Monday, August 7, 2017

DITCH THE BRA

When I’m asked on an application about my profession, I always fill in the blank on the form with the words writer/author/illustrator and Dazzle Queen of the Universe. No one ever comments. I’m not sure anyone reads anything these days, especially applications. Even so, I still keep writing, because like it says on those forms I am a writer, and real writers write, regardless of what the universe is or is not reading. 

If I’m ever invited to discuss my creative process, I know exactly the kind of advice I’m going to share with other budding wordsmiths. 

1) Ditch the Bra: Writing is a sedentary process, performed while sitting in a chair or, in my case, while lazing in bed. Either way, you’ll spend your day bent in half at the waist. I predict that at some point you will slip/slide into a much worse if not wretched posture, curving into the human bodies' version of a semicolon. And when the story gets cooking you may wind up hunched over the keyboard like a deflated balloon. Save yourself time, pain, and distraction and take your bra off before it cuts you in half. 

2) Weed the Garden: Typing is stressful and repetitive. Fingers get tired, stiff, and lumpy. Pulling weeds is a low-cost exercise that strengthens typing fingers. It does not require specialized gym equipment or a personal trainer. Fresh, outside air will blow out all the silly adverbs and metaphors, and the weeding will build finger muscles. The corn will thank you. It’s a win-win. 

3) Know Your Writing History: As far as I can tell the best place to write a book is in prison: there’s plenty of personal time, distractions are minimal, and the atmosphere is full of dramatic tension. Get arrested. Absolutely tons of books have been written in prison. If you behave, you may be allowed to work in the prison garden, pulling weeds. See above. 

4) Exercise Your Butt: While in prison do a lot of squats and dolphin kicks. Otherwise, your butt is going to spread and start to resemble the front seat of a minivan from all that sitting and writing. And it’s going to feel like you have two cement blocks taped to your tailbone. Trust me on this.

5) Shop Quick: If you aren’t lucky enough to be in prison and have to write on a laptop in your bed make sure that you register on your favorite online shopping site so that you don’t have to waste time filling out a lot of applications, and you can buy stuff with one click. You’re going to shop; let’s be honest. Just shop quick, that’s all I’m saying.

This post is a preliminary outline I’ve been working on for when I’m asked to speak at retirement homes and special school assemblies all over Osceola County. Of course, by then I’ll be filling out that blank line on the applications with the words, FAMOUS Dazzle Queen of the Universe. 

Linda (Dazzle Queen) Zern 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

ENDLESS ABS





I am a writer-slash-author-slash-weaver of dreams-slash-word count monger. By my latest word count research and tax payer funded scientific study, I’ve written easily half a ca-billion words, or as a nameless, quasi-supportive relative by marriage once commented on my writing efforts, “That’s a lot of words.”

“Ya’ think?”

After a while, when the words stack up I have to decide what to do with them. I can send them off to an agent that may or may not have the same attitude as my quasi-supportive relative and will want fifteen percent commission right off the top or DIY.

DIY is code for doing it yourself or don’t imagine yaks. It also means that at some point I have to decide to stuff all those words into a manuscript, have someone tell me how many of those words are misspelled, and then figure out a cover to wrap around the whole steaming heap of words.

Searching around the Internet I’ve noticed that a lot of independent authors like to wrap their words in book covers with headless, legless torso people. It’s just endless, six-packed, muscled abdominal skin that stops just above the genitalia and right below the Adam’s apple. 

My problem is that I don’t write stories about headless, legless torso people. All the people in my books have heads and legs. So cover design can be a bit of a struggle. 

People ask me what I write. Words, people. Words. Oh, you mean genre. My answer to that is yes. 

Inspirational? Yes. Happy day.

Romance? Yes to love.

Historical fiction? Yes, and it’s groovy.

Fantasy? Yes. Yes. Yes.

Children’s Chapter Books? Yes, little dreamers.

Young Adult? Righteous, dude. 

Action Adventure? “Sure thing,” she said breathlessly.

Humor? I’m writing it right now.

