Some say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.
Who am I kidding? If you think you just had one of your more original ideas hijacked by somebody making millions...you might be a little bit miffed.
So, what could I possibly be talking about? Today, I am just sharing a little of a perceived bit of idea stealing. Now, I want to start by stating that I know people often have similar ideas without ever having been exposed to the other.
For instance, I doubt I came up with the idea of some people being immune to the bite. I do know I had not read anything of that nature before I wrote Zomblog and DEAD series. I have seen it pop a few times in recent history, and have been told it is part of that Sy-Fy channel zombie series. It's cool. Hey, aren't we all sort of building off the Romero legacy? I can deal with that sort of thing. Granted, I have been told by MANY others that there seems to be a bit more idea borrowing in that Sy-Fy channel show of my Zomblog series to the point where my daughter says she refuses to watch it. Personally, I have not watched, so I can't comment either way. Maybe I will give it a spin someday and see for myself.
There is an actual dialog scene from another game called State of decay that basically steals part of the narrative from an early scene by Steve in DEAD: The Ugly Beginning. I even replayed it a few times. Is it exact? No, but it is close enough to really be suspicious. They just sort of re-word the following passage:
It may seem corny, but
no one I’ve met since it began can give me a solid answer as to how it all
rolled into motion. Sure, there are theories: Government Bio-weapon gone awry;
Super-virus; alien particles from space; demons from Hell; and global warming.
Each gets equal billing when you hear the topic come up. Maybe it’s a mix of
all of the above. Or, maybe God got tired of us messing up his toy. And if you
don’t believe in God…well then you can refer back to the list and pick your
favorite. Honestly, I don’t give a damn. I’m too tired from running. How I
ended up leading a band of survivors in this Romero-Hell is my new reality. The
time for blame has long passed.
Hell, maybe I am just being delusional.
However, the other day, I was playing this epic zombie game on my XBox One called Dying Light. It has an amazing story and is everything that DEAD ISLAND wanted to be, but just could not pull off. So, I was really floored when I was moving around the town and came upon the sound of a baby crying!
Any of you who have read my stuff know what i am talking about. And I can VERY safely say that I have never encountered anything like that before. Now, again, maybe I am just tripping, but I invite you to check out the video. You get a hint of it right around the 5:42 mark, and a much better hit at 7:44. Not only that, but I also introduced the idea of my child zombies being just a little different.
Now, do they use my idea in its exact nature? No, but still...
So, am I delusional? Or should I be flattered?...Annoyed? What do you think?
Today, I am happy to be hosting a bit of a book tour by an author named Heather Siegel. Her book,Out from the Underworld is a tale all too common in our
broken society. If we were not immersed ourselves, then I imagine most people
know somebody who had a very non-Brady childhood. The book is solid writing and
tells Heather's story from the early days on and is full of unsavory and
unpleasant moments. Have there been children who endured worse? Sure, but that
is not the point. Here is one author laying her soul bare and sharing her
LESSONS. I never understand people who "can't finish due to the
language" or whatever. What is here in these pages is an uncensored look
at ONE story. There is depth and emotion from the author that will pull you in
and keep you turning the pages. Is it sad? Yes. But is it
truth? Absolutely. This is a story worth reading.
Everybody will find the
parts that resonate with them specifically, but more than anything, I think
what I took away from this was a person who has the ability to take a horrible
situation and, instead of being a stereotype that falls into the same pattern,
makes a conscious effort to rise ABOVE. Too often, people dealt a bad hand use
it as an excuse to repeat bad behavior. I have always found that weak at best
and more of a construct of having that idea preached at them from the mindless
TV drones and people who think they are helping by providing such excuses.
Bravo to Ms. Siegel for sharing such a raw tale, and doing so in such eloquent
Heather Siegel was six years old when her mother disappeared, sending her father into a tailspin that took Heather and her siblings down with him— from a comfortable suburban home to a barely habitable basement apartment, a dark world they soon found themselves fighting to return to from the exile of foster care, then fighting even harder to escape.
