Viable Paradise XVI, Revisited

Viable Paradise

Viable Paradise

In 2012, I attended Viable Paradise, a one-week, intensive writing workshop held annually on Martha’s Vineyard the thirdish week of October. “Paradise” because duh, Martha’s Vineyard in October. “Viable” because only one week, not six. You don’t have to get a second mortgage and put your entire life — job, family, friends, etc. — on hold.

But you still get an amazing experience. A lot of awesome information from top-notch instructors; a lot of amazing socializing with your fellow students, the instructors, and staff; a lot of tasty food; and probably a little something else, as well: a tribe.

I wrote a retrospective post about it a few days after I got back. It’s linked from Viable Paradise’s page, and I notice an uptick in the number of hits each year around the time the new crop of students are accepted. :)

This year, 2016, marks the twentieth anniversary of Viable Paradise. Twenty. A two followed by a zero. That’s a lot of writers they’ve guided (~480ish!). They’ve put together a reunion the week before VPXX, and I’m going! As part of the whole ‘Twenty Years of Viable Paradise’ thing, they (the organizers) asked for volunteers from past years to write blog posts talking about their experiences, to help the VPXXers be ready for their week in Paradise. :)

This is one such blog post. And . . . it got a little long. I apologize, but I tend to get very excited and effusive about Viable Paradise. I can go on about it for hours if you let me. Just ask my very, very patient friends. :)

The rest of this is addressed directly to the twenty-four newly selected students of VPXX.

So, first things first! Which, I’ve discovered, is the perfect place to put things which are first!

Impostor Syndrome

Curse you, my old nemesis! I have it. Chances are, you have it, to some degree. I was absolutely convinced — convinced — that the only reason I got into VP was that they had found twenty-three awesome writers and needed a twenty-fourth person to make up the last place, and they pulled my application out of a hat. Never mind the illogic involved in that. Impostor Syndrome doesn’t do logic.

Know this, and try to take it to heart: you were selected because of your talent. Your submission was good enough, and you are in because you deserve to be there.

Taking Notes

A lot of high-density information is going to be coming at you at relatively high speed. It will be fun information, and you will enjoy the lectures and the symposia and the . . . activities associated with The Horror That Is Thursday™. :) With that in mind, however, you might want to arrange to take a recording device to capture audio to take some of the pressure off of trying to take coherent, detailed written notes. They talk fast. :) A good many of the VPXVIers made recordings, and we have since shared them with one another using DropBox. They’re quite interesting to listen to and remember. I took notes and recorded. The notes consist mostly of bullet points.


You will get and give critiques. Maybe you’ve had a lot of critiques going into VP (I had), or maybe you’ve had very few or none. Either way, getting critiques from strangers — some of whom will be the instructors — can be a little daunting even if critiquing is old hat to you. One thing to keep in mind: No one there is against you. Or, indeed, your story. Some people may honestly not like it. Some people may gush over it. But all the suggestions, even the ones that might unfortunately be worded harshly or in such a way as to feel pointedly aimed at you and not the story, are done from a place of helping you to make your story the best it can be. To paraphrase Shakespeare (because pretension): “The story’s the thing.”

So! Try to make your own critiques about the story at hand, not the author, and try to phrase your critique in a way to emphasize what worked for you (and why!) as well as what did not (and why!). Avoid offering ways to fix it; just point out your issues and let the writer figure out the ‘how’ part. You’ll understand after VP. </cryptic> :)


Different things are going to stick with different people. And some of it doesn’t feel like you’re being instructed in writing at all, at the time. One of the instructors was showing us what I then took as just random stuff. Tangentially related — if at all — to the lecture he was giving at the time. But! The point he made when showing us the model house with the hidden, detailed room has stuck with me longer than any single thing any of the instructors said. I think about it almost every time I sit down to write. Your experience will almost certainly be different, and something another instructor says may resonate with you more than what Uncle Jim said does with me.


MacAllister Stone. OMG. I cannot say enough effusively wonderful things about Mac. But I’ll try. :) You’ve probably already received the email from her asking about dietary needs. And here’s the thing about Mac: she will take all of those requirements from everyone and come up with a menu that will be remarkably like all the other VP menus, but everyone’s specific needs will be addressed. For dinner, you will eat well. If you’re still concerned (and that is to be understood; I have issues I was very concerned about; see below), my big suggestion is this: ship some “safe” food to yourself at the hotel.