The sum total of which is that marketing and cover design is an endless challenge and makes my abs cramp. I’m looking for versatility, imagination, and smart. I know. I know. I’m swimming upstream without legs and arms. But still, I paddle.

My newest project is a sexy (that’s a word that sells stuff) fantasy set in the rural countryside of Central Florida. There’s a gryphon and refugees and magic and a boy (with abs) and a girl (with abs) and . . .

Linda (Abby Normal) Zern
amazon.com/author/lindazern



Tuesday, July 25, 2017

ANOTHER THEORY OF RELATIVITY - A Classic

**Bobwhite sits next to me in my creative writing class. The only thing that makes Bobwhite angry are people who believe in absolutes. He makes this declaration with absolute certainty. 

It is a declaration that makes me mildly uncomfortable because, of course, I only believe in absolutes.

I absolutely believe that certain teenagers who tell you that they are “ready and able” to drive the family van, will, in fact, run that van off the road at fifty-miles per hour through a barbed wire cow fence—at the first available opportunity--causing four thousand, two hundred dollars worth of damage and an ulcer epidemic.

I absolutely believe that two-year olds, left on the back porch by themselves, when told not to eat the dog food, will eat the dog food after soaking it in the dog’s water.

I absolutely believe that college students, who do not pay taxes, car insurance, tuition, or their own meal allowances, are excited about the re-distribution of wealth—mostly other people’s.

Bobwhite believes that human beings don’t even know why they do what they do, but after they do it, they try to figure out why they’ve done what they did, so they’ll know stuff about why they do what they do for future doings. I don’t pretend to understand that sentence, but it's the kind of thinking that comes from being told that chemistry rules the world. 

He believes that human beings are driven by chemicals, genetics, and reality television, and (for no apparent historical precedent) that the future looks brighter than the past, because of all the information available online, of course. If we can just stuff enough information into people, they will not want to rip-off the old folks' pension plans or sell drugs to the known world. 

I remain skeptical—also menopausal. I believe that thieves with a lot of education are just educated thieves or Enron execs. 

Bobwhite’s basic premise is that human beings have no actual ability to exhibit will power or self-control above that of the average poodle without the ability to Google. 

Wanting to put his theory to the test, I asked him, “Do you mean to tell me that if I get the urge to smash your head in with a brick it won’t be my fault, but a combination of menopausal hormones, urban blight, and Irish angst. 

Bobwhite said, “Exactly.”

When I get into these deep philosophical discussions the other students sit in a semi-circle starring at me to see if I will stroke out. 

Turning to the semicircle of doom I said, “Girls, go get me a brick. I want to test out Bobwhite’s theory.”

They laugh.

I am serious.

Oh, those college kids are so adorable, but they’ve got a lot to learn. It’s true that the two-year old will eat the dog food, but she won’t eat it forever. It’s also true that teenagers shouldn’t be allowed to drive until they’ve joined the army or the Peace Corp. The truest absolute of all is that the fuzzy-wuzzy thinking of the young and freshly educated will sharpen right up as soon as someone they are closely related to decides it’s a hilarious idea to drive around with a fake bomb in the trunk of the family car.  True story. Happened to a friend of mine.

Linda (Absolutely Me) Zern 

** Name has been changed because I am not an absolute dweeb.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A QUICKIE: Postings That Are Short and Sweet

SPACE COAST WRITERS' GUILD MONTHLY MEETING:  The author, Linda L. Zern, singing the praises of active review gathering for your book launch. amazon.com/author/lindazern

Monday, July 10, 2017

GRAMMAR HAPPY

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 do gain knowledge, that expertise comes 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! Says the author! Between the lines--sort of! What I’m telling you in this part of the story is that this is the bad guy, who is so terrible that he eats kittens! I mean it! Nod your head if you get it.) Or when an author uses an excessive use of attributes and adverbs, she interjected snidely, moistly, or urgently.

But it gets worse. You start hearing the flaws not just in the written word but also in the speechifying of regular people you’ve been married to for decades—namely spouse types.

For example:

My husband of thirty-plus 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!” It’s his favorite point to my counter-point. 

