Rumors of My Demise, Part II

Coffee cup on a wooden table

This post brought to you by a Nutella latte

Oh, man, it’s dusty in here.

So! Is everybody ready for another round of “Let’s Update the Blog”? It’s a time-honored tradition — every few years I look at this thing and decide I really ought to update it more frequently. I make all sorts of promises to myself and promptly break them all within a month.

But hey, it’s 2018, and the last post on here is from 2014.

You’ll notice the site is looking a bit shabby. I’m messing about with templates and trying to update it one page at a time. Which is totally fun and something I encourage everyone to do.

(Sarcasm, in case it wasn’t obvious.)

Anyway. I’m still here. Poking away at some work. I can’t say Big Things are in the pipeline, but stuff is happening and this place should start looking more like a website and less like a pawn shop soon enough.


I hope.

Fingers crossed, anyway.

Why Zombies?

When I tell people I write about zombies, I usually get one of two reactions.

1) “Why?”

2) “Ooooh, like as an allegory/representation of society/symbol?”

3) Like that walking dead show?

Okay, that was three reactions.

I’m so used to reaction #1 that most of the time I don’t even try to be silly about it. “I know, right? I seem so normal” is my default response. Whoever I’m talking to usually quickly backtracks at that point: “Well, I didn’t say you were normal.”

#3 is the sort of answer I get from someone who has miraculously managed to escape the zombie craze. They probably have a vague idea of what zombies are (“They’re like…gross and stuff”), but have no idea that there’s a fandom around them, or that people might write books about them, or watch them without being forced.

As for reason #2…guys, I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that I’m just not that deep.

Anyway, after the latest “Why?” I started thinking about, well, why. Why, exactly, do I write about rotten dead people who wander around making life difficult for non-rotten living people? I know why I started, at least initially. Years and years ago, I watched the 1991 remake of Night of the Living Dead, and it scared the shit out of me. I think part of its appeal — and the appeal of zombies in general (if you can call it appeal) is because I’m a very visual person. The torn flesh, the staggering gait, the blank eyes…ugh.

So back then they were terrifying. I’m not really scared of them now; I’m more or less morbidly fascinated by them, and what their presence means to the people around them. Which I’m pretty sure is the premise for every zombie book, TV show, and movie out there. But even then, I don’t have a solid reason for liking them. I just do, just like some people just root for the Chargers.

(Disclaimer: I went spent a lot of time in San Diego over the course of six years before moving here in August. I am totally allowed to rag on the Chargers, even though they actually managed to win last night. Way to go, guys. At least you’re still better than the Padres.)

Anyway, that’s why I like zombies.

So — why zombies, guys? Respond here or on Twitter or Facebook — I’m curious!


More of the WD in 30 days

Continuing on with the WD in 30 days meme…

Favorite female character? Why?
Oh, dear. I’ve complained about this show’s handling of female characters quite often. Not that I don’t love it/them dearly, but it seems the ladies frequently get the short end of the stick when it comes to characterization.

Most of them aren’t clearly defined enough for me to pick out a solid favorite. I can discuss qualities I like in each of them (even Lori…sometimes), but I don’t really have a go-to girl in the cast yet. I do like what I see in Maggie and Carol, and yes, Michonne’s badassery is the stuff of legend…but I need to see a little more of Michonne as opposed to just the badass to really start to enjoy her. Happily it looks like she’s headed that way.

I do hold something of a grudge against Maggie for her actions in the second season. She was mad at Glenn about something (was it telling people about the barn? I honestly don’t remember) and she retaliated by…smashing an egg on his head.

Seriously? You’re in the middle of the zombie apocalypse and you get ticked off at your boyfriend so you pull that? I lost some respect for her that day.

And She’s Back

Okay, so…I realize I kind of disappeared for awhile, and then weird things happened with my Nook-published books, and I shall take this space to explain some things.

Where did I go?
I would love to say I spent my summer sunbathing on a beautiful tropical island, but the real story is…I worked. I worked a lot. I had some family issues that came up, some health issues, and while everything is fine now, I was not in a position to sit down and crank out a funny zombie novel.

Or anything else, really. It was just that kind of summer. I didn’t get a lot of good stuff done. I didn’t do much with Facebook, with Twitter, with marketing, with anything.

