Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dear Mr. Douglas Sango...

Mr Douglas Sango
Abidjan Cote d'ivoire
Plesae call me urgent:::::::: direct phone to my room: 00225 0722 9133
Africa Email

Dearest One,

It is my pleasure to contact you for a business venture which I intend to establish in your country. Though I have not met with you before but I believe, one has to risk confiding in succeed sometimes in life. There is this huge amount ($4.500,000,00) Million USA Dollar which my late Mother kept for with a Fiduciary Fund Holder in Abidjan before her Death. Now I have decided to invest these money in your country or anywhere safe enough outside Africa for security and political reasons.

I want you to help me claim and retrieve these fund from the Fiduciary Fund Holders and transfer it into your personal account in your country for investment purposes on these areas:

1). Telecommunication
2). The Transport Industry
3). Five Star Hotel

I am honourably seeking your assistance in the following ways:

1) To provide a bank account into which this money would be transferred to .
2) To serve as a guardian of this fund since i am 22years old.
3) To make arrangement for me to come over to your country to further my education and to secure a resident permit in your countryIf you can be of an assistance to me I will be pleased to offer to you 15% Of the total fund. I await your soonest response. call me any time +22501408601

Yours Sincerely,
Douglas Sango


Dear Mr. Douglas Sango,

Havign opened my inbox this morning, I read your heartfelt letter with some interest. I must inform you, however, that in your attempts to secure my bank account information, you have made a grave error for I am merely a felis domesticus. In other words, I am a cat. I don't know how interspecies business relations are in Africa, but here in America, we suffer severe discrimination in the area of banking.

I am not allowed a credit card, a money order, a pay-advance loan, a debit card, cashier's check, or even a banking account.

While I do not know what it is like to have my 4.5 million dollars trapped in an overseas country thanks to poor financial planning on the part of my mother, I do know that reasonable people do not send e-mails to others seeking financial assistance from strangers. That would be like me sending out e-mails to felines living in Chile, asking them if it were alright for me to use their litter box. They have never seen me. They don't know me. Why would they trust me?

I hope you get your issue sorted out. I'm sorry for the misunderstanding.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Save a heart this Valentine's Day

You've gone through all the trouble of saving that one, lone shoebox. You've taken the lid and lovingly cut a one-inch by eight-inch rectangle into the cardboard. You've wrapped brown paper bags, aluminum foil, and any other paper-esque product you can find around your receptacle of self-esteem and designed it with sheer pinks, reds, and whites.

You went to your neighborhood Walgreens to buy the most creative, most outrageous, most memorable valentines the civilized world has ever known. You've signed each one with a small paw-print and a personal message to each and every person. You can feel the excitement just building inside of you...

That is, until February 15 rolls around, and you still haven't received one valetine.

Save yourself from that wretched feeling by signing up for Local Girl's Valentine's Day Goody Swap!

You can guarantee that your heart won't be in pieces this year by signing up for the exchange. All you need to do is answer five quick questions related to Valentine's Day. You will then buy for the person who joins the swap after you. All gifts must be received by February 14! No hearts broken this year - no Sir!

Don't let your self-esteem hit the floor this Valentine's Day. Join the swap, and tell Local Girl that Zeus sent you.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Pet application now available

If you are interested in becoming my pet, please fill out this form and send it to me in an e-mail attachment.


Form 1F: Feline

Last name:____________First name:____________Middle Initial:____

Date available:___________ E-mail address:__________________

Present address (number, street, city, state, zip code):

Mailing address (if different from present address):

Home phone:______________Work phone:_______________

Do you have access to a car?.............................___Yes ___No

Do you have a valid driver's license?..................___Yes ___No

Are you over the age of 18?.................................___Yes ___No


Highest grade or year completed in school:_____

Do you have a high school diploma, GED, HSED:_____

Name and location:_________________________

Years attended:___________________________

Credits earned:_______


GPA:______ Degree earned:______

Do you plan on going back to school?......................___Yes ___No

If you are currently in school, would you quit?...........___Yes ___No


Provide a complete description. This information will be used to determine if your application is accepted. BE SPECIFIC. Start with your most recent pet experience and attempt to include pet work occuring over the past 10 years. BE CERTAIN TO INCLUDE PET EXPERIENCE IN THE ARMED SERVICES. For part-time pet experience, list the average hours per month. Indicate any changes in pet title under the same feline as separate position. Use additional pages if necessary to complete this section.

