick chapter after the short one yesterday. Kind of getting the hang of how I want the restless spirits to act toward the living.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

29,500 Words

A short chapter, banged it all out after dinner.

And here's your teaser for the week:

"Christoph turned from the counter and made one more mental note that he’d never forget. He would never fully understand it, but it would forever be a part of his own outlook after that day. Americans were so proud of the idea of their country – not the fatherland or race or language, but the idea, the “way of life” as they always liked to say – that they were almost arrogant and vain before this idealized monument to courage and self-sacrifice. Their pride was not the smugness of feeling superior, but the zealousness of knowing they were right. And Christoph now knew how exhilarating and emboldening that rightness could feel."

Apex Review

Great stuff:

Thanks Mari!

Patriot! Red Scare!

So I have a flashback to when my main character immigrated to the USA. And I was trying to think what would strike a new immigrant about this country. I don't mean the geography or weather or even the language: I mean, what would strike a German (or Pole or Chinese) as peculiarly American about these people he was suddenly surrounded by.

And of course, this has to go down in one chapter, so it kind of has to be boiled down to a couple key points. And this is taking place at the height of Red scare, white bread, suburbia America in 1956.

So I thought these thoughts would probably go through his mind:

Americans really like cleanliness and efficiency (as a German, he feels right at home).

Americans really don't like authority and intimidation and people marching around with guns (as a German, he finds this kind of refreshing, but also wonders how the trains can possibly run on time, with such a lax attitude).

Americans are scared to death of Communism, or foreigners in general (as a German, he can identify with that feeling).

Americans feel supremely confident, almost vain and arrogant, about what their country stands for - not who they are, ethnically or racially, but their "way of life" (this fills him with awe at an attitude he really can't understand as a non-American).

For regular readers: bonus points if you can identify the exemplar of attitudes 3 and 4!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Confirmed Zombie Sighting,2933,484326,00.html

My favorite Lone Star barrister may be in trouble after all!

Nah - it's the zombies who will be in trouble if he's on the job!

Cuz We All Need to Laugh

So here's an easy way!

Just take a line of Latin. Any line will do, though Caesar's when crossing the Rubicon is good. And read it out loud, making sure to pronounce it the "right" way, with each "V" sounding as a "W."

Cracks me up every time! Try it at home!

Not Just Intestine Pulling!!!

That's a really nice (and accurate) thing to say in a review!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Blue Skies

That's what's above my pointy head. Not too cold, not a cloud in the sky.

And yet the Weather Channel is telling me it's gonna start snowing here soon and not stop for like 36 hours?!

And I get an automated email response from Permuted Press (in Missouri) that I might not get an email reply for several days, as their power and internet have been knocked out?

And Rachel Maddow (who would never lie to me, with those big, big brown eyes and that smile that makes me melt) tells me it's snowing in Dubai?


Where is my favorite Lone Star barrister, to tell me that global climate change is a hoax perpetrated by evil, anti-American intellectuals (like me)? Where, oh where?!

The Land Down Under

With some legitimate criticisms, a generally positive review from the antipode:

Monday, January 26, 2009

28k Words and Note on Outlining

Hit 28k words and finished Chapter 10. The chapters with the kids come so easily, as I love the characters so much. The less likable characters (i.e. everyone else) take more work, as I find it hard to see things from their jaundiced or sickened point of view.

And I should note on outlining: when I say I have it detailed, I just mean that for each chapter, I know what needs to happen to move the plot forward. I have no idea what images or symbols or most other details I'm going to use. So for Chapter 10, all it said was "Kids talk; boy has seizure," 'cause that's all that needs to happen for the plot to advance. But what they'd eat for lunch, and how they'd then play with Legos all just came to me as I was going.

Everyone's Favorite Part So Far

Is Humpty Dumpty!

And I think it does capture the very strange ambivalence or contradiction that is in many fairy tales and stories in the Bible (it's a running theme throughout the novel). On the one hand, Humpty is one horrible tale of violent death, with no hope at the end. And yet, everytime I'd ever seen Humpty in one of those Storybook Land places when I was little, he was always on top of the wall, intact, smiling! He didn't care he was going to die!

