Things Gets Messy at Casa de Zombie

Well not literally. Okay, so yeah… literally. But that’s not the point. My life is collecting up a rather harsh amount of virtual clutter right now. I am getting more done each week than I ever did last year, but there is more piling up. I am working on a better form of organization to keep everything together. Or, as the cats on the interwebs machines say, “Time management. I haz it.”

Or at least I will.

An expanded explanation of the news in my corner of the world will help explain the virtual clutter I have been categorizing. It begins with Beyond Her Book with Barbara Vey. While in New Orleans for Authors After Dark, I ran into Barbara. Which is to say, while walking back to the hotel from a trip to Cafe du Monde I told my wife, “I think that was Barbara Vey walking the other way with some of the authors from the con.” I noted this one Twitter, and she answered me back that she made a last minute trip down there and we should meet up for coffee or such. Since then I have taken on the task of being one of her readers. I read books and audiobooks and give her a blurb for her Publishers Weekly blog. This gives her someone to read the stuff that is outside of the genres her normal readers take on, and really aren’t you all interested in what a guy thinks about paranormal romance novels?

As a side note, while this particular gig is awesome, it had brought me to a new realization. (Listen up here Audible and other audiobook publishers.) Sending reviewers CDs is nice, don’t get me wrong. But honestly it is difficult to load those onto my iPod in such a way to make it easy for me to go from my condo, to my truck to my office while seamlessly listening to the piece. You’d think there would be a way to provide us with a download code that we could plug into audible and add the book to our library that way. Plus, you know, less shipping costs. Realistically I do know that programming that into their system will cost money, but it will save money each and every year after that. Just a suggestion.

Also I have taken on submitting full reviews to Wicked Lil Pixie. I’m not listed on the web site, but aside from the fact that I was just offered a chance to do reviews, their list of reviewers is literally “The Ladies.” No way I fit into that listing. Not even if I shaved my beard off. That said, there will be one or two a month going up live there soon. Which is to say that I have a couple of books heading my way, otherwise known as even more books than are already sitting on my blurb pile. Though I have to say, I do like getting a bit more into the review of the book. And maybe opening up a little snark here and there.

On the upside of things, I am well on my way to hitting 100 books this year. Over January I was at 7 or 8 by the end of the month. The downside of it is to meet that I spent less time writing. Which is where I am falling into line with honing my time management skills down to a razors edge.

I have Under the Hood, my charity novel, that I need to finish with the editing so that I can work on formatting it for ePub and print. I also have to sit down with my wife and her friend that pledged to do the cover art. This is where I have dropped off the map the most.

Additionally I have taken on a critique partner. (Don’t worry, I am going through the piece you sent me.) So I am putting aside time to read that. Which includes making comments and suggestions as well.

And finally there are the festivals/conventions. This doesn’t even cover the ones I am simply attending. Though I am bringing cupcakes to Romantic Times since we’re driving to that one. And catering cupcakes to a cookout in the area while I’m there. But that is an entirely different story. This one involves Festa Italia in Madison. As part of the Italian Workman’s Club, I am working on the committee planning the event. Specifically the food tables/vendors. Oh, and marketing (though that is with a number of other guys).

But wait! There’s more!

Odyssey Con 2013. April 12-14 this year. Our guests of honor (literary) are now set and confirmed. Alex Bledsoe (a local author) and Kevin Hearne are confirmed for this con. Both are in my short list of favorites. In addition to attending, I am helping the programming guy with panels as he moved “up north” this past year. To that end, I am organizing some local focused events and media for the convention. Hopefully it will work out as awesome as it is sounding in my head, but we’ll see.

wingedmonkeyNow between cooking, cleaning (though honestly my wife does more of the cleaning than I do), baking and making sure my dog gets his medication twice a day… that is a whole lot of work. And that is before you consider the full time job. I guess what I’m saying is I need to organize my clutter in my condo so I can virtually reduce my clutter to maximize my time management. And hope the whole deal doesn’t turn me into a social media version of the flying monkeys from Oz. Though, to be honest, that last part was simply to attract the people looking for bits on monkeys. And so I can justify the graphic because… y’know… monkeys. 🙂

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Of Migraines and Cupcakes

a.k.a. In Where Zombie Joe Rants About the Optometrist

Well not really the optometrist, more the store where we picked up our glasses. A while back I believe I blogged about how much I regret not getting polarized sunglasses sooner. The effect on my migraine instances was immediate and pretty dramatic. Over a month ago the horrible happened – an arm fell off of my sunglasses. I took it in figuring the screw slipped out and I just needed a new one. Nope, it broke.