Feline's name:__________________Your title:____________________

Reason for leaving:_________________________________________

Address of feline (number, street, city, state, zip code):

Total time employed by feline: ____________

From (Month/Year)

To (Month/Year)


Please list three animals who have known you for at least one year. This includes, but is not limited to: felines, canines, birds, reptiles, rabbits, rodents, and fish.




Information furnished on this application is subject to verification. This information will be used to determine your qualifications. Misrepresentation of data could result in rejection as a candidate or subsequent dismissal if employed.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Now accepting applications for new pet. See management for more details.

It was Wednesday night, 8:15 pm.

I was chillin' on my throne: Taking in all the sights and sounds of an empty house.

I don't know if you caught that so I'll say it again slowly.

Taking in

all the sights and sounds

of an EMPTY house.

I tried to remember if the pet had anything on her schedule, and I couldn't come up with any particularly good answer for why she had left me all alone. Granted, she had come home late on Monday evening, but there wasn't any cause for alarm. Once is not cause for worry...or suspicion...or paranoia.

She didn't have any meetings. She didn't have any parties. She didn't have any bars calling her name.

Two times in one week was simply just odd.

Why then was she not home?

8:30 pm.

I stretched languidly and looked around the house. Maybe she had come in while I was napping, and I just hadn't taken note of it yet. I checked the usual hot-spots: the kitchen, the bathroom, the den, and the bedroom. No sign of her anywhere. I returned to my throne to ponder the matter further.

8:33 pm.

I just didn't know what I had done to push her away. I had been trying to form a new habit of sleeping at her feet when she went to bed. I had been more than polite and understanding when she neglected to feed me on time. I had even kept her lap warm while she watched television. Hell, I was crafting a wonderful Thursday Thirteen in her honor. What more did this woman want?

8:40 pm.

It was all my fault. I had done something. I scratched her that one time she went for a sneak attack on my belly. She was probably mad at me for drawing blood. That had to be it. I hadn't meant to, but you just don't do that to felines! You don't just reach in with your grubby little hand and try to stroke my underside! Why couldn't she get that through her head?

8:45 pm.

I had to win her back! I decided to make an apology note. I nudged some markers off of the dining room table and pulled some paper out of a nearby notebook with my teeth. With my pet's taste for abstract art, she would surely be won over by the sincerity of my heartfelt apology, and she would come back to me.

8:50 pm.

The front door opened. The pet walked in carrying her black leather satchel, lunch tote, and purse.

8:51 pm.

"Where were you?" I cried, but she ignored me. She went to the dining room table, dropped her bags, and headed for the den.

I followed her.

8:52 pm.

I nudged her with my head and asked again: "Hey, where the hell were you?!"

"God, Zeus. Leave me alone. I just got back from class."


I headbutt her in her shin for good measure. I was so pissed!

"I mean it," she said. "Leave me alone. I'm tired as hell. Monday night, and now tonight. C'mon, just go lay down somewhere."

Not again! I thought we were over this foolishness! There's no need for her to become any smarter than me, and yet she persists in going.

Well, she'll see. I'm just going to have plans then on Monday and Wednesday nights. That'll show her. If she wants to see me, then she'll just have to come and find me. I'll show her what it's like to wait for someone all night long, worried sick, wondering if he's even dead.

Yeah, she'll be sorry. She'll come crawling right back to me, begging me to take her back.

And when she does, I might just be too busy for her.

As Beyonce says: I can have another you by tomorrow so don't you ever for a second get to thinkin' you're irreplaceable...


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thursday Thirteen, Edition 23

Thirteen Words to Describe My Human Pet

1. Ambitious
2. Amusing
3. Clever
4. Merciful
5. Proud
6. Intelligent
7. Witty
8. Soulful
9. Opinionated
10. Advocate
11. Altruistic
12. Personable
13. Loving

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Keeping the world safe from defects one bra at a time

It's tough work being a ladies' undergarment inspector. I take my job very seriously. When my pet throws her undergarments into the specialized, heavy-duty receptacle, I immediately spring into action.

There have been times when my pet hasn't exactly been too keen on my position as a ladies' undergarment inspector. Consider the time when I pawed at a new, black, lace bra she had just recently purchased. The item was not too durable, and I ended up having it caught on my claws, dragging it back and forth with me throughout the house.