Forty years later, Heather Siegel tells the remarkable story of how she and her siblings, Jaz and Greg, banded together to find out what happened to their mother and fight their way Out from the Underworld with nothing but their wits, determination, unbreakable bonds and gifts for humor and compassion to sustain them. A wrenching, inspiring story filled with heartbreak, hope and love, Out from The Underworld will move you to laughter and tears.
Heather Siegel holds an MFA in nonfiction writing from The New School. Her work has appeared on Salon.com and in The Mother Magazine and Author Magazine, as well as in various trade publications. She was a finalist for the 2010 Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Award in Nonfiction Writing, the 2011 San Francisco Writers Conference Nonfiction Writing Award, the Carolina Wren Press 2012 Doris Bakwin Award and the 2012 Kore Press First Book Award. A multi-creative person with interests in the arts, nutrition, health and beauty, she has founded several independent businesses, including a coffeehouse, a café, an organic juice bar and a natural beauty bar. She currently lives with her husband, Jon, and daughter, Julia, in the woods of Long Island in a house filled with light.
I know there are some people who
think that subterranean living is no big deal. I mean basement apartments are
certainly a part of American living and can even be seen as a great way to gain
some extra income. But I am not one of them. Every time I see an ad to
“refinish your basement” I think, “Not in a million years, thank you very
much.” I’ll keep mine for its intended use of storage space, and to hold the
house’s plumbing, electrical and heating infrastructure.
Maybe this is because the basement
that I grew up in was much more like an underworld than a home. Or maybe my
disdain for basements has as much to do with the other underworlds that seem
braided into our lives during those years we lived beneath the earth.
There was the underworld of the funeral home
that my undertaker father worked in, replete with “walk-in freezers,” a casket
room, an embalming table and a cosmetics counter where my Dad artfully applied
“life” back into the cheeks of the deceased. And there was the dark underbelly
of a world that my mother unfortunately fell into—and which eventually pulled her
away from us—including the hot blinking lights of NYC and some unsavory
characters she befriended.
Metaphorically speaking, there was
also the underworld of thought in my
family—something I would come to describe as a sort of “victim mentality” that the
adults around us all seemed to share and pass on, as their parents before them
had passed onto them. It would be a mentality that I would rally against—as would
my siblings—deciding to end it with us and our generation.
But it was also that damn basement
that made me hate basement living so much.
And it didn’t help that the place
I’m not talking soft core hauntings
like memories, thought there were certainly memoires floating about that
place-- of my mother and the good times, as well as her mysterious absence,
something that no adults around us wanted to talk about.
I’m talking hard core apparitions.
Were these spirits passing though
on their way to hell? It wouldn’t be unlikely, I remembered theorizing as a
fourteen year old girl to my brother, Greg, who was 12 and my sister, Jaz, who
was 16. We were, after all, halfway there.
Maybe we were on their turf!
There was the time that Jaz walked on
the treadmill and felt a hand clamp down upon her shoulder and yank her off the
machine. Or the time Greg woke to a man standing over him; when Greg blinked
the man had vanished—but had left a scent of cologne in the air. Or the myriad
of times I woke to feel hands pressing down on my throat and chest. Many years
later, as an adult, I would watch the movie The Entity and think, “Oh, hey, I
know that evil spirit! He used to frequent the basement.”
Besides being haunted, the basement
was also… well, it was a basement: cold and dark and moldy and full of insects,
it lacked anything remotely connected to the warmth of a home. Suffice it to say, were weren’t going to win a
spread anytime soon in the pages of Architectural Digest.
Black and white checkered floor
tile had been glued down over cement (and not very evenly, I might add; it was
an unusual day when I didn’t stub a toe). On top of this sat a pair of frayed,
brown, velour couches that some distant relative had discarded--which we’d
arranged into an L-shape to face the nineteen-inch television abutting the
stairs. (Now that I think about it, those stairs were actually the one
architectural feature the basement did have, even if they did symbolically
remind of us our descension to the lower world). Overhead, fluorescents-- of course-- blazed
and flickered, illuminating things we’d rather not see, namely that our
refrigerator, a thirty-year old dinosaur that likely had come with the purchase
of the house, sat as its own piece of furniture in the living room.
