Monday, October 21, 2013

It's Zombie Time!

If February is the month for love, October is the month for paranormal. Forget the vampires and werewolves. Lately, the kids and I have been on a zombie kick.

When I was a teen my bedroom was in the basement next to the rec room, so after the rest of the family had gone to bed, I'd sneak out and watch B horror movies until the wee hours of the morning. The first zombie flick I ever saw was the classic Night of the Living Dead. It's black and white, super campy, but a classic nonetheless. Now, 30-some years later, I've been known to go around the house, randomly saying "They're coming to get you, Barbara." The kids just look at me like I've lost my mind, wondering who the heck Barbara is. The famous quote from the film is totally lost on them.

But come Sunday nights, the kids and I are all in front of the TV, watching The Walking Dead. Now those are some zombies they can relate to--if one can relate to shuffling rotting corpses. We've missed an episode here and there, so one of these days we're going to have to buy the whole series and watch it from beginning to end.

And who knew zombies could be funny? My son loves Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland. (The kids discovered Twinkies because of that movie.) We do own those DVDs and he watches them over and over again.

We watched World War Z not too long ago. I'll have to say that I much prefer the slow zombies to the fast ones. Even in my less than athletic form, I think I can outrun the slow ones. Fast ones? Nope. I'm gonna be brain food.

One of my favorite zombie movies has got to be Warm Bodies. I've probably watched it a dozen times. Guess it's the romance writer in me. Combine flesh eating zombies with a Romeo and Juliet love story, and you've hooked me.

So what is your favorite zombie movie?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Halloween Magic

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is fun. One of my favorite things about this time of year is that for a month or so, it seems anything is possible. Even magic.

I have to admit, I believe in magic. No, get that picture of women with pointy hats standing around a big black pot over a fire out of your head. What I mean is everyday magic. Things we take for granted, but that if you stop and think, are actually magical.

The most obvious is the birth of a baby. Yes, I understand the biology. I can talk about DNA, and cell and sperm, and zygote. I understand the stages of pregnancy and labor and birth. And yet, there is something magical, something wonderful, about a new tiny human coming into the world.

To take that a little farther, there’s something quite amazing about a flower pushing its way from a seed and up through the soil to bloom with wonderful colors and sweet scents. The sounds of birds in the morning, the way the sun rises every morning (yes, I know it’s actually the earth moving). In fact the computer I’m typing on is amazing to me. The Internet on which I’m sending this blog to the Otherworld Diner is amazing. People from all around the world connecting and talking and sharing. I think that’s magic.

Just understanding science shouldn’t make us less appreciative of the specialness of us and our world. We modern humans seem to have lost the ability to be awed to be amazed.

To see magic.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Of Halloween and Bewitching Brews

October is my favorite month of the year. Temperatures begin to drop, the sun dips more quickly below the horizon, and the smell of pumpkin and apple treats is nearly unavoidable. Add in Halloween or Samhain (depending on how you choose to celebrate) and the excitement that always accompanies the last days of the quickly waning year before the real harshness of winter sets in, and you have what has to be the best time of the year.
I think of autumn as a sensory feast; not just for the eyes and mouth, but for the nose. Autumn has a particular smell. Leaves, pumpkins, apples, cinnamon and cider, dried cornstalks and musty hay bales. It's a smell I want to capture and store for the rest of the year, but one that no perfume or air freshener I've found has been able to duplicate. And now I'm going to ramble a bit in the slightly non-sequitur way my minds works, and hope you say with me to the end.

I don't like mass marketed perfume as a general rule. It bothers my nose and lodges itself in my sinus cavity and coats my throat, and that's just smelling it when it's attached to other people. If I actually attempt to wear it, I get ALL of those great benefits with the added bonus of the alcohol in perfume drying out my already ridiculously dry skin. That's not vanity talking; my skin basically hates me and if I spray certain types of perfume on myself, I will actually develop a rash in the exact shape the perfume molecules took as they viciously assaulted misted gently onto my body. Yes, I have the most awesome superpowers ever. 

Still better than Aquaman

Just because I can't wear perfume doesn't mean I want to smell like I'm not wearing perfume, though. If that makes any sense. And then, I found the answer. The answer, if you're wondering, is Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. BPAL is fantastic. They specialize in hand-blended scents using essential oils and other natural products. Since finding them *mumblemumble* years ago, they've become my go-to and I have an embarassing number of imps and bottles scattered around my bathroom (that's a lie, I'm not embarassed at all). Their scents are just about all I wear (and I wear them happily, enjoying both the smell and lack of skin irritation), but that's not the part that makes my little writerly heart skip a beat. Oh no, it's WHAT they use when designing their scents, and I'm not talking ingredients. Actually, I'll let them describe their inspiration in their own words:

These are bookish scents! Perfumes of the highest caliber that are designed with LITERARY ELEMENTS in mind. There are scents inspired by the works of Neil Gaiman, Alice's adventures in Wonderland, the Last Unicorn, the seven deadly sins, even steampunk. Far too many for me to name, and the BPAL website itself is gorgeous, with dark gothic and romantic illustrations, poems, and quotes from the texts that inspire the fragrances. 