You would think she would have thanked me for exposing such poor craftsmanship!

Instead, she said, "I can't believe you, Zeus!"

She tried to steal it from me, but I couldn't let her have it because I hadn't completed my inspection. I rolled onto my back, used all four of my paws, and attempted to rip it back into my clutches. She told me we weren't playing, and I agreed, but still, she continued to her folly.

That bra hit the trash moments later: holes, tears, and all.

Clearly, it wasn't suitable for everyday wear.

Recently, in tribute of my hard work and dedication, Budlight released a commercial in my honor. I'd like to share that with you now, if I may:

Nevermind the fact that I'm not in it or that the girl is clearly not my pet. Let's not also mention how she has a drawn-on moustache and goatee. I should probably not even get into the fact that she's posing as a man looking at ladies' underwear.


Ok, so maybe it's not that terrific of a commericial.

Nonetheless, I'm truly touched. Thank you, Budlight, for recognizing me in such a way. I will not let you down.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hunger haiku

Tiny bellies starve
Shoved aside by his sister
Small ones beat big ones

Monday, January 22, 2007

The loss of my muse

Description would but tire my Muse:
In short, they both were turned to yews.

Jonathan Swift

I would like to introduce you to my muse, Le Bones.

Why, you ask, does she have such a ghastly name and yet has been bestowed an honor befitting a goddess?

A-hem. Because she is a goddess.

Well, at least to me she is.

It was early April of last year. Le Bones and my human pet were discussing my pet's latest project: blogging. My pet, though, was not comfortable displaying her world to others via the Wide World of Web. Was it possible to have a blog that did not involve such an intimacy of details?

Le Bones recognized the problem, and with a snap of her fingers and a smile on her face, she exclaimed those infamous words of destiny: Why not Zeus? Why not have a blog about Zeus?

When they approached me with the idea, I was immediately enamored with the concept. I was going to be original, witty, and captivating. A true marvel of the literary world...

Until I discovered there were over 50 to 100 other felines out there who also had my original idea.

That didn't stop Le Bones, my pet, or I. We plotted and schemed our way into the tellings of my everyday life. Ideas never seemed lacking when it came to Le Bones. She could find the most interesting spins concerning the common and mundane events of my existence. A truer friend one could not hope to find.

But now, my muse is gone. She has risen to her personal Mount Olympus, a place known only in myth and legend as New Hampshire. If I could have, I would have tucked myself into the back of her car and gone with her on this journey; however, I don't know if I could left my pet behind with only my mentally-ill sister for company.

I will not say good-bye, Le Bones, for I know you watch over me still. Your divine inspiration will simply take the form of emails, letters, phone calls, and text messages, and we shall call you Digital Muse.

I wish you well, Le Bones. Thank you for the gift of being you.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Thursday Thirteen, Edition 22

Thirteen Golden Globe Fashions,
Complete With Reviews!

1. Chloƫ Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jeanne Tripplehorn from Big Love

Did your mothers never tell you to stand up straight and present yourselves like ladies? Perhaps I would have given you one paw up had the three of you at least smiled. I'm not even going to get into those so-called "gowns".

2. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

What more can you say about these two? They're glamourous and graceful, and let's not forget, charitable.

3. Eva Longoria

I appreciate a woman in a well-tailored dress, especially one with so much back. Let's not forget the tramp stamp I see peeking out either. My motor's purring so definitely...

4. Cameron Diaz

That dress is begging me to tear at it with my claws. The only thing sillier than its ruffles is the black hair and matching ribbon around the waist. Definitely...

5. Sheryl Crow

Now here's a woman who always looks sophisticated. With her sun-kissed face, wavy hair, and fantastic gown, she's surely...

6. Vanessa Williams

That hair is something else, honey! I love it! The gown is even better, but that fur piece? know how I feel about wearing fur. Still, I'll give you...

7. Mary J. Blige and Justin Timberlake

Justin, I don't think you look half bad. I appreciate the suit. Really I do. Ms. Blige: Normally, I would have nothing but love for you, but showing your tats (Exception: tramp stamp) while in a formal gown is a serious no-no. That's why I give you both...

8. Sienna Miller

Could you look more fantastic? Is it possible? I just want to curl on your princess lap and purr away forever. You got my...

9. Beyonce Knowles

Consider me confused. I don't know how you sat in this dress all evening long without tearing it even further up the front. I think I might have liked it more had there been no split. Sorry, but...

