Monday, August 31, 2009


Whew! A whirlwind tour!

Concert on Thursday. Great seats, and Dio sounded great!

Drove part of the way to Toronto and stayed overnight.

Then got to FanExpo on Friday. A little late because of traffic and long lines at Border. But set up and there were lots of people. And all so happy! Great panel with Max Brooks, who was a real sport; all weekend people would come to the table and say they'd seen the panel, so it really helped to get me noticed! Dinner at an Indian place with incredible food and really pretty bad service, but it was fine.

Back there Saturday morning the line was literally kilometers long. I don't even know the numbers for attendance, but that's a pretty big convention center and it was full. Had a huge day at the table. I mean HUGE.

Dinner with Monica and the other HWA people afterwards. Thanks Monica for all your help, and Sephera for setting up the dinner!

Adding two new zombie affiliate sites, having met them at the Con:

Zombie Reporting Center for all zombie related news

Canadian Zombies, to promote awareness and preparedness for the zombie apocalypse

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Borders placed a BIG order for the new zombie anthology, The World Is Dead! Check the shelves in about 3 weeks for your copy!

Big Weekend!

Leaving soon!

Heaven and Hell concert tonight, with Coheed and Cambria. Drive part of the way to Toronto.

Arrive at FanExpo tomorrow afternoon for Rue Morgue's Festival of Fear!

Wish me luck!

St John's - In Decline!!

Serves them right for not hiring me! You reap what you sow, you egg-headed bunch of losers! My classes at Iona are full to the rafters, so SUCK ON THAT!


That was, of course, Evil Kim from the Star Trek (TOS) episode "Mirror, Mirror." He has a really sweet-looking goatee and he overpowered me to seize control of the Blogotron 2000.

Well, no, actually, that was the Bitter, Middle Aged Kim. You'll be seeing a lot of him until Old Kim shows up. Then Dead Kim. But he won't blog so much. I don't think. But you never know.

And Bitter Middle Aged Kim came out of his cage, because nothing says, "You're a pathetic worthless excuse for a human being, you've achieved nothing in your life professionally and why don't you go steam some milk at Starbucks for eight bucks an hour and tell people your ideas on 17th century French philosophy," quite so eloquently as being rejected by your alma mater - THREE F'IN TIMES. Sort of like if your mom got drunk and told you that you're only here cause the rubber tore, and she always liked your sister better. Quite a bit like that, actually.

Well, anyway - times are tough. But, deep down, all bitterness aside, I hope the ideal of St John's will always live on. It should. Napoleon derided Britain as a nation of shopkeepers and thought they'd never fight. Hitler thought we were materialistic cowards, too, and we'd never fight. (I'm 99% sure the "boy lovers" line about the Athenians in 300 is 100% madeup, but it's the same accusation that a people has gone "soft" by valuing only pleasure and material prosperity.) There is something to valuing things other than material goods that makes a people vital and potent - one fights for values and ideals, and not just stuff. So, alma mater, long may you thrive, keeping our minds and souls lifted, as your neighbors across King George Street keep our shores safe from more direct, physical threats. I'll look at you from afar and think of how the cruel, stepmother world makes us who we are, Ishmaels all of us.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Keeping up nicely and doing a great job! Thanks, Christine and Robert!

Lucy's been bad. And she's gonna get a lot worse!

Gory Scenes!

Thought of them on the drive home! Different ways to kill zombies! Lots o' dismemberment!

See - a long commute has some uses!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Plissken for President!

Or rather, Snake as President!
You know you'd vote for him!
He'd go the UN and just glare. Some ambassador from some country would be shining his boot, and some other dudes would try to jump him and WHAM! CRACK! No more problem! And then the shoe shining guy would have to skulk away.
You know you want that. It's morning in America!
(And yes, this is how a yellow dog liberal Democrat who was raised on 1980s Reagan-era, xenophobic tough-guy movies talks! We're conflicted, what can I say?)

Monday, August 24, 2009


I used to work at a used book store, and we had TONS of this series:


The sheer number of volumes, never mind the number of individual books, was staggering. The prose seemed to be very pulpy, big guns, ripped pecs, big breasts, and xenophobic fantasy stuff of the godless heathen overrunning the dream that was once - AMERICA! (Think a more violent, higher tech RED DAWN and that seemed to capture its ethos.)

For Our Friends on the Other Side of the Pond

Profile on LOTTD

Sunday, August 23, 2009

In Media Res

The multi media website In Media Res will have a themed Week of the Zombie from Sept 28 - Oct 2, 2009, and I'll be curating one of the five days with a montage of clips from the original Dawn of the Dead (1978). It'll be fun and I've sure enjoyed looking over the movie again!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Mysteries of Memory

They're important to consider, as one reconstructs zombie consciousness, esp in a literary work, where we might actually have some of the story from an undead POV.

