5. The first in a series of prequel short stories. Who were they before they found each other? Parrish, Tessla, Jamie, Ally and ZeeZee, Gwen, Colonel Kennedy, and the rest.




Reflections: Beyond the Strandline

Beyond the Strandline is the pop culture version of Alas, Babylon.  Set in Florida, after the collapse of civilization as we know it, it's a story of normal people trying to survive in an extraordinary situation (at least from our current, modern perspective).  The book can be bleak at times but is never oppressive to read (I'm looking at you The Road!).  The young adult genre guides the book's narrative and characters into somewhat familiar and derivative territory, but it never feels cheap (I'm looking at you Divergent!).  This is a unique story with three-dimensional characters that live and breathe and it's a story worth experiencing.

The book's setting is dangerous turf for authors who become too infatuated with their own fictional world.  Other books in this type of genre can become overly concerned with describing grid collapse and entertaining preppers and not telling a meaningful story or providing an emotional experience.  Beyond the Strandline begins, ends, and revolves around characters.  It certainly takes advantage of its setting by casually mentioning arcane facts about surviving the end of modern civilization, something all preppers could appreciate, but it never becomes the focus.  Once again, similar to the author's previous work, the exceptional Mooncalf, Florida, where the book is set, nearly becomes a character in itself.  Florida will forever be a magical place to set a story and Linda L. Zern takes full advantage of it here.  Anyone familiar with the geography and somewhat bizarre weather patterns of Florida will immediately and throughout the book recognize these unique characteristics.

Beyond the Strandline truly shines when the author slows down the narrative and lets her characters breath.  Whereas in so many other books in which motivations are taken for granted and characters are merely tools by which the author moves along the dictatorial plot (I'm looking at you One Second After!), Strandline insists on the reader feeling something for the people in its pages.  In some ways the characters in Strandline are its most derivative aspect; we have the elusive and battle-hardened alpha male—Richmond Parrish—and the audacious, somewhat erratic, but indomitable female protagonist—Tessla (Tess) Lane.  Yet, both of these characters have a back-story and depth other young adult fiction falters in providing to the reader.  Their inevitable romance, a seemingly indispensable attribute of young adult fiction, will no doubt bring grins and giggles to all of the female readers of the book.  The author appears to be just as comfortable and confident writing about electrical romantic sensations up and down legs and arms as she is about the more gruesome aspects of a post-civilization world.  The romance, in a very purposeful way, is one aspect of the book that keeps it from becoming too dire to enjoy.

In fear of sounding trite, the book is certainly a page-turner.  Strandline opens with a truly compelling scene and more or else doesn't let up until the conclusion.  Admittedly, this is where the book falters some as more and more complications start to crop up—natural, human, and otherwise.  No doubt living in such a world would more than likely be one complication after another, but I felt a little whiplash as characters went from place to place to manage one crisis after another.  In the end, as aforementioned, the book's greatest strength is when it reminds you why you're reading—the characters.  That's the real reason why you want to get to the next page to see how they all fare in a dark and unforgiving world.

Beyond the Strandline, in the end, is good fun.  It's not so depressive or heavy-handed it's difficult to get through.  On the other hand, it doesn't shy away from what would be very real possibilities in a post-civilization world.  Perhaps what is most admirable about this book is that it fits as comfortably within the young adult fiction genre asMooncalf did with its literary cousins.  It's a testament to Linda L. Zern's writing talent.  As would be expected,Beyond the Strandline ends with certain questions unanswered and with the reader hanging onto certain cliffs. I hope Strandline finds the audience it needs to compel the author to show us where all of her memorable characters end up.

*The Thousand Club received an advanced reading copy from the author.

1.  Mooncalf - A Space Coast Writers' Guild Don Argo Award Finalist 2014 

A story about love and other dreams . . . visit the author @                                         

I finished MOONCALF today, and I just wanted to say WOW! I'm impressed. First, because it was such a big undertaking. Second, because the writing is so good. So good, in fact, that I wish you had submitted it to be considered for a Newbery Medal! Did you? It seems that historical fiction is most likely to win, and your book would have been a strong contender.

I loved your marvelous details, your fresh metaphors, your realistic dialogue. I loved how you presented new information and then made connections throughout the story. I loved how you wove the information on orange groves throughout the book. I never lost interest. The story got better and better. I wanted to find out what happened.

I was sure I knew what the ending would be---Granny Mac was going to save the calf, and Leah's parents would be so grateful that their prejudice would melt away. Ha. I never expected the story would end as it did. Even though the ending was tragic, I was pleasantly surprised that my prediction proved wrong.

Your theme was important, and to your credit, you never came out and stated it for the reader. The fact that skin color was not recognizable after the fire, and that "Underneath it's all the same" said it all.

I wonder if you could get this book on the SUNSHINE STATE BOOK LIST that is used in Florida schools. I don't know a lot about it, except that all the kids want to read those books when I take classes to the library. Then there are AR books. Accelerated reader books. That's another list to get on. Kids take AR quizzes on computers at school after they read AR books. I have no idea who makes those lists. Big wigs sitting behind a desk somewhere? Librarians?

Again, I'm in awe of your accomplishment.

Mary Laufer

P.S. I hope you didn't really run behind a truck spraying DDT when you were little!


2.  ZippityZern's: A Collage (Essays, Stories, Tall Tales, And Other Assorted Lies)

A handy, helpful, humorous collection of short, pithy, sharp stories for the fans of humor, comedy, and wit . . .  visit Linda (ZippityZern) Zern @



Words and Pictures by ZippityZern (aka. Linda L. Zern) Available @ the author's website:

Sometimes you get paid and sometimes you win the brass ring!

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