Wednesday, November 30, 2016


My war was cold. I grew up waiting for the cold war to heat up. It never did. There were some tense moments when Castro invited the Russians to his island with their atomic bombs, and President Kennedy said, “Go home.” They went.

In the meantime, I prepared for the cold war to go hot by hiding under my desk at school and every Saturday watching movies filled with mutants, fallout, and radiated wastelands. Those movies gave my bad dreams and ignited my imagination. 

My generation invented dystopian, futuristic, end-of-times storytelling. Godzilla wasn’t just a big lizard; he was also a metaphor for rampaging, worldwide destruction. Not to mention, he made a few bucks in the movies.

I grew up thinking about fallout shelters and mutant monsters.

And now I write “Prepper” fiction, among other genres. It’s a sub genre of fiction falling under science fiction but without the ray guns. It’s a category of action adventure with a futuristic theme but without the space aliens. It’s a kind of speculative writing but without the zombies. Humans are the zombies.

Prepper fiction is a realistic, what-if, survival story. Pat Frank’s “Alas Babylon” written in the 1950’s, dealing with the aftermath of a nuclear war and set in Florida was a national best seller and is a classic example of the genre. Doomsday possibilities include: solar flares, EMP attacks, financial collapse, nuclear warfare, invasion, pandemic, ecological disasters, and the list goes on . . . 

Prepper fiction is an exercise in imagination.

Prepper fiction can be frightening.

Prepper fiction examines the collapse and re-formation of societal constructs.

Prepper fiction deals with preparations for “doomsday” scenarios or the lack thereof . . .

I’ve had people say to me that my books gave them bad dreams. At first, I was horrified and thought, “Oh no. What have I done?” But then, on future examination, I thought, after rubbing my hands together in glee, “Oh my! What have I done?!!”

Prepper fiction is not your momma’s cotton candy romance, although romance in a doomsday setting can be much more intense and realistic than an average love story. Sex and pregnancy become a life and death theme without modern medicine.

In a prepper novel, life becomes an exercise in imagination filled with “what if” questions. 

What if there’s no electric? What if I can’t refrigerate my food? What if I can’t buy gas? What if there’s no money? 

How would I find clean, drinking water? How do I stay clean? Preserve food? Stitch a wound? Set a bone? Pickle a cucumber? Keep bugs off? Have safe sex? Stay human and hopeful?

Prepper fiction is action/adventure set in a realistic apocalyptic collapse of civilization that some people will be prepared for but most will not.

It can be scary, intense, and upsetting. It can also get readers to think . . . and maybe, just maybe . . . prepare.

Linda (Bunker Babe) Zern 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Scoop One, Drop Two

People love horses in a parade and why not? They’re beautiful. They’re big. They’re mildly intimidating. They poop. 

They poop, a lot, which seems to shock and delight parade watchers. As a country girl I find the parade watcher’s shock and delight, shocking. When did society forget that animals do not use port-a-potties? 

Horses in parades pooping, redefines potty humor. Scooping poop behind a herd of horses is one step up from riding in the clown car at the circus. People love it. Ha. Ha. That horse just plopped a six-foot trail of masticated grass stuff and now you have to scoop it up. That’s hilarious. “It’s a crappy job, but somebody has to do it.”

But why? Why is poop so darn, ‘stinking’ funny? We all do it, from the Queen of England to the hamster in the kid’s bedroom to the search and rescue horses in your community Veteran’s Day parade. It’s a biologic imperative or the biggest laugh at clown-college.

I quit laughing at poop when I was nine. But I have a grown daughter (with five children) who still can’t not (yes, yes, a double negative) laugh at the idea of poop, the act of poop, or the cartoon depiction of poop. She’s a poop giggler. There’s a toy plastic pig that when you squeeze it, a plastic bubble of poop pops out of the pig’s bottom. She laughs—every single time. Squeeze. Laugh. Squeeze. Laugh. She’s a nine-year old boy. I don’t get it.