10. Penelope Cruz

Hello, hot Latina mama. You look ready to dance the flamenco all night long with this gorgeous gown. How about you carry me onto the dance floor and whisk me away? You know you have my...

11. Hayden Panettiere

Aren't you the vision of a Greek goddess? You know, since my name is Greek in origin, I am technically Greek as well. Why don't we cuddle?

12. Jennifer Gardener

I don't know how I am feeling about this, Jennifer. On one paw, I like the design. On the other, I just think you could have done better. Because I can't make up my mind...

13. Patricia and Rosanna Arquette

What is it with the Arquette family? Patricia, I think you're simply fabulous in Medium, but come on? Leather around the boobies? How does that even work with the rest of your gown? And Rosanna, the lace only makes you look older than you really are. Ladies, I'm sorry, but...

All photos from In-Style Magazine

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Write or Wrong Wednesday, Part 4

This is the final installment in our four-part mini-series focusing on writers who received criticism early in their careers, and yet, became household names in time. If you missed any of the previous articles, click on the following links to catch up: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

When someone mentions the name Conan, an image of Arnold Schwarzenegger immediately comes to mind: the bloodied sword, interesting fur brief, leather boots, and the Austrian accent that lends credence to his being a barbarian. Conan, however, existed long before Arnold agreed to any movie deal. He was actually the creation of Robert E. Howard.

Robert E. Howard was born on January 22 (or 24 as no one is certain), 1906. He hailed from a small town outside of Fort Worth, Texas called Peaster. He decided early in life that he would be a writer because it "allowed him to be his own boss". Though he did not gain many acceptance letters at first, Howard was surrounded by friends who encouraged him to continue with his unique subject matter of Cro-Magnon men, werewolves, and sword fights.

Due to his perserverance, Howard grew in popularity thanks to his stories being published in the pulp magazine, Weird Tales. Even when it appeared that the pulp magazines of the times were becoming more specialized, Howard's ability to write on a variety of subjects with captivating characters continued to keep him in the clear, safe from the mistake of becoming too one-dimensional. When Howard died in 1936, H.P. Lovecraft stated that the brilliance behind Howard's stories laid in the fact that "that he himself is in every one of them.”

To read more concerning the "father of the sword and sorcery genre", please visit:

Cross Plains, Texas: Home of The Father of Conan

The Robert E. Howard United Press Association

Monday, January 15, 2007

Clearing the air

It's ten o'clock.

The Apprentice: Tents Edition has just finished. You remark on Donald Trump's ability to cut to the very core of a man and how you wish Ivanka worked in your office so she and you could have a cup of coffee. I chuckle politely and stretch out languidly, listening as only males can: absent-mindedly.

You slide off the bed to walk to the opposite side of the room to turn off the light. The quiet hum of the fan above us creates ambiance as you and I are getting snuggly on the sleigh bed with its crimson and gold, Wal-Mart quality comforter. I curl up ruggedly yet cutely next to you, almost like a furry spoon. You wrap your arm lovingly around me and gently stroke my healthy locks.

I purr steadily, content in the knowledge that you are my pet.

You close your eyes, knowing I will be there in the morning.

And then right as I close my eyes to join your in sleep, it happens.

The covers ripple as a low rumble emanates from within the mattress. The rumbling transforms into shattering vibrations which course across the plane of the fitted sheet, crumpling the comforter and shaking the very mattress I lay upon. My feline eyes become bulbous as I look hurriedly to and fro for any immediate sign of the tremendous and undeniable disaster coming my way. I sink my lithe claws into the fabric of the poor-man's comforter and prepare for the onslaught as my muscles become taunt and ready to spring.

You simply turn over onto your belly and let out a yawn.

Before I am able to discern what has occurred, a strange, venomous cloud slinks along the contours of the covers like an unwelcome guest. Quickly, I glance right and then left, hoping that there is some escape I can manage, yet captivated in horror, I find my legs unable to move. The cloud's sickening warmth surrounds my terrified body, and instinctively, I try to close my nostrils before its putriscence penetrates my senses.

It is too late.

Tears flow as the rotten egg smell burns into the delicate film of my eyes, and I find myself ready to gag as it seeps down into my throat, along the sandpaper edges of my tongue. Every hair bristles along my spine, and my tail stands straight out behind me, trembling at the onslaught. My will to live, though, is strong, and I attempt to use all of my feline prowess to overcome this powerful and vicious enemy.