Bad author, I know.

I honestly didn’t have it in me. But I’m back.

The Nook Business
Barnes & Noble changed their Nook contract and upgraded Pubit to something called NookPress or something like that…which is great because it sounds less like pubic, but came with an entirely new contract to read through. The original contract was not particularly favorable to indie writers. They released an updated version that put most fears to rest, but I was in the middle of a big assignment and did not have the time or brainpower to examine the entire contract. I made the decision to pull my books from the Nook store until then. From what I understand, the books should still be on your Nook device if you have already purchased them.

I’ll try to get them back up as soon as I can.

So…are you working on anything now?
Actually, I started on a rather interesting project that fuses my two favorite genres. I’ve fiddled with bits and pieces of it on and off over the last year or so, and it might turn out to be rather awesome.

More on that later, though.

Did you really start watching Breaking Bad?
Yes, I finally got on board with the rest of humanity and started watching Breaking Bad on Netflix. Partially because I wanted to see Malcolm’s dad cooking meth in his underwear, but mostly because a reader swore up and down that she pictured Tony as played by Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman to those who watch the show). I was curious, so I checked in.

Yeah, I definitely see it.

So. Zombies?
Yes. I’m working on some GNW shorts that I’ll put up on the site by Halloween. They will be free. I don’t know that anyone wants to read them, but they’ll be up for you to check out.

I’ll try to blog here more often, too.

But for now, back to Breaking Bad. =D

Creature Feature

There is nothing quite like watching a scary movie and then realizing there’s a scratching/thumping sound coming from your radiator. I thought it was the bird at first (not that I let the bird play on the radiator, but I instantly attribute most scratching sounds to her). I realized she was still on top of her playpen, looking curiously at the radiator.

Radiator pic

There is possibly a monster in here

Okay, so it wasn’t the bird. Me being me, I figured there were three things it could be.

a. Contractors digging around on the roof for some reason

b. My neighbors, attempting to shimmy down the radiator tubes to get me


I embraced my inner Idiotic Horror Movie Character, got dressed, and went outside to investigate. I didn’t see anything on the roof. I came back inside and did what any befuddled editor would do…I knocked on the thing.

The noises stopped.

Now, being that it’s broad daylight and I do not, in fact, live in a horror movie, I quickly deduced that some sort of friendly woodland creature had been inspecting my radiator, and that maybe I ought to call the landlord to get it inspected.

Of course, the noise completely disappeared and management wearily told me to call back if it happened again.

I have some experience with rodents being where they shouldn’t. Back when we lived in the Bay Area, my family had some unfortunate encounters with roof rats. By “unfortunate encounter,” I mean they decided let this crawlspace be where our people go to die. There’s nothing quite like turning on the AC on a hot summer night and inhaling the sweet stench of decay. The exterminator went down there a few times over the course of our years there, and always came out toting these gigantic dead things that looked more like mutants than rats.

I can’t say why they chose our crawlspace. I suppose it’s a dubious honor. In the meantime, I would really prefer that my apartment not stink up the way my house did. Begone, little woodland creature. Inhabit some other realm free of editors and birds. Please do not die in my radiator.

And if you do, please don’t come back as a zombie.


Mom: I read the first two pages of your zombie book.

Suz: ….why?

Mom: It was there. The main character was on the toilet and the world was ending.

Suz: Whoops. I thought I deleted it, sorry.

Mom: No, no, I wanted to read it. It’s…pretty good.

Suz: You don’t even like zombies.

Mom: I know!

If I could use this as a blurb…I totally would.

Grave New World appears to be live on B&N. Not sure what the Amazon holdup is. I did two run-throughs on my mother’s Kindle this time, so I know it looks decent on that platform (MOBI gave me trouble with Echoes). Nook…Nook is easy. It looks just dandy.


I haven’t wanted to admit it to myself, but…the time has come for some pretty radical reinvention. My biggest client appears to be going down the tubes (after a few months of see-sawing), and I’m scrambling to patch the leaks in my suddenly very-unsteady boat. I’ve been nursing along other eggs–namely breaking into fiction one writer at a time–but I think the time has come to dive in with both feet. To that end, I’ve set up a Facebook page for my editing business. I’m going to have to link all these sites together somehow…I can call it the Suz Network.

