Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Zomblog: Snoe hits the ground running...and Tabitha Short stops in too!


If you haven't heard, the Zomblog saga resumes. Yes, the daughter of Sam and Meredith is all grown up now. I will say right here that if you go in expecting typical zombie fare...you might not be thrilled. (Zomblog: Snoe is available in trade paperback and ebook.) It is almost 20 years since the outbreak and humanity is trying to rise from the ashes. I do hope that you will enjoy it. Either way, feel free to leave a review if you are so inclined.

I first met Tabitha after an amazing author, Janus Gangi, featured me for an entire day on her Facebook page. Tabitha has a very cool blog where she features the first 5 pages of an author's book. She has since featured That Ghoul Ava and Dead: Winter during their respective releases.

It is my pleasure to take today and highlight Tabitha...
A father decides to take his teenage son to the new petting zoo in town. The zoo exhibits contain untamed ferocious animals and advertises visitors get to hand feed them. But there’s something the zoo goers weren’t informed of: the animals will be eating them. Because of a small glitch, the man and his son discover the sinister secret before they become the food. Will they be able to make it out of the maze-like zoo before being devoured by the hungry beasts?

Excerpt: 

The other patrons had struck up conversation with one another, but Robbie and I sat quietly by the door. No one noticed what happened next, except for me. In a moment the door opened and the soldier slid out of the room and back into the introduction room where we still waited. He shut the door tight behind him, but not before I saw them. The door had only opened briefly, and only opened enough for the tall, slender man to slide through. But out from what I had mistaken as a window, flew three large Black Panthers into the room next door. I listened for shrieks and screams, but heard nothing.

 The soldier stood with his back to the door, his eyes wide, his breath coming in short choppy spurts as the fear settled and washed away. Did I really just see three Black Panthers released onto unsuspecting people? The soldier breathed in deep and then looked down at me. He straightened his uniform and then made his way back to the front of the crowd.

 “Everyone who chose the Siberian Tiger, please line up at the door,” He said coolly, again extending his arm to lead the way.

 That was us, but I was quite hesitant. Was it part of the show that the panthers be released onto the people? There was no warning of that from the intro we had just watched. The intro showed people feeding the animals through an artificial arm from a safe place. What was going on? I know I saw what I saw, and the reaction of the soldier confirmed it.

 “Sir,” I said to him when I got closer. “I just saw those panthers jumping into that room,” I started, but the soldier let out a loud, shrill laugh that caught everyone’s attention and interrupted me.

 “It’s 3D,” he whispered, patting my shoulder. “You better get in line, you don’t want to miss it,” he added, pushing me toward the door and disappearing into the line of people. It seemed legitimate. Right?

BIO: Tabitha Short is the writer of many horror short stories including The Please DO Feed the Animals ZOO and The Roller Coaster of Death (found in the compilation titled Misery Loves Company, releasing in Dec. 2012). Her YA novel, Arena Games: Petrova’s Legacy, is contracted and due for publication in Spring 2013. You can purchase her books at itunes, barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com and smashwords.com.

WHERE TO BUY LINKS:
Smashwords: ($1.99) https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/206023
Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Please-Feed-Animals-ebook/dp/B008PDAWN4
Barnes and Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/please-do-feed-the-animals-zoo-tabitha-short/1112317917?ean=2940044726284
 iTunes:  http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/please-do-feed-the-animals-zoo/id549912681?mt=11
Diesel ebooks: http://www.diesel-ebooks.com/item/SW00000206023/Short-Tabitha-Please-DO-Feed-the-Animals-ZOO/1.html
Sony ebookstore: http://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/tabitha-short/please-do-feed-the-animals-zoo/_/R-400000000000000765654
Kobo ebooks:
http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Please-DO-Feed-Animals-ZOO/book-42R9Xi2B3U6NaRCSRRKlOg/page1.html?s=dCA5qUjssEmB1z9wO6TqMA&r=1

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Getting by with a little help from my friends...


Yesterday, I shared my first experience at a book signing. I actually just wanted to share the fact that, even though my sales have done well enough that I am able to claim "being a writer" as my source of employment, I still have a lot of room to grow. Not only did I receive several comments here at the blog, but I also was hit with a few emails sharing similar experiences and words of encouragement. To each and every one of you, thanks so much. My intention was not to seek pity. I really did just want to share the experience and be truthful. I could have said "a hundred people or so came to the store." Which would be true, just not all of them there for me. It was a learning experience and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

So, for those of you waiting...the forecast for tomorrow is Snoe. Dress accordingly. And now...a little taste to whet your appetite.