Dinners are social events at VP, but you’re expected to fend for yourself for breakfast and lunch. Uncle Jim has pancakes and what I’m told (see below) was amazing maple syrup for breakfast. But what I did was to get a box of non-perishable stuff and ship it up to the Island Inn about a week before we were supposed to arrive. When I got there, my box was waiting for me in the office. Cereal I knew to be safe for a diabetic. Stuff for late-night snacks. Whatever you think you’ll need that’s light enough to not cost an arm and a leg to ship, won’t spoil, and that you might need while you’re there. Just ship it and forget it. You will be told that food is expensive on the island (it is), and while they took us directly from the ferry to the grocery store/supermarket before hitting the hotel, I was glad I had shipped certain things from home. I bought perishables. Stuff to make enough lunch for the whole week (I know some people bought bread, peanut butter, and jelly; I got tuna, cheese, noodles, and veggies, and made a casserole.) Every room will (I believe) have at least a stove top, if not an oven. Plan accordingly. :)

When the week was up, I had some of my shipped stuff left . . . and I just tossed it. It wasn’t worth taking back home. I used all the perishables (milk, eggs, veggies). I had some olive oil left that I think I gave to Mac. :)

The Staff

The staff of VP consists of VP alums, for the most part. They’ve been where you are, know how things work, and are there specifically to help you. If you have any problem, seek out a staff member. Feeling overwhelmed? Talk to them. Need a trip to a pharmacy or grocery store? Ask the staff. Need to blow off steam? Go to the staff suite. Want to socialize? Head to the staff suite.

Special Medical Needs

This one is aimed at people with specific medical issues. You can skip it if that doesn’t pertain to you. I have a chronic intestinal thing that crops up periodically, and has for more than twenty-five years. It comes with horrible pain and, if left untreated, a visit to an emergency room. My doctor and I go way back, and I can call him up and say, “Doc, I have that thing again,” and he believes my self-diagnosis and phones the pharmacy with a prescription for antibiotics. No wait, no muss, no fuss. Because this thing crops up related to stress and diet, I let him know that I was going to be on Martha’s Vineyard for a week, that I’d be eating food I didn’t have any control over, and that there would be potentially high levels of stress involved. He gave me a prescription for the antibiotics, just in case. You don’t know how much of a load of worry this took off me. If I ate the wrong thing or got too little sleep or whatever, and came down with this issue, I could have missed a day or more of VP dealing with the fallout. As it was, I knew that I could get the medicine in a matter of a couple of hours. So take care of yourself and if you have a medical problem like mine . . . maybe talk to your doctor ahead of time and set something up to ease your mind.


Now, onto more fun things. :) Socializing! This was something I deeply wish I’d done more of. There were dinners and other times when everyone was together, and I had a great time. I’m very much an introvert (No, really!), and shy around people I don’t know. (Golly! A writer who mostly spends time alone and has problems getting to know people? Go on! ;)) It’s very hard for me to start a conversation with people, even when we have a blindingly obvious thing in common: writing. As a result, I didn’t seek out more socialization. This is the biggest regret I have about VP. I’ve kept in touch with almost everyone from VP to one degree or another. But I barely got to know several of the others, and it’s entirely my own fault, and no reflection on them. So my advice: if possible, get to know those people. They’re your tribe. But, at the same time, you know you better than anyone else does. So take care of yourself, as well. If you need me-time, take it. Everyone will understand. Most of them probably need it, too. :)

I didn’t partake of any of Uncle Jim’s pancakes and maple syrup because I was worried about my blood sugar. But I could have gone up and joined in the fun, regardless. I went to bed freakishly early (midnight) every night, listening to everyone having a lot of fun upstairs (I was on the lower floor), but I knew (thought?) that I needed a certain amount of sleep or my immune system might compromise and I might get sick . . . but I wish now that I’d just gotten a couple of hours less sleep per night and spent time hanging out. The cold I probably would have gotten the week after would have been worth it. :) But again, you know you, and take care of yourself. People will understand.


Uncle Jim’s hikes! Again, I didn’t go on any of them because Reasons. Mostly because I felt like I needed that extra hour of sleep rather than getting up and spending an hour walking around Martha’s Freaking Vineyard in October getting a little exercise in the insanely fresh, nippy, early morning air and talking about . . . who knows what? I didn’t go! I have no idea what they talked about. But I’ll bet it was interesting! :) If you can manage at least one morning walk, don’t make the mistake I did. Again with the ‘you know yourself’ caveat.