“But why can’t we just slide it
into the kitchenette? It’s embarrassing,” we begged our father. This plea happened during our last stretch in
the basement, when he had taken us back there—yet again—and it made us question
things in a new way. We had also done everything we could to camouflage the
unit such as draping it with cloth and buying a fake plant to shroud it. But no
matter what we did, there remained a refrigerator in our living room.
“God, you guys act like it’s a dead
body,” our father said. He liked to say things like that, as if we were the
crazy ones for caring that four of us inhabited 800 square feet of dampness.
But we knew better. We lived in middle class suburbia and no one we knew had a
refrigerator in their living room.
For that matter, no one we knew
lived in anything other than a cape or a ranch home with windows; nor did they
sleep on futon mattresses or spritz their a hot water heater as part of their
cleaning routine in the “kitchen.” (I think in my mind now I am still
constructing the louvered doors I longed for to hide that embarrassing heater).
We had been through a long rough
patch, my sibling and I, but moving back for this final stretch was a complete demotion
to us, to a status even below foster children. At least while living in other
people’s homes we had had them to
blame for the chintzy furniture and bad taste in draperies. Now what could we
Of course it’s true that we were
happy to have a roof over our heads, happy that we weren’t homeless and made to
sleep beneath the open sky—although now and then it did rain upon me; for the
foot of my futon caught the bathroom drip from above. But it was also a
senseless kind of roof, seeing as our father worked a profession that paid a
middle class salary that could afford us a place above topsoil.
Have I mentioned that the place was
Just navigating to the back steps,
down the bush-lined path at the side of the house, one needed a machete. The
evergreen brush was so sorely overgrown that frequently one of us would come
bursting through the screen door cradling a poked eye or a scratched forehead.
I do believe there was a hedge clipper in the garage, and I even recall my
father outside on occasion snipping away, but those bushes seemed to me
symptomatic of my father’s life issues then; the more he clipped, the more wild
and untamable things became.
There was also the fact that when
night fell we could not see two feet in front of us. How many nights I walked
that path alongside the house, as if on a pirate’s plank, knowing an awful
inevitable awaited me around that bend.
Sometimes, as I rounded the back edge of the house, I’d ward off my
potential attacker, “Alright, Let’s get it on! You want some of this?”
Sometimes I cowered at a leaf rustle, fumbled with the key and hoped for the
Once inside, little perils seemed
to mock us, like the cheap mirror squares on our bedroom door, the end corners
of which nipped at our passing fingers; or the bathroom shower tile wresting
itself from the wall with each watering, and once, with the assistance of
mildew, freeing the corner soap dish that nearly severed my big toe.
and probably actually dangerous-- of all, was, of course, the monster living
inside our bedroom closet: the oil burner. Our clothes hung along the plumbing
pipes, but the closet was reserved for the great whale who heaved and growled
wintertime, yawning awake. The only separation between us and its noxious
breath was a thin wall of paneling.
not know it yet, but the cats-- in further rebellion perhaps—were using the
floor beneath the belly of this beast as an alternate litter box. Countless
nights I jolted awake smelling the fresh scent of shit and would flick on the
light, searching frantically for its source.
quality of air—if I want to be so generous as to call it air- was pretty scary,
too. We all chain smoked, including Greg, when he was old enough to stand
inhaling, and then sprayed the air heavily with Lysol to hide the smell from
our grandparents-- and not once do I think we ever opened a window. I am also
remembering that we had no vacuum. Although we did have carpet.