How does this all tie into October, autumn, and the obsession with that "fall smell"? Well, if you've hung with me this long, I'm glad you're still interested enough to ask. I was thinking about delightful scents I enjoy because I made apple dumplings today, and the thought of scents I enjoy of course lead me to the BPAL website for the first time in far too long. That's where I saw this:

If anyone can find a way to capture the scent I think of as Autumn, it's BPAL. Looks like October may be the perfect time to indulge in one of my favorite products :)

If you're interested in trying out some of BPAL's wonderful concoctions but don't know what scents work best with your body chemistry, or don't want to commit to a full bottle without first smelling it, there are BPAL forums and trading sites where you can get samples and imps of various fragrances at remarkably low prices. BPAL also has a presense on eBay and Etsy. 

I'm not being compensated in any way for this post (mores the pity), I simply adore BPAL and the product they make. If you're a fan of BPAL, let me know in the comments (I'm always looking for new scent recommendations)! If you're thinking of trying it out, that's awesome! Do you know any BPAL-like companies that you frequent for your perfume-related needs? 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


By Eilis Flynn

Sometimes blog topics are not easily forthcoming. Some months nothing comes to mind and it’s all you can do to come up with a subject that doesn’t embarrass you. Some months you know you are in the zone because you have not one, not two, maybe not even three! topics. Those are truly blessed times, because you don’t feel as though you’re pulling eyeteeth to write something. And really, nobody wants to do that. (Eating gets tricky, after all, without those eyeteeth. At least ripping slightly tougher forms of food.)(I would use the changing role of teeth as a topic, but somehow, I don't think this is the venue for it. Right? Tell me I'm right.)

Anyway, it’s October, and not only is it the month that relatively sane adults decide to dress up in bizarre fashion (and for the most part aren’t arrested for it) (see "Halloween for a Heroine," my short story, a sequel of sorts to INTRODUCING SONIKA, on sale now at various digital retailers! And I talked more about this last month for Otherworld Diner. End of advertisement), it’s also time for Emerald City Writers’ Conference in Bellevue, WA! At this event, sometimes relatively sane adults dress up in costume for this occasion, too, but not usually as zombies or faery princesses, more like office staffers, most of them with lanyards looped around their necks. It’s fun and it’s educational, and those of us who go to this conference on a regular basis can look forward to seeing other old writer-friends who come in from all over the world for the event. We learn, we reconnect, we can socialize with those who understand our unique travails. Yippee!

While Romance Writers of America's national conference can be and is an experience (almost 3,000-plus authors, editors, agents, and publishers all converge in one small area! The mind reels), the ECWC is smaller, more intimate, and most of the time you can be pretty sure to run into someone you know is there. Not necessarily the case with RWA's national conference (but it is amusing to run into someone who lives 3,000 miles away from you and never ever see someone who was on the same flight as you coming in). You can actually talk to people at a smaller conference. You can actually (and yes, there's that title of this piece!) connect with people.

And that's something that Halloween and conferences have in common, believe it or not. Dressing up in funny costumes? You are connecting with others doing the same thing. (Of course, if you dress up in a funny costume at any other time of year, you may find yourself connecting with the local authorities, but that's another topic. A surfeit of topics!) In the same way that dressing up in funny costumes connects you with others in funny costumes, conferencing allows you to connect with others with the same goals (with costumes not nearly as funny but sometimes equally odd or uncomfortable). In a profession that requires isolation for the most part, connecting at conferences is not only a delight, it is a necessity.

So that's what I'm preparing for right now. I'm conducting a workshop on the secrets of the smirking editor, explaining that it's not the material we're smirking at. What is it? That, of course, is the secret. So I'll be connecting in a whole 'nother way!

Eilis Flynn can be found to argue with at Facebook, Twitter, or at her website at Since she was laid off recently, she’s also looking for a job, which is why she started to think about connecting.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Gettin' Organized

There are many ways to plan your book or series - stickie notes, blackboard, legal pad, just hauling off and writing and hoping the characters will "speak" to you, the author, and then there are outlines.

As a pantser I don't do much outlining but I'm fascinated when I see samples of this technique, always hoping I can one day gear my pantser brain in that direction. The closest I've come is dividing up my book in Scrivener which I've been using since 2007.

I found it interesting to see these examples by some well known authors.

Are you a plotter or Pantser? Do you outline? On paper or on the computer?