Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Jayne Just Watches--an excerpt

Today is my favorite kind of day ... I don't have to be anywhere, so I can write. Later, I'll probably ride my bike around. 

Not my bike, but I like it

Here's a short excerpt from the novel I'm working on, Jayne Just Watches: 

Chapter One: Just Jayne

I’m dead.

Trapped inside this body—walking, talking, eating, sleeping—so you might assume I’m alive, but I’m not. My heart stopped beating several years ago.

Even though I’m dead, there are two things I like to do: oil painting and visiting the cemetery. Also, I love sleeping … guess that’s three.

You ever have the feeling that you’re dreaming when you’re awake? Like you’re moving through water, the air feels heavy, sounds seem distant. Maybe you’re shopping, or walking along a sidewalk, or working, when you notice you’re not really there.

That’s how it feels to be dead.

At night, when I lie down, you may think I’m sleeping, but I’m really traveling through other realms. It’s almost like dreaming, but more intense. That’s when I feel almost alive.

See that maple tree out in the courtyard?

What color are the leaves? 

You’ll probably say green, but I see gray. Most things in my world are gray, mixtures of black and white, some lighter, some darker. Gray is neutral, achromatic, so it refracts light without dispersing. It’s not really a color. The only color I perceive is red. No blue. No yellow. Just shades of red. It’s a rare condition called Tritanopia, brought on by trauma to the head and exacerbated by anxiety.

But when I’m traveling (you would call it dreaming) I see spectrums of color you’ve never imagined. If I were dreaming now, the leaves on that maple tree would be a thousand variations of green. The underlying leaves gloomy and bluish, others dappled yellow by the sun, some tender green as baby shoots, and others as ghostly as the moon. If I were dreaming, chocolate shadows would play along the tree's trunk, and sunlight would break through the branches, painting the bark silver.

But now, sitting on my balcony and painting (as I often do), all I see is gray.

My condominium is like a treehouse. My apartment is on the second story and the balcony parallels the branches of the maple tree. Beyond the maple, there’s a stand of aspen, a blue spruce, two pinion pines, and a crabapple tree on the edge of the play area--swings, a sandbox, slide and jungle gym. My balcony shares a common wall and railing with the neighboring condo. That apartment has been vacant for a while, ever since the Navajo family (who never said hello) departed last March. 

I spend a lot of time out here, watching my neighbors as they come and go down in the courtyard. The complex houses college students, several artists and writers, a few retirees, and a number of young families. That strange woman, Sadie, lives directly across from me—one of the few residents I know by name, only because she introduced herself. Through the maple leaves, I see her dragging a heavy bag of garbage down the stairway of her condo. She glances in my direction, and I duck behind the canvas I’ve set on my easel.

She waves, calls out, “Hi, Jayne. How’s it hangin’?”

When I peek around the canvas, she grins.

Her lipstick is as red as blood, so is her hair.

She yells across the courtyard, “Killer day!”

Using a pallet knife (dull edges so it can't do any damage), I mix black paint into the gray and pretend I don’t hear her.

Today’s stark sun and barren sky depress me. I prefer the soft focus of overcast, clouds brooding over the mountains, thunder rumbling through the valley. Give me the ozone scent of rain, a downpour pelleting the roof, mist rising from the pavement and engulfing the courtyard.

Shielding my eyes from the sun’s glare, I watch Sadie maneuver a trash bag along the walkway that encircles the courtyard. The bag oozes something reddish, deposits wet markings on the cement. She lugs it to the parking lot and disappears from view behind the building, no doubt headed to the dumpster.

She goes there a lot.

I pull my explorer telescope out of the pocket of my skirt, point the lens at her picture window. Can't see a thing, except drawn curtains. Last night I watched Sadie and this college kid going at it, but I never saw him leave. 