It has been a crazy road when I look over my shoulder at the Zomblog series. Considering that the very first book was never intended to be published, I would have to say that I have very little to complain about. For those who didn’t know, I actually began work on Zomblog as a daily writing exercise that was supposed to get me warmed up for writing my first real zombie novel—Dead: The Ugly Beginning. When a small publisher found it (as an actual blog), I was asked if I had considered publication. Long story short, a last minute email with a “deal change” that meant less money for me and more for the publisher brought the whole thing to a screeching halt. That year, my wife Denise presented me with the physical copy of Zomblog.
As time went on, due to the ledge that I left readers on with Zomblog, I wrote a second book, creatively titled Zomblog II. Since trilogies are fairly common, I eventually penned Zomblog: The Final Entry. In my heart and head, I was satisfied with the series and prepared to put it to rest. Some of my readers were not exactly happy with that decision. I’ve always claimed that I am in this for the readers and see them almost as my boss. After a few very adamant “requests” from some very dedicated readers, I agreed to return to the Zomblog universe. The question I had for myself was this: What the heck are you going to do now?
Fans of the series know (and many asked) about Sam and Meredith’s daughter. So it seemed logical that Snoe be the central figure for the new book. To that end, I had to put the world on fast forward and then introduce the readers to a world almost twenty years after the first zombie got up and took a bite out of some poor unfortunate individual. Snoe grew up in a world where zombies are a way of life.
The biggest challenge was getting inside the mind of an eighteen-year-old girl; being a forty-seven-year-old man…that was quite a task. I had to go back to all of those excellent History Channel shows, Life After People, to get my brain around how the landscape would be changed. Also, I wanted this to be something different. I did not want it to be “just another zombie story.” Also, I had to take into account that some folks may pick this book up without having read any of the others in the series. I had to balance giving new readers a good story with rewarding the fans of Zomblog. One thing I have learned when it comes to a world that you create…your readers know it far better than you ever will.
I guess if you take anything away from this before you set off on your little adventure with Snoe, it is that this is NOT a “zombie” book. Yes, there are a few zombie appearances, but after twenty years, they really have been managed as far as being a threat. I don’t delve into biology, so just assume that whatever freakish event (like those giant rat-type animals discovered in Indonesia back when I wrote the original Zomblog) that has turned people to zombies is also keeping them from all turning into decomposed piles of goo. What I want to do over this three book story arc (and them I am OFFICIALLY done with Zomblog) is delve into the people. What makes us tick?
I’m no shrink, but I have studied people. I catch some flack about how negative I can sometimes portray humanity. The thing is, if something like this were to happen, it would devastate our infrastructure. First responders would be decimated and hospitals would be a nightmare. Those who are always the first to offer help would also be the first to fall. What would that leave? Cowards? Those people who tend to look the other way? The bad guys? Would some decent folks survive? Sure…but just pick up your paper or watch the evening news if you don’t think there is some legitimate evil right in your own back yard. People out for themselves would outnumber the rest. And with nobody to enforce the rules…have you ever been in a citywide blackout? How about watching some footage of the Los Angeles riots? How much worse would it get if ALL law and order were wiped out? These are the things I considered when I sat down to write Zomblog: Snoe.
Above anything else, I hope I entertain you. When it all comes down to the bottom line…a story should entertain. If I accomplished that one task, then I have succeeded in my ultimate goal. I don’t have any lofty ideals that I am trying to push…I am not into being symbolic or trying to make some grand statement. When I sit down to write, I have one goal: entertain you.
Friday, June 1st