The Wifi at the Island Inn is . . . there. Mostly. I wouldn’t rely on it too heavily. You won’t have time to be online much, anyway. But just know that if you’re used to lightning-fast network speeds, you’re going to be underwhelmed.

Bring a memory stick or something along those lines. Something handy to have on you for, say, copying documents on . . . to then dash up to the staff suite for printing . . . in the wee hours of Thursday morning, for instance. </cryptic> Oh, and virus-check the crap out of it. No need to give the staff your nasty computer virus. :)

Stay An Extra Day

I know this is something you’ve heard before, but if at all possible for your schedule and your expenses, stay the extra night and leave on Saturday instead of Friday. There is a lot of socializing that goes on that last night, and it’s a lot of fun. Also, since you can’t take home the open bottles of booze, they tend to form a . . . booze buffet, if you will. I did not partake, being a non-drinker, but there was much rejoicing. And music, and just . . . an all-around good time. So if you can, stay until Saturday.


I will close this lengthy post by relating a little story that exemplifies the entire VP Experience™ for me. I smile every time I think about it.

On Wednesday, a group of us walked into town for lunch. We also spent some time sightseeing. When we walked back, Nicole came dashing out of her room and ran up to us and said, “Quick! I need a way to dispose of a body by burning, but I have to be in the room with it while it burns!” (I’m paraphrasing, here, and I hope Nicole will forgive me if I’ve made her sound not like herself. Or, you know . . . kind of murdery. Which, one hopes, is not like herself. You know, I’m going to stop, now.)

Now, a random group of people selected off the street might have many reactions to a statement like that, but none of us even blinked. Instead, several people started offering suggestions and asking clarifying questions. “A fire that would consume a body will need to be hot. How big can the room be?” “Do you want the body reduced completely to ash?” “How much time do you have?” Etc. A short discussion ensued, but I didn’t hear most of it. Because I kept walking while grinning to myself. It had just hit me. These people are my tribe. They get me.

And that is a wonderful feeling to get.

In Conclusion

Enjoy yourself. Get drunk (if you drink), but not too drunk. Have some Scurvy Cure. Play silly games. Play poker with Steve-with-a-Hat. Have pancakes. Take walks. Go and see the fireflies of the sea. Tour the town. See the Methodist Munchkin-land. Visit the lighthouse and watch the sunset. Read a dreadful romance out loud. Sing along. Have a beer with Billy. Bring your pajamas. Lament the dreadful, Dreadful, DREADFUL, unexquisite agony of writing. Become a Thing. Join the Mafia. Enjoy the food. Take a binding oath (or two). Seek out the staff if you have problems: that’s what they’re there for.

And the less said about The Horror That Is Thursday™, the better.


NaNoWriMo? Again? Already?

NaNoWriMo 2015 Participant Banner

NaNoWriMo 2015 Participant Banner

Last year (2014), I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo because . . . frankly, I 1) had no new ideas, 2) wasn’t particularly enthused with the thought of doing it again, and 3) wasn’t sure NaNoWriMo had anything left to teach me.

And this year, I was in pretty much the same mindset. Until.

Three things occurred roughly simultaneously, then a fourth one happened that pushed me to the point where I am right now; i.e., considering doing NaNoWriMo again for 2015. I’m not 100% sure, mind you, but . . . there are processes that are . . . um, processing. In my brain.

Thing the First. I went to WorldCon, thoroughly enjoyed myself (other than the trips to and from the con, that is), and decided pretty much on the spur of some moment or other to go ahead and register not only for the 74th WorldCon in Kansas City, MO in 2016, but the 75th WorldCon, as well. That one’s in Helsinki, Finland, in 2017. I’m quite excited about both of those, actually. I’ve already registered for 74 and paid my dues and all that. I’m applying for a passport in about a month for the trip to Helsinki. I already have flight alerts for both trips set up so I can get good prices. Alternatively, I check the price of driving to Kansas City, MO each Monday to see if it’s more than the price of the flight. If not, I may just drive.

