Coming December, 2013, the long-awaited third novel in the Underdead vampire mystery series!

Not undead, merely…underdead

Science teacher Jo Gartner staked the dangerously attractive vampire who turned her almost undead, and his minions haven’t come after her for revenge.

Why not?

Who cares. She has everything under control.

Except she’s not sure Will is really dead dead.

And Detective Gavin Raines, her vampire-hunting crush, has popped back in her life to investigate an odd string of murders…and maybe finally ask her out on a real date.

At least her her teaching job is straightforward. Or rather it was before the world’s most perfect teacher joins the staff and seems to be noticing that her vampire traits are, well, a lot more apparent than she’d like them to be.

Caught between two worlds and fitting into neither, Jo must risk it all to take her own path–before the next person dead is her.

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Odd What Strikes One as Hilarious


 Okay, so this particular issue of The New Yorker came in the mail a while back and for whatever reason I LOVE this cover. I can’t explain why it makes me giggle and why I want to have it on my wall. I want to go to the effort of buying a frame for it and sticking it up near my UNDERDEAD books. And the number of such things I currently have framed on my wall? Zero.

It sort of seems obvious why I would find it funny. Afterall, I write cozy mysteries with vampires and this is pretty much in the spirit of my novels. And yet, there’s a decent chance that if someone had given this to me I would have held it with two fingered distain. In fact, I would think that the very obviousness of this cartoon would make me bored by it. But, nope! My eyes keep going to the picture as I type this and I get a little rush of giggle each time.

Humor is an odd, odd thing! I think that’s why we feel so close to people who share our sense of humor. So tell me–what’s something you find funny and you can’t quite explain why?

Don’t Make the Halloween Mom ANGRY!

When I was in the sixth grade, trick or treating was a big deal because I was invited–and allowed–to go with a couple of friends and stay out until late (8:30) without supervision.

We were very proud of our costumes.  My friend Shanna was a cabaret dancer. It was a very cool costume. She had a top hat and a sparkly tuxedo jacket and a leotard and fishnets. I borrowed a spider costume that consisted mostly of giant black pipe-cleaner legs. It required explanation when I rang a doorbell:

Bewildered door-answerer:  And what are you?

Liz: I’m a spider!

Bewildered door-answerer:  Ohhhh. Here. Have an extra Milky Way, dear.

But then my costumes always required explanation. I don’t remember what the third friend went as. You just can’t compete for memory space against Shanna’s sparkles and top hat and my thrill over having a real costume instead of the sort of throw-together thing my family went for.

Liz’s Mom: Here, Liz, wear this old shirt of your father’s out of the rag bin. Look! You’re a hobo!

Liz: What’s a hobo?

Anyway, we were having a great time (translation: having a good candy haul that year) when the clock ticked past 7:30. That meant the parents out trick or treating with little kids were taking their kids home. Soon we we ran afoul of a gang of 7th grade boys. Here’s a what happened: they had shaving cream and were ten year old boys.

Shanna got the brunt of it. Her sparkles were like a hundred little targets begging the boys to nail her with shaving cream.

We made it back to Shanna’s house teary and dejected.

Shanna’s Mom: Girls! You’re back early. How was the… [eyes narrow. Lips compress.] What happened.

Three girls speaking at once: They were mean! They had shaving cream! It wasn’t our fault! They just attacked us!

Shanna’s Mom [crossing to the fridge and yanking it open]: Here. Hold this. [Hands closest girl an 18 pack of eggs.] Girls, get into the car. No. We’re taking the van. [She grabs a box of something and hefts it in the van, placing it between the front seats.] Okay. Everyone buckled in? [We drive in petrified silence to back to the street. There are muffled sounds of sniveling as we take stock of our ruined costumes.] Okay. Point them out.

Shanna: There they are. Those are the boys! See? The big one still has a can of shaving cream.

Shanna’s Mom [Slams to a stop. She opens the egg carton and grabs as many as will fit in her hands and starts pelting the boys]: Get ’em!

[We grab eggs,  crowd at the back windows and hurl them out.]

[The boys run]

Shanna: Mom, we’re out of eggs. They’re running away!