All I can think when he uses this phrase during a marital tiff is that the subject ‘you’ is implied, as in, "Oh, you, get off it!"

But doesn't he know that you is a genuinely vague pronoun? So vague that I assume he’s talking to himself and not to me when he uses it. You who? Getting off of what? See the problem?

I can imagine that what he's saying in the heat of the debate is something like this. “Oh, Sherwood, get off it!”

Yeah, how about that, Sherwood? Please note: My husband's first name is Sherwood--like the forest. Crazy right? Get off of that.

And his use of the verb “get,” is also extremely weak in this sentence. Get is one of the weakest of the verbs. My advice to my husband to jazz up his prickly but vague command to me as he goes down in angry flames 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, fling off it!”
“Oh, Sherwood, shove off it!”

While we're at it, what about that pronoun it? What it? Who's it?

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

Maybe something like this:

“Oh, Sherwood, pole vault 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 Mark Twain, I’ve lost the wonder and awe of my husband’s forceful, manly instructions to me during a verbal brawl, and I can only register the grammar funk of his dopey sentence.

Thank you, Mark Twain, for helping me understand the price of knowledge. And like Mr. Twain, I 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 computer systems analysts . . .

Linda (Grammar Witch) Zern
To Find More of Ms. Zern's Work:  amazon.com/author/lindazern

Saturday, July 8, 2017

POOL RULES

Our sandbox is sometimes fifteen feet high. There are friendly goats to pet. The swings fit one to twelve children. “Hideouts” and “forts” are freely constructed and outfitted all over the property. Fun is what we do.

There are also snakes, bugs, and fire ants. Branches fall from trees. Animals stampede. Mud, muck, and swamp encroach. Thistles sting. Florida is the semi-tropics after all.

In the spirit of summer high jinks and mud hole jumping, I’ve compiled a Zern Farm release form and a list of pool rules. (Please Note: We don’t have a pool.)

THE RULES

If you come to my house, do NOT wear flip-flops. Your feet will not be protected from random piles of animal dung by your “comfortable” footwear. 

If you come to my house, do NOT wear flip-flops. Fire ants enjoy free rides on flip-flops. It’s a scientific fact.

If you come to my house, do NOT wear flip-flops. Stinging nettles, pigweed, and sand spurs do not respect your “comfortable” footwear. I do not respect your “comfortable” footwear. 

If you come to my house, do NOT wear your brand new, bedazzled superhero t-shirt. Stinging nettles, pigweed, and sand spurs grow in DIRT, which is dirty, also grubby. You will get dirty. Your clothes will get dirty. Dirt will touch you in a myriad of ways. Dress accordingly.

If you come to my house prepare to be booed if you proclaim yourself “bored.” Only boring people (or teenagers) are bored at my house. If you are bored prepare to be given a shovel or a post hole digger and put to work.

If you come to my house prepare to be hot. It’s Florida. Duh.

If you come to my house, understand that animals will be roaming about doing what animals do. Yes, my buck goat stinks. He stinks for a reason. He is not confused as to his gender or life’s work. He lives to eat and make little goats.

If you come to my house be aware that tree bark is scratchy, tree climbing not without hazard, and chiggers live in tree moss. Bring Bandaids.

Random Warnings: 

BEWARE! THE YAYA BITES. 

Don’t make me traumatize you! 

Fight at your own risk.

And if you turn over something to look for worms or beetles or other wiggly creatures then, when you are done, turn that log, stepping stone, or lawn chair back over. Leave things the way you found them.

Sincerely, The Management

Linda (Sharp-Tooth) Zern 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

DOOM STARTS WITH D

I’m a writer. I write about life, love, truth, and conflict. I can imagine just about any eventuality given enough time and quiet. It’s a problem. 

When one of my gang is late for a family meeting, dinner, or activity, I can have them stripped naked, bleeding from their temples, and thrown in a ditch before I’ve set the table. I can’t help it. It’s a job hazard. 

My imagination is an excellent asset, except when it’s not. 

When creating a story, an author is encouraged by the gods of writing to take her beloved characters, chase them up a tree, and then throw rocks at them. Sometimes those beloved characters get stuck up in that tree, and the author has to figure out how to get them out of there. If a rock hits them in the head, they fall out of that tree dead.