Five years ago, I received my mother’s journal. Now, at age nineteen, I think I have the discipline to begin one myself. Sure, I tried a few times in the past, but it just never took. I would forget, and then, once I remembered, so much time had passed that I would just give up and say why bother.
A few days ago, Mama Lindsay came back from her unit’s escort of the Rose Colony’s president out to the Ten Pacific Nations Confederated tribal lands, something to do with a renewal of a bunch of treaties.
Anyways, she sent a messenger for me to pick her up after her DECON certification. (Everybody who ventures out of the confines of a Safe Zone has to be tested before they are allowed in general population.) It seems she found all my old failed attempts at starting a journal when she was loading out for her trip. She didn’t want to bring it up until she got back just in case we had a blow up over it.
I should probably come clean with the fact that I supposedly have a hot temper. Mama Lindsay says it is proof of genetic influence on personality.
So I guess she decided to wait until she got home to have the big conversation about me keeping a journal. I think she was being a little silly. After all, it was just a little scribbling on paper. We have a rule…no arguing before a patrol. Nobody wants to have their last memories of a loved one be of some fight over something stupid. We started that rule after Mama Janie and her entire farming group were wiped out by a Mega Herd—some reports claim there were over twenty thousand undead that day. I was only five or six at the time, but I think Mama Lindsay and Mama Janie had gotten into it over something like taking out the trash or sorting the compost; basically they had an argument over something mundane. To this day, I’ve never had the heart to ask what exactly they had quarreled over.
Mama Lindsay says the only reason she didn’t kill herself in those rough days that followed was because of me. She said I was her sole reason to live for almost two years after Mama Janie died. A few days later, Mama Lindsay sat me on her lap and we made a pinky promise to never let ourselves separate if we are angry at each other. I am proud to say we kept that promise all these years,
When I met her at the DECON station, I could tell she’d had a tough run. Half of her weapons were either missing from their sheathes, or visibly damaged. Her eyes had dark circles under them and her forehead had those two deep creases that it gets when she is either exhausted or pissed.
I took her field pack and we headed to the supply depot for groceries. At first, she didn’t say a word. Since she had called for me, I knew she would get to it when she was ready. Finally she just stopped walking and turned to look me in the eye.
“Are you leaving?”
When Mama Lindsay asked me that question, I guess I was shocked. More than that, I realized that I guess I’d known for a long time that anybody who knew me, or better yet, knew my birth mother, waited to see if I would leave on some crazy journey.
That is the price you pay when your birth mother is famous for being a Traveller. By the way, that’s as close to an insult here as you can get. Here in the Rose Colony, a ‘Traveller’ is somebody who refuses to be a part of the community.
In the world we live in, not being a part of a community carries the same stigma as the Old World welfare whore. I learned in one of my history classes that there was a small sub-culture of women who had babies, lots of times by different men, and lived off of checks they got from the government. I came home from school with a lot of questions that day.
The problem with Travellers is that they don’t even try to help anybody but themselves. They scavenge the Old World and sell anything worthwhile to the highest bidder. Sure, they risk their lives—not many Travellers live past twenty-five according to the statistics—and usually have some amazing artifacts to show for it, but it all self-centered.
It hurt me a little that, after all these years, Mama Lindsay could think I would do anything like that. I was raised to be a part of the community effort. I can’t really remember much about Mama Janie, but the images I do have are one of a person who always helped others and worked very hard. I have one clear memory about how when she would come in from the fields, she would always have something from the garden hidden in one of her pockets for me to find when I helped take them for washing.
It is sad that I know more about the father who died before I was born and the mother who abandoned me than I do about a woman who loved me, told me bedtime stories, and taught me to read and write.
Seeing how worried Mama Lindsay was at that moment made it that much more nerve-wracking about what I had to say. When the words came out of my mouth, I was not sure how she would react.
“I want to join the Escort and Expedition Force.”
Mama Lindsay has been the commander of the EEF for three years. I still remember how proud I was the day that the colony president handed her the sword and crossbow. I knew on that day that I wanted to follow in her footsteps. I also knew that she wanted me to choose a safer profession.
I honestly believe that one of her biggest concerns over me was that I would get outside the walls and feel drawn to explore the world. After all, it is what made my birth mother famous.
That brings me to my birth mother. Meredith Gainey. She and my birth father, Samuel Todd, have the three best selling books of all time in the ZE (Zombie Era). You might think it is neat to be the daughter of two celebrities.
No. It’s not.
You see, there are a few different sorts when it comes to people and my parents. With Sam, it goes one of two ways; there are the creepy ones who see my father as some sort of demi-god, they get all weird when they meet me and it is actually kinda scary. And then there are the ones who have basically memorized his writings and feel the need to tell me about how “deep and philosophical” my father was as a writer.
The reactions about my mother are, shall we say, a bit different. There are some who see her as this avenging warrior. Her battle with The Genesis Brotherhood is a very popular story. There are some who see her as one of the early pioneers who blazed some sort of trail. There are others who see her as a selfish woman who stands as a reminder for a lot of what was wrong with the pre-ZE society.
I just see her as the person who abandoned me right after I was born. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful. I had two amazing mothers who loved me and devoted their lives to making me a good person.
I can still see the look on Mama Lindsay’s face. All of that relief that came first…then the typical “motherly” concern. No, her baby was not going to follow in her birth-mother’s footsteps. Yay! Instead, she was choosing the most dangerous profession in the colony. Crap.