People ask me questions about it, or question how likely it is for zombies to remember some things and not others. Well, consider what we definitely know about zombie thought processes:

1) Moments after being a normal, healthy human being with normal, healthy human appetites, the former person wakes up, having forgotten some rather crucial things, most esp that it's considered very rude to kill people and eat them.

2) But at the same time, s/he remembers, for some reason, to go to work, or to the mall, and to stay there, no matter what, because it's important.

If that scenario in any way "works for you (and I had to erase "is plausible," because that's not quite what I mean), then I think you're ready for any innovation the zombie author throws at you, so long as there's some setup for it.

Or, to put it another way, just consider "regular" memory and all its quirks. I was just making dinner, unable to remember all sorts of important or interesting things, but for some reason I found myself singing this:

Happy birthday, Mr Hood!
Happy birthday to ya!
To make your birthday turn out good,
We give these presents to ya!

Those lines are from a Little Rascals episode (1938) that I probably would've seen in the early 70s in syndication. That's almost 40 yrs ago, with no reinforcement of the memory since then (except the other times I've sung it). So, I don't really think too many scenarios of bizarrely remembered or forgotten info are really that incredible.

Chapter 6

Some comfort food. Some jealousy. Some wondering what you're supposed to say to an angry God if you think you're dying.

So, kind of a typical chapter for me!

1900 words
12, 300 words total

Dividing up Characters

It's one of my favorite things to do, once I've gotten going and started to see how various personality types or psychological drives are being epitomized by characters in a story. So for the new novel, I see we have the following break down:

Rachel = Sensuality
Lucy = Violence
Truman = Reason
Will = "Thumos" (hard to translate, but something like drive, urge, or, indeed, "will" - which is how he got named last time)

Now, I'm a little worried that the two ladies are standing in for the more sinful urges, but I hope the resolution will make it clear that they are not just sinful - "they" being either the urges or the characters. If anything, the resolution of the story comes from the two female characters defining and standing up for themselves on their own terms, and not just in relation to the two male characters (who are in this story more passive and more in the role of observers).

Another Biblical Literalist

One who brags about not having graduated from college, but has memorized over 100 chapters of the Bible (KJV thank you very much!).

Well, the idea that memorizing large chunks of text is the best way to encounter God is probably a good handle on (part of) what's wrong with this. Memorization is fine. I have large blocks of all sorts of stuff memorized, and would really wish I had some more. It makes life easier, having stuff on recall. But I guess that's part of my point: knowing God isn't supposed to be easy. It isn't as simple as just memorizing a few verses and that's that, as though then you know what to believe, what to do, whom to hate.

I was pointed to the link by people mostly (and rightly) appalled at his hateful statements about homosexuals. Plenty has been said about that, so I'll go for another topic most people would skip over, as it's much less offensive. But again, one sees the odd, atrophied mind of this pastor at work in all his "exegesis." (Scare quotes because I don't think he's really reading "out of" the text, but reading into it.)

I homed right in on his ideas about one of my favorite topics, HELL. Pastor Steve thinks that thinking of Hell as separation from God is (literally) wrong. He then points us to some verses that claim God is present even in hell. Never mind the paucity of such verses, never mind quibbling about Gehenna vs Hades vs Sheol - that's not the point and just plays the literalist game more. He then points to some very literal descriptions of hell - fire, smoke, darkness, chains, worms, lack of sleep (?). But my point is - are those verses convincing as descriptions of what it means to be "damned" or "evil"? Do evil people have flames leaping off of them, are they suffocated by acrid smoke, do they suffer from poor sleep? Well, for the most part, no. They are, I think, demonstrably and painfully separating themselves - sometimes little by little, sometimes in great big leaps - from God, a process that will end with complete separation from Him and His love (even though yes, technically, God is still "there"). Or, to put it simply - it seems clear to me that the flames are metaphorical, and the separation is the literal state of Hellishness, while a literalist turns this on its head, insisting the flames are real, and any other meaning is somehow misleading and untrue. When Pastor Steve gives his lovely wife a Valentine's that says "You are my sunshine" - I think even he realizes she's not a big ball of exploding gas. Seeing the reality and the symbol or metaphor is crucial to understanding any text, the Bible included.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Chapter 5

1900 words
10,300 words total

And may I say - my lady zombie is a baaaaaad girl. Those of you who've read volume 2 - back me up! She may well be my favorite character that I've created.

Shreveport Zombie Walk

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Chapter 4

1600 words
8200 total

Lots of emotion and foreshadowing! Put some exposition cleverly (I think) into an overheard radio broadcast. Yay!