Shocklines' Finest

For those of you who remember all the absurdities and occasional intelligence of the messageboard, this thread was good times, good times:

It starts out with some typical complaining, then someone goes into full-on gibberish on p. 5, but Gary Fry chooses to ignore that and say some interesting things, to which I responded in kind.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

25,800 Words and Writing Schedule

Hit 25,800 words today.

Some people have asked how I do it, what's my schedule, any tips, etc.

I hate to be coy, but I really don't know. The only thing I can think to say isn't really advice, because I know some people write this way and some don't. But I have found it most effective to outline a work thoroughly, especially a longer work. (I don't really outline short stories.) So when I sit down to write, it's only after years of thinking generally about a story, letting the general plot and main characters settle into my imagination, and after weeks of outlining it down to a pretty detailed level (e.g. I don't block fights, but I do know when and how many fights will occur). So I'm not thinking of new ideas and trying to make plot elements fit together when I'm at the computer. I'm free to think of dialogue and symbols and make those work the way I want them to.

PS. You'll also notice the word count tends to lurch forward 2k or so every other day. I need the intervening day to proofread and smooth over points of continuity, as well as to think of how the next chapter will mesh and follow through on what I have.

As I say, that's not "prescriptive" so I don't know how helpful it will be to anyone.

Friday, January 23, 2009


The betas (as well as other readers) have sprung into action. One called my writing "elegant" (which I really like better than other adjectives) and the other said my zombie POV was better than others he's read. Now that's pretty cool and makes me want to keep going tomorrow!!

Race in the USA and Media

From the ridiculous -

to the... hmmm... didn't think the parallel through too well...,2933,481484,00.html

Okay, I'll go with "to the drug addled, attention-whoring, utterly irrelevant and hypocritical." That should cover it.

21,700 Words and Teaser Sentence of the Week

Chapter Eight is the way I want it to be.

And I normally don't approve of one sentence "zinger" paragraphs that understate some shocking thing for effect. BUT - you need to use every tool in the toolbox, so here's one of those!

"The four-thousand pound bomb that had smashed a piece of masonry into Greta Hahn’s head was of a type nicknamed 'cookies' by the RAF crews, and the Hahns had just been subjected to a process the Allies described as 'dehousing.'"

Level of Historical Accuracy / Amount of Research

When is enough?

For example, it made sense in my current novel to have a flashback to the bombing of a German city in WWII. Firebombing is especially unpleasant, so that'd be a good touch. Dresden's probably the most famous, but that'd put our character in East Germany later, and less likely to emigrate to the USA in the 50s. So I poked around and found Darmstadt, thoroughly fire bombed on September 11, 1944. Right side of the Iron Curtain, and in southern Germany, which got me to poking around about Christmas traditions in the area, for another scene (see previous entry on Knecht Ruprecht), which was a nice bonus.

So I'm curious about any further details of the ordinance used (not that our characters would know what's being dropped on them, of course, but it might help with the description of how the things go off and the damage they do). So I find that a 4000 lb bomb called a "cookie" was often used during these raids. It had no shrapnel, but just made an enormous blast to blow the roofs off buildings, so the tiny incendiaries (4kg) would then land inside the building and not set the roof on fire (where fire crews would have a better chance of extinguishing them). "Cookies" were used during the time period, the one photo I saw of one being dropped was even dated November 1944. But I have no direct corroboration of "cookies" being dropped on Darmstadt.