Saturday, June 2nd

Jenifer came over today. I guess Mama Lindsay told her about my decision. Jenifer travelled with Meredith for quite a while. She got burned up real bad during the battle with The Genesis Brotherhood.
I guess it is okay to call her “Jenifer” in my journal. Everybody else calls her “Madame President.”
She wanted to congratulate me on my decision to join the EEF. By the big deal she made of it, I could tell she was enjoying Mama Lindsay’s annoyance.
Jenifer used to be the person Mama Janie and Mama Lindsay called when they needed somebody to watch me. I guess they went through a few sitters when I was two or three because I was “a hellion” according to the stories. In an act of desperation, they called Jenifer. I guess they thought a half-burnt young woman with most of her head unable to grow hair because of all of the scars, coupled with her shriveled raisin of a left eye, would scare me straight. Instead, it seems that I formed quite a bond with her.
I was with ‘Aunt’ Jeni when I killed my first zombie. We were out picking wild blueberries when one came out of the tall grass. Creepers are the worst. Missing their lower half, they get through the picket lines more often than a walker. This one had an even bigger advantage: it was a child.
He couldn’t have been any older than six—my age at the time. His clothing had long since deteriorated, and the years had taken their toll on the belly of the wretched thing.
I remember every detail about that boy. The way you could tell his hair had been curly, even though it was so caked and matted with filth, the piece of bone that stuck out from what remained of the left leg—which was missing from just above the knee. The fact that the entire right leg stayed intact and still had a leather boot practically grafted to the foot.
Jenifer gave me a spear and told me it was time that I learned how to put one down. I thought it would be easy. You hear about it or read my birth parent’s journals and think there is nothing to it. Pop it in the head and it’s done.
It took me three tries. The first time, I jabbed and my spear scraped down one side of its face. The second time, I stabbed it through the neck. I got so mad that I kicked it onto its back and stabbed it through the eye.
I remember staring at it for what felt like just a few seconds, but it was noticeably darker when Jenifer took my hand and led me home. I must have counted each of the nine remaining ribs a couple hundred times.
Anyways, it was sweet of Jenifer to come over and wish me luck. I am pretty sure she doesn’t do that for every single person who enlists in the EEF.

Sunday, June 3rd

My last day as a civilian—so to speak. I met with a few of my friends. (It is a bit creepy with how many ‘Sams’ and ‘Merediths’ I know.) We all went out to the corridor with crossbows, sat up on the barricades, and passed around a bottle of homemade blackberry wine while we took turns dropping shamblers with the crossbow.
The parents all hate it when we do it, but kids have been doing this for years. It is some sort of ritual. Nobody knows who started it, but for some reason, if you join the EEF, you come out here on the last day. You and a few friends drink a bottle and shoot the crossbow. The winner is the person who loses the fewest bolts. I remember something in my mom’s journal about her crossbow being fitted with the retriever reel. Of course, that is standard issue now. Nobody has bolts to waste.
I do have a guy that I like…but we already talked it over and decided that we will hold off getting serious until I finish my first tour. We almost ‘did the deed’ a few nights ago, but he was super sweet and it was actually Tim who put a halt to things.
That brings me to my sweetie, Tim Coatney. He was one of the kids rescued from that mansion where The Genesis Brotherhood had their base. He works the farms and is a very BIG boy. He has this baby fine blonde hair that I love to run my fingers through and arms that make the world disappear. I know that I am going to miss him, and I know that it is possible that some other girl will scoop him up when I leave on my first run.
As I lie in bed with my candle and this silly little book, I wonder if I will be able to keep it up. I actually lost it today…it was in the dining hall at the table where I ate breakfast. I am already wondering how my birth parents carried those damn things through all the crap they went through.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Book signings...the cure for delusions of grandeur.

First, I have to really thank Susie and the wonderful folks at Laurie's Paperback Exchange in Oregon City. They made me feel like a rock star. Everybody was so polite and kind and just really super to deal with during my book signing on October 27th. I hope that this will only be the first of many appearances.


So, now on to the reality. I have some great friends. One of my highlights was seeing somebody that I have not seen (with the exception of our 10 year reunion back in 1993) in decades. My friend Jamie brought her son and two daughters. It was super to think that she made time in her day to come support somebody she hasn't seen in so long. The biggest compliment I received that day was from a mother of two young boys who "never read until they got ahold of your book." I will hold those memories dear forever.