What? It happens. In my brain.

After writing my first book in the Strandline Story Series (Beyond the Strandline) I had an advanced copy reader email me and ask, "But you're such a nice lady, how can you write such terrible things--and about children?"

Because, when writing apocalyptic grid collapse scenarios there are a lot of people up trees, even children. If the lights should go out, electric quits flowing, and the pumps shut off the world will stop being quite so fast food convenient and friendly. It's said that the US is seventy-two hours away from anarchy because that's when the food runs out. It's a genre that lends itself to all the troubles necessary to write intense, realistic fiction. Food isn't automatic. Water is life and death. Enemies are endless. Sex is serious business--again. 

Prepper fiction is a target rich environment for an author.

Fiction creates an opportunity for readers to explore life events vicariously, to work through trouble and tragedy by looking through the window of a novel into the lives and troubles of characters who've been run up a tree. It is a safe way to prepare, to process, to contemplate possibilities. 

My family thinks I'm a doomsday diva, claiming that I've probably dug a secret bunker someplace, where I've stockpiled huge mounds of dehydrated broccoli. No. But if I had dug a secret bunker, I'd hide it under the foundation of the barn and use old freezers as waterproof storage units, but it would be hard because the water table is pretty high in Florida so I'd have to figure out how to keep my bunker dry . . . 

See? Up a tree, with people throwing rocks.

Don't think it could happen? Neither did the Venezuelans, the Syrians, the Bosnians, Europe after Hitler, the Ukraine after communism . . . 

Linda (Read More Books) Zern 

Friday, June 16, 2017

For Sale

Facebook is a marvelous work and a wonder, full of opinions, ideas, politics, and philosophy. Everyone is talking. A lot of folks are trash talking. Most people are talking at each other, rather than to each other. Some jokers are frothing at the mouth, and still others don’t talk at all, they just eavesdrop.

When in the history of this world have more people been talking?

The problem: Society has, maybe, never been more uncivil or paranoid.

The answer, according to everyone on Facebook, is that more talking is needed. Facebookers call it dialogue but really that’s just a fancy word for talking. The conventional wisdom is that more talking is needed, and then when we reach some level of excessive talking a wormhole of cosmic understanding will open and all will be well.

Hmmmmm . . . not seeing it.

A Facebook friend of a friend of mine, of anonymous acquaintance, (you don’t know them so quit trying to guess) recently left my church, trashed my leaders, and castigated my beliefs. There was a lot of talking. Please understand; I stand firmly in the camp of freedom: religion, speech, choices. 

Your right to talk is sacred to me, but don’t be surprised if I talk back. My friend talked and talked and talked, but there was no reaching of some beautiful wormhole of cosmic understanding. There was no ranting and no raving but there was also no miraculous discovery of common ground. Sad. But true. It’s life and living and I respect that.

Want to know when the conversation got moderate? When the friend of my friend, who is someone no one knows, started selling stuff and suddenly, the agenda changed: You have what I want, and I make what you need. Let’s make a deal. And boom! The world got a little more civil.

If the world wants civil, then sell more stuff. It’s amazing how thoughtful people become when they want your money or your circuit boards or your business. Trade tempers the temper. Historians understand the importance of goods and services that trade hands, open borders, and broaden horizons.

“Trade was also a boon for human interaction, bringing cross-cultural contact to a whole new level.” (Live Science, Heather Whipp)

America has always been a nation of shopkeepers. It kept us civil. It kept us polite. It keeps life personal. Small business keeps us united. Keep that in mind when folks talk, talk, talk about bigger and bigger centralized government. 

I have heard that the rule of thumb for those on Facebook, doing business of one sort or another, is to not say anything on social media you wouldn’t say at a cocktail party before the drinking.

Of course, there are ALWAYS exceptions to the rule and people who feel free to trash talk regardless of what they’re selling in their lemonade stands: rock stars, comedians, talking heads, and other curmudgeons. 

Let the free market decide.