Blue speckled, the carpet was in Jaz’s and my
“bedroom.” On the days when I could no longer take the chaos of our overflowing
ashtrays and clothes piles, I would “clean” by folding all the clothes into neat
piles, emptying the ashtrays and sweeping the rug by madly swinging the broom
towards the door of mirrored glass. Pennies and paperclips and odd bits of
plastic would hurtle forth, threatening to crack and shatter the glass. All the
while, a plume of dust and dander would rise like a tornado from the earth. I
would hang in there as long as I could, but finally the sneezing attack would
begin. And I would not—could not—stop, going twenty, thirty sneezes in a row. I
would have to dash outside and sometimes wait hours before returning, before my
lungs and sinus passage would finally settle down.
Thinking about it now, is it any
wonder that I still suffer residual health issues—that we all do?
It was there that my sister began
suffering from migraine headaches, her central nervous system going on alert
sending a tingling sensation through her fingertips.
(“Stress,” my father insisted).
It was there that Greg’s heart,
that miraculous little organ that once healed itself of a pinhole, would skip a
beat now and then.
(“Hypersensitivity,” my father said).
And it was there that we never knew
when we woke if it was night or day. If we were dreaming or awake. If we were
dead or alive.
Subterranean living: Needless to
say, I don’t think I will ever come around to liking it.
Sometimes, you feel like you can't win. The world keeps throwing you solid gut punches. But then you step back and remind yourself where you were a few years ago...where you are now...and that you get to do what you LOVE for a living. So, when people you think you can count on treat you like garbage and turn their backs...when those you considered friends scurry away like rats on a sinking ship (or roaches when the lights are turned on), you have to take stock of what is good.
It is too easy to let the downers take hold in your spirit. You have to be able to look at the big picture and see all the people who still stand by your side. You have to revel in those amazing moments that, despite the best efforts of some, still come loaded with good things.
I made a commitment a few weeks ago when the last surge of hatred and petty BS was flung at the wall by the wingless hate-monkeys. I chose to stop listening. And I also started crossing names off the list of people who I gave two bits about.
I love being a writer. I love hearing from the thousands (yeah...it really has come to grow into the thousands...go figure!) of readers who enjoy my work. I let them be what matters instead of the ass-munching scabs who scale over and flake off...only to try and return every single time I reach a new plateau. And I will continue to rely on the wonderful people who read my work and find entertainment in it.
I have one creedo that I will continue to cling to as I reach out a hand and try to offer a lift to any of my fellow indie writers trying to see their own dreams come true. Be careful of the asses you kick on the way up...those will be the same asses you kiss on the way down. And despite where you might stand today...gravity will eventually win.
In the spirit of starting off a new week, I wanted to share a snippet of my world with you. This weekend, I was able to see my book and my name on the big screen in front of over 10,000 people. I was able to watch the mama Newfie that will be bringing our new family member into the world as she earned some very prestigious titles in obedience and draft dog work.
And then, this morning, I opened my email to find this letter that I will share a small part of with you, but just as important, this is the sort of thing that I will focus on...the people who matter, because, despite what others think they know...the haters do not know ME...or even have a clue as to the TRUTH. They simply live in the vacuum of ignorance. I ain't goin' away, folks. Get used to it.
"My instincts tell me that life has been a bumpy ride for you, but you've taken those experiences and put them into your writing - I hope it's been cathartic and stoppedsomeof the past following you around like a bad smell.
(Your forewords say so much about you!).
As our hero, Stephen King, says, write about what you know.
That's what you do.
You know how to write about people.
Your apocalyptic world is a framing device for writing about the human condition.
And guess what? It works.
In Talmud, there is a saying - whoever saves one life saves the world entire.
The great thing about Talmud is that you can unpick it, translate it and look for meaning indefinitely.
So, for me , there's more ways of saving a life than rescuing someone from a burning building.
There are lives within life - I thought that pain had robbed me of the part of my life that goes wandering off into the world of words.
And that was OK.
It had to be.
I've become accustomed to loss.
But your DEAD world brought my world of words back to life.
Let morphine do its worst - it can't take that away from me.
You're a mensch, Todd.