Also think the blocking of the multiple POVs might work out nicely. Only time will tell.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blocking Multiple POV

It's very frustrating, I find, when you have an extended action sequence when the characters involved somehow get separated from one another - they're in different vehicles, or locations, or separated by a door. So you can't stay with one character's POV, cause you don't know what's happening to the other people. So you have to shift back and forth. But you have to do so in a way that's suspenseful and not just confusing. Take the long middle of XMEN2 - I think it's a good comic book movie overall, but that sequence in the dam I think is interminable, because we're jumping between several groups, and each time we do, we have to think, "Wait, what? Are they chasing someone? Or trying to get away? Or what?"

Another Great New Blog

Dinner was Bad, BUT ...

How I Write about Theodicy

First, a joke. One time when I asked the class if anyone knew what "theodicy" is, someone said "Isn't that that book by that guy Homer?" Haha. Points for knowing Homer wrote The Odyssey, dude. Points off for confusing it with "theodicy." A little knowledge is so dangerous, or funny, depending on the circumstances.

So, anyway, I know I write about theodicy all the time. It's the question of how God (theo) can be just (dikaios) in the world as we have it now, full of pain, suffering, death, and injustice. It seems to me it's about the #1 set "given" of a zombie apocalypse, or any tale of mass destruction - why's God letting this happen? Why doesn't He care? What kind of God (to phrase it a little differently) would let such things happen? Is He a Cosmic Sadist and Bully? etc.

As I say, that's all a "given." Almost everybody's zombie tale has some of that in it. But then I saw that I'm developing a kind of standard "tag" at the end of a lot of chapters. It's always something about a character noticing something in the natural world - wind, waves heartbeat, etc. - that has a rhythm and reliability, but doesn't do or affect much beyond itself (except the calm it bestows on its observer).

So... what the hell's that got to do with theodicy? I'm a doctor, Jim, not a poet!

Yes, Bones, but that's sort of the point. There is something, I think, subtler and more mysterious about feeling, rather than seeing (or even worse, deducing) the rhythms of the universe as pleasing and soothing. In other words, the problem with theodicy is that it's too... blatant, too overt and open, too masculine and logical - "objective," as we like to say, and with the implication, I think, of objectifying - of making the universe something I'm separate from (and above) and can observe w/o really being a part of it (when I really am). "Explain this to me! NOW!" And the further problem then is that the "answer" to theodicy cannot be phrased as a logical proposition or argument - it's just a feeling, and that's both fortunate (since I don't think ultimately logical arguments are the best way to address our minds and soothe their pain) and unfortunate, because it's a difference of kind - you asked an objective, logical question and were given a subjective, aesthetic answer, and that's bound to be even more frustrating to you in your quest.

So, there you have it! Oh, and my theodicy question for today (really, for all this week) is why is it so frickin' hot? Why do you hate me so, oh Lord?!

UPDATE: My friends at Solid Rock Church Of God (the name of which always makes me snicker because, um, well, never mind) must know of my heat-theodicy problem! They always post "witty" sayings on their marquee. (For "witty" you may substitute "idiotic" or "tasteless" or "uplifting" depending on your outlook.) Today's was "No it's not hot as hell outside!"

Science News

Mathematical models show zombie outbreak would result in complete annihilation of humankind!

(Why/how's the dude have a question mark in his name? I went to college with a girl who claimed "3" was part of her name - "Su3an" - due to a birth certificate typo, but I've never seen a question mark!)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chapter 3

ARR! Got all the good sailing lingo from Alex! Trim the jib! Reef the sails! Avast the lee shore there matey!

1800 words. 6600 words total!

Still too damn hot to be in this room, however.


Now, these Kim knows better!

See if you do! Play along!

A sermon that would include the refrain "onions and garlic" - Biblical reference from where?

A song that includes the words "juices like wine" - which one?

I'd be shocked if one person could get both right!

Parts of a Sailboat

Perfect for fleeing zombies!
Not so perfect for Kim knowing how it works or what to have people do on deck to make it work! Relevant questions now emailed to the indomitable Alex Parker (formerly of Los Alamos, NM)! Not gonna be like the end of the Dawn remake, where we just have four people who've never sailed hop on a boat and off they go!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

New Friend!

Check out the great Z blog over at Zed World Blog!

I'll be doing an interview with them next month.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Miscellaneous Movie Recommendations

Dante's Inferno (2007)

Oddball animated version with little paper cutouts. This was actually very good for someone who knows and loves the original, because then you get all the references. Good sense of humor. Very left-leaning in whom it assigns to hell (Bushies figure prominently, as do Christians). But at the same time - look at how it handles some embarrassing parts of Dante from a modern perspective. It doesn't remove or skip homosexuals, but it has them there mostly for what seems to be hypocrisy (most of the men listed were closeted and guilty of quite other bad behavior - e.g. Ernst Rohm), and their only punishment seems to only be to dance to bad music - FOREVER! (Again, the movie has a naughty but not vicious or cruel sense of humor.) I would think for someone who's never read the original, the experience overall would be more "huh?"