Shanna’s Mom. “Hold on girls!” [Screeches forward in a three point turn and chases after the boys with the brights on.] “Take some apples!”

Shanna: Eew, these are the ones that went bad!

Shanna’s Mom [smiling for the first time]: I know.  Get ’em girls!

Frankly, now that I look back on it, I find it was very generous of Shanna’s mom to teach those boys an important life lesson at such a tender age: Always remember how you treat a girl because at some point, you WILL meet her mother!

Guest bloggin at Buried Under Books (which isn’t a bad way to go, IMO)

HALLOWEEN COSTUMES FOR THE CHEAP AND LAZY

Maybe you’re too busy with daily life to come up with a good costume for Halloween. Or maybe you can’t muster the energy to deal with the parking lot at Target, much less the insanity of the Halloween aisle.

Or maybe you’ve already eaten the candy meant for trick-or-treaters and have had to go back for the re-buy of shame and don’t have money left for a “real” Halloween costume. (Liz hurriedly shoves empty king-sized bag of Rolos out of sight.)

Not to worry. I, Liz Jasper, award-winning author of the UNDERDEAD vampire mysteries, am here for your Halloween costume needs! [MORE]

Leave a comment at Buried Under Books about your costume skills and get a chance–or two–to win a copy of Underdead!

 

Plotting by Magic Eight Ball

 

I don’t know why I’ve bothered to take all those classes, why I’ve wasted blood sweat and tears over my book plots…when I could simply have used a Magic Eight Ball.

“Yes!” it agrees.

Consider this passage beginning from a potential novel. “Esmeralda looked out her window and saw…”

Now, I could spend hours debating what she saw. I could dither over the wisdom of opening the novel with my heroine spying on something. I could fret over the sentence structure. And so on. You know, the usual writer’s angst.

OR

I could simply use the Magic Eight Ball.

Liz Jasper (to the Magic Eight Ball): Should Esmeralda see her hero?

Magic Eight Ball: Signs point to yes.

LIZ JASPER: Hmmm. I guess that means she should see him, but indirectly. Maybe he’s in costume?

Magic Eight Ball: Concentrate and ask again.

LIZ JASPER: Right, right. She sees him getting into his carriage on the way to a costume ball.

Magic Eight Ball: Reply hazy try again.

LIZ JASPER: They’re in the carriage together, on the way to a costume ball and he has on one of those mask thingies. AND, that when she realizes her guardian is the mystery man she kissed in the garden at the last costume ball!

Magic Eight Ball: Cannot predict now.

LIZ JASPER: And she knows he’s on his way to meet his fiancée, to whom he was promised at birth but has never seen, and Esmeralda knows she cannot let him marry someone else because she loves him! So she rings for her maid and dons the gown from that fateful night, the gown she swore never to wear again, and secretly follows him to the ball in the second best carriage!

Magic Eight Ball: My sources say no.

LIZ JASPER: Dammit! No, you’re right. It’s been done. Hmm. How about she goes with him to the ball and that’s when she realizes he’s the one?  Maybe when they’re dancing together?

Magic Eight Ball: Very doubtful.

LIZ JASPER:  You know, this is very annoying! Why can’t you like any of my ideas? I’m a published author, you know.  An award-winning published author. Fine, that was mysteries and the Esmeralda book is a historical romance, but still.  Authors need to stretch themselves. Who are you to say I can’t write a big thick romance?  Screw you.  She’s going to that darn dance, she’s going to follow him out of the garden, and she’s going to…to seduce that blind fool!

Magic Eight Ball: My sources say no.

LIZ JASPER: Fine. She’ll stumble and he’ll clutch her to him–just for the sake of keeping her from falling—and  then they’ll kiss. Ha HAH! Now that’s good stuff.

Magic Eight Ball: Outlook not so good.

LIZ JASPER: You’d probably like it if they didn’t even exchange a smoldering look!

Magic Eight Ball: Most likely.

LIZ JASPER: Maybe You think I should be working on the next Underdead book like I’m supposed to be!

Magic Eight Ball: “As I see it, yes”

As you can see, the Magic Eight Ball can save you hours of time wasting and even help you with time management! I’d let you borrow mine, but it’s having some technical difficulties right now. Maybe when the glue dries…

NOVEMBER NEWS

     Almost Turkey Day!

