“Fear the Walking Dead” Season 3 Key Art Released

Gaze into the Abyss long enough and…

The Snarking Dead TV Recaps

Today AMC realized the first of the key art for Season 3 of Fear the Walking Dead.  It shows our favorite ex-junkie Nick (Frank Dillane) sporting some of the bloody makeup he’s know for, along with a warning:

[Image via AMC] Based upon years of watching The Walking Dead, we know the thing in the Zombie Apocalypse we should fear the most is what said apocalypse does to us, and we’ve already seen changes in all members of the Clark Family at this point, and any of them are only a step or two away from becoming the next Crazy Rick.

Joining the cast are Dayton Callie, Daniel Sharman, and Sam Underwood, members of the Otto family, a group of survivalists who were ready for the end of civilization but not zombies (because the Dead World is one where zombies were never part of popular culture), and Lisandra Tena as Lola Guerrero, a…

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Talk of the Town: Not Who You Think

It took a few weeks, but I reached another milestone last night: I finished Part Three in the novel.  It didn’t take a lot–just a little over eight hundred words–but that was enough with the scene the bed, finish the chapter, and set the part aside.

All those First Drafts looking nice and pretty.

This means it’s time to move on to Part Four, which means I’m into the last part of Act One. It also means I’m into the first of the chapters, Chapter Twelve, that need to be laid out now.  Chapter Eleven was the last chapter in the book which I plotted out, and now it’s necessary to move on ahead and start laying out scenes.  Tonight I’m likely going to do that for Chapters Twelve and Thirteen and perhaps lay down a few scenes for the remaining three chapters of Part Four.

Yeah, I got some work ahead of me. But it’s not like I don’t know what’s coming…

Speaking of that–not knowing what’s coming, that is–let’s move a little further along in our conversation between Ramona and Helena and see what they make of the Great Musical Zombie Killing:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

“How do you think I felt when Isis braced me last night?” Ramona leaned forward in her chair. “And then this morning she tells me additional things, like it’s a Do or Die test and there’s going to be music played. I didn’t understand that at all.”

Helena snorted. “And what was with the music? Who the hell picked that song?”

“I assume someone in San Francisco. I mean, if anyone wants to know what sort of music Kerry likes, all they need to do is go out to his YouTube account and take a look at his playlists. It’s all public, so it’s not like anyone would need to go out there snooping about in secret.”

Helena rubbed her eyes as she considered Ramona’s remarks. “It’s goddamn stupid, if you ask me. I’ve never seen a test conducted that way.” She tilted her head back and let herself go slightly limp. “Gabriel must’ve been tripping bear balls when he put this test together.”

Ramona stared across her desk at Helena for about five seconds before she shook her head. “That test was not authorized by Mr. Gabriel.”

 

First, we now know that Kerry has a bunch of public playlist on a YouTube account–which makes him sound just like a certain author we all know.  Well, it is cheaper than paying for Pandora or Spotify, though one day Kerry likely will start doing that.  (As to whether or not Annie has Pandora and/or Spotify, I think we already know the answer to that question.)  Second, this is the first time we’ve also heard Helena use an expression like “tripping bear balls”, which is an unusual thing for her to say, but not completely out of the question.  It also makes me wonder if she is somehow related to Cheryl Tunt…

Lastly, though, we see that Helena is just too close to the problem and can’t see something that Ramona picks out immediately: that a person she’s had dealings with in the past concerning Guardian affairs didn’t do something she thinks he did.  And Ramona’s reasoning?

 

Helena sat up long enough to recross her legs and throw her left arm over the back of her chair. “What do you mean?”

“I mean it doesn’t seem like his style.” She tapped her index finger against the tip of her nose several times as she thought. “I’ve only had to deal with the gentleman a couple of times, but everything I’ve seen leads me to believe that he would never authorize a test like the one we had this morning. His style is classical, while the one we saw today—” She gave a quick shrug. “Totally modern pop.” Ramona lay her right hand on her desk and tapped it for a few moments. “Did you recognize any of the names on the emails you received?”