Seabiscuit (2003)

Too many short scenes early on, cutting to things that don't really make sense (bull fight, boxing, dismantling car, riding train) and have no dialogue. The Depression era newsreel updates and voiceovers were annoying, but overall it worked as a parable for Depression era, up-by-your-bootstraps hope, w/o sinking into total sentimentality - not everything works out as it would if the whole thing were scripted and Disney-esque, which I appreciated.

To My European Friends

And Ozzies, too!

Thanks for all your tweets about NHS (and then explaining what it was, as I didn't know the acronym). I'm very glad (and not surprised) that you like your health care. I think I'd like that, too - though I must confess I've been lucky with private insurance here in the USA, but unlike many of my fellow citizens, I understand that many people here are not so lucky, and I think it'd be really cool if we could help them out.

As for my fellow citizens - well, what to say? They're waving around swastikas and carrying guns to public meetings and probably just generally scaring the heck out of you. But I'll see if I can explain it. A little.

I guess two of the phrases above help understand their reaction. We Americans always feel REALLY lucky. Never mind Vegas or the lottery. We flew to the moon in a contraption that looks like it was made in someone's garage. We pick fights with every nation around - and we did that long before we were the big kid on the block. And individually? There are big billboards all across the central USA that remind us NOT to try to beat trains at railroad crossings. Why not? Because so many of us feel so damned lucky so much of the time, we try to do so! There are also billboards all across the same region reminding us NOT to keep fishing near a dam when the siren sounds, because we will get washed away and drowned: they're urging us not to feel so lucky that we will be able to hold on while we catch that monster trout! (Again - more luck we believe in!) Oh, and even more billboards, reminding us not to smoke crank - because we WON'T be one of the lucky ones who doesn't get hooked - we'll be the ones (like everyone else) whose teeth turn to putty and who end up turning tricks for a five dollar fix.

So we have to be reminded constantly NOT to feel so lucky that we behave recklessly. It's in our genes. It's in our culture: we're raised to revere people who packed everything in a damn wagon and drove cross country to - God knows what! Oh, to a frickin' gold rush! That's right! Pack up and move two thousand miles, and you'll find a frickin' pot o' gold, you're so frickin' lucky, pal! Okay, never mind the pioneers: all of us who aren't full blooded Native American have some ancestor in our past who got on a boat and sailed 3-5k miles, usually with the shirt on his/her back and a couple bucks, unable to speak English, unable to read or write in his/her native tongue, and nonetheless knew s/he'd make it big in the Promised Land! Now, there's a person who thinks s/he's pretty darned lucky! And all of us have one of those as our grandparents or great-grandparents!

So unless we're coughing up blood right at the moment, we think we'll never get sick. Even if we are coughing up blood - we think it'll miraculously stop any minute now and we'll be fine! Nothing to worry about! Now, most of us after a certain age have seen parents and grandparents die, sometimes after lots of medical treatment - but that's usually covered by Medicare, so we're shielded from the worst of bad luck. Hell, all we gotta do is stay lucky till we're 65? How hard can that be? Roll the dice baby! What the hell is there to fix?! It ain't broken! Don't fix it!

The corollary (unfortunately, as this feeling of invincibility is probably dangerous enough) is that we feel those who are sick and uninsured are... well... just unlucky. Nothing you can do about bad luck, pal. Stuff happens. Suck it up. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Things'll get better. Wheel in the sky keeps on turning. What - you want a government program to stop bad luck? That's stupid. Government is to protect me from criminals and foreign invaders. (Why these two don't qualify as bad luck, I'm not sure; you've found a flaw in my analysis. Here's a penny.) Anything more it tries to do is just meddling with all that good luck that's raining down on me. Step aside and let the good times roll!

So, there you have it, as near as I can tell. I'm hoping we grow up a little and realize we're being a little immature about this whole thing, but, well, it may just not be in the cards. The people who conquered a continent and did lots of other cool stuff just may not have it in their collective psyche to be prudent.

EDIT: And here - to ligthen things up!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chapter 2!

Besides all those nice firearms, we have some nice emotions in this chapter, a couple of false starts for scares, and things just rolling along nicely in general.

Chapter 2 = 2500 words

TOTAL so far = 4800 words

Today's Weapons!

For our intrepid, post-apocalyptic survivors.

First we have the Stoeger Condor Outback 20-gauge over and under. Notice the short barrel, making it better to wield in tight spaces. In our post-apocalyptic world, I'd suspect they'd saw some off the stock, for the same reason. This is the "hanging on the wall above the bed" gun.
Next we have the Kel Tec P-3AT .380 auto. Tiny with only a 6 round magazine. This is the under the pillow gun.
Sleep tight!

The Walking Dead on TV

Looks like it might happen!

Frank Darabont to direct The Walking Dead?