I’m also crossing my fingers that I see some sort of movement from the ebooks. Am working on getting the word out on them–it takes time–but every little bit helps.

…there is a bug in my coffee…

Ideally, I’d like to split my time between writing and editing. I do like editing and proofreading; it keeps my brain sharp. If I could edit half the day and write the rest of it, I’d be happy as a clam. The Kindle/Nook/e-publishing revolution has made this possible, if I can only figure out how to make it work. So if you know any self-publishers who are looking for an editor/proofreader…let me know?

Hell, ANYONE looking for an editor/proofreader. I’d like to get into the fiction market, but I’ll look at just about anything. Except math. Not very good at math.

Still trying to kick this cold. Should’ve picked up some DayQuil.

On Plot Devices

Weird stuff happens here in Orange, specifically around my apartment complex. I post clips of it on this blog every now and then, but most of the dialogue-heavy stuff is relegated to my Facebook, where people can like it or make wry comments about it. 

I posted yet another Moment of Weirdness this morning (my landlord peeking into my neighbor’s apartment–she’s been MIA for quite some time), and Stacy suggested writing a book of short stories based around it. L went on to list some of the weird crap I’ve posted about. I got to thinking…hmmm. That’s not a bad idea.

Except me being me, I want some kind of plot to tie these short stories together. Even just a minimal one–there needs to be some sort of thread in the background. I don’t like random, unconnected vignettes. So what could I do to come up with a plot point? 

And then it came to me…the contractors. 

Continue reading

Freelancing Health

One of the best things about being self-employed is that you get to figure out your insurance.

Gone is the corporate world that provided you with an array of benefits (assuming your old job did that; many don’t anymore). Freelancers are generally stuck with expensive individual plans…and beyond that, a lot of people forget about dental entirely until they chip a tooth or something starts hurting. Individual dental plans are even more of a pain in the ass than individual health insurance plans…most of them are preventative medicine only. That is, you’ll shell out fifty bucks a month (average) and it might pay for some of your cleaning, part of your x-rays, and part of your exam. The “might” is attached to who your dentist is, of course, along with how often your plan expects you to go per year (most people go 2x a year for a cleaning and exam; some plans only want you to go once a year). The plan that covers all your preventative work might not cover a crown you need (those are very expensive, BTW) or the root canal. Or they might cover those…but not anesthesia. So you get to be awake and aware while that crap goes down (assuming your dentist allows it…some are sadists).

I do not have a dental plan at the moment. That oversight dawned on me when I wound up in the dentist’s chair at 8:30 this morning with a toothache.

Now, I tend to be something of a Tooth Pessimist (I blame years of orthodontia…the nasty tooth infection my father had earlier in the year was also on my mind). I envisioned the dentist looking into my mouth, gasping, and exclaiming, “We need a root canal, STAT!”

We did X-rays and a full exam, and all he could come up with was that I tend to clench my teeth when I’m stressed…which is always…not to mention I’m sure I grind away while I’m at the computer editing. While there’s the general feeling of relief that no, there’s no infection, my teeth aren’t about to fall out, etc., I’m slightly dismayed about being brought down by clenching, of all things. In Once, Kate gets all bent out of shape when the doctor blames her issues on sleep deprivation. Art parallels life…or is it the other way around?

I also got a nice lecture on my posture. This is verrrrrry important for those of us who sit in front of computers all day. Keep your shoulders straight, head up, and suck in your stomach. It straightens up your posture and builds core muscles. “It’s like a workout!” the dentist enthused.


While all this went down, I got to wondering why there’s such a huge disparity between dental and medical insurance, at least in the individual plans. Even the cheapo insurance plans generally have some provisions for catastrophic care (that’s why most people get them) whereas only the most expensive dental plans seem to have any provisions for helping you out if, say, you’re mugged and get your teeth knocked out.

I also kind of wonder at medical professionals who flat-out refuse payment plans. I realize they’ve been burned before, but as the cost of care and insurance goes up, you’d think more would look into working with their patients.

My advice to the struggling freelancer is to let your dentist or doctor know your situation. It may not make a difference, but sometimes they’re willing to give you some sort of discount, especially if you’ve always paid up on time and in full. And if you have a toothache that persists for more than two days…get that thing looked at. Busted teeth are a pain and a half to deal with, and usually wind up more expensive in the end.