That was an easy question to answer as there was only one name on Helena’s email. “I recognized the name on my email right away: I’ve been dealing with her for six years.”

“There’s been three or four people I’ve had to deal with in the last six years and only one of their names popped up among the three I saw on the email they sent me regarding additional requirements for the test.” Ramona gave her head another shake and tapped her fingers on the desk once more. “Between that and the conduct of today’s test, I don’t think I’m entirely off base when I say I’m not sure the old guard is still in place in San Francisco.”

Though Helena wasn’t ready to agree with all of Ramona’s assessment, her comments concerning Mr. Gabriel and how it seemed unlikely he would’ve authorized the test they witnessed today did ring true. Though Helena didn’t work directly for SOP—she was actually a member of Field Operations Division, or FOD, which some wags in the Guardians said was the acronym for “Forced on Operation and Died”—she had plenty of opportunities to cross from one department to another, and had had more or less a cordial relationship with Gabriel for little more than a decade.

This meant she knew something of the way he conducted himself, as well as the way he conducted business as the director of San Francisco SOP, and Ramona was right: there was no way he would’ve authorized today’s test. His idea of a test would’ve been far more traditional—possibly more homunculus on the test area at once as well as a shorter time period in which to achieve goals. But he would’ve never set this up as a Do or Die operation, nor would he have allowed music to be played—at least not the music they heard today.

Helena was about to say something when Ramona interrupted. “Did you notice Isis playing around with her tablet throughout the test?”

 

Once you establish yourself as having a particular style, it’s easy to notice when that style changes.  With most of these witches, style change doesn’t come about easily, so something drastic occurs one can assume that someone new is calling the shots.  That’s what Ramona noticed right away, probably because while she’s had dealings with the Guardians, they’ve been limited.  This would make any change in procedures stand out rather dramatically.

And for the first time we find out which section of the Guardians Helena works for: Field Operations Division.  She stated before that she’s done work for SOP, but they are not the boss of her–at least not directly.  Because of her injuries we know FOD doesn’t put Helen out in the field as much as in the past, and when she does go out it’s usually in a supervisory capacity.  Which may or may not be all right with Helena, but there’s little she can do to buck her bosses at this point.  Besides, like it or not she’s collecting a paycheck from both the school and the Guardians, so why complain?  And, being at the school as she is, she’s usually the first to see new talent. Like, you know, a couple of kids who arrived at Salem two years ago–

With these questions out of the way close again quickly on the end of this conversation…

Talk of the Town: What Was That BS?

Yesterday was not what I would call a good day.  Though, in a way, it was a good day–perhaps it was really not that good of a night.  I had a lot to do during the day, and believe it or not, I got it done. Even I was surprised.  But then I started thinking about something… And that set off the triggers, and for a significant part of the evening I was nothing but a slimy, blubbering mess.

Also, I discovered I need to buy a corkscrew.  Bummer.

What this means is that I’m no longer had of the curve.  The end of this excerpt is about twelve hundred words ahead of where I’m at right now in the story, so unless I get my butt into writing, pretty soon I’m going to hit one of those points where I’m going to be writing just get the excerpt out.  And I don’t want that ’cause that’s even more stressful.

Ah, how did I ever get in a situation?

Now the test is over the recriminations began.  Well, maybe not so much recriminations as a postmortem as to what “that test” was about.  And just as it was at the beginning of this chapter with the first scene, this scene returns the same players, with Annie and Kerry mentioned but not seen.  And it doesn’t take long to get right into the discussion:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

It wasn’t long after half past sixteen that Ramona received word that the instructors who spent the afternoon in Boston had returned that she heard the clacking of heavy boot heels in the hallway outside her door. She opened it some forty-five minutes earlier, for she had anticipated a visitor—
And now that visitor was here.

Helena stopped in the open doorway and let out alongside. “Well.” She stepped inside the office and waved the door closed behind her, waiting until it latched before continuing.

“To paraphrase Kerry, what was that bullshit we saw this morning?”