As I've said about the graphic series (and as the article breathlessly expresses in inset shout boxes), it's one of the directions I see zombie films and literature going (the others being the Shaun of the Dead route - satire; and the Day/Land of the Dead route - a story about the lingering or growing consciousness of the dead): making the story about the survivors and their (mostly non-zombie related) tribulations. Or, as I like to quip about the series - even though most every issue has the same, "standard" zombie cover - two people with guns and bats surrounded by 500 zombies - the interior almost never bears out the cover's promise, but is really about "people screwing while zombies mill around outside." Which is kind of what would happen, I think, and proposes a different set of issues and interests.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Family

The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, by Jeff Sharlet.

I'm about a quarter into it. It's as chilling as I thought it would be to liberal, doubting, intellectual me. (Well, how else could something so illiberal, certain, and anti-intellectual be?) Now there were all the scare passages (scary, to be sure) in which the most common model for the young men is not Jesus, or Paul, or even Peter - but Hitler, Mao, and Genghis Khan. (I'm further appalled that Stalin didn't make the cut.) God loves POWER more than He loves Love. God doesn't just love you, and He sure as heck doesn't love everyone equally. God wants certain Chosen people to be Powerful (like Him). Scary stuff.

But I find in these exposes, it's always the more intimate, personal stories that are more revealing and chilling. Perhaps most frightening was the one young man's spiritual/intellectual journey on pp. 47-51, since it paralleled much of mine till the final, fateful implosion. He had doubted. He had sought. He had read the philosophers. He had read the darkest passages of the Bible (Job, Lamentations, etc.). He'd gone beyond them, to read even darker things outside the Bible, especially Dostoevsky. But rather than be encouraged by such works that it was okay to doubt, that doubt was even the most necessary and revelatory state a person can be in, he suddenly grabbed on to some idea by which all doubt could be removed, blasted from his mind: He saw that God wanted everything he wanted; that when he prayed, there was no need for an answer - the prayer was the answer, for it expressed what he wanted, and what he wanted was what God wanted (p. 52).

Chilling, or non-sensical? Or some sort of Christian koan, in which the absurdity will lead to Enlightenment? The author struggles with various formulations of it, knowing that "Dominionism" comes close (p. 44) but still doesn't capture it. The clearest statement I've seen so far is on p. 60, and epitomizes much of what I see wrong with American spirituality (and which the Family would just be a most extreme instantiation of): "Christ thrives in America not so much as an idea or a deity as a mood: a feeling, a conviction, a sentimental commitment to manifest destiny on a personal level, with national implications." When one grasps such a Christ, one feels a "selflessness, though this last not in the sense of a modesty of spirit that might lead one to help others, but rather in that of an inward gaze that is simultaneously narcissistic and blind to the particulars of the self it sees there" (p. 59). That would make sense of the one young man's journey, and deepen it in a most perverse, dangerous way. The young man had become not someone who knew he didn't know (Socrates), or who saw everything as ultimately and inscrutably in God's hands (a "Christian" idea closer to how I see it), but instead, he'd looked inside himself and saw none other than - GOD! That means, when he goes back out in the world w/o doubt, it's not like the ignorance of those who never sought (e.g. those who shout "USA!" while pumping their fists). It's a rather more trained, honed, willful ignorance - he has WILLED himself not to see the difference between himself and God (a difference which I must take as willful, since it seems too glaringly obvious to me, and impossible to miss otherwise!) - and he can think America (and himself) superior to every nation, because it really is so, in his mind. To change books and metaphors - it would be like someone exiting the Cave, and rather than stare, mesmerized at the Light of Truth, he quickly returned to the Cave to make a mint off the lazy, stupid lummoxes still in chains there, since they were divinely appointed sheep for his divinely-approved fleecing!

So, wow. I think I know someone who needs to sign up for this. He'd no doubt like all the weight-lifting and manly, partly clothed horseplay after dinner, too.

EDIT: Now that I've read further, I should add: I'm not sure the long historical "reconstruction" of Jonathan Edwards really fits. I mean, the author thinks it fits as an explanation of the goings-on of the Family, but I'm not sure his analysis is cogent or accurate. I understand he wants to find the roots of a current phenomenon and movement, but that is always a slippery enterprise, and one fraught with the reconstructor's own biases.

Chapter 2

Only halfway into it, but it's getting too darned hot out in this room and I need to retreat to the cooler "core" of the house. (I'm in an addition in the back that gets BLAZING sun in the afternoon- and NO A/C!!) And I have to strategerize how to present more of the backstory. In conversation this time, I think. It'll go quicker and easier that way. And someone who critiqued an earlier manuscript surprised me by saying (among other things) that my dialogue was good.