Thing the Second. A friend (Karl) happened to mention on Facebook that registration was open for Paradise Lost 6 Writers Workshop. Paradise Lost is only open to people who have participated in certain other workshops (Viable Paradise, Taos Toolbox), or who are a member of Codex Writers. I am both a graduate of Viable Paradise (in 2012) and a member of Codex Writers. So yay.

Once again, on the spur of some moment I wasn’t aware of until it had passed, I registered for it. It’s in San Antonio, TX in April of 2016. I already have a flight alert for the trip set up so I can get a good price. Alternatively, I check the price of driving to San Antonio, TX each Monday to see if it’s more than the price of the flight. If not, I may just drive.

Thing the Second-and-a-Halfth. When I registered, there was the option of registering for the workshop only or the critique track. For critique, you have to read some other people’s submissions and critique them, and submit something for critique yourself. The workshop is in April. On the spur of yet another moment, I threw caution to the wind and clicked on “critique track.”

Which means one thing: I better get my butt in a chair and my hands on a keyboard.

Thing the Third. I started reading — and very much enjoying — Debra Jess‘s wonderful book Blood Surfer: A Thunder City Novel. It’s an urban science fiction . . . fantasy . . . kind of a thing. Basically, super heroes plus romance. It’s very good, so far. I’m going slowly because I’m also reading another friend’s novel at the same time, this one for critique.

Thing the Fourth. A lot of my blog posts contain this phrase, but it is, nonetheless, true: so, I was in the shower . . .

So, I was in the shower and this . . . idea just popped into my head. Not quite fully formed, but my brain decided to dwell on it during my commute to work. And while I was at work. And on my drive home from work. And as I lay in bed that night waiting for sleep. And the next morning. And . . . well, you get the point. And then, this morning, after the spectre of NaNoWriMo had been broached by the Forum Writers (my standing Tuesday night critique group), my brain went into overdrive and I dictated many ideas into my little digital voice recorder on the way to work.

I won’t go into great and glorious detail on what the idea was, but I will give you the first sentence that was what popped into my head in the shower that morning: “Hero Man often wished the press had given him a more . . . well, magnificent name.”

That’s all you get. :)

I will, however, add that all this comes just two short weeks until November 1st, which leaves me very little time to actually plan out anything, which is where my reluctance to commit comes in. Also, my Apple MacBook died. With Scrivener on it. I write everything in Scrivener. So I need to get a new laptop, regardless.

  1. I keep meaning to post a write-up of what happened at the con. And I have started the posts. But I keep having interruptions. (Stupid work. Stupid real life.) But I’ll get to them. Eventually. Probably.
  2. Debra was in Viable Paradise with me in 2012.
  3. I listen to podcasts on the way to and from work. The one I listened to this morning happened to be a back episode of The Round Table Podcast during which the guys brainstormed and workshopped a superhero novel. If I believed in such things, I’d think this was the Universe sending me a strong message. Good thing I don’t believe in that sort of thing. :)

Expect the Unexpected

Last week at work, I was scheduled for a professional training class. SOA (Service-Oriented Architecture, if anyone is interested). It wasn’t all that difficult, but it was mentally exhausting to be in a room for five straight days, eight hours per day, in lecture. I gave that up in 1991 when I left grad school to start my first job.

Luckily, the end of the week had a bonus. Two of my Viable Paradise friends — Alison and Debra — were in town for the Romance Writers of America‘s 33rd annual conference, held here in Atlanta last weekend. The three of us plus our other classmate, Scott, who lives here in the Atlanta area, agreed to meet for dinner and catching up.

Another bonus was that Alison brought along her conference roommate Diana, another VP alum from 2006 (VPX). It was great seeing them again and meeting Diana. And dinner was awesome. (If you get the chance to try the lamb lollipops at Sear, do so.)

But the big fun of the evening was being with other writers and discussing our writing. Yes, I do that weekly, but the added bonus here was that Debra, Alison, and Diana were at RWA to pitch their ideas to publishers/agents (and each of them got multiple requests for either full or partial submissions, so yay!). So the inevitable, “So, what are you writing? Pitch it to me,” question came up. :)

Now, I have never done a pitch. Not seriously. But these are my tribe, so I said, “OK, my one-sentence version is this: It’s like Fringe with magic.” That’s not quite right, but it’s what I have. I tried to do an “It’s <this thing> meets <this other thing>” one, but I can’t ever find two things to put there. X-Files is too . . . something. And The Dresden Files is, as well. I thought of Criminal Minds meets . . . something with magic that isn’t The Dresden Files. But my mind refuses to fill in that second blank. (Everyone agrees, by the way, that comparing anything to The Dresden Files is a bad idea. I can’t really explain it, but . . . it’s like, it would be the kiss of death to compare your YA story to Harry Potter because it’s too big. Too popular. Claiming a similarity would be tantamount to saying ‘I think I’m as good as { Jim Butcher | J. K. Rowling }.’)