“Quite the spectacle, wasn’t it? I was just going over the video from the test.” Ramona looked down as she chuckled in a low voice. “I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen either of them flustered after a test—or ever, for that matter.”

The right corner of Helena’s mouth curved upward in the smirk. “I think they were caught up in the moment. I know I’ve trained them not to act that way, at least during a stressful situation.”

“They were finished with the test, so I think I can allow them a little slack.”

 

My kids have expressed frustration in the past, but it’s almost always been in the private sector: they rarely shown that frustration publicly.  In the last book Annie get frustrated with Kerry, who was getting frustrated learning Exsanguination, and both experienced some frustration both with family and, um, “frustration”, if you know what I mean.  The closest there’s been a public frustration moment was the first night at Advanced Spells when Annie had trouble doing levitation and we discovered that while she always wanted to be a bad ass sorceress, she hadn’t always kept up on the real simple spells.

But to get so frustrated in the aftermath of a devilishly hard test that you turn and start screaming at your instructor?  Yeah, the kids need to work on that.  Oh, and about what Annie said–

 

Silently Helena admitted that she agreed with Ramona; publicly she’d say nothing. “While we were out I wanted to ask Annie what she said while we were out, but I was afraid she take it the wrong way.”

“She said ‘Who put this fucking test together?’.” This time Ramona’s chuckle was much louder. “I had Sabrina translate the comment.”

Helena raised an eyebrow as a smile slowly formed on her face. “That girl is getting quite a mouth on her.”

“Can’t imagine where she getting that from.”

“Yeah, and you can fuck right off with that shit.” Helena crossed her arms as she looked away for a moment. “Though her question about the test remains valid.”

“I’m wondering about that same thing as well.” Ramona motioned Helena to a chair. “Not only was I surprised by the orders I received, but discovering that Isis had additional orders that she didn’t past either of us wasn’t something I expected.” She shook her head. “It’s not often I have to work with the Guardians, but they’re usually straightforward in their dealings—and when they are being sneaky, you can usually tell.”

The matter of having three different people involved in today’s test, and not seeing information passed from one person to the next, had bothered Helena through most of the afternoon. She had to agree with Ramona’s assessment: it wasn’t unusual for the Guardians to be sneaky, but one could usually tell when that was happening. “I don’t know what the hell this was. I mean, why it wasn’t such a big deal to add on six additional homunculus and then not have you tell me?” She sat back and crossed her legs. “I don’t get it.”

 

First off, we get Annie dropping a F Bomb once more, and this time in Bulgarian.  Being that this is the third novel, she gets one more opportunity to say that particular word again–which means Kerry has a three F Bomb limit as well.  Hey, Patrick O’Brian did something similar, and that means I can as well.  And as far as Ramona’s question about where Annie may be picking that up–yeah, we know Helena’s a good influence for that as well.

Speaking of frustration we start seeing it both with Ramona and Helena.  Neither of them can understand where the Guardians are coming from, particularly Helena, who knows how they operate.  And tomorrow will get into their frustration a little bit more…

The Kali Test: The End

Yesterday was a good writing day.  I wrote almost twelve hundred words in the morning, came home and wrote eleven hundred word TV recap, then ended up writing another two hundred and sixty words later in the evening to include something I meant to include in the morning, but didn’t.  Add all that up, and I wrote close to twenty-four hundred words, something I haven’t done in quite some time.

That doesn’t mean I’m back in the groove: it simply means yesterday was a good rating day.  The trick to all this is doing something like that nearly every day, and not just on a Sunday in April.  Most times I’ll be lucky to get five hundred words a day.  But I have to say, yesterday felt good.

Since I’m on the way to ending Chapter Eleven, here’s the end of the test scene.  And you knew this was coming; why wouldn’t you?  But based upon what you’ve seen so far, this ending is a little unusual–

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Covered in blood and winded, they were both catching their breath when fifteen seconds later music stopped and silence fell upon the test surface.

Ramona waited until she was absolutely certain that Annie and Kerry were the only creatures moving on the other side of the safety enchantment before casting it away.