Middle Aged Thoughts

I was reflecting on how I look at people and situations differently now. And I noticed how much more I am... well, not short-tempered or irascible. I had a much worse temper when I was younger. But I'd say that now, I'm much more likely to walk away from a relationship, just let it wither, or tell the person (calmly) to get lost, than I was a young man. Back then, I'd put up with ANYTHING to get a girl, or a job, or a mentor, or a friend. ANY amount of crap. ANY amount of demands. ANYTHING to please the other person. Now, if someone (okay, other than my kids - I still put up with WAY too much crap from them) asks me for something, even if it's a fairly minor request - I'm very likely to say "No." I'm very UNlikely to go out of my way for someone (again, except for the kids, and even with them, I'm beginning to tell them "Do it yourself"). I just don't feel like making the effort. And it's not to say that the way I am now is worse (or better) than the way I was then, but just that I see how it's unfolding. Back when I had no girl or job or mentor or friends (not childhood playmates, but friends, in the sense of peers or partners - those who help you and whom you help in their lives) and when I was younger and all the juices of libido and ambition were at flood tide - it makes sense the lengths I'd go to in order to get those things. Now, I have some of those things, and my hunger for more of them is considerably abated, and I just look at the acquisition of more and say, "No thanks." It's a tired, melancholy kind of feeling, in a way. I'm sorta hoping it settles into something more like satisfaction or calm, but right now I'm not liking it so much.

Plus, it's hot as shit again today.


Main symptom is high fever, chills, and sweats. Secondary symptoms would include nausea, vomiting, and (dry) cough. Eradicated in U.S.A. in 1951. But with no one to spray, wouldn't it come back after a zombie infestation?

Death Writer Named!

It's one of the stranger and more morbid writing rituals I have, to always name an author who would finish the current project, should I expire during the writing process. I always clear it with them first, don't worry, it's not like they'd get a late night call, never having heard of me before! (Though that'd be a really cool premise, now that I think of it!) So (drumroll) -

The author who will finish D2L3 in the event of my demise is award winning author Christine Morgan!

I love her stuff, and she always tweaks my stuff to be way better than it would otherwise. Concise, well-paced, realistic, gritty - I think her writing style is the perfect complement to my more... expansive and self-indulgent way of doing it. Go Christine!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Bookgasm Interview

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Chapter 1

Got it down! 2300 words. Getting better at weaving in the flashbacks with the current situation, rather than just dumping 1800 words of flashback at the beginning and ending with 500 words describing the current action. Go me!

For those interested in math (and it was an interest of mine early on and I was pretty good at it, way back when), there are 44 chapters, and the goal is to hit somewhere around 75k words. So the chapters would have to average 1700 words each. So I'm always glad when I come in a little above that, so I have a "cushion" for any short, choppy chapters that come later. (Quantifying things like that always makes me feel good!)

Oh, I changed one of the two epigrammatic sayings at the beginning:

“…for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave.” Song of Songs 8:6 (NRSV)

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Plato, Apology 38a

And, finalizing my thoughts of whom to ask to be the writer, if I should expire during the writing process. Stay tuned for that announcement.

Friday, August 07, 2009

900 words!

Not a big day, but I broke the blockage of finally getting something down, and in not too rough a state. The opening paragraph, for your delectation:

"Lucy loved killing. It was almost the only thing she found exhilarating, the only thing that made her feel vital, like she still mattered and wasn’t just a spectator to all the sorry, broken-down things and people – including herself – that surrounded and buffeted her every moment. Everything else around and within her felt limp, slippery, like you couldn’t get a hold of it and clutch it to yourself and suck out the beauty of it till it filled your gut with warmth and strength. What was that stupid saying she’d heard somewhere a long time ago? “If you love something, let it go.” What the fuck was that supposed to mean? If you loved something, you should grab it and make it yours, make it a part of you, or squeeze yourself into it until you’re lost inside and never want to get out – like a wet, warm, dark blanket that carries you off to a better place and away from all the stark, glaring, worthless crap all around you. Only killing did that for Lucy, really. Everything else, even if it were pleasant, dragged and enmeshed her into the vast network of a miserable, half-dead world that now seemed as if it were composed only of echoes and smoke. Killing took her out of that, above that: it was an escape, an epiphany, and God did she miss it."

Other Author

Fellow Hudson Valley author Jason Gehlert will be appearing several places this week, signing and promoting his work.

Check out his blog to see when he's closest to you!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Upcoming Appearances

Last Days of Contest!

Buy any Paffenroth book until August 31. Send proof of purchase to

And you'll be entered to win a copy of either Dying to Live, Dying to Live: Life Sentence, or a signed ARC of Valley of the Dead!

Good luck!!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Jack Torrance

I feel like him! I've been fiddling most of the day with fonts and formatting and having nothing to show for it! Like I'm going to open the file and it'll be full of 97k bytes of "All work and no play makes Kim a dull boy." Creepy!

oh - except I'm not snowed in. It's like 90 degrees and humid. I think I'd prefer the snow.

But I do know exactly where all the axes are in the house. Shovels, too.

Hope Springs Eternal!!