Linda (Fifty Percent Off) Zern 




Tuesday, June 13, 2017

E is for Everybody

I hate technology. As soon as I figure out Facebook, here comes Twitter, or Pitter, or Pat, or whatever. I spend a major part of my waking life trying to master the latest method of embarrassing myself in public—online. It’s exhausting.

For ten years, I’ve been posting, emailing, and flying our family flag, in written form, from the flagpole of public humiliation—many find my observations humorous, a few have been offended, and a couple of people have threatened legal action. Several individuals have wondered if my disclosures damage my children’s delicate psyches—not if I pay them a dollar every time their name is mentioned.

I recently joined an online writer’s website where you can post your work, read other writer’s stuff, and introduce oneself to a larger audience. I tried writing a brief introductory biography, but my life and history defied the E rating (E is for everybody) necessary to post a general site wide introduction. I got smacked down by the automated-techno word police.

Here’s my rejected online BIO:

Writing is in my blood for the following reasons: I am of the southern persuasion; moonshine and madness run through my family tree like freckles on a redhead; murder, betrayal, and abandonment were family traditions in some branches of the tree. Family rumors speculate that wild dogs raised several of the long dead ancestors and a couple of individuals were suspected of and arrested for the theft of poultry—no word on convictions.
It is my firm belief that if I don’t write I’ll become a chicken-stealing drunk. When I read anything by William Faulkner, I wonder when he had time to peek through the windows of my family history and write about the nimrods he found there, and my favorite author is Shirley Jackson because she wrote a book about her family called “Life Among the Savages.” 

Here’s why my BIO was rejected: 

An E-rated Intro is suitable for everyone of any age. There are absolutely no references to sex (other than gender), drugs (legal/illegal), alcohol, violence, cursing (of any kind), derogatory names or any combinations thereof. These titles are displayed for members who have their rating preferences set to 18+ and below.

Here’s my E-rated, revised BIO:

See Jane write. Jane loves to write and write and write. Write Jan write. See Jane write about Dick. See Jane write about butterflies. Fly free butterflies. Oh no! Run Dick. The butterflies have fangs. Run Dick run. Too late, the butterflies have ripped Dick’s throat out. Sad Dick. Sad Jane.

Oops! Still trying . . . 

Linda (Name that Nimrod) Zern 
To read more from L. L. Zern see  

Monday, June 5, 2017

A QUICKY - POSTINGS THAT ARE SHORT AND SWEET

SPACE COAST BOOK LOVERS BOOK SIGNING * JUNE 2017
THE AUTHOR WITH HER PERSONAL ASSISTANT.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

I Spy Naked

My favorite fairy tale of all time is The Emperor’s New Clothes. It’s continually timely. It’s satirically poignant. It’s completely dead on. The problem is that so many people are walking around naked these days, convinced that they’re fully clothed I get tired of yelling, “Hey, Dude, get your money back. You’re naked. And it’s not ‘good naked.’” 

The fairy tale is about a couple of tailors trained in the fancy school of slick talkers. The tailors offer to make the emperor a suit of clothes like none other. They can’t. No worries. They convince the dope they have, in fact, made the next hot thing in fashion, sort of like an invisible man romper or a see-through leisure suit.

Peer pressure and personal agenda keep the adults silent as the jiggle bottomed NAKED emperor marches through the street. Sure. Sure. Wonderful. Great suit. Looks classy. Nice jiggle stuff. Excellent colored bits of cloth flapping in the breeze.

Adults are toads—in the story.

Only one kid has the bad manners, to tell the truth. Love that kid. Where is that kid? We could use her these days.

I’d put that kid in charge of everything. 

“Hey! Lady! Was that tattoo of Tweety Bird supposed to look like a saggy vulture?” The kid would point and say on a regular basis.

In a bathroom, I eavesdropped on the following conversation.

“So you have a tattoo?” asked a sweet, young thing, washing her hands.

“Yeah, on my boob. It’s a Tweety Bird.” Tattoo girl continued to wash her hands. 

“Cool. I want to get one.”

“I wouldn’t.” Plastic gears churned as they pulled paper towels free. 