She waited a few seconds for her students to gather their bearings before speaking. “The test is concluded. Based upon the final results—”

Kerry turned toward Ramona and Helena and screamed at them, raising his arms and hands in the air. “What was that bullshit?”

Annie stepped around the bodies on the floor as she wiped blood from her face and eyes. She, too, was not happy, and the moment she was alongside Kerry she also yelled out her frustration. “Koĭ postavi tozi shiban test zaedno?”

Ramona quickly raised the safety enchantment, putting a barrier of silence between her angry students and the rest of the people in the hall. She turned to Helena and shrugged. “Apparently they have some questions.”

“They’re not the only ones.” Helena turned to her left as she sensed Isis walking away. “Where are you going?”

 

The kids usually stick by their mantra of “A good sorceress keeps their head about them while everything is going to hell around them.”  But nothing is going to hell around them anymore: that’s already happened, things to them.  And these kids get just as frustrated and confused as adults, who often vent her frustration once a momentous task has completed.  Plus, when you add in the fact that both these kids are raging hormone factories, it’s easy to understand why they lost their cool and started screaming.  At their instructor.  In front of a room full of people, including the Head Sorceress.

Fortunately, Ramona is fairly even-tempered and she understands that emotions run high at times, particularly when you’ve been in a difficult match.  Also, it’s likely fair to say that the kids aren’t known to start screaming and swearing at the same time while in the Advanced Self Defense class–and you know Annie swore, because Kerry is already mentioned that usually when she’s upset and says something in Bulgarian, it’s likely she’s cursing.  You’ll find out in the following scene what she said.

So it’s probably a good idea to let the kids simmer down, or at least get rid of witnesses–

 

She held her tablet at her side as she addressed the Head Sorceress. “I’m finished with my side of this test, so there’s no need for me to stick around.” She tapped something on her tablet screen then looked up at Ramona. “My people will be by in the afternoon to collect the Spy Eyes. Shouldn’t take too long to get them out of here.”

Ramona nodded in acknowledgment. “That shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Cool. See you ladies later.” Isis juanted off.

With the Chief of Security gone Ramona now turned to the students who’d observed the test, with a few appearing to have not handled the bloody spectacle well. “This test is concluded. For those while visitors, you are free to leave. For those of you remaining for class, I will need about twenty minutes to clear the testing surface so that we may start. Feel free to mill about outside: I will call you when ready.”

Students filed out of the Manor and it was empty save for the two instructors and the two testes standing on the other side of the safety enchantment. Ramona took a deep breath. “I think we can continue our dialogue.”

Helena nodded toward the two students. “By all means, let’s.”

 

Testing is done, so Isis isn’t needed anymore.  Or at least she seems to think so.  This will get brought up in the next scene as well.  Hell, a lot of things get brought up in the next scene…

Since Ramona and Helena are pretty easy-going in most situations, they’ve given Annie and Kerry time to cool off.  That time is over: now it’s time to talk.

 

The Self Defense instructor removed the safety enchantment and addressed her students. “Have you had time to calm yourselves?”

They answered simultaneously. “Yes, Professor.”

Ramona approached and stopped two meters from them. “According to the rules of this engagement, you have successfully completed this test. Will see to it that the results are passed along to the appropriate authorities.” She gave them both a quick smile. “Go clean up and change, and once you have you’re both free to leave.”

Annie looked the most surprised of the two. “We don’t need to return for class?”

A soft chuckle escaped Ramona’s lips. “I think you’ve both proven that there isn’t any need for you to work on forms or spar today.”

“That’s for sure.” Helena moved up closer to Ramona, though she knew better than to stand next to her at this point. “Erywin, I, and a few others are heading into Boston about eleven to have lunch and do a little shopping. Why don’t you come out to the Instructors Residence when you done cleaning up? You can relax a bit before we leave.”

Both seemed happy to hear this news. Kerry reached out and gave Annie’s hand a squeeze before responding. “Thank you, Professor.”