As sudden as the attack had begun, the horrendous vapor disappears, and fresh air fills my lungs. My heart slows its pace as my fur settles against my soft body once more. I immediately stand to stretch after such an agonizing battle as I will not linger beside you for one second longer.

When will you learn not to fart in bed, my pet?

One more cat life lost.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Kiss, kiss

Dear human pet,

I'm sorry. You should have known better than to leave your Special Dark Raspberry Hershey's Kisses in the candy dish on the coffee table. I know you were greatly upset by the fact that I had personally taken each and every little one out of the dish and thrown them around the room, under the couch, into the television, and through the fireplace screen.

Keep in mind, though, you can only really be mad at yourself. I'm not the one who put the dish there. I'm not the one who tempted my cat with the irresistable white, dainty flags wrapped in shiny, red paper. I'm not the one who decided at nine o'clock to go to bed and leave said succubi out on the table overnight.

I hope you have learned your lesson. Next time, please purchase Hershey's Miniatures as they make terrific hockey pucks on the kitchen floor.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Thursday Thirteen, Edition 21

Thirteen Ways To Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

1. Have your children work on an Internet scavenger hunt focusing on Dr. King.

2. Watch Dr. King's famous speech, "I Have a Dream", at American Rhetoric.

3. Let your tastebuds discover the joy of "soul food" and traditional cuisine with some African-American food and recipes.

4. Here's a fun word search with vocabulary concerning Dr. King.

5. Discover what your children think is a hero with a quick survey and discuss with them a hero's attributes.

6. Take a short quiz to see how much history you know concerning Dr. King.

7. Make a donation to The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

8. Learn how Dr. King's holiday came into being with this chronology.

9. Explore this photo essay on Dr. King by

10. Learn ten ways to teach tolerance.

11. Pick up A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.

12. Send a free greeting card to friends and family.

13. Perform an act of service for someone in your community.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Write or Wrong Wednesday, Part 3

This is part three of a four-week series concerning writers who have found themselves to be challenged concerning their work but who have overcome such criticism to become acclaimed successes. If you wish to read part one, click here and for part two, click here.

When a man from El Paso, Texas, named Gene Roddenberry came up with the idea for Star Trek, television executives hadn't known what to think. It had taken Roddenberry nearly two years of negotiating before NBC agreed to the show. Roddenberry made not one, but two pilots, and the show premiered on September 8, 1966.

In the final season, Roddenberry had offered to take a job with less pay in the hopes that his show could be moved into to the time slot he had wanted. Unfortunately, the audience was lacking, and after three seasons of low ratings, NBC pulled the plug on Captain Kirk and his brave crew. When NBC had not offered to work with Roddenberry on moving the show's slot, he accepted a job as a staff producer at MGM. His work with MGM, however, did not last long thanks to his first and only project entitled Pretty Maids All In a Row.

Working with Paramount, Roddenberry produced Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but after attempting to pitch a sequel involving the John F. Kennedy assassination, he was moved to simply a consultant position. Though he was allowed input regarding the scripts and details, Harve Bennett (Roddenberry's replacement) was allowed to not accept Roddenberry's suggestions, and Bennett took full advantage of that clause.

Today, Roddenberry's fans are global, numbering in the millions. Through their support, he was able to secure his own star on the Hollywood's Walk of Fame. He even has an asteroid and a crater on Mars named after him! He passed away in 1991 leaving a legacy of science fiction, exploration, and discovery to millions.

To find out more about Gene Roddenberry, please visit the following sites:


The Musuem of Broadcast Communications: Gene Roddenberry


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A burning question

Science fiction.

The final frontier.

Ok, maybe not the final frontier, but it sure does aim to be a part of it, no?

What other category of reading pleasure allows you to know what will be happening in thirty-gazillion years? Apparently, human beings will be doing some pretty interesting stuff: warping across the galaxy on the Enterprise, destroying Death Stars with the Force, and attempting to find a new home because a group of Cylons decided we smelled. At least you could put in your early-bird reservation for that last ship departing from Earth thanks to science fiction.

In more recent years, science fiction has tended to overlap with other genres of literature, making it difficult for the employees of Borders, Waldenbooks, and Barnes & Noble to perform their duties as assigned. Take Tom Clancy for instance. There's lots of drama coupled by technology in all of his novels, but you won't find any of his books among the aliens, werewolves, and oversized ancient monsters in the science fiction section of your local bookstore. With the genre so large, what should and should not be included within its limits?