“Why?”

“Tweety looked great when I first got it, but then I got pregnant, and now it looks like sh$*!”

Both girls nodded their heads in companionable agreement. 

Moral of the story? If you’re going to walk around dressed in cellophane clothes and saggy vultures, don’t be shocked when some bright young thing points at you and says, “Gross!”

Thank you, bright young thing. I’m with you.

Linda (Retina Burn) Zern

Monday, May 15, 2017

Down on the Farm, Way Down




Consider this another disclaimer. 

If you're going to come to a farm, you're going to see animals in their natural state. If you're going to read about a farm you're going to read about animals in their natural state: Be warned!

Our neighbor, Mr. M, has goats. We have goats. Fences separate our goats. Sometimes the goats actually pay attention to the fences and stay where they're supposed to stay, but in the spring . . . all bets are off. It's spring after all.

Because in the spring a young buck's heart turns to love or . . . how to say this genteelly . . . er . . . um . . . oh forget it! Humping! Their hearts turn to humping and fences are for jumping.

We have a buck goat. He's seven feet tall when he stands on his hind legs. He has devil eyes and jacked up horns. Grown men are frightened of him. He's a complete sweetheart. His name is Tramp. Tramp's companion goat, wife's name is Eleven. 

Mr. M has a buck goat, a little, snorty, aggressive, headbutting sex monster. We'll call him Pest.

One fresh spring day I heard the grandchildren sounding the alarm. Screams echoed from the pasture lands.

"Goats. Goats! There are goats everywhere."

True. There were goats everywhere. Led by Pest the buck goat, Mr. M's goats had jumped the fence and invaded our Tramp's territory. Massive headbutting began, followed by snorting, stiff leg stamping, face peeing and lip curling. 

I should explain. Boy goats are gross. They have scent glands between their horns that reek when they're in rut, and to top it off they pee on their own faces. It's a poor goat's cologne and drives girl goats crazy.

Pest the neighbor's goat jumped one fence, squeezed under a gate, and finally crawled into Tramp and Eleven's pen. And then it got wild.

Eleven ran for her life. Tramp, inspired by all the head butting and urine face ramping ran after Eleven. Pest the Buck ran after Tramp. Everyone had love on the mind. It was a goat threesome. 

Children screamed. The dog barked. I raced after the goats trying to lasso one or all of them. Another neighbor showed up and hollered, "Linda, what have you got going on back here?" My daughter kept hollering, "Why? Why?" and, "What is happening?" Periodically I had to stop and bend over at the waist to laugh manically, and around and 'round we went.

Yesterday, Mr. M, my neighbor, had a kid's birthday party at his house. All the children tramped out to the barnyard to "see" the animals. I heard one bright young man yell, "It's pooping. It's pooping. Everyone look! It's pooping all over the place." What kind of animal was pooping? I have no clue, but they all do it--a lot.

Poor city kids! 

Not only do animals poop and pee, sometimes they pee on their own faces, in addition to jumping fences and going on wild date rape adventures. Be warned! Farm life is real life in its natural state: no pants, no manners, no singing, no dancing, no autograph signing. Be warned!

Linda (Pimp Daddy) Zern 







Tuesday, May 9, 2017

HOW I KNOW GOD IS REAL . . .

. . . Because He [God] never lets me get smug. Never. Ever. That’s how I know. Just about the time I get to thinking I’ve got some street stuff or cool juice, God enjoys serving me up some humble pie with an extra helping of humiliation on the side. 

Here’s how it always goes. I do something pretty keen, even dazzling, and then bam, one of my shoes falls in the toilet, and I have to dive in and fish it out. True story. Don’t ask. 

I’m pretty good at saying the words that people hear with their ears. My college speech teacher remarked that “Linda is just this side of an inspirational speaker.” This side of what he never clarified.

It might be the Irish in me. It might be all the practice I get talking to myself. Either way, I can put the words together pretty okay when in front of a congregation, class, or captive audience. Recently, I spoke at a Saturday night church meeting with some excellent feedback from those that attended: I was passionate. I was sincere. I was loud. People said nice things to me afterward. I believed them.

