Book Review: Married with Zombies by Jesse Petersen

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A Slaying Good Time…

Married with Zombies by Jesse Petersen

 If you don’t want to read Married with Zombies in one sitting – you must have some coming after you. Jesse Petersen keeps you engaged with humor, suspense and a story about something we can all relate – a relationship on the rocks – throughout this debut novel. She drags you through a post-apocalyptic Pacific Northwest and shows you that there are worse things than zombies wanting to eat your brains. The premise of the book is much like Zombieland or Shaun of the Dead in that surviving a zombie invasion is much like surviving a relationship. However, Petersen’s voice has a fresh and sassy flair and the characters are clever in that ingenious working class way, like how one kills a Zombie with a toilet seat. It’s obvious the relationship tips peppered throughout the chapters come straight from Sarah and David, yet, those looking for big time romance will be disappointed. Readers who like some blood and guts will definitely get their fix in this story.  The book is a fast ride and thus doesn’t get deep into Sarah and David’s relationship, but I suspect, Petersen has more to show us with the upcoming sequel:  Flip This Zombie (coming in Jan. 2011).

The full-time dream job…

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I’m to the point where there is so much energy around my writing that it’s a second full-time job for me. But, I’m not getting a whole lot of coin for it yet. But, I can feel it coming. It’s swimming down in the depths of my literary life trying to pass the murky deeps like a leviathan rising to the surface during a stormy gale.

I’m still busy trying to care and nurture my writing group — SnoValley Writes!If you live in Twin Peaks and are a writer, you really should come and join us. We have lots going on…a) putting together our second annual publication, which we are turning into a real literary journal, b) entertaining our community with literary fabulousness at Word Jazz – Fall Into Story on Oct. 26 at Boxley’s in North Bend. It’s an evening of poetry, prose and music and last time (in March) we packed the house. So, get your reservations today if you plan to attend, and c) we’re trying to accumulate the paperwork for our 503c status so we can do our first writing conference!

In addition, I’ve volunteered to help a great literary cause:  The Novel: Live!  and helping with outreach in the greater Seattle area. It’s been like a full-time job. Trying to figure out what will get people excited about supporting Seattle7Writers and their efforts to get writers in schools. I mean, for me, it’s all about watching successful nationally published authors sweat through their writing process with literary voyeurs waiting to bite off the energy from their favorite author(s) as they sip wine and cocktails at Hugo House. Personally, I’m already excited because I’m working with Jennie Shortridge in the whole process of outreach/promotion. I first met Jennie back in 2007 when she was at the Whidbey Island Writers Conference. She was on her promotional push for Riding with Queenie. And because she’s local, I keep running into her in a variety of venues. I love that she’s involved with young writers — another of my passions. That’s why, as I said in my last post, I decided to make my September and October a little crazy and get involved with The Novel:  Live! Also, can I just say I’m so nervous about meeting Garth Stein.

I’m also spending lots of energy to get Martius Catalystbeefed up so that I can build up the amount of followers, readers and fans. It’s free fiction. It’s speculative, paranormal, fantasy with a Steampunk bent, obviously. Sam and I are having a ton of fun. And Jackie’s art just adds more depth to it. I need to finish the proof for the bookmark that I plan to hand out at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival (although I know that Martius Catalyst is much tamer than most Lovecraft fans prefer, yet there’s enough elements of darkness, they may be interested, especially if they stick around. But hey, maybe. Shrug. Right?) and SteamCon.  The HPLFF is going to be in Portland the first weekend in October and I’m a bundle of stupid fangirl nerves to meet Caitlin R. Kiernan. Anyone who knows me knows that her writing is some of my favorite.

I also have decided that I’m going to start doing regular blog entries on book reviews. So stay tuned for that.

And something about National Novel Writing Month coming up, in which I serve as the municipal liaison for my community. There’s this pretty scary — scariest yet for me — story percolating in my head for this year’s attempt. I will finish this year.

Then there’s the actually writing. I have three manuscripts I need to clean up one last time and re-exert some efforts on trying to get an agent to get excited about them. I have at least three contest deadlines coming up. Yet, I’ve spent the last 30 minutes trying to make this blog entry make sense. Honestly, I really should be focused more on the whole creation part. Yet, all of the above feeds into the creation part. It’s what creates a well-round full-time writer. Truly. This I do believe.  As I also believe one day people will be happy to plop down their disposable (or not so disposable) income for my book.

Dreams, it makes me get up in the morning to get it all done.

Because Writing is THAT important…

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“Are you crazy?” My husband looked absolutely incredulous, he rubbed his hand through his silver high and tight. “I mean, it sounds cool and all, but, can you do it? You have work, SnoValley Writes! and the kids — you’ve done nothing for the last term of school but fuss about how you needed a break.”

 “Yeah,” I stammered. “From school, not The Writing Life (note it’s always in capital letters for me).”

 “It’s that important to you?”