Annie smiled as she returned to squeeze. “Yes, thank you, Helena.”

“All right, then.” Ramona straightened slightly. “Face me.” Annie and Kerry turned to face their instructor and bowed as she did. When they straighten Ramona wave them away. “Go on: go clean up.”

The instructors watched Annie and Kerry make their way through the carnage they left behind only to stop just past the last of the bodies so that they could share a short kiss. When they finished they both cast a glance back before heading off to the locker rooms and vanishing.

Helena rubbed her eyes as she chuckled. “Love among the zombies.”

Ramona only partially turned to head to look at the sorceress. “Didn’t you ever do that after test?”

“We didn’t have homunculus as nice as the ones you make.” She turned towards Ramona. “When I get back from Boston this afternoon, you and I are going to have a little discussion about what just happened here.”

Ramona crossed arms and gave her friend an unconcerned look. “Believe me, Helena; I want to talk about this.”

 

There you have it: the kids get to kill a bunch of zombies in front of the third of the student body, they then got this work their instructor, and then they were released from class for the rest of the day so they can go hang out in Boston with other instructors.  All in all, not a bad day–or, I should say, a bad four minutes, as that’s all it really took for them to establish themselves as the Bad Ass Zombie Killers of Salem.  And given what was seen, and the rumors that will come out of what was seen, one has to assume that anyone who calls these two out now is simply looking for a beating.

That doesn’t mean that neither of them won’t get called out–

And now that the fighting is done, it’s time for the instructors to ask a few questions…

“iZombie”, Season 3, Episode 2, “Zombie Knows Best”

Like, you know, zombies are like EVERYWHERE, and sometimes they are like, you know, trying to find out like who killed people. As if…

The Snarking Dead TV Recaps

[Image via The CW]

Team Zombie is back on the job, and this time Major (Robert Buckley) gets his first shot at helping the team. Of course, he doesn’t get the play the role he was hoping to play…

  •   Much of the episode is taken up by flashbacks of when Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) was more involved in the lives of Wally and his mother, Anna. This comes about the first time when Detective Cavanaugh (Robert Salvador) reveals that Wally left Clive as his primary point of contact. After that the flashbacks reveal that Clive was far more involved in Wally’s and Anna’s life that he may have indicated in Episode 1, and not only did he play a part in putting Anna’s abusive husband in jail for stretch, but that he was friendly with Anna in a way—well, let’s just say it got to the point where Wally had to…

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Almost Live and In Person

Today am doing something completely different: I doing a video from and outside location.  And it’s rather unusual, even for me.  But I think you’ll find it enjoyable.

The Kali Test: The Third Phase

Just like yesterday there won’t be much for preamble; were going to get right into the action.  And this one is going to be a little different than the first two phases, because anything goes as far as my kids are concerned.

And as for going to see, that may be true for the zombies as well:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

He stepped away from the mess he had created and cast a glance at Annie as Ramona’s voice boomed out again. “Third Phase: all attacks allowed.”

As is happened the last two times the homunculi crossed the white line at the same time, but rather than run at them this time all six seem to mill about as if considering their options. Kerry wondered if they were trying to run out the clock and press them for time: he knew Relax pretty well and figured there was perhaps a little more than a minute until the end of the song, so the possibility existed that these were programmed to put a lot of pressure upon Annie and he in the last thirty to forty seconds.

Annie was considering another possibility, however. In the previous two phases the homunculi attacked three on one and were always defeated. With the likelihood that the test was winding down if there was any possibility of them failing the test, it would occur now. And the best way for that to happen was—

Five of the pseudo-zombies broke for Annie while the remaining one ran at Kerry.

 

Besides the fact these homunculus are fast, this is the first indication we get that they could be working together, which means it’s likely they’re something more than just simple homunculus.  And they’ve decided to going to gang up on Annie, because if they can take her out the kids fail the test.