Nobody sat on them, there was no accident, they just broke. So the person at the shop found the frames at one of the other stores and was going to have them FedEx’d to the location by my house. Notice I said “over a month ago” above. Even with the holidays going on, I should have the new frames by now. Needless to say, between this and the problems my wife had with her glasses, we won’t be going back there again.

The lesson to be learned here? I would have campaigned for still shopping there had they presented good customer service and fixed my problem. Hell, if they’d just kept in contact with me to let me know what was going on I would’ve given them the benefit of the doubt.

What does this have to do with the title of the blog? Well, yesterday I was hit in the face with a migraine. Let me emphasize… in… the… face. Although this did lead to a somewhat comfortable day off. I sat in a dark room and finished Sins of the Demon. I picked up what I needed for my cupcake orders. The dog and I went for a nice long walk (wherein I broke the poor thing and he slept the rest of the day). But the fact remains that with some polarized glasses I may not have had the migraine at all.

My other victory for the day was calculating out the calorie count on a branch of my cupcake base recipes. My devils food cupcake base (and by extension my Rhyskahl cupcakes) counted out to 166 calories. With my white chocolate cream cheese frosting each one comes in around 306 calories. While that may seem like a lot (as much as a cup of beef stew), it really isn’t too crazy as far as sweets go, and really does fit into my goal for each day. The downside being of course that I only made enough to fill my orders for today.

So nobody feels to sorry for me, there was a cup of coffee ice cream in my path last night. And nothing soothes the aches and pains of cupcake loss like coffee ice cream.

So let’s hit the stats for Wednesday then…

Change Write Now (1/11/12)

  • food – on task, came in about 200 calories too low
  • water – hit at least 64oz
  • exercise – too the dog for too long a walk… 30 minutes
  • good habit – wrote later in the day
  • bad habit – didn’t touch the scale (new bad habit to kick)
  • checked in – I think I checked in… will look back in emails

Project Stats

  • Reading (print) – finished Sins of the Demon, picking up Silver Tongued Devil by Jaye Wells
  • Reading (Nook) – The Power of Less by Leo Babauta (Team Awesome Book Club read)
  • Listening (iPod) – still catching up on podcasts
  • Writing – scrapped first draft of naughty project and started re-writing it

Reading Contests… Ask Me How

After our D&D Game Night I was sitting around reading and I made note of the fact that Goodreads is having a reading challenge. You set your own goal and it sets a status bar on your page for how close you are towards that goal. I figured I would jump in on it. Of course this now means that I need to post every book I am reading to Goodreads.

Also for the Goodreads “self-challenge” I chose to bump up my goal from 50 to 100 books for the year. I had considered 75 at first but it seems that I am reading a lot faster than I used to. That is provided I can keep up that level of reading along with my writing.

The other is the Horror & Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge that is set up by Book Chick City. Last count it looks like nearly 140 people all attempting to read a set number of horror or urban fantasy books. In that instance you are supposed to blog about it and link the blog. This does add yet another level of complexity towards reading a large number of books, but I also figure that this will give me some titles I might not have considered before.

Not that I really need more titles, mind you. I gave up on a shelf for my TBR pile and have taken to walking past my shelves in my den to choose something I haven’t read. Sorry, but if you aren’t in the A’s or S’s for last name your chances have increased I will be coming back to your book. (A-B is the top shelf on one cabinet, S is top shelf on the other.)