(Hey, I LIKE Thanksgiving. I’d do a countdown but I figure my time is better spent in the Thanksgiving spirit of looking up recipes of things I can slop gravy over. Mmmm. Gravy! No, I’m not sharing. Get your own gravy bowl!)

Award winning UNDERDEAD  and the sequel UNDERDEAD IN DENIAL are now available in eBook and trade paperback!

 

“Jo is terrific! An entertaining lighthearted romp!”~~Midwest Book Review 

“UNDERDEAD is certainly not your typical vampire story, it’s better!”~~ Two Lips Reviews

“Hilariously funny…a page-turner extraordinaire”~~MyShelf

“Fun to read murder mystery with vampires rivals TWILIGHT series”
~~ Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fiction

 

As a launch special, the eBook version of UNDERDEAD will be on sale for $0.99 for a limited time. To find links to both books in whatever format you prefer, click here.

WHERE TO FIND LIZ IN NOVEMBER: Pin Up Hair Emporium and Unique Boutique. Reading, book signing and wine and cheese and palm reading. You saw it right, palm reading. 6-8:30. 1560 Fourth Street, San Rafael, CA

     

Take me now, Dirk Deedlehopper!

When asked why I write book series, I usually respond with something suitably ponderous and writer-ly about character development and plot arcs. And it’s true that I like the way one really gets to know and care about characters in a series. But writing a series has an important advantage no one really talks about:  you don’t have to come up with as many new names. 

I hate naming characters. I’m not kidding.  It’s really hard for me. Most of the names that pop in my head pop in because I know someone with that name.  And that causes all sorts of problems.

For instance, imagine you’re creating your hero. He’s tall, dark and handsome or buffed, blond and gorgeous or whatever. You imagine your heroine leaning in for that first kiss. She moans, “Oh, John!”

Hold on. (And not because that’s terrible writing.) John was the name of the guy who took you to homecoming your sophomore year of high school. He had fish breath and damp hands.  O-kaaay. Not John. You rewrite. Your heroine and hero are sharing a box of Junior Mints. He puts his arm around her. She leans toward him and whispers, “Oh, Rick!”

Backtrack, backtrack, ick, ick, ick.  You have and Uncle Richard, which is awfully close to “Rick.” And don’t forget about Ranger Rick Magazine which you read as a kid. How can you possibly write a romantic scene when you think “raccoon?” I mean, how much chest hair does the guy have? Eeew. Now in your head your tall, dark and handsome hero has got a serious back hair problem.

Okay.  Time to switch gears.  Let’s name the murder victim. Okay. The victim is a female librarian in her 50s.   How about Marge? You can’t think of anyone named Marge.  Except for Marge Simpson, but since your victim is too old and square to have dyed her hair blue and too young to have a nice blue rinse, chances are no one is going to think Marge Simpson. Fine.  Death to Marge! And then your mother reads the manuscript and you get this phone call:

Liz’s mom: “I can’t believe you killed off our next door neighbor.”

Liz: “What? What are you talking about?”

Liz’s mom: “Marge! Marge Wilkinson. How will I be able to look her in the face? Who’s going to watch our cat when we go to Florida?”

Liz: [awkward pause]”Her name’s Marge?”

Liz’s mom: “What did you think her name was?”

Liz (in her head): “Mrs. Wilkinson.”

Liz (aloud): “It’s okay, Mom. I can change her name to…” (Liz looks frantically around desk. Sees ad for Glendora Cleaners.) “Glendora.” Hah. Perfect.  Death to Glendora!

Liz’s mom: “Glendora? Tsk. That’s a ridiculous name for a librarian.“

So you can see how difficult coming up with names can be.  I think we should all be glad I haven’t resorted to Dirk Deedlehopper. But if I’m honest, it’s only because my best friend used to date a guy named Dirk and George Deedlehopper doesn’t quite have the same ring.

[Note: this was originally blogged elsewhere. I’m re-posting these here. See note below. Is this an endless string of notes destined to torture you? Perhaps. Why don’t you scroll down and see?]