Not going to lie, after giving my rousing speech I felt pretty pumped, stoked, and a bit up-tempo. My esteem of self enjoyed a moment of highness. 

It was nice . . . while it lasted.

But then I set the table for the following Sunday dinner, and God put me back in my place where I belong.

I covered our giant dining room table with an enormous oversized tablecloth smoothing, de-wrinkling, straightening and finally removing the gigantic lump under the cloth. It was a pair of my scanties, clinging to the back of the tablecloth like a cocklebur in a dog’s tail.

I should explain. Scanties are a genteel southern term for a girl’s under clothing or as my mother used to say, “Foundation garments.” Sort of like a cement slab holding up steel girders, I guess. Or in this case the bit of clothing that comes before the mom jeans. All right. Fine. My underwear. My underwear was balled up in the tablecloth from the dryer.

With a crackle of static, I pulled my scanties free and stuffed them out of the way in a bookcase next to the table saying in my head, “Now, Linda, don’t put those there. You know you’re going to forget them, and that will not end well.”

I was right. Sunday dinner commenced, and before the green beans had made their way to the end of the table, someone was waving my underwear over their head saying, “Hey, YaYa, what’s been going on around here?” Mad laughter boomed off the ceiling.

What could I say? It was humiliation mixed with goofy embarrassment. Great. 

“Hey! Ask me how my speech went last night. I was dazzling. Ask anybody.”

But it was too late; my triumphant Saturday evening dissolved into my humbling Sunday afternoon, and that’s how I know that God is real because just when I think I’m big stuff someone finds my underwear stuffed between Ben Hur and The Turning of the Screw.

Sigh. Now I know that there may be a few skeptics who don't believe that God throws shoes in toilets or prompts the leaving of underclothing in bookcases and to you, I say, "Just when that Samson guy thought he was pretty hot stuff he got a bad haircut and things went south--fast." 

Linda (Smug Muffin) Zern 




Monday, April 24, 2017

MOTHER NATURE BITES




Majestic Bald Eagle Tearing a Newborn Goat to Shreds While Mommy Watches

Last year at this time on the calendar, our property was under water. It was a rainy spring. It's happened before. A dozen years ago it rained every single day for twenty-eight days during the Easter season. Knee high rain boots were all the fashion rage around here.

This year we are dry as a dust bowl. There's a burn ban. There's a wildfire alert. There's a lot of crunchy grass.

But isn't that Mother Nature for you? The answer is yes.

Too much. Not enough.

For a dame that gets a lot of adoration and awe, Mother Nature is a real biddy. For those not of the Southern persuasion a biddy, or old biddy is an ugly, frightening old woman: beldam, crone, hag, witch.

When I hear people worshipping at the feet of their Earth day protest signs about how lovely Mother Nature is I have to laugh, thinking, "Have they ever met the old witch."

For example yesterday, I was shocked to see a huge, mature bald eagle standing in my next door neighbor's pasture. Mother Nature dictates that eagles don't walk about unless they're sick or eating something. This one was eating something. It was eating a newborn baby goat.

The kid's mother was bawling her guts out as the eagle tore her baby to bloody bits. I sighed. The mother goat continued to cry as she trotted over to her little herd. Frantically, she stirred up the other goats, until they galvanized themselves into a juggernaut of retribution, turned as one body, and charged the bloody-beaked raptor. They drove him off. 

And then the goats promptly lost focus, forgot what they were about, and wandered off to try to find something to eat that wasn't deep fried by the sun. The mommy goat continued to bawl her lungs out as the eagle returned to his feast.

And that is the real Mother Nature, the old biddy that requires the "graphic content" warning on the Discovery Channel. 

Sitting under our ancient oak tree that is showing signs of death and dying (also Mother Nature at work) something natural stung the back of my arm. Theories abound - wasp, scorpion, flesh-eating butterfly, T-Rex.

Whatever it was left a welt the size of a softball, felt like liquid lava, and hurt so bad I couldn't sleep . . . until I took unnatural drugs created in a lab.