This complex is fairly small and a bit old-fashioned, which I like. Sixteen two-story buildings surround the courtyard, four condominiums in each building. The structures are made of wood (rather than cement like the new ones they built down the road), paint flaking on the sides exposed to the sun. The lights, set at corners of the courtyard, are Victorian in style—globes reminiscent of gaslight. Wisteria overhangs the common area which houses mail boxes, a picnic table, and several plastic chairs. Victorian houses abound in this town, built in the late 1800's when people rushed to Colorado hoping to make fortunes mining gold and silver. The Denver & Rio Grande Railway lay narrow gauge tracks that climb through treacherous mountain passes from here to the old mining town of Silverton. The steam engine still runs, but these days it carries tourists. 

I’m into steampunk, so the town suits me.

I design book covers (steampunk, horror, vampire, zombie apocalypse) for indie authors I meet on Facebook and Twitter. The covers provide me with enough income to scrape by—along with the meager trust my parents left me.

They died in the accident fourteen years ago, so did Lexi. Me too, but they brought me back to life … anyway, that’s what the doctors said.

On my next birthday, ten days from now when I turn twenty-six, I’ll come into my full inheritance. Growing up, Aunt Elizabeth always told me it’s substantial. She says I’m a lucky girl.

Lucky stiff.


I’d rather have my family.

What am I working on?

When you look at this canvas, what do you see? Wisps of gray, some flickering with light, others shadowy, some mysteriously black. If you stare at the painting long enough, images appear ….

See that shimmer rippling through the painting?

Nothing in this world is solid, even if it appears concrete. Our bodies contain more space than matter. According to scientific findings, five sixths of matter is dark and invisible. Particles of dark matter pass through our bodies all the time, colliding with our atoms. Who can say what else passes through the collection of molecules you call you and I call me?   

How do we know dark matter exists, if it can’t be detected? 

Gravitational pull.

Dark matter may be invisible, but it affects things surrounding it, sucking them in with its dark energy. Ghosts are like that too, so are demons. You may call them by another name, but all kinds of entities exist in space and on other planes.

I feel them passing through my body, playing in my mind.

Sometimes I see them.

Red eyes shining in the dark.

I paint them, so they’re apparent.

A parent, that’s funny.

More than my parents, I miss Lexi. She was seven. We were in the back seat of my dad’s new Lincoln … black leather seats, snowflakes hitting the windshield, the slosh of icy water beneath the tires as the car hit Park Avenue. It was my job to make sure my little sister buckled up, but Lexi hated seatbelts, said they made her feel trapped.

Her death was my fault.

Did you catch that movement, at the edge of the canvas?

The flash of red eyes.

Demons are sneaky, appear at the periphery of your vision, vanish when you glance directly at them. Sometimes they slip behind the painting and poke the canvas with their fingernails.  

I survived the crash, sort of—died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, but they managed to revive me. TBI, Traumatic Brain Injury, due to sudden impact. Doctors claim my recovery was a miracle. No matter what they claim, I’m really dead. My psychiatrist says I’m suffering from Cotard’s Delusion (also known as the Walking Dead Syndrome), but how can a corpse be diagnosed?

I’m done with shrinks. I need a Coroner.

What use are doctors who want to analyze me and prescribe pills to make me normal? Normal is a syndrome not worth suffering. I enjoy being dead, enjoy the unique perspective. Being dead allows me to detach from anger, pain, sadness … all those messy emotions.

I lost my heart four years ago—it stopped beating, gave up when Jonathan left me. I met him in college. Things may have ended differently if I had let him touch me, but dead people don’t have sex. The idea is repulsive. Isn't it?

When he went back to Denver, my heart collapsed, left this cavity inside my chest.

Now my brain is rotting.

Ever smell a rotting brain? Think chicken guts left in the trunk of a car for a week, dead rats decomposing in the walls of your house, putrefying poopy diapers forgotten in the garbage. The stink lingers, gets inside your nostrils, your clothing, your hair, your mind. When your brain’s decaying in your skull, it’s impossible to ignore the stench. I've tried everything: dog shampoo designed to eliminate odors, essential oils, breathing through my mouth. I can taste the stink. Vic’s Vapor Rub on my upper lip works best. (That’s what cops use.)