But that leads to a different and interesting question.

One that I have been wondering about since having viewed the advertisements.

Why is ECW on Tuesdays at 10:00 p.m. on the Sci Fi Channel?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Wild-card Rodeo

I just thought I would point out this weekend's National Football League's wild-card game results:

Colts 23, Chiefs 8

Seahawks 21, Cowboys 20

Eagles 23, Giants 20

Patriots 37, Jets 16

Proof once more that animals kick ass over homo sapiens.

Who knew those Eagles had it in them? However, a word of caution as these green and silver birds move on through the playoffs: Watch out for those cultish fans lurking in the parking lot:

Friday, January 05, 2007

And the winner is...

Congratulations to


for being our Venator Kill Line Contest winner!* Please send us an e-mail with your shipping information so we can hurry your winnings along!

If you're still in a contest mood, why not head on over to The Bloggies and nominate some of your favorite blogs for various categories? Who knows? Perhaps on January 22, we'll see your blog listed!

*Fuzzybear, a member of The Zeus Excuse editorial staff, did beat Carmen by one entry, but he was denied winnings from the beginning and played nonetheless. We at The Zeus Excuse are shocked and appalled that Fuzzybear decided to participate since he rarely ever comments on a cat blog stating how he "just doesn't get it", but who are we to call him out on that? Contests are never without controversy we suppose.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Venator Kill Line Contest


After reading yesterday's interview with Colleen Gleason, you might be finding yourself intrigued by the mysterious and alluring world of the Venator. With seductive looks, intense physical training, and keen intelligence, who wouldn't want to lead the adventurous life of an infamous vampire hunter? Read on to discover how today is your chance to travel the path of the Venator!

Throughout literature and film, vampires are notorious for having great kill lines: sayings that indicate that a pair of sharp canine teeth are about to imbed themselves in the neck of their chosen victim. Take for instance, Dracula as portrayed by Gary Oldman from the 1992 film: I condemn you to living death. To eternal hunger for living blood. It gives me the willies just typing it!

Venators, though, can have their own kill lines, and as well they should! After all, they're the heros of the story, and a set of classic one-liners can prove to be handy in lifting the mood when faced with perilious odds. Now it is your turn to show your wit and creativity by creating your own Venator kill lines!

Just leave one Venator kill line per comment. Make it interesting, captivating, and original! After having left a comment, you must visit the person above you and leave a comment on his/her blog. Make sure to say Venators rock at Zeus'! The winner of the contest will be the person who leaves the most kill lines by midnight on Thursday, January 4. The results will be announced the next day.

Curious as to what you'll win? Should you be the grand prize winner, you will receive an autographed copy of The Rest Falls Away as well as an autographed stake from Colleen Gleason. With your new book in one hand and your wooden stake in the other, I hardly think you'll find yourself unprepared for any creature of the night to come your way!

Come back often, and make sure to let others know about the contest by posting it on your own blog! If you need inspiration for your kill lines, why not try visiting The Venator Store? After all, a natural-born Venator needs a wickedly awesome outfit when whipping out quick one-liners!

This contest is listed at competizione.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Interview with Colleen Gleason

My friend, Colleen Gleason, has just published her debut novel, The Rest Falls Away! To celebrate, Colleen was gracious enough to allow me to interview her. Enjoy getting to know her and the concept of the story, but check back tomorrow for our Venator Kill Line Contest!

1. When did you first know you wanted to be an author? Was there any special event that signaled you that this was your path?

I remember writing stories in grade school, and my mother and teachers saying what a great writer I was. It was about that time, too, that I was watching The Waltons and reading the Little House books, and when I made the connection of John-Boy and Laura Ingalls being writers, I thought maybe I could someday too.

But as one grows older, one realizes that having a career in the arts isn't easily attained, and that it's a lot of hard work, rejection, and just not all that likely. I went through college, started a career in sales and marketing, got my MBA and continued on my career, got married and started having babies (I have three children)--but all during that time, I wrote whenever I could and finished nine novels. (Some of which will never see the light of day. Trust me.)

As for one event that told me I was going to be a writer...yes, I must say, I did have a very intensely personal and spiritual experience in which I was told, in a very blunt way, that I would be a "writer."