Thorough enough research, to put "cookies" in the description of the raid? Or no "cookie"?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Preliminary Stoker Ballot

(I'm down in the "Long Fiction" category)

2008 Preliminary Stoker Ballot

Superior Achievement in a Novel

Coffin County by Gary Braunbeck (Leisure)
The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford (William Morrow)
Ghost Walk by Brian Keene (Leisure)
The Reach by Nate Kenyon (Leisure)
Duma Key by Stephen King (Scribner)
Johnny Gruesome by Gregory Lamberson (Bad Moon/Medallion)
Water Witch by Deborah Leblanc (Dorchester/Leisure)
Bad Moon Rising by Jonathan Maberry (Pinnacle)
Dead and Gone by Harry Shannon (Delirium Books)
The Price by Alexandra Sokoloff (St. Martins)
The Man on the Ceiling by Steve Rasnic Tem
and Melanie Tem (Wizards of the Coast)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel

Bestial: Werewolf Apocalypse by William D. Carl (Permuted Press)
Apricot Brandy by Lynn César (Juno Books)
Midnight On Mourn Street
by Christopher Conlon (Earthling Publications)
Veins by Lawrence C. Connolly (Fantasist Enterprises)
Eternal Vigilance by Gabrielle S. Faust (Immanion Press)
The Gentling Box by Lisa Mannetti (Dark Hart Press)
Monster Behind the Wheel by Michael McCarty
and Mark McLaughlin (Delirium Books)
Frozen Blood by Joel A. Sutherland (Lachesis Publishing)
Crimson Orgy by Austin Williams (Borderlands Press)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

“The Lagerstatte”
byLaird Barron (The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy)
The Shallow End of the Pool
by Adam-Troy Castro (Creeping Hemlock)
Miranda by John R. Little (Bad Moon Books)
Redemption Roadshow by Weston Ochse (Burning Effigy)
The Confessions of St. Zach by Gene O'Neill (Bad Moon Books)
Orpheus and the Pearl by Kim Paffenroth (Magus Press)
"Behold the Child" by Harry Shannon (Brimstone Turnpike)
Just Like Hell by Nate Southard (Thunderstorm Books)
Population Zero by Wrath James White (Cargo Cult Press)
Orgy of Souls by Wrath James White,
and Maurice Broaddus (Apex Book Company)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction

"The Last Word" by Maria Alexander (Sins of the Sirens)
"Mama Strangelove's Remedies for Afterlife Disorders,
or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Mother Death"
by C. Dean Andersson (Brutarian)
"Consumed" by Michael Louis Calvillo (Horror Library Volume 3)
"Petrified" by Scott Edelman (Desolate Souls)
"Mechanix" by Christopher Fulbright (Bound for Evil)
The Lost by Sarah Langan (Cemetery Dance Publications)
"The Dude Who Collected Lovecraft" by Nick Mamatas,
and Tim Pratt (Chizine)
"The Haven" by John Palisano (Horror Library Vol. 3)
"Turtle" by Lee Thomas (Doorways)
"The Blog at the End of the World" by Paul Tremblay (Chizine)
"Those Eyes" by Mark W. Worthen (Thinner Than Mist)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology

The Undead: Headshot Quartet
edited by Christina Bivinsand Lane Adamson (Permuted Press)
Like a Chinese Tattoo edited by Bill Breedlove (Dark Arts Books)
Horror Library, Vol. 3 edited by R. J. Cavender (Cutting Block Press)
Abominations edited by Tim Deal (Shroud Publishing)
Beneath the Surface edited by Tim Deal (Shroud Publishing)
Unspeakable Horrors
edited by Vince A. Liagunoand Chad Helder (Dark Scribe Press)

Superior Achievement in a Collection

The Number 121 to Pennsylvania
by Kealan Patrick Burke (Cemetery Dance Publications)
Mama's Boy and Other Dark Tales
by Fran Friel (Apex Publications)
Just After Sunset by Stephen King (Scribner)
Little Creatures by Michael McCarty (Sam's Dot Publishing)
Other Gods by Stephen Mark Rainey (Dark Regions Press)
The Autopsy and Other Tales by Michael Shea (Centipede)
Sheep and Wolves by Jeremy C. Shipp (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
Fourtold by Michael Stone (Baysgarth Publications)
Gleefully Macabre Tales by Jeff Strand (Delirium)
Ennui and Other States of Madness
by David Niall Wilson (Dark Regions Press)