I get these headaches, throbbing pain inside the black hole of my skull.

Speaking of black holes, they’re not really empty space. Quite the opposite. According to NASA, black holes are extremely condensed matter. NASA says, “Think of a star ten times more massive than the Sun squeezed into a sphere approximately the diameter of New York City.” This creates a gravitational pull so intense that nothing can escape, not even light. Black holes are the vampires of the universe, sucking energy out of nearby stars and destroying them. The problem is, black holes are invisible and you won’t know you’re near one, until it’s devoured you.

That’s what happened to me. A black hole sucked the energy right out of me, and now I’m stuck with this body.

You may be saying, “If you’re dead, why don’t you commit suicide?”

There’s no point in committing suicide if you’re already dead. I’m an illusion, a specter. I don’t really exist. Experience is subjective, perceived through the muddy filters of our psyches. Reality is a consensus of opinion, a group delusion. Trust only mathematics, the laws of physics and chemistry. Above all else, don’t trust yourself or other people.

That's what Aunt Elizabeth taught me.

Especially, never trust a man.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Killer Robots

Robots on the Rise!

These days, whether you realize it or not, most people work with robots. Make no mistake about it, your boss is comparing your performance to your potential robot replacement ... and, chances are, you lose!

Baxter the Trainable Robot

(He looks cute, but he wants your job)
In fact, you may be expected to train your replacement. Rethink Robotics has recently unleashed Baxter a trainable robot. Baxter is affordable (just $25,000 plus warranty) and he can perform tasks at twice the speed of you or me. 

(Personally, I can't wait to get a Baxter Robot Butler.)

My Baxter Robot Butler

As wages rise, you can bet employers are thinking about how fast they can replace you with Baxter or Baxterette. According to a recent study at Oxford University, here's a list of jobs you can kiss good-bye:

Read more in the article, The Shift from Low-Wage Worker to Robot Worker.

Have you heard about the restaurant in China that's operated by robots? Watch this video (oh, yeah, it's in Chinese):

Even if you manage to keep your job, don't imagine you're home free. The New York Times just ran an article about killer robots in the workplace. Read As Robotics Advances, Worries of Killer Robots Rise. Over the past 30 years, robots have been responsible for 33 human deaths. That is bound to increase as we bring more robots into the workplace and give those robots more freedom to roam. 

I just wonder, with so many people's jobs being replaced by robots, who's going to have money to buy the stuff these robots make? 

Here's Baxter's buddy playing your swan song.

Sadie Says: Don't delay, download your brain into Baxter NOW!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sadie's latest victim (the winner of her machete) is ...

Michelle Willms 
(certified psycho)

Sadie wants to thank everyone who entered the Summer Splash Blog Hop, and you're all invited over for a big pot of chili! Yum!

The drawing was random, based on your entries, but Michelle obviously has excellent plans for the machete. Here's why she wants it:

I would LOVE to have that machete. I would carry that machete as I dreamed of all the wonderful heads that could roll (fictional heads, of course). I would only chop vegetable or dead protein matter, but I have a VERY vivid imagination. Oh, the frustration I could work off. I think the machete would be a great tension reliever, don't you? What a great conversation piece. "I have a machete."

Yes, Michelle, it's hard to describe the joy that comes from saying, "I have a machete." Soon you'll know.

Three runners-up will receive a copy of Sadie the Sadist: X-tremely Black Humor/Horror. (If they dare to read the book.)

Wanna-be Psychos:

"I think the machete would look great in a shadow box in my woman cave. So when my husband bugs me, I cut off his nose hairs!"

Jeff Balanger
"Don't own fire arms, zombie apocalypse and the practical use clear brush to find baseballs that go into the woods."

Nancy Wolfe
"I just think the machete looks tough!"

See you next time. 
Till then, Sadie Says: Have fun!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Summer Splash Blog Hop

Hit the Beach with Sadie and her cohorts!