Anyway, they encouraged me to do the longer one, so I said something like this:

It’s an urban fantasy series that takes place in and around modern-day Atlanta, only magic works. There are no sexy vampires or sexy werewolves, and nothing ever sparkles. Magic is ‘out’ but not accepted. Nick Damon and Javier Ellis are FBI agents with magical powers who work with the local cops to solve cases involving magic.”

In the first book, Death Scene, bodies are discovered, each brutally murdered, and each scene is frozen in time at the moment of the victim’s death. Nick and Javier, along with Atlanta detectives Charlotte “Chuck” Norris and Derek Meads, are put on the case and have to move fast as more bodies are discovered.

They liked that (I know it still needs work), and asked for some clarifying information, then offered some suggestions. When they summarized Scott’s back to him, he liked it so much, he made them text it to his phone so he’d remember it. :)

We sat in the restaurant and talked for a while, then moved to the bar for a while, then found comfortable chairs in an out-of-the-way, quiet niche and talked some more until very late. Then we all had to leave because of that whole ‘becoming a pumpkin’ thing. (Read: We’re no longer spring chickens and staying up until all hours means Bad Things™ the next day.)

And it was somewhere during the ‘talked for a long time’ part that the serendipity happened. Someone asked what else I was writing, and I said, “It’s fairy tale noir. A detective solves the case of where Cinderella’s husband is going at night when he leaves the castle.” They chuckled, and we went on.

But apparently, something clicked in the back of my head. On the drive home (about 30 to 40 minutes from downtown to my suburb), the new story — discarding most of what I thought was the good stuff from my existing story — popped into my head, and I quickly grabbed my digital voice recorder and made sure I wouldn’t forget it.

The story clocked in at a hefty 11,300 words to begin with. With help from a couple of my friends and the judicious use of figurative shearing scissors, I got it down to about 8400 words, but it was still too big. I needed a way to cut it. But I couldn’t figure out what to lose and what to keep. I liked every scene. As it turns out, I will toss almost all of it except the beginning and the final scene, and rewrite all the sticky middle part. I think. I haven’t actually written it, yet, but it’s in the queue.

So, thank you, Alison, Scott, Debra, and Diana, for helping me fix a problem, even if you didn’t know you were doing it. :)


Group Blogging Exchange 2

Today’s post is inspired by GBE2 (Group Blogging Experience)’s Week 114 prompt: Serendipity


Viable Paradise XVI

Viable Paradise

Viable Paradise

I’ve been trying for most of a week to put something into words. But my adjectives and my adverbs keep getting weirded up with my verbs and my nouns, and there’s pronouns and conjunctions and gerunds underfoot, and maybe a split infinitive or two. I get bogged down trying to tell the facts and ignoring the essence of the event. So, instead I’m going to turn off my narrativ . . . ity (as well as, apparently, my vocabularitude) and you get this.

I’m talking, of course, about the experience of Viable Paradise (click on the picture). Whatever I thought it was going to be, it was simultaneously that and something else entirely.