After that, I kept on doing what I was doing--writing, balancing work and family--believing that some day, it would happen.

And about eight months later, my agent sold my first two books. Five months later, she sold another book that I'd written. And six months after that, she sold three more books for me. So that message was dead-on right. And I couldn't be happier.

2. Are there any female heroines in novels, film, or history which inspired you to create Victoria Gardella?

Well, Buffy is an obvious answer. It really was Buffy the Vampire Slayer that inspired me to write a book about vampires--otherwise I can't imagine that I ever would have. And then there was also a sort of trend in publishing in which some publishers were looking for strong heroines, so I was definitely thinking along those lines.

3. How do you feel authors typically portray females in the genre of paranormal historical fiction? Were you trying to break any stereotypes with the story of Victoria?

Many authors writing paranormal fiction in general portray the female protagonists as strong, willful heroines. It's a fine line, however, to balance a strong and smart heroine without making her bitchy or cold, or without making her "weak" in some ways in order for her male counterpart to to shine heroically.

In historical fiction, it's even harder because people thought and acted differently back in the 19th century, for example. In fact, there aren't all that many paranormal historical novels out there--which is part of the reason my book was picked up and published by Penguin.

It's important to remember that the women at the time The Rest Falls Away takes place didn't act the way we women do now. I mean, they wouldn't dare think of their legs as anything other than a vehicle under their skirts that carried them about--let alone a weapon used to fight vampires. Women didn't kick or run or these were things I had to think about and be realistic with when writing my paranormal historical heroine. They couldn't talk to a man unless they'd been formally introduced. Nor could they even think about going out and about without a chaperone. All of those difficulties made for a fun juxtaposition of modern-day superheroism with historical reality.

As for breaking stereotypes, I hope I did break a few with Victoria. I'm used to reading women's fiction with strong females in it, but as I mentioned above, often their confidence and words make them come across as unlikeable or unsympathetic because the author doesn't want to show their weakness.

Or, they have to be weak or make "too stupid to live" decisions (ie, going up into the dark, empty attic in the castle alone when she knows someone is trying to kill her) so that the male counterpart or love interest can be the hero and save her.

So I wanted to make my character strong without being rude, and confident without being a know-it-all (she does make mistakes and pays the price for them!) and I didn't want her to make decisions that would have made the reader roll her eyes. I hope Victoria comes across that way to the readers.

4. How many drafts did you write to come to the final version?

One, but it was a constant work in progress.

My writing process goes like this:

I have a very basic idea of what I'm going to write about, and I sit down and start writing.

The next day, when I sit down to write, I reread what I wrote the day before, make tweaks (anywhere from minor word changes, to major scene adjustments, etc.) on what I've already written, and then continue as far as I can with new material.

Once a week, I also have my two readers (who are also writers) read what I've written and give me feedback on things like whether the plot is making sense, whether they think they know what is going to happen (that's bad) or if they're confused (that's also bad), or if they're dying for the next chapter (that's good!).

That's the way I write, so I have one big draft that is constantly being changed and tweaked and evolving. It may not be the most efficient way to write--in fact, if I could get myself to do what my friend Jana DeLeon does and actually write the whole book without going back to make changes, and then doing them all at once, I'd probably be more efficient.

But would I write faster? I don't know. I'd have a lot more editing/tweaking to do with that first draft version than the way I currently write.

And other people I know, like Diana Peterfreund, use charts and sticky notes and synopses to plot out the entire book before they even sit down to write. That, my dear Zeus, is much too right-brained for me. I can't do it that way, but some people can.

5. Do you feel there is a special allure for people concerning the story of the vampire? If so, what do you attribute it to?

Ever since Lord Byron and John Polidori took the basic vampire legend and turned those horrible blood-sucking creatures into the mysterious, romantic characters like Lord Ruthven, I think there has been that fascination with the legend.

Before Byron and Polidori (who were writing about vampires before Bram Stoker wrote Dracula), the legends were of nasty creatures that crawled out of graves in the middle of the night and looked and acted more like we think of zombies than vampires. But now that we have this stereotype of the proper aristocrat with a secret life, it's developed and become more popular over the years and is what most people think of when they think of vampires.

So, yes, I think we crazy humans are attracted to the mysteriousness of it. Plus, there's something very sensual and sexual about the idea of having one's neck bitten. The neck is such an erogenous zone, and then there's the whole idea of a vampire's allure--a sort of hypnosis that the undead use to pull their victims to them.