Hop around to all the blogs and win 

I'm giving away: 

And an ecopy of Sadie the SadistX-tremely Black Humor/Horror (18+), so you know what to do with the machete. 3 Runners-up will also receive an ebook.

Blood Not Included

(Imagine the Damage You Can Do!)

Just like the machete Sadie uses to cut melons and whack off heads 

To win Sadie's machete:
1) leave a comment here, and tell her why you want it
(okay to post as anonymous and be as psycho as you like; I just need you to send me your email so I can contact you)
2) Post your email or send it to ZaneSachs at gmail dot com

Rack up Extra Entries!!!

Sign up for my sporadic Newsletter (email me) = 1 entry
Like my Zané Sachs FaceBook Page = 1 entry
Follow me on Twitter @ZaneSachs = 1 entry

Empty Seats of Your Latest Victims

Grand Prizes:
Kindle Paperwhite
$50 Amazon Gift Card
eBooks and Paperbacks 
cool swag from participating authors

   1) Register
         2) Hop Around
3) Share 


  1. I don't think there is a reason to NOT want Sadie's machete. It's a freaking machete. I would carry it around the house while saying "Machete don't text" in my best Danny Trejo impression. Really, I would. (I follow on FB, twitter, and newletter)
  2. Maggie, you rock! I think it's soooo important to tell your machete not to text while walking around the house, or you could have a bad accident and slice off the head of your cat.
    1. How did you know I have a cat? Are you the reason the streetlight by my house is out? Are you stalking me? If so, how did you miss the two big dogs?
    2. Sorry about the dogs, Maggie. They won't bother you again.
  3. I just think the machete looks tough!
    1. You bet it's tough, Nancy. Would Sadie carry a wimpy machete? (Answer: No!!!)
  4. I would LOVE to have that machete. I would carry that machete as I dreamed of all the wonderful heads that could roll (fictional heads, of course). I would only chop vegetable or dead protein matter, but I have a VERY vivid imagination. Oh, the frustration I could work off. I think the machete would be a great tension reliever, don't you? What a great conversation piece. "I have a machete." michelle_willms at yahoo dot com
    1. I absolutely agree, Michelle, whacking heads with a machete is extremely relaxing and therapeutic ... it's one of Sadie's favorite pastimes!
  5. Wow! Living in the middle of nowhere, I would definitely get some use out of that machete. And it just looks bad ass!

    Followed on Twitter, liked your Facebook, and I'm already subscribed to your newsletter! (It's how I heard about the hop. Thanks!)
    1. Kristen, you are entered! But if you live in the middle of nowhere, how will you find victims?
  6. I have to disqualify myself because I already have a killing-people machete. But if this is watermelon machete, I'd like to be considered. Summer and all.
    1. Dear Anonymous, I'm afraid (very afraid, in fact) that you're disqualified, because this machete can be used for BOTH purposes. Also, you're anonymous ,,, so how would I send you the machete? Huh?
    2. NOTE: I don't want to scare off other people who want to post anonymously; you're welcome to, and be as psycho as you like (just send me your email, so I can contact you). BTW, I know exactly who this Mr. Anonymous is (a good friend and certified psycho) ... he already has plenty of knives!
  7. What a great giveaway with amazing Authors. Thank you for the chance to win. Sadie's machete would be great to have to add to my knife and swords collection that I have. I keep a few in each room incase of emergency :) Thank you, Vicky slayer_vicky@yahoo.com
    1. Okay, Vicky Slayer, even though you posted as Anonymous, you included your email, so you're in! (You might want to up your chances by following me on twitter, and all that other stuff I mention), because I can tell you'll find some great uses for the machete, Sadie says: Consider keeping it under your bed.
  8. Hi Zane! I'd put the machete to good use. Not that I'd hurt anyone or anything physically...but it's so much more fun to mess with someone's brain! I'm pet sitting for another month, for an ex that I *really* dislike. Love the dog, just not the owner. It'd be sooo much fun to post photos of me with a machete near the dog and see how he'd react. It'd be like a psychological experiment!! Plus, the guy is Brazilian, so if things get worse between us, I may need a Brazilian machete.