 “Yes. Writing is that important. It’s for a good cause, honey,” and I preceded to tell him about The Novel: Live and the fact that it would not only raise money for community literacy but be an event of historic proportions. “And I could be a part of it. I want to be a part of it.”

 With a hug I was off to volunteer for outreach coordinator for this awesome event.

 **********

 Now I’m here asking all of you, my dear Facebook family to help me promote this event, committ to join us on a night (come meet your favorite Pacific Northwest author — cuz you need to read local as well as eat local), or donate to the event! Also, if you’re a local business owner — I have a poster I need to hang in the window of your business! (pretty please!)

 If you help me get the word out, pack the Hugo House and generally help make this a successful event — I have some swag for you as well as my undying gratitude.

 Send me your links, ping backs, pictures of posters in your businesses — let’s network like only Seattlites can!

Your faithful literary servant,

~Casz

See more here:  http://www.thenovellive.org/ 

Be a part of it!

Making connections in your genre community

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Writing and Reading in one’s genre is a key tactic to advancing one’s craft. That has been said in a million ways by thousands of much more successful than I currently am (see the note of hopefulness), in addition to being written, presented and blogged about by various publishing experts.

 I would say that you need to take it a step further. Engage in the community of your genre. You say there’s not a community for your genre. I say poppycock! (I’m on a bit of a Victorian language kick…excited I could actually use that phrase.) Every genre has a community. Look at the absolute explosion in conferences, whether you write romance or speculative fiction, like I am. The latter of course seems to lend itself to more variety of conferences, but then you need to figure out what’s the best bet for you, personally.

 Also, you need to support the art that is inspired by your genre. In my writer’s group (which is the first community you should be involved in – your own writing group), SnoValley Writes! We’re actually partnering with the local artists’ guild (Mount Si Artists’ Guild) to promote both the visual artists as well as literary artists in our community. We invited the artists to bring their work to a special work session and the writers wrote poems and short stories off the prompts. The final works will be displayed together at our annual community festival that hosts a HUGE artists’ pavilion.

 Lately there are even musical groups devoted to specific genres. Support them as well. For instance, my work Martius Catalyst is definitely in the steampunk genre category. My husband and I and another friend couple went to see Abney Park last weekend. Talk about supporting a genre’s community! There were clothing designers, artist, musicians, the expected ‘tinkerers,’ and even steampunk food.

 Another way to get involved in your genre’s community is to support the other writers in that genre. Buy their books, follow their blogs, write them charming notes of “I loved your latest book (insert title here),” go to their signings, and turn your friends on to their work. We’ve lost the art of being a patron of the arts …this is the modern version of that regretfully lost status.

 Last evening I was offered the opportunity to become involved in yet another writing community. It’s in the planning stages and there will be more details to that forthcoming. But, I jumped at the chance to be a pioneer in something that will help not only my own work, but the work of many other artists as well.

 Engage in the community of your genre; you’ll be amazed at the speed with which you excel your craft. One day, also, you’ll need to have folks just like yourself supporting you. It’s how the literary art world turns, love.

Rejection is a Four-Letter Word

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Dealing with rejection

 I’ve always said that I would wallpaper my bathroom with the rejection letters that I receive. I got another one for that bathroom wall yesterday. Ouch. They never get any easier to take.

 Although, I feel it’s a positive thing that I’ve moved beyond the form letter rejection. I actually have personal comments written on the rejection letters from the agents and editors from which I have I’ve queried or submitted. That gives me hope. But, I’m at the point right now, that I really feel like I need to publish – something, anything – to keep my creative spirit from being overly wounded.

 That’s where the coping mechanism comes into play. I have a few reactions to rejection notes:

 a)      The more animal part of my brain wants complete debauchery. I let loose ala Hunter S. Thompson style. I tell my friends and say I need to go to a loud concert, drink too much whiskey and flirt with unsuspecting young men. That’s the favorite coping mechanism. But, yesterday’s rejection letter comes during a household move. I can’t really go all punk-rock Iggy Pop when I don’t even know which box my combat boots are in or where my dance-till-you-drop night club clothes are either.

 b)      Second choice is always the “I’ll show them” tactic. I rewrite the damn thing and send it to their competitor. I drink copious amounts of coffee and tea. And revise and rewrite until not any comment from the critique could be reapplied to my writing. However, yesterday’s rejection did not inspire that because, well, it just didn’t. We’ll leave it at that.

 c)      Third tactic is to get my house in order. The desk gets cleaned up, the refrigerator cleaned out, the flower beds get weeded and during the process I normally get new ideas. The new ideas may be revisions, new stories or even new thoughts on who would really do best to receive my work. This is the tactic I’m using today.

There are other coping mechanisms possible, for sure. Tell me what you do, maybe your suggestions might be more healthy than my number one choice of too much whiskey and dangerous flirting. Those are just mine. Well, that and putting the rejection letters in a box to create that bathroom wallpaper with upon the day that I move from simply writer to author.