And I end with one final picture of Lady Tutu...mama to our future family member. Do your worst, World...but I still get to smell puppy breath!
So, thanks to friend and avid Ava reader, I was introduced to Shawn Sampson & Co. He and his team are currently hard at work building my soon-to-be-released web page. It will be the hub and place to go for all things relating to my books and such. It is where I will hold exclusive contests, giveaways, and all sorts of groovy stuff.
That said, there will be a newsletter, and perhaps even a monthly video sitdown where I share things about my upcoming books. Heck, I might even read a few sample chapters! You will be able to subscribe to my newsletter (yes, it is free, you silly rabbit!), as well as get the jump on signed merch, special tee-shirts, and all sorts of stuff. It will be where I release my movie-style trailer for the DEAD series this coming October. NO, I did not say that DEAD was being made into a movie. I am having a professionally produced trailer made for the series.
As far as the newsletter, I was thinking twice a month. Honestly, do you really have time for more than that? Also many of you may not know that @AuthorTWBrown is now the Twitter handle to follow in regards to things exclusive to me.
So, as Shawn nears completion on my site, I will keep you posted and announce things when it is ready for the unveiling. You can bet there will be prizes and such, so don't miss out. Also, it will be the main hub for the upcoming "Wanna See Something Really Scary 2015" blog tour. So far, I have THREE willing participants who will be joining me on this little jaunt around the cyberverse. Sure, it might be a short jaunt, but every journey starts with a single step...so...
Last, I might actually be having an "action figure" of me being made. I will (if all goes well) be holding a copy of my book DEAD: The Ugly Beginning. That might make a fun prize. Hmm...we shall see.
The first week in August, to coincide with my release of DEAD: Snapshot--Leeds, England, I will be attempting to launch a wee bit of a blog tour. However, I would like for it to be a cross-promotional deal where my fellow horror authors perhaps put together a bit of a promo package featuring their newest release.
Who knows, I may even have the new Ava on the hook as well. However, since blog tours and I have not always gotten along for various reasons, I have decided that perhaps I should begin my very own. Now, I am hoping for maybe four or five authors who would like to step up to the plate and take part in this first annual (hopefully) "Wanna See Something Really Scary?" blog tour.
I will be the one to contact blogs (any who join are encouraged to suggest, and I will attempt to make contact) and set a lineup for the tour. By June 20th, I will finalize the list of participants and begin the task of reaching out.
So, since I know many of you, and have worked with several of you, I am tossing out the invitation. If you are interested and can commit to putting together a small package that will consist of a "All About My New Book" self-interview, a picture (and hopefully cover of the soon-to-be-released or recently released title), and a couple of things to be announced later, then drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with "Wanna See Something Really Scary" in the subject line informing me of your intention to be a part of this little soiree.
Also, if you HAVE a blog and wish to host, by all means, let me know so I can put you on the list of stops.
Okay, wake up...slip into running gear, leash up the dog...hit the road for a three and a half mile hill course. Get home, check email. Reply to the AMAZING fans who take time out of their day to drop me a line. (Seriously, I never thought I would get fan mail...it is too surreal.) Reply to the 5 or 6 companies that contact me to review their products for Amazon. Write reviews for the ones I have tried and tested.
Take a shower.
Back to the office for a writing session. Working on DEAD: End, the new DEAD: Snapshot--Leeds, England, UnCivil War, and the next Ava (something about roller derby Valkyries in Texas). Get in some editing for my clients that send me their work. And swap back and forth between that array of desk work.
Between sessions, get in some house cleaning. If the weather is good, pop outside and get in a little of the yard work that never seems to be caught up enough to just let go for a few days.
Back inside for some more writing. Duck into the studio and either have a recording session or an editing session. Working through DEAD: Snapshot--Portland, Oregon as an audible release that I hope to have done by the end of the month.
Back into the office for another writing/editing session. Housework. To the yard.
Somebody told me that working at home as a writer was a breeze. Nothing to it. Set your own hours...chill. Did I miss a memo?