Recently, my husband discovered that movie popcorn acts like radioactive poison on his internal plumbing. 

I can’t really go into details, but I will say that at one point after we’d arrived home from the movies and he’d retired to the room of rest, I thought my husband had died and his bowels had released. It had me wondering if the coroner had a one-eight hundred number. Later, he stuck his head out of the bathroom door and said, “Don’t come in here. No matter what.” He disappeared again.

Popcorn? Who knew?

Which brings us to dignity; there isn’t any. People telling you dignity is a God-given right forget that God designed the poop factor and the humor component associated with it. We come into this life in a haze of goo and go out of it in a pile of gick. 

Abandon dignity and start living. That’s my motto. If you need a jump-start, climb on board the poop wagon behind the mounted posse and scoop up a bucket full of road apples in front of dozens of strangers. It will make you laugh. It will surely bring you closer to the humble edge of self-deprecating humor. 

Linda (Scoop One, Drop Two) Zern 

FALL INTO BOOKS THIS FALL @ Meet the Authors Book Fair

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Mark Twain wrote a beautiful essay about “Two Ways to See a River.” He complained that by becoming an expert at something and while you gain knowledge, it’s at the sacrifice of wonder. It’s a beautiful piece of writing because it happens to be true.

Becoming a writer with hundreds of thousands of words in your portfolio is like that. It gets harder and harder to read a book riddled with examples of author intrusion (See! What I’m telling you in this part of the story is that this is the bad guy because he eats kittens! I mean it!) or an excessive use of attributes and adverbs, she interjected snidely, moistly, and urgently.

But it gets worse. You start hearing the flaws in the speechifying of regular people you’ve been married to for decades—namely spouse types.

For example:

My husband of thirty-eight years, the world-renowned computer analyst, has an expression he uses over and over again when he’s losing an argument with me. 

He likes to say, “Oh, get off it!” 

All I can think when he says this is that the subject ‘you’ is implied and vague. So vague that I assume he’s talking to himself and not me, and I imagine him saying it like this, “Oh, Sherwood, get off it!”

Yeah, how about that, Sherwood?

And the verb “get,” it’s extremely weak in this sentence. Get is one of the weakest of the verbs. My advice to my husband to jazz up his prickly command is to strengthen that puny verb by turning the word get into an action verb of the rip roaring kind.

“Oh, Sherwood, drive off it!”
“Oh, Sherwood, flip off it!”
“Oh, Sherwood, soar off it!”
“Oh, Sherwood, shove off it!”

And what about that pronoun? It? What it? Whose it?

Concrete nouns are the building blocks of a rude, sharp sentence, so I’d suggest replacing that pronoun with something sharp-edged and hard—something like a chunk of word cement. 

Maybe something like this:

“Oh, Sherwood, shove off that Saguaro cactus.” Or “Oh, Sherwood shove off that red hot poker.” But this takes us into the land of adjectives and advanced description—and that’s a tightrope I’d rather not walk right now.

So, like the Twain, I’ve lost the wonder and awe in my husband’s forceful, manly instructions to me during an argument, and I can only register the grammar funk of his dopey sentence. Thank you, Mr. Twain, for helping me understand the price of knowledge, and helping me appreciate the irony of loss and gain. 

“Since those days [as a riverboat captain] I have pitied doctors from my heart. What does the lovely flush in a beauty's cheek mean to a doctor but a "break" that ripples above some deadly disease? Are not all her visible charms sown thick with what are to him the signs and symbols of hidden decay? Does he ever see her beauty at all, or doesn't he simply view her professionally, and comment upon her unwholesome condition all to himself? And doesn't he sometimes wonder whether he has gained most or lost most by learning his trade?” [Mark Twain, “Two Ways to See a River”]

Ahhh . . . Mr. Twain . . . those poor doctors and, let's not forget, the computer systems analysts . . .

Linda (Grammar Matron) Zern

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