And that's the real Mother Nature, not the sissy worshiped by humans who've never met her in person. 

Linda (Nature Skeptic) Zern 

Monday, April 17, 2017

LIST MANIA



I signed up to be part of a four-day Book Lover’s Book Fair two years ago. I had no idea what I was doing then. I have no clue what I’m doing now. I’ve missed my self-imposed deadlines. I won’t have a new book to highlight. I can’t quite figure out how to stand out in a crowd of authors that do these book fair deals one-hundred-weekends of the year. 

Then there are the classes I’ve been attending at every writer’s conference and seminar with titles in the form of lists. Lists of everything that a writer should not do, or they’ll die a dozen poorly plotted deaths before they’ve gotten out of bed—not to mention when they’re at book fairs. The endless, negative lists that mean well but confirm every deadly fear you’ve ever had as a writer/author/artist/dream weaver/scribble monkey. 

Because, you, my friend, are doing it WRONG! 

Lists! They’re the worst. For example . . .

Seven Mistakes Authors Make Before They Pee In The Morning 

Twelve Horrible Book Covers Authors Should Reject Before Anyone Sees Them, Including You!

Thirty Biggest Writing Goofs That Scream, ‘Silly Amateur Writer Person Trying to Write Some Good Word Stuff Very Okay!’

Twenty Secret Things Every Reader Wants, But You’re Not Stuffing In That Story! 

Ninety-Nine Ways To Make A Cardboard Character HOT Enough To Catch Cardboard on Fire!

Sometimes, I’m not only afraid to think outside the box, but I’m afraid that the box has already swallowed me and is now digesting me in its sleep. But I swim on: typing, backspacing, re-typing, printing, experimenting, trying, retrying, and thinking, “Take your lists and go fold a box.”

So, off to the book fair conference I go. It’s going to be a fact-finding mission if nothing else. I might dress up as a survivalist and hand out chunks of hard tack with a list, Top Ten Ways To Eat Hard Tack, as an introduction to Prepper Fiction. How’s that for thinking outside the box?

Linda (Listing to the Right) Zern







Tuesday, April 11, 2017

"WICKED"

I dislike the musical “Wicked.” Really. Really.


I know. I know. I’m the only one. But to me, the message that society made her wicked because she was a weird color and smart is so blah, blah, blah. Everyone else did this to me, so I’m going to go steal my sister’s boyfriend—blah, blah, blah. I’ll show them wicked. Blah. Blah. Blah. Cue the spectacular production number and the flying monkeys. 

Listen up! I grew up in a house with a drinker, and drinking made him turn green—metaphorically speaking—and when he turned green he was wicked. I’m pretty sure that he had a million reasons to turn green. Blah. Blah. Blah. In the end, it doesn’t matter because the results were the same. Misery begets pain and pain begets hurt and hurt becomes misery, and yes everyone IS a hypocrite and round and round you go until someone drops a house on you. 

But you know what you get when everyone feels they have an excuse for why they can’t, won’t, don’t choose the right (and I mean right as in ***righteous or better, a better way to live) you get a world where you have to chain up your neighborhoods and password your life. 

If there is no “right” way to live and be happy then be prepared. 

Be prepared for people to feel justified in trying to steal your income tax return—three times. 

Be prepared for people to order a thousand dollar television in your husband’s name, have it delivered to your house, and then charge you for it. The television went back.

Get ready for the endless passwords that you will not be able to remember but have to have to keep trillions of greedy hackers from stealing your special little numbers.

Don’t be shocked when folks attempt to use your husband’s credit card to buy leopard skin boots—size infant.

Be prepared for wicked—self-righteous wicked.

According to all the studies and research and musicals, I should be green and wicked and drunk. But I’m not. I found a better way. I chose a better way. There is a better way. I don’t feel strong. I feel stubborn. And anyone can be stubborn.

Linda (Designated Driver) Zern 

***NOTE: I know. I know. The word righteous has become synonymous with the concept of self-righteousness which is bad, but that’s not what the word means. Righteous means choosing a better way despite society or jealousy of your beautiful, ditzy sister. It doesn’t mean getting even.


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