Superior Achievement in Nonfiction

Shadows Over New England
by David Goudsward, and Scott T. Goudsward (BearManor Media)
Bram Stoker's Notes for Dracula
by Robert Eighteen-Bisangand Elizabeth Miller (McFarland)
Spirits and Death in Niagara by Marcy Italiano (Schiffer Publishing)
The New Annotated Dracula by Leslie S. Klinger (W. W. Norton)
Beauty and Dynamite by Alethea Kontis (Apex Publications)
Cheap Scares by Gregory Lamberson (McFarland)
Zombie CSU by Jonathan Maberry (Citadel)
Modern Mythmakers by Michael McCarty (McFarland)
A Hallowe'en Anthology by Lisa Morton (McFarland)
The Book of Lists: Horror
by Amy Wallace, Del Howison,and Scott Bradley (Harper)

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection

The Nightmare Collection by Bruce Boston (Dark Regions Press)
The Phantom World by Gary William Crawford (Sam's Dot)
Virgin of the Apocalypse by Corrine De Winter (Sam's Dot Publishing)
The Flayed Man and Other Poems by Phillip A. Ellis (Gothic Press)
Attack Of The Two-Headed Poetry Monster
by Mark McLaughlinand Michael McCarty (Skullvines Press)
Ghosts of Past and Future by Darrell Schweitzer (Borgo)

Kim's Summer Vacation?

Fear Zone - My New BFF!!

Wow, this dude really likes my zombies!!

"Paffenroth ... displays a true expertise in and understanding of zombies that transcends the efforts of most authors who try their hands at this sub-genre of horror fiction."

Spiffy New Web Pages!

My agent has one:

And an upcoming anthology I have a story in has one that features the cover art:

Spring Appearances

19k Words

It was like the Chapter that would not be written!

My son needed to play World of Warcraft.
My wife needed the other computer for her work.
Then the dryer broke, and I found out how long it takes to hang up two loads of laundry on various jury-rigged hangers and racks.
Then my son and daughter needed help with their homework.

Finally - DONE!!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

17,100 Words

Need to do a thousand or so more after dinner to finish up Chapter 7.

Great Review of History Is Dead

Mentions some of the stories specifically:

Yay for the authors who had their work singled out.

Going to Bed

After a day of bizarre and unexpected highs and lows.

I will embrace the darkness.

Monday, January 19, 2009


By that wild, geo-caching man Mark Rainey, who also took most of my ideas for people to tag.

THE RULES (for this game of tag):
7) DON’T BREAK THE CHAIN (not actually a rule).

Okay. Six random things that most people probably don't know about me.

1) Was born three weeks premature and under 5 lbs and given a low probability of survival.

2) Was Santa Claus in the 5th grade play.

3) Did not learn to ride a bike until 9 years old.

4) Was an extra on the movie "Rudy."

5) Favorite food is oysters (battered and fried, though raw are nice, too).

6) Loves to wear flannel shirts.

Okay, Mark made it hard to pick six more people, but here goes:

Zombos Closet
Vince Liaguno
Max Cheney
Julia Sevin
Christine Morgan
Doug Warrick

And More Hilarious Hijinks from Zombos!

It's even a serialization, as we see our hero making his way to his trial for Unmutual Zombie activity:

Dr K-Paff in the Village of the Zombie Orthodox!!

I can't wait to see part II!!

Jodi FTW!

A great interview!!

Plus -

A great review of D2L!!

Thanks Jodi! (And judging by my Amazon #s this morning, having a great effect!)

Back from Arisia

Just got back from the Arisia Con. COLD. And the snow nearly crashed me on the Mass Pike, though it cleared once I got south and west of Worcester (pronounced Woo-Stah).

The Battlestar Galactica panel was great. Because no one claimed any special expertise and everyone just talked about what they enjoyed and found interesting.

The other two panels I was on - not so much. Both times, one person made it clear s/he was the expert and was going to talk as much as possible to show how smart they are. And I let them. Like I have something invested in their enormous but fragile ego and their longing to gain 15 minutes of fame in a hotel full of other fans dressed in chainmail and Sailor Moon outfits? Sheesh. Go for it.