The only problem with this plan is they have to take out Annie…

 

It didn’t take a genius to figure out what could happen—and Kerry certainly didn’t consider himself a genius. While Annie could handle herself, there was always the possibility that in a five-on-one battle one of the homunculi could get lucky and bite Annie, which would knock her out of the test and cause them to fail. At this point their odds of winning were far better if they worked together…

Kerry decided not to mess around. As soon as his attacker was close enough he sidestepped the attack and pushed hard on the homunculus’ back, driving it toward the safety barrier a few meters behind him. The creature hit it hard and was momentarily disoriented, but before it could determine the boy’s location Kerry threw a fireball and engulfed it, then follow that up with a Air Hammer that slammed it back into the safety enchantment once again. He figured between the damage it had taken from the combined attacks it was either out of commission or disoriented enough that it would be unable to continue.

He sprinted toward Annie.

Annie was prepared for the multiple attacks heading her way. She positioned herself near line of shadow and immediately cut a shadow ribbon long enough to be used as a whip. She twirled it around her head and encircled the neck of the first homunculus to approach her. With it firmly in position she gave the shadow whip a hard jerk. Blood sprayed everywhere as the shadow ribbon sliced into the zombie’s neck as it stumbled forward beyond Annie. She whipped her left arm around and blocked a grab from a second homunculus before slamming it in the chest as hard as she could with a flat palm strike that she felt crack its sternum. She swept it aside with her right arm as she blocked an attack from another homunculus with her left.

 

Keep in mind Kerry’s only a few meters from Annie so for him to sprinted over to her takes a matter of three or four seconds seconds.  And Annie, as well as Kerry, are actually moving about a bit trying to avoid attacks.  It seems like their standing in one place, but as was indicated in the second phase, Annie was having to adjust the grip on her sword because of all the blood that was coming off of the different attacks, and this would lead one to believe that she’s moving about as she setting up for strikes.

But the truth is is hand-to-hand stuff goes quickly and can be over in a matter of seconds.  And in that last paragraph above we got to see Annie perform the moves she did in the trailer I wrote for this novel–said moves including blood squirting from the neck and broken bones.  Yes, Annie is a vicious little girl and no one should trifle with her.  Then again, Kerry through a homunculus at the safety enchantment and inflamed it with a fireball–and if you’re paying attention, that means he did both in the direction of the students, as they are standing directly behind the safety enchantment. I hope they had a good show.

So let’s wrap this sucker up–

 

Kerry caught one of Annie’s homunculus from behind and got his left arm around its neck, then planted himself and forced it to the floor with a cross body throw. He stomped its left knee, breaking it, then turned to the fake zombie on his left and threw a right fist/left palm smash/right elbow smash into its right eye socket and skull, staggering it badly. He stomped down on the right ankle, smashing it, and threw it on top of the last homunculus he’d disabled.

Out of the corner of her eye Annie saw the second homunculus she repelled beginning to recover, which meant she didn’t have much time to deal with the third one. She drew back her right arm and thrust it forward, extending her index and middle fingers. She and drove them as hard as she could into the homunculus’ eyes, hoping she’d pierced the fore brain. The creature staggered away, damaged and unable to see, giving Annie time to craft Exsanguination and toss it at the second zombie. It bled out explosively and Annie managed to catch two sprays in the face and chest before it went down.

Seeing that Annie had her situation under control Kerry did a quick sweep of the room. The burning homunculus was still on its feet and staggering in his direction. He fired a couple of Air Hammers at the two on the ground at his feet, killing them, then crafted an Air Hammer using dark energy and fired it off at the burning zombie. The creature came apart when the sorcery attack hit, throwing a half dozen pieces in various directions. He turned around in time to see Annie kick her last homunculus to its knees, come up from behind, and snapped its neck with a head twist.

Covered in blood and winded, they were both catching their breath when fifteen seconds later music stopped and silence fell upon the test surface.

 

So there you have it: exploding burning zombies and Annie snapping some poor homunculus’ neck by hand.  Neither of these kids are playin’ and they finished their tests successfully just in the nick of time.

Which means everything following is going to be nice and sweet, yeah?

Ummm…