The fascination started with Polidori and Stoker, et al, and has continued with Anne Rice and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and on and on. I don't see it ever going completely away, although it certainly may wane at some point.

6. Would you want to live forever? Why or why not?

No. Definitely not--it's hard enough to lose someone that you love, but to live for all eternity and to continue to lose loved ones over and over and over...I wouldn't want that. Plus, you'd see them grow old and change, and you would stay the same. No thank you!

7. Could you explain briefly what a Venator actually is?

A Venator is a vampire hunter in my Gardella Vampire Chronicles series. It's a term derived from the Latin for hunter, and it rhymes with "senator."

Most Venators are born--they are from a far-flung family tree that started from the original Venator, who lived in 1st Century Rome and who was named Gardella. His family has grown and spread all over the world, and every so often, a person is born to be a Venator. There's not necessarily one in each family branch, and there are more than one at a time--they just kind of pop up like a recessive gene. However, very very few of them are women, which is what makes Victoria, my protagonist, extra special.

These vampire hunters wear a holy strength amulet that gives them their powers--speed, strength, fast-healing capability. They have innate skills that are part of their family legacy, and they can sense the presence of vampires.

8. If you were a Venator in real life, what special assassin skills would you like to possess and why?

I'd like the speed and strength! It might help me keep my three kids in line (when I wasn't hunting vampires!). And also the fast-healing capability.

9. Do you think felines could somehow aid Venators in their quest to hunt vampires?

What an interesting thought! I'm sure they could. They have night vision, which is one thing the vampires have that the Venators do not have.

I'm not certain if felines can sense the presence of vampires you know, Zeus?

Perhaps a smart feline like yourself, Zeus, could be trained to help the Venator by pointing or showing the hunter exactly where the vampire is. Remember, a Venator can sense the presence, but if it's dark, they can't see, and are thus vulnerable.

10. It's my understanding that vampires, when desperate for food, sometimes suck the blood from small animals including mice, birds, or even cats. Is this true? How can felines protect themselves?

This is true. I've seen it happen. It can be terrifying for those small creatures, especially with the way the vampire can mutilate them if they're very hungry. And also, I've heard of felines being turned to vampires as well, although they are very rare.

As for protecting oneself, Zeus, I would suggest the following...first, have your owner buy you a collar with a silver cross on it. In fact, a better one would be a silver collar (if it's not too heavy), or a leather one, with silver crosses all over it. The vampires are frightened of silver and crosses, so anything like that would be a good combination.

If a vampire saw you and tried to grab you, the silver would startle and frighten him--most likely he wouldn't be able to touch you. Although they can get used to the presence of crosses and silver, it's an initial reaction and depending how powerful the vampire is, he or she might be able to grab you again. So run like crazy as soon as you see one.

Other than that, the only other suggestion I could make is to make certain you stay safely inside at night when vampires are about. They cannot enter a building or house uninvited, so as long as your owner doesn't invite any strange man or woman into your house, you should be safe. (I realize that might put a damper on your social life--so just make sure if you do go out at night, you wear that silver cross collar. That will protect you quite a bit.)

Monday, January 01, 2007

A special thank you

It's so hard to believe that another year has passed. Everyone always tells you to "enjoy the moment", but sometimes that can be hard when you have a ten pound diluted calico as a sister who manages to get into all of your business. Nonetheless, I want to express my deepest thanks to all of the people around the world who celebrated my birthday last night.

I know that there were some of you who probably did not know it was my birthday on January 1, but for you readers out there who took the time to flood the streets of New York City, Hong Kong, and Berlin, I want you to know how deeply moved I was by your tremendous display of affection. I don't think anyone has ever done that for me. I was especially shocked that even Dick Clark, Ryan Seacrest, and Christina Aguilera showed up to host the party. It's amazing how blogging has helped me to reach so many different people from so many places.

Even though the human pet is looking a bit ragged this morning, I know she'll bake me a cake as fast as she can. This morning, she took out a box for chocolate silk torte from the pantry, but I'm going to pretend I didn't notice. I want to make sure I act perfectly natural when she surprises me.

Since another year of my life has passed, I thought it only right to make some resolutions for myself for this new year. Tell me what you think:

1. Conduct more interviews for the blog

2. Hold more contests

3. Try to get on more reality tv shows