And the guy with the R2D2 more realistic than the one they used in the films - priceless.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mari Adkins' Review


Always good to get choked up! Don't hold back!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I got some. Maybe not as many as I'd like, maybe fewer than I thought I had, at one time. But more, surely, than I deserve. And it's a good thing, too. For listen up:

"Well, between men like these the advantages of friendship are almost more than I can say. To begin with, how can life be worth living, to use the words of Ennius, which lacks that repose which is to be found in the mutual good will of a friend?"
Cicero, De amicitia 6

"[W]hat consolation have we in this human society, so replete with mistaken notions and distressing anxieties, except the unfeigned faith and mutual affections of genuine, loyal friends?"
Augustine, City of God 19.8

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I'd never imagine the Prince of Darkness with his chin on his hands like that. It's sort of ridiculous looking, but perhaps that's the point, to make him look all sullen and petulant and petty.

Much More Sad

See, I said one shouldn't complain, because one could have something really big to be sad about, and along it comes:

The Prisoner was profound. I have always said so. A little glimpse of what it means to be free, to be an individual, to be part of a community, to be alienated or soulless. He left us that as his artistic legacy, and we should all be grateful for it and try to live up to some of the challenges he left us on the show: to be authentic and honest and have principles that we won't compromise. His loss makes me sadder than I was before, but thinking about the show, I am happier, in a poignant, nostalgic way.

Just a Little Sad and Confused

This morning. Only a couple people know why. But I guess that's how it has to be, since airing it in public would only make more sadness and confusion, and add drama to it as well.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

16k Words

Chapter 6

Hard to describe people without bodies interacting with those who do. But Dante could do it!! He'll help me through it!!!

Calvinism Is Cool!

I 'd write "Calvinism is cool again" but I don't think it ever was so in the first place:

Very balanced and fair article, especially the brief summary of Calvinist belief on p. 2 and the hints at why people might like to sign up on p. 3.

Monday, January 12, 2009

WTF? Boomer's a Frakkin' Cylon?!

Ok, I know I'm a little late, but I'd never seen the series before. I was assigned to a Battlestar Galactica panel at this weekend's Arisia Con, so I bought the first series and have been watching them in a marathon. And man, that was a good ending to an episode.

Christian Symbol - Score!

The Christian symbol I mentioned the other day has started to take on that life of its own, that symbols in a story do, when you let them grow and connect with other things. (And this symbol, like most all I weave in, was not in my original conception of the story, since my original conception of a story centers on plot and not on symbolism.)

The grandfather who is (more or less unwittingly and unwillingly) haunting his family, was a devout man, and a master carpenter. He made an ornate wooden cross.

His son grew up to be an atheist and hate everything his father stood for. But he really liked that cross: it was the only thing he could remember, growing up, that was beautiful and not austere, and it conveyed to him some sense of wonder and mystery, rather than the guilt and sin he felt his father's religion usually pounded into him.

But the father really didn't like the cross. He felt it was too pretty, too much a tribute to his craftsmanship and therefore would detract from Jesus. And the way his son looked at it when he was growing up made the father feel even worse for creating it, as though he had made some sort of idol. He almost blames the cross for his son becoming an atheist (though that might be going to far).

So, of course, the grandkids have to get a hold of the cross and give their interpretation of it, for the other two generations to come to some healing.

This is the fun part of writing.

Betas - Down on the Job

A free book and tshirt just don't get what they used to. I'll have to think about raising the slave wages, or else really getting someone chained up in the basement, Misery style.

British Atheists

Always nice to see someone other than Americans being litigious and cranky:

I actually think there is some evidence for God, but the offending ad doesn't say "There's definitely no God," so I don't think one can rule against it as a kind of false advertising.

And churches advertise all the time. (At least over here, I don't know what they do in UK.)

And really, if believing in God gives you nothing but anxiety and makes you enjoy your life less, I'd probably counsel against believing in God, too.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

12,700 Words, and Death Writer Picked

12, 700 words, with a flashback to 1940 Germany. Knecht Ruprecht got to make his appearance.