I just got an email that a publisher who I assumed was not interested in the manuscript I sent them, is actually still considering it! Yay me!

$90 of Vacation Woes

Nothing in the big picture, but it should be noted.

I have been in contact with Marriott since the June 13 Stoker banquet. Anyone who attended that will tell you (if they're being honest) that it was the vilest bunch of cafeteria-quality food they ever ate. They probably had a great time (as did I) because of the camaraderie and company, but the food was cold, tasteless, long overdue, and overcooked. We got water with dinner and bad coffee after. For $50/head. I ended up going to Carl's Jr. afterwards. I thought Marriott was going to do the right thing and make some recompense to, as they called me a couple weeks after my complaint and assured me everything would be taken care of. But no. Nothing since. No follow up. They just figure I'll go away.

Our friends at Anheuser-Busch behaved similarly. My family and I had a great time at Busch Gardens. But when I booked the vacation, I was prompted to buy parking tickets, which I then found out I didn't need with the park hopper passes I'd bought. I have now called them THREE times, with lengthy holds each time, trying to get my money back, again being assured each time that everything was taken care of. But no refund on my Visa.

To corporate America - we know times are tough, so you don't want to refund money. But times are tough, so we are all the more loathe to let that money go, when you screw us over for it. Build some goodwill with the consumers, why don't you, so we'll come back and spend more money. Right now I'll be damned if I drop off more money at either of those places. Sheraton and Six Flags are looking like much better destinations right now.

UPDATE: Marriott decides to stonewall, with "We're sorry you didn't like your meal."

FURTHER UPDATE: Kim's soaking in sweat and not inclined to stop badgering!

FINAL UPDATE: Kim is defeated. Corporate America wins this round. All Kim can do now is contrive a way to blame the Republicans for it. Confident he can do that, at least!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

History Is Dead Review

I keep forgetting to post this. It's an old review and I hadn't seen it before this year's NECON, when Jack showed it to me and I bought a copy so I could post it. I thought the contributors who were singled out for praise would appreciate it!

Excerpts from History Is Dead review, Dead Reckonings 3 (Spring 2008) 91:

"... a consistently impressive parade of undead throughout time.... the quality of the stories in History Is Dead is remarkably high.... Among the highlights is the debut of Raoul Wainscotting , as a scourge of 'postvitals' invades opening day at the Globe Theatre. Also worth singling out is Jenny Ashford's story about a vengeful father and a son with his own idea of duty.... Leila Eadie deposits an outbreak of the 'sickness' into Regency society.... Rebecca Brock employs well-worn Southern-fiction tropes in a moving story of another woman and her father.... John Peel cleverly twists the myths surrounding the Lone Ranger with genuine wit, and his story is the most purely fun.... History Is Dead offers a highly coherent anthology-reading experience... and a cover disturbing enough to be brought out when houseguests overstay their welcome."

World Fantasy Award Finalists

Monday, August 03, 2009

And Another Review

Another nice one for VALLEY.

Nick Cato appreciates the learning and scaring therein.

Thanks Nick!

Book Review

Reading a great one by Lee Blackburn of Milligan College, about this scholarly book on Augustine:

Jean-Michel Fontanier. La Beauté selon Saint Augustin.

And I came across this interesting phrase: "... the aesthetic justification of the Incarnation."

Now that's fascinating, that the Incarnation would not just be necessary, or moral, or good, but that it would be beautiful. (And therefore, because beautiful, it would appeal to the human mind, which by nature seeks out that which is beautiful - to study, appreciate, and love it.)

I really do think that aesthetics will increasingly replace some of our older ways of phrasing theological truths - because everyone, I think, has a deep affinity for beauty, no matter what their religious affiliation or beliefs, and therefore aesthetics offers a more universal expression than our older language of dogma.

Dark Scribe Review

Sorry, I skimmed the TOC and didn't even notice the review, just the interview!

Blu Gilliand's great review of VALLEY OF THE DEAD!

An excerpt:

"Paffenroth’s writing career, which began with the Bram Stoker-winning Gospel of the Living Dead, has been firmly centered in the world of the undead for quite some time now. Much like Brian Keene, he’s been able to build a solid reputation for taking the once-thought-dead zombie subgenre and infusing it with, for lack of a better term, new life. With Valley, he brings that fresh perspective not only to zombies, but to a literary classic as well. Valley of the Dead is that rare work that can appeal to fans of splatter and classic literature at the same time. If it ever lands a mainstream release, it’s going to be a tough shelving decision for some bookstores."



Ah, the subconscious!

You may have been interested in MattC's questions about St John's College in his interview with me, and my evasive answer. Mostly I focused on my feelings and thoughts about having been through the Program there (about which I am ambivalent, but usually mostly positive), but I left out two other aspects: the lingering subconscious trauma, and the further salt-in-the-wound I rubbed in (from 1994-2001) by repeatedly applying (and being rejected) for a job there (getting as far as an in-person interview THREE times, so I could be rejected up-close and personal by teachers I actually knew and liked!). Well, my subconscious clearly didn't like being disregarded, so it retaliated with a dream last night!