  • Everyone there had some form of Impostor Syndrome.
  • Even the instructors.
  • Rule 1: No one dies.
  • Rule 2: Blood must remain in its original container.
  • Plot tomatoes.
  • The value of the hidden, detailed room in the model house.
  • How to force a person to pick the card I want him to pick.
  • Psychology is a very useful tool.
  • Telling details.
  • Richard II has a buttload of lines.
  • POV fixes everything.
  • I see what you did, there!
  • As you do.
  • Totes adorbz.
  • Jellyfish (at least some of them) are Fireflies of the Sea (or Lightning Bugs of the sea, if you’d rather).
  • The sky is chock full of stars.
  • Just because you spend a bunch of time building the world doesn’t mean your reader has to (or wants to) see it all. If you know it’s there, it’ll come through in the work.
  • I make a better Mafioso than a Thing.
  • Just being in the same room with The Scurvy Cure will apparently cure scurvy forever.
  • Unless you’re a Scurvy Brat.
  • Bob Dylan would be totes hilarious in Richard II.
  • MacAllister Stone made me like kale and collards.
  • I can write a 3400 word story in a few hours.
  • To spec.
  • Including a silly detail that makes no sense.
  • Just after the point where I yell at myself that I’m stupid and can’t do this, I buckle down and just do it.
  • Methodist Munchkin-Land.
  • I found my tribe.
  • And they have some rather odd rituals.
  • Each paragraph, each sentence — each word — should do at least two, if not as many as four or five different things.
  • Do not pet the black and white kitties.
  • Wood stairs are slick in the rain. (Hope you’re doing better, Alex.)
  • Tell the reader exactly what she needs to know when she needs to know it.
  • No more, no less.
  • No sooner, no later.
  • E-books are not going to kill off traditional publishing.
  • Money flows toward the writer.
  • Urban fantasy as a genre is a lot older than I thought it was.
  • The reader is at least as smart as you are.
  • Let the reader figure things out without over-explaining it. It makes them happy.
  • Just use ‘said.’
  • A game of chess is like a story.
  • When someone says, “I want to completely reduce a body to ashes. How big would a room have to be for me to stay in the room with the fire and not get burned or suffocate?” a group of writers won’t blink before asking for detail and suggesting answers and ways to burn the body faster and more efficiently.
  • Did you know there was a Dalek in Richard II?
  • And a Minnesotan or two? Oh, yah, you betcha!
  • And Gollum. Or maybe Peter Lorre. As Gollum.
  • And a southern belle from Looziana, y’all.
  • Bart makes kick-ass fudge.
  • Fudge with marshmallows and pretzels.
  • Yes, it really is good.
  • My girlfriend is a pagan.
  • Who could ask for more?
  • At the altar she’s a heathen, [Thanks, Marc!]
  • In the bedroom she’s just fine.
  • S00per s33krit Steve Brust story reading at midnight.
  • And the discussion that followed.
  • Don’t judge a book by its movie.
  • Dreadful, dreadful, DREADFUL!
  • …the unspeakable horror of the literary life.
  • Always go to the original source material whenever possible.
  • Every writer who has ever said, “I write,” has then heard this: “I have a great idea for a story, but no time to write it. How ’bout I give you the idea, you write it, and then we’ll split the money?”
  • Never call yourself a ‘wannabe writer.’ A ‘wannabe’ is someone who doesn’t write, but sits around thinking about writing. A writer is someone who writes. All of us at VP are writers.


  • I did not go on even one of Jim Macdonald’s three-mile hikes. The extra 90 minutes of sleep seemed more important at the time.
  • I didn’t spend near enough time with the other students. I barely got to talk with some of them at all. :(
  • Or the instructors. They made some good music at night (guitars, a banjo, a bongo, a harmonica, many voices), but I was too busy trying to get sleep to go enjoy it first-hand.
  • Or the staff. They bent over backwards to make sure we had everything we needed whenever we needed it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the experience is a bit of a jumble and it’ll take a while to process it all. I wish I were still up there, hanging out with those 36 amazing people into the wee hours, discussing writing and whatever else came to mind.


The End


VP XVI Class & Instructors

Well, it’s the end of Viable Paradise. I don’t want to go home. I want to stay on Martha’s Vineyard forever with this group of people and I know that’s not realistic but I’m going to cover my eyes and ears and go LA LA LA LA LA LA and you can’t make me listen so there!

Really, though, what a fantastic week. What a great group of people. I cannot possibly begin to thank the instructors enough. Uncle Jim (James D. Macdonald), Debra Doyle, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Sherwood Smith, Elizabeth Bear, Steven Gould, Steven Brust, and Scott Lynch. My head feels (pleasantly!) stuffed with all kinds of new stuff. Thank you all for pouring it in there. And tamping it down. And then cramming corks into my ears so it doesn’t all leak out.

And the staff. OMG, the staff. Bart, Chris, Pippen, Kate (even though she had to leave early), and most especially Mac. We wouldn’t have made it without you guys. And Mac, you made me like kale and collards. My God, woman. What have you done? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? :)

And my fellow classmates, pictured here (with some of the instructors), who made this week fun, exciting, exhausting, and illuminating, and allowed me to be a situational extrovert for a while. :)

I’ll give some more details when it’s not after 2 AM after a night of unwinding after a long week spent thinking and talking mostly about writing with other writers and I have to get up in less than five hours to get on a ferry to begin my trek home.