Also, as is my custom, I asked another author to finish the manuscript, if I should die while working it. This time I asked the Reverend Maurice Broaddus, and he has agreed to fulfill this important, though hopefully superfluous, post.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Knecht Ruprecht?

Part of my story takes place in Germany, so I was looking for some German customs to add verisimilitude, and I came across this dude. I'd heard of coal in stokings, of course, but I hadn't heard it was a tradition in Bavaria that Santa Claus has an evil helper named Knecht Ruprecht. In the nicer versions of his story, he "only" beats the children. But in some versions, he carries a bag around with him, like Santa, except Ruprecht's bag is empty, and is for tossing bad children into, so he can can take them back to the woods and throw the bag in the river and drown them (??!!).

Wow. Those Germans. Got Issues.

10,900 Words

Nice chapter. Explicitly Christian symbol at the end has me a little worried, like people won't go for it. We'll see.

Best Salami!

Hannaford's Supermarket brand Genoa salami, part of my blizzard survival supplies I bought last night. Greasy, not quite as tough or spicy as hard salami, but with a little tang.

Teaser Paragraph of the Weekend

A little wordy, but I kind of like it:

When someone like Christoph Hahn, a devout man his whole life, receives a message that he is certain is from God, then he falls to his knees and thanks God for the generosity and grace that He has shown by deigning to communicate with His unworthy servant. And this reaction of grateful prayer is automatic and unquestioning – even if that message is that the recipient is now in hell. Christoph did not bother to debate whether God hears the prayers of those in hell. He did not bother to consider whether a soul in hell has anything for which to be grateful. And he certainly did not meditate on the paradox that someone in hell would probably be incapable of gratitude toward or communication with God, so how could he even be praying in the first place? No, all Christoph could do was pray in the way every devout person prays at some points in his or her life – with the terror and hope of a child who is convinced his parents are angry with him, and deservedly so, and have every right not to relent in their anger. And Christoph continued in this kind of prayer, whether on his knees or walking about with upraised hands, every day until this day, the first Friday in April.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

8100 Words

oh! oh!

That's 81 x 100

Which is (9 x 9) x (10 x 10)

Which is (3 squared times 3 squared) times (ten squared)

And ten is 3 squared plus one for Unity

Okay, I'll stop. Dante and I will be having a glass of red and a smoke over that later

Oh Noes! The UN Will Take Us Over!!

The dude with the out of control 'stache thinks so -

(How many times a week do these knuckle heads stroke off, while watching Red Dawn and Invasion USA, I wonder?)

Clearly, those who've helped use the Constitution as toilet paper for 8 years now want it to get back its pristine authority:

If only my poor, poor Paddington were around! He'd straighten things out, of that I am sure!


Where'd I'd steam the milk at 11:30 at night for whiney Mainliners, even though I had a Ph.D.!!!

Where ChrisI and I would put pictures of JUDAS PRIEST at every information desk, so far under the glass that some of them were still there the last time I checked in 2004.

Where I got my son all his POKEMON cards with my employee discount! And his Thomas the Tank Engine videos! And my daughter's first American Girl books!

Where I know for a fact that Clifford the Big Red Dog took a fist to the solar plexus and a knee to the groin - because I was there!!! (Oh boy, was I there.)

Why was I talking about Borders?

Oh, yeah! Because they just placed a HUGE order for Dying to Live, Dying to Live: Life Sentence, and History Is Dead: A Zombie Anthology!!!

Please, when you next go to Borders, grab a pic of the shelf with your cell phone and send it in!!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Teaser Line of the Week

And here's your teaser line of the week, from the opening of Chapter 3:

"He knew he must be in hell, because he had seen Lee Harvey Oswald there."

Ghost Story

Since a couple people asked what the new novel's about, here's how I think of it. It's a ghost story. It's also a dysfunctional family story. What I'm trying to work in are these ideas, that I got as I thought about how and why a ghost might haunt someone:

-- It doesn't make much sense to me that someone who lived hundreds of years ago and has no connection to me would want to hurt, help, or communicate with me. Why? What would we even have in common? What would be the connection or reason? Just because my house is built where his was, or where his body is buried? Seems kind of petty, to bother me over something as trivial as physical proximity.