It's a variation on a recurring one, the general outline of which is that I'm at the SJC campus in Annapolis. The place is always deserted, or only very sparsely populated. I'm always preparing to give a lecture there - not actually giving it, mind you, but wandering around pre-lecture, thinking of what I'm going to say. The topic of last night's lecture was going to be Sophocles' Philoctetes. It's not a favorite of mine, but I do remember the seminar on it, because we had it outside our usual classroom (since it was one of the last seminars of freshman year) in a student lounge with some food and drink, and I remember vividly (like every young man in our class) Ms. Locke (one of the tutors for the seminar). (Mr. White, the other tutor, was nice too - a big bear of a man, and always smoking a cigarette.) I did recently critique an essay on the myth, so I'm assuming that's how it worked its way into my dreamscape.

Well, anyway, that's the whole dream. I didn't meet anyone or have a conversation or confrontation, or do anything. I just walked around the quad on a sunny afternoon and thought about what I'd say about Philoctetes to some people who were attending the same school I did a quarter century ago. So, we have to consider the pertinent details:

1) Why Philoctetes? (Other than the obvious connection I pointed out.) A dude alone, festering wound, people trying to take advantage of him. Yeah, that sounds like my paranoid, self-pitying version of myself. Not a big surprise there.

2) But the basic plot made more sense to me now that I'd talked about SJC with MattC recently. See, I'm always preparing in the dream, never doing, and that's always my fear and lingering doubt about the place - that it seems like great preparation, but for what? For life? How so, when it's the least practical or connected lifestyle that you can imagine, divorced from anything but pure contemplation? What do you DO there, exactly, other than wander around with your head full of ideas and nothing to do with them? And that also explains the lack of people in each version of the dream - there's no one with whom to interact, really, though you fantasize that you'll get up in front of the class and say something so awesome, so amazing, so never-before-thought-of, that it'll make everyone (wherever they've wandered off to at the moment) swoon! But that time never comes.

Well, thank you, subconscious! Your opinions and needs have now been more fully noted. Now, if you could please direct yourself to guiding my fingers to writing a more bloody, violent zombie apocalypse, I think we'd both appreciate it!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Dark Scribe Interview

VH1 Metal Mania Scores an Impulse Purchase!

Cannot believe I didn't already have it!!!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

And Over at Horror World

Steven E. Wedel offers a very generous review of VALLEY OF THE DEAD.

In part,

"The author here tells his story in a detached, almost dreamy fashion that does not, however, mute the horrors of what we’re witnessing. It’s a style I found very fitting for the type of story being told, almost like Paffenroth was following along behind Dante, telling us what was really going on, acting as sort of a filter.

"The drawback here is that this book is a limited edition. There will only be 150 copies printed, and it’ll cost you $50 to get one. Is it worth it? Umm, do zombies eat flesh? Duh!

"This is not like what Seth Grahame-Smith did with his Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It isn’t fan fiction and it isn’t gimmicky. Paffenroth gives us a serious read that will entertain, enlighten and, just maybe, inspire us to re-examine one of the world’s greatest pieces of literature, too."

Nearly sold out in its present, limited edition.

"Intellectual Quality Hemorrhage"

I liked that phrase enough to add

Another entry to the wall of shame!

as I keep trying to improve.


Wow. They really could've done w/o Anvil and The Answer (the former played these bad versions of other people's songs - not like covers, but like knockoffs - "Mothra" instead of "Godzilla" and "666" instead of "Number of the Beast" - they were awful, all nostalgia for Spinal Tap aside). But after that it was an amazing spectacle - just a huge, vulgar, silly, fun romp. If you could get through that show w/o smiling all the time, then you really have no soul - or more precisely, no sense of humor. And that's what I always appreciated about AC/DC - they seemed to know and have a good humor about this all being a show, an act, and to a large extent, a joke. They weren't going to try to be serious musicians, they weren't going to try to be the "Bad Boys," they were just going to play loud music with lyrics that'd make your parents cringe, because when you put four boys together, that's how they talk, each trying to outdo the other with the explicitness and grossness of what he's saying. And the words aren't even anything really bad, like killing cops or beating bitches, they're just sort of raucously juvenile - every one of their songs is about having sex, but it's all playful and it's not about hurting or abusing or degrading. Indeed, when a 30' giantess came out on the stage and straddled a full size locomotive - well, of course it was lewd, but it was mostly just plain hilariously ridiculous, and if anyone were in danger of being hurt, it was the tiny band members, who looked like sweaty little hamsters around her enormous ankles.

This was my first real arena rock spectacular, with huge production values, and it completely lived up to expectations.


Triumph of The Walking Dead