The Freelance Life

One of the more daunting aspects of freelancing is meeting potential new clients.

I’m shy by nature, so getting out there and meeting people is tough to start with. I’ve gotten better at it as I go, but it’s still not my favorite thing to do.

I think one of the important lessons I’m learning about freelancing is making do. Got an hour’s worth of sleep last night because the heat triggered my sinusitis for the first time in awhile, and there’s no sleeping with a sinus headache. The sinuses cleared up once I popped my Zyrtec this morning, but I still looked like the walking dead, all hollow-eyed and pale-faced, and no amount of makeup can clear that up (not that it matters; it’s 95 degrees again, and my makeup started melting the instant I walked outside). Sleepiness tends to infringe on my wits, too, so I’m pretty sure I was walking around in a haze as I headed to Starbucks for my meeting.

I tackled this problem as I tackle all problems: threw coffee at it and hoped it went away.

Which brings me back to making do. All I really have to offer is my skill set, but I have to be able to present that skill set. Which means a freelancer needs to be constantly “on,” sinusitis or not. Maybe some rehearsed talking points are a good thing. Everyone’s different; I won’t file this under general advice. Maybe just ruminations. I guess my point here is that a good or bad impression can make all the difference. That’s true in real life as well as the freelance world, but it’s especially relevant to freelancing.

That brings me to the actual freelance life.

Continue reading

On Formatting

Most characters in post-apocalyptic movies have some kind of sidekick. Sometimes it’s a dog (I Am Legend); sometimes it’s an irritating child (The Road); sometimes it’s a gaggle of hangers-on (Dawn of the Dead), and sometimes it’s a midget/man-child (Beyond Thunderdome).

I am pretty sure my post-apocalyptic sidekick will be a cockatiel, which is at least different.

On the plus side, she can whistle the Imperial March when we sweep into a room, so I don’t have to carry a boom box around with me. With that said, I’m not sure how intimidating I’m going to be when I’m making threatening speeches and she keeps cutting in with “Hey bird!” and making kissing noises.

Or maybe that will make people more fearful. “I hear it’s the bird running the show. They speak to each other in code.”

“I wonder about that bird,” Mother mused yesterday, when I told her about Juno’s penchant for hurling things at me to get my attention. “Is this typical cockatiel intelligence being displayed in a bird that’s a sole pet? Or is she really, really smart?”

Vocally, Juno is more like a budgie than a cockatiel. My family has had talking cockatiels (male and female) over the years, and yes, they can be very loud…but Juno literally goes all day. Babbling, talking, singing. People are floored. “Doesn’t it have an off switch?” is a popular question. She was utterly silent in the first two months I had her–active, yes, but very quiet, chirping only when she wanted to know where I was, or if a friend and I were talking and she wanted to be included. I seriously think she developed this vocal habit because she knows that’s how people communicate, and she’s around people all the time. We are loud, so she is loud.

My uncle suggests she is preparing an uprising a la Planet of the Apes. “Remember Arab Summer?” he asked on Facebook. “This is Bird Winter.”

To which I had to say, “Well, winter is coming.”

Post-apocalyptic merriment is well underway in that zombie story. In the original novel, there was quite a long wait between “the first end of the world” (meteor impacts) and “the second end of the world” (the dead rising). That was part of my plot…the slow unraveling of society. By making it a dedicated zombie novella, I’ve had to push up the arrival of the undead, which is…it’s proving a little more difficult to work all of that in. Timing is everything.

I’m planning on finishing up a couple of the articles I’ve had sitting on my desk, and then…doing a dry run in ebook formatting. Once I figured out that it’s basically converting the Word document to a type of HTML (or maybe it’s XHTML…I don’t know…it’s something), I found approaching it far less daunting. It probably still won’t be a ton of fun, but what can you do.

There are two schools of thought regarding ebook formatting. One is this: Writers write. If you can farm it out, do so. The other is that you might as well do it on your own if you can.

I subscribe to the second school of thought. Granted, if I can’t figure this out after a couple of tries, I will pony up the cash and hire someone to do it. But it never hurts to learn a new skill, particularly in this economy.

Off I go! Wish me luck.