-- And speaking of physical, how would this spirit/ghost thing even communicate or affect me? I liked the scenes in Ghost (the movie) where the ghost had to really concentrate, just to move small objects. That makes more sense than a ghost flinging stuff all over. But it makes even more sense that a spirit would have almost no ability to affect the physical realm.

-- So what do these ghost entities do exactly? From all the haunted houses I've been to over the years, it seems like they go through the motions of their daily lives - a butler endlessly setting and clearing the table, a bride in her wedding dress before a mirror, a child in a swing. I can see this as poignant and maybe a good image of damnation, but it sure makes the dead look as though they're retarded, like they can't think of anything else to do (cf. zombies). If I'm to have a ghost character, I'd like him to do a bit more than that.

-- So I think you'd probably be haunted by dead family members - much like we are all "haunted" by our troubling or happy memories of loved ones who've died, and much like John Edwards' preys on people's desire for this on his TV show (which I think is a complete and total scam). And this is exactly the basis of ancestor veneration in China and traditional African religions.

-- And how exactly would you communicate? I really don't think the dead could talk in real words, as in sound waves moving through air (see above on the impossibility of them moving physical matter). And I don't think they'll have telepathy, exactly, since I don't think they'd get extra powers when they die. If anything, they are weaker when they're dead. And what would you talk about, exactly, unless it's all just some hazy, cosmic therapy session - which seems pretty silly, and how much more chance of success would it have than a regular therapy session, if the dead are still prone to all those needs and drives and feelings?

-- So I have a dead dude haunting his family, but it would seem I'd have to be careful what exactly he does to them. It seems a bit sinister and gross if he's actively trying to hurt them (unless I make him a really bad man, which wasn't what I had in mind), but what would he do to them? Or even, what would they do to him, in so far as they believed this was going on? Even if they wanted to put him at rest, how? Especially if they're unable to communicate directly (as above).

So that's what I'm working on. I was helped by some comments early on by some people I asked. I had thought to focus on the dead guy and his son, since that's the family dynamic I'm most familiar with, and since those are the two people in the story closest to each other. But someone pointed out that often in ghost stories, it's the kids who have some special intuition about the spirit world, and I do think that works in better. And I was very glad at how attached I was instantly to the two child characters, once I created them. (Though I apologize - I have once again created the strong, no nonsense, caretaker, girl character, and the weak, dreamy, bookish boy character. I can't help myself.) And further, as I think through more of the dynamics, it makes sense that the dead guy's "issues" are not the only problems, but that the other adults have their own issues that are causing some of the psychic and spiritual pain in the family. So that will be a bigger part than I originally planned.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Prisoner - Mini Series!!!

Great looking cast at least!!!

I feel good about it.

5500 Words

Two chapters. Long flashback to set up some of the issues that only get fully revealed as the story goes, and as they impinge on the present timeframe. Hope it's not too obscure. Had to do some research on Nazi Germany and hope it's not too implausible. Didn't want to get into a whole, "Well, as you know, Franz, the SA was virtually wiped out by the SS on June 30, 1934, in the so-called Night of the Long Knives, while the SS went on to assume all police powers in the Reich in 1936..."

Sunday, January 04, 2009

3000 Words

Nice first chapter. Some showing, some telling. Some nice things woven in. Always nice when the stuff you plan out works, and then some new stuff occurs to you as you go, and that works, too!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

1100 Words

Took the big step and just started rapping out the words on Closes at Dusk. Built a nice scene between brother and sister, finally stepping beyond one of the ways that I mocked my own writing - that all my protagonists are only children (like me).

Friday, January 02, 2009

Outlined - Enough?

The outline I have for my modern day ghost story, tentatively entitled Closes at Dusk, looks almost finished enough to begin. It's 33 chapters, and except for the details of the resolution it's pretty specific as to events - i.e. I know in a very general way what needs to be done for the ghost to go away, but I'm a little hazy on how exactly those realizations will come about, in a way that is satisfying and not contrived, poignant and not sentimental.


Triumph of The Walking Dead