Also, I’m going to spend a lot of money on books over the next few days. :)


Epilogue: Thank You

I’d like to thank everyone who has indulged me and read these little episodes of a zombie apocalypse. I hope that those of my friends and family who did read them weren’t too freaked out before they got to the end of “Chapter 01” and realized what was going on. I also apologize for the high activity on my blog, which I know is duplicated on LiveJournal (Hi, LJ friends!) and Twitter (Hi, Twitter followers!) and FaceBook (Hi, Facebook friends!) . . . and then LiveJournal gets duplicated on Twitter (Um . . . Hi, guys?) and Facebook (Heh . . . Heh? Have I said I’m sorry?)

I really am sorry (really) for all the duplicates (really), but this came up kind of suddenly, and . . . <puppy-dog eyes until you accept my apology> (really) <— Don’t let my face freeze like this!

Google hasn’t seen fit to allow pre-timed posts or automatic cross-posting to Google+, yet. Boo!

Anyway . . . I am actually at Viable Paradise this week. All the places I mentioned in my little fictional account have been true: I should have been in those places at approximately those times, just not under military control or fighting zombies. :) (OR AM I?)

As I type this, it’s early Friday evening in my living room, and I’m about to do my final packing and get ready for bed. Around 10:37 PM, if everything goes to plan. :)

Anyway, I enjoyed writing these little episodes. I hope you don’t pick them apart too badly. I know it’s pretty implausible, but just suspend your disbelief and try to enjoy. We can discuss critiques later. :)

Any further posts by me will actually be about Viable Paradise and what’s going on there. Or here. Because when you read this, I’ll be there, but as I’m writing it . . . Oy. This is why time travel stories are always so hard.

Zombie Apocalypse 2012

Zombie Apocalypse 2012

This post is part of Zombie Apocalypse 2012, a multi-blog fictional account of a zombie uprising. Thanks for your patience! Really!

You may also follow the button link to read other equally fictional Zombie Apocalypse 2012 blog entries by other writers, or join in and tell your own zombie apocalypse stories!


13: The End?

I’m almost afraid to type this for fear of jinxing it, but . . . I think it’s over!

The helicopters which have been flying over the whole area for hours started dropping something. Some sort of fog or smoke or something. We can’t see them in the dark, but we can sure hear them, and there’s a haze that settles down to the ground after they pass by. The jets may be doing something, too, for all we know. And the troop trucks have been increasing in number.

When I was a kid in rural Alabama, we used to have these trucks that would come through the neighborhoods in the summer and spray thick smoke out to kill mosquitos. I guess it worked. Who knows? My friends and I used to play in the smoke. Insecticide. It’s a wonder any of made it out of childhood alive.

My point in telling that is to say: I saw the troop trucks doing something similar earlier. Some sort of smoke or fog was coming out.

This all started maybe two hours ago. Some of the zombies broke through just before that and we had to blow a bunch of them away. They seemed to lose their will, then, and wandered off, some of them bleeding or missing body parts. That’s when we noticed all the military activity.

As I look out, now—we re-aimed some of the spotlights—all we see are corpses. Some of them occasionally twitch, but . . .


Not that any of us are going to get any sleep. We hope it’s true, but we’re not going to trust it 100% until the last body is cleaned up. That’s going to be a job and a half.

I just wonder if they’ll ever tell us what happened. Rumors are still flying. It’s amazing. Upwards of 30% of the human race may have died of some sort of zombie plague, but people are people, and rumors travel faster than light, I think.

Genetics experiments gone wrong. Medical research into nanomachines. A new species of virus. Biological warfare . . . It may take years before we actually know. I’m willing to bet the president—if he even made it through; there’s a rumor Joe Biden and quite a few others didn’t—knows.

But for now, who cares? We’re all going to get together down in the restaurant in a short bit and just . . . blow off some steam. The soldiers have been going door to door, from what it sounds like. Well, when they get here, they’re going to find civilized people behaving like humans.

We made it. We MADE it! Hot damn!

Zombie Apocalypse 2012

Zombie Apocalypse 2012

This post is part of Zombie Apocalypse 2012, a multi-blog fictional account of a zombie uprising. Thanks for reading!