    Also, I live alone in a big city. Imagine how much of a deterrent carrying a machete around would be to would-be muggers, or the more-than-occasional person on the street trying to get you to give them money (I'm looking at you, Greenpeace). I mean, sure, walking around with my ear buds in seems to work fairly well for discouraging talking, but I don't think it'd help me if someone came at me.

    It's all about justice for me. Not necessarily to get justice for everyone else, but there's a butterfly effect possibility. I save myself from something of a nuisance, and in turn it'll save the next person.

    Plus, it'd make for a badass decoration in my spartan apartment :)
    1. Smiles, this is a fabulous entry, and I certainly sympathize about the Brazilian ex. Sadie's recipes may give you some tasty ideas and serve your purposes--they say Brazilian meat is excellent.

      I too have lived alone in a large city. In addition to deterring annoying people, carrying a machete might also encourage people to offer YOU money.

      Meanwhile, please send me your email address ... otherwise how will I contact you? Also, you may want to win some extra chances by following me on twitter, etc. 
    2. I'd sent you my email and info to your email address. Sent from cmu.smiles, around 10:30 am. It has my fb name and twitter handle, along with a request to get your newsletter. Unfortunately, spammers aren't readily accessible for meeting a machete should they snag my email. Which is a shame, since I'm sure plenty of people would be interested in touching base with them.

      (it's also in my blogger profile, if you click on smiles there will be a link, left hand side of the page)
    3. Okay smiles ... we'll find you! Sadie and I will bring the machete, so we can rescue you from spammers!
  9. Well what smart girl doesn't need a machete as an accessory? LOL! Thanks for the giveaway, gina_hester@hotmail.com
    1. I certainly agree, Gina. A machete is a must for any fashion conscious gal. The blade is the perfect accoutrement to those blood red, press-on nails.
  10. It would look really good with my hubby's collection of machetes. Thank you for the chance. bobbischleining @ yahoo.com
  11. Okay, Bobbi, you're entered. A person can never have too many machetes!
  12. I'm not sure why I wouldn't want to have it. Smkurtz79@yahoo.com
    1. Sheri, you'd have to be crazy not to want this machete!
  13. I need that machete. Mine is all full of brain gunk and it just doesn't shine like it used to.
  14. I need that machete. Mine is all covered with brain gunk and just doesn't shine like it used to.
    1. Mandy, I'm so sorry to hear your machete is covered with brain gunk. Sadie says she often has the same problem, but then she cuts into a watermelon and it takes that gunk right off! I see you posted twice ... sorry, I have to moderate the comments to make sure only fellow psychos get through here. You're in now!
  15. Well....why not?!?! single50sherry@yahoo.com
  16. Why not indeed, Sherry. Everyone needs a machete
  17. to cut up watermelon

    signed up for newsletter

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com
    1. Very practical, bn100 ... not as much fun as skulls, but just as healthy.
  18. It would go with my decor. I liked and followed also. jonesjnd (at) yahoo (dot) com
    1. So, JC, your decor is what? Brazilian? Or do you plan to display the machete next to your whips and chains?
  19. I think the machete would look great in a shadow box in my woman cave. So when my husband bugs me, I cut off his nose hairs!
    1. Suzanne! First of all, I'm very impressed to hear about your woman cave. So important to have that place to perform important ... rituals. However, I can't advise removing nose hairs with a machete, unless hubby happens to be an elephant.
  20. What a cool machete... I'm already thinking watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew and pineapple.

  21. Yes Kai, fruit and machetes form an excellent partnership (that's why Sadie uses one for her work in produce, chopping things up). You might consider branching out, as Sadie does, and use the machete for whacking cartons of milk, shoppers who get in her way, and getting rid of a pesky boss.