Those who know me and saw the former horror that was my den will notice that I stated a hint to the fact that my library is alphabetized. Yes, that means you can actually locate books in my den! Of course this also means it has come to my attention that I own multiple copies of a few books. What this means is that I have books to give away! Keep an eye out on the blog and I will see what I can do about coming up with a contest or something for giving the books away.

Nano Day 6: In Which A Zombie Reflects On Books of 2009

Well, that was a bit drawn out of a title, wasn’t it? But what can I say? Read a couple of steampunk books and that is likely to happen to you. Not to mention Pride, Prejudice and Zombies.

I know, this has very little to do with Nano, but Nanowrimo for me is more than just writing 50k in 30 days. For me it is also those things that attempt to derail your work. Year One for me was the death of a family member and a drive across several states. Year Two was the trip to Dallas and Wizard World/FearFest and the discovery of my new writing habits. This year it is the books.

You saw that my Wednesday was met with car trouble and a good book I picked up due to a Q&A at Bitten By Books. Last night though, after coming home from Public Authorin’ Nano11.5 I had a surprise in my mailbox. My first prize ever from a Bitten By Books contest (well the second installment of said prize) – a Battle of the Network Zombies ARC! (It is acceptable to get up and do a little happy dance, I know I did. I will wait.)

Although I was thrilled to finally have it in my grubby dice-rollers, I was also a little disturbed. I was now going to read this and do a review while attempting a 75k word novel – in 30 days. For all of you Nanos out there, I say 75k because I feel I can edit/rewrite that into something I can pitch to a publisher. But it can be done. I am on track for my daily goal in Nano, but not the extra amount to attempt to make 75k. But this is Amanda Feral we are talking about. I can read the holy hell out of an Amanda book. After all I did Twilight in just over a day on a bet once. Didn’t wretch once either! (Go Team Zombie!)

I started reading it at lunch today and figured that I would now probably never be able to eat corn on the cob again. Thanks Mark!

Additionally, there were two links rolling out of the Twitterverse today. Both were publication professionals looking for input on people’s favorite books of 2009. These were Publishers Weekly and Barnes and Noble Book Clubs. The problem here is that Publishers Weekly is asking for your top 3 books of 2009. Three books.

For me that is similar to when our Athletic Communications people asked for one or two books we were going to read or attempt to read over the summer. One or two. I said, “Sure, now what about the next 9 weeks of summer?” Of course I was not going to give them the full list of books I was reading this past summer. My momma didn’t raise no fools. Well, provided you discount my sister – or at least prorate her foolishness.

Three books that I considered the best, which would consequently fit into the Barnes and Noble request quite nicely as well? How do I choose? Who do I snub?

Here is a list that I will likely add to as the days keep rolling on…

  • Road Trip of the Living Dead by Mark Henry (No brainer, really… See what I just did there?)
  • Red Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells (Mr. Giggles wins best supporting demon hands down!)
  • Blood Groove by Alex Bledsoe (Vampires that are really vampires. I am talking old school Dracula shit. Besides, 70’s funk… need I say more?)
  • Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (Seattle steampunk AND zombies? Where has this book been all my life?)
  • Soulless by Gail Carriger (Steampunk, but she is half Italian and can negate the powers of vampires and werewolves? WOO!)
  • Deader Still by Anton Strout (Men In Black/Ghostbusters with zombies running around Manhattan? Homages to Angel and Buffy sprinkled in? Yes, please.)
  • Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon (Young Adult with characters that are strong role models with some actual personality? Not to mention one of the few books out there that uses Oriental mythology as a base.)
  • Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (This was my first attempt to find a Young Adult book where the monsters were actually monsters. Definitely one of the best I have read all year.)
  • Death’s Daughter by Amber Benson (This is mostly here as it reminded me of the Incarnations of Immortality series a bit. Plus it had some awesome Bollywood scenes in it.)
  • Demon Inside by Stacia Kane (Both books kept me reading by sheer force of words until I was done.)

And there are still more books sitting on my “to read” shelf (now that Mrs. Zombie made me take them off of the mantle). Who is to say the next gem for this list is not sitting there waiting its turn?

What books have you picked up this year that are your personal favorites?