You may also follow the button link to read other equally fictional Zombie Apocalypse 2012 blog entries by other writers, or join in and tell your own zombie apocalypse stories!


12: Activity

Taking a quick break to dash off a post during my 20 minutes for dinner. The floodlights being powered by the generator are helping. They’re keeping most of the zombies out beyond the edge of the light, but it’s unfortunately having the side effect of attracting them like moths. We shoot the ones that venture inside the ring. The rest . . . seem to be eating the ones we kill. I’m past feeling sick at this point. When you’ve seen it as much as we have . . .

They’re massing out there in the darkness. First just a few and now there must be hundreds if not thousands. We’re not doing shifts tonight. Every hand is needed to watch and handle a weapon. Every shotgun we could find has been pressed into service. THAT I can fire. It’s point and shoot, basically, although I did have to get someone to show me how to load it. (I suck in a zombie apocalypse, what can I say? At least now I know this and can remedy the situation . . . once all this is over. Assuming we make it.)

The anticipation is killing us. They’re just out there, growling and howling and moaning and yelling . . . and it’s like something straight out of an insane person’s vision of Hell. We smell smoke. Something’s burning, somewhere, but no one is stupid enough to leave to find out.

The zombies seem . . . less vicious than last night. We don’t know what’s going on. The radio isn’t saying much that’s new, but we have been noticing a LOT of helicopters and fighter jets flying over. Seems like we’ve seen more troop trucks, too. They’re blasting a recording from the trucks that warns people to stay indoors and shoot to kill. No shit, Sherlock.

Still no problems with the injured folks. Their wounds are healing normally, or as normally as a bunch of non-medical people can determine. I guess the new “normal” is “not turning into a zombie.”

Back into the fray. We’re all cautiously optimistic, but that won’t last long unless someone, somewhere, figures out a way to stop this.

Zombie Apocalypse 2012

Zombie Apocalypse 2012

This post is part of Zombie Apocalypse 2012, a multi-blog fictional account of a zombie uprising. Stay tuned for more posts!

You may also follow the button link to read other equally fictional Zombie Apocalypse 2012 blog entries by other writers, or join in and tell your own zombie apocalypse stories!


11: Preparing for the Worst

After getting some sleep, we have all spent the entire rest of the day gearing up for tonight. The zombies are likely to attack with renewed vigor. The hotel is on a generator, and they don’t want us wasting power on things like laptops, but I had to update lest you think I’m dead or a zombie. I’m not, and I don’t intend to be.

Barricades are in place. All the broken doors and windows are boarded up. We had to scavenge some lumber from other structures, but we got it done. I have blisters on my hands, and those blisters have blisters. Ow.

We eventually let the wounded people out to help, but someone keeps a constant eye on them. If one of them turns on us, we’ll have no choice. Putting them down would be kind.

Got my axe. Bring it, zombies.

Zombie Apocalypse 2012

Zombie Apocalypse 2012

This post is part of Zombie Apocalypse 2012, a multi-blog fictional account of a zombie uprising. Stay tuned for more posts!

You may also follow the button link to read other equally fictional Zombie Apocalypse 2012 blog entries by other writers, or join in and tell your own zombie apocalypse stories!


10: Light of Day

Yes! As soon as it was bright enough, the zombies retreated. We don’t know where they went–probably under buildings in basements and anywhere it’s dark. Again, you’ve probably already noticed this or heard it on the news.

We’re still going to have shifts on watch, but time for some needed sleep. We’ll need to be good and rested for tonight. The two people who were wounded last night still seem OK, but not OK enough for us to trust them completely. Whatever is causing it must not be airborne or blood-borne, but I don’t know what that leaves. I hope the CDC figures something out.

Finally got a text from Arkansas! My mother is fine. Her friend is well-armed and the area is extremely rural, so all is well. Texts seem to be doing better than calls, still. Hell, Twitter is still up. #zombieapoc2012 is a trending topic, even.

Jeez. I have never been so happy to see the sun. But I’ve seen enough for right now. Sleep.

Zombie Apocalypse 2012

Zombie Apocalypse 2012

This post is part of Zombie Apocalypse 2012, a multi-blog fictional account of a zombie uprising. Stay tuned for more posts!

You may also follow the button link to read other equally fictional Zombie Apocalypse 2012 blog entries by other writers, or join in and tell your own zombie apocalypse stories!

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