The staff at Laurie's were dying to see me!
Now for the reality. I got a lot of polite nods as folks came, but only a few people that were not friends of either me, Denise, or Jenifer actually came. I sold a dozen books. Secretly, I was hoping for ten or twenty "strangers" to come in. And I could have skipped all of this and just told you all about how great it was...but that's just not me. I am sure that some of you up-and-coming authors are thinking about or planning book signings. I truly wish you all the success in the world and hope that there are lines out the door. And someday, I will have that sort of turnout. Just not this time.


I learned from this experience. I met a few people. I had a few complete strangers come to the table. But I was reminded of the first live remote I did when I started out in sports talk radio. It was in a small tavern, and I felt more like I was in the way of the regulars who came in to drink. I had one actual listener come in to meet me. By the time I left that line of work, I had a die hard following, and even had somebody bid to spend a day golfing with me. What blew me away was the fact that, in the end, there were actually three people in a bidding war. (It was for an adopt-a-greyhound foundation...so maybe they were just dog lovers.) I have no doubts that my audience will continue to grow. And someday, I will look back on that first signing and smile. But I would not be being honest if I didn't admit that it was VERY humbling. I guess the next thing to wait for is the actual release of Zomblog: Snoe.



Sunday, October 28, 2012


Season 3, episode 3...or "Merle, is that a knife in your pocket...or are you just glad to see me?" Yes, there was little doubt that Merle would resurface. Honestly, as a fan of the graphic novels, I figured that he would become "The Governor". Instead, they decided to give us a Ted Bundy type instead of the blatantly obvious bad guy.

I must admit that I watch the AMC Storysync with each episode during its premiere. When questions come up like "SHould Andrea and Michonne stay or leave, and a quarter of the voters pick "Stay", then I have to wonder what the hell show they are watching. Whether or not you have read the series is irrelevant, The Governor drips evil. How is anybody missing that?

This episode is all about Andrea and Michonne arriving at Woodbury. Now this tiny community of 73 (soon to be 74) citizens is just waiting to be exposed as a haven for evil. The question that remains is how many of the citizens are "in on it." With Merle walking around free (but seemingly very much under the thumb of The Governor if you pay close attention to one scene) and a man in a dark lab performing experiments on the walkers (or biters as the Woodbury people call them), you just know the facade will have to crack.

Right now, Michonne seems to be the only one keeping a healthy distrust. Andrea is either playing The Governor, or she is starting to sip from the Kool-Aid. That remains to be seen. However, if there is any doubt about The Governor, that is put to rest in the end. As an owner of several aquariums...I was a little put off by his collection.

Progeny by Patrick C. Greene

ProgenyProgeny by Patrick C. Greene
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was fortunate to receive a copy of Progeny by Patrick C. Greene for review. I stress fortunate in this case. When doing reviews, it can be a real mixed bag. There are times where it becomes a real drudgery to finish something. However, that is not the case here.

For those of you who are tired of generic characters and horror that is driven solely by violence, THIS is the book for you. It is so much more than standard horror fare and Mr. Greene is very adept at building tension between his characters, balancing multiple little story lines that all feed into the main river of the tale.

There have been a number of "Bigfoot" based horror stories, and many are simply a waste of time. They are so "unrealistic" (I will not debate the existence of Bigfoot here) that they become too tedious to read. This does a wonderful job of making a myth seem VERY real without resorting to cheap tactics.

On the technical side, this novel reads very clean. Also, it is actually novel length. I could go on for day about some of the titles passing themselves off as "novels" and charging exorbitant prices. This book gives you all the bang for your buck. Kudos to Hobbes End Publishing and I now must add Patrick C. Greene to my watch list.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

A review of Stripping Down...

Stripping Down: A MemoirStripping Down: A Memoir by Sheila Hageman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sheila Hageman's Stripping Down is an interesting read. That much I can say without any reservation. However, I guess I am from a different time. One of the problems I have with today's society is this whimpering, pass-the-buck, blame the world mentality that is so pervasive. Nowadays, everybody gets a participation trophy...coaches can't raise their voice... When did we stop being accountable.

The main theme here seems to be that, because the author found a box of Playboys as a young girl, she is overcome with image issues and fights depression for the rest of her life. When life does not work out exactly how she wants, there is this barrage of self-doubt mixed with a liberal dose of "poor me" from the author.

Okay, I'm a guy. So maybe I don't get it, but this is not something new. The EMO music genre has built itself on the idea that "my parents didn't hug me enough so I am messed up."

All that said, she does lay down some insightful moments. It is interesting to see through her eyes when she is dancing. I think the industry might dry up a bit if every guy who frequented strip bars had to read just the parts of the book that related to her time in that role. Also, the dynamics between the author and her dying mother with the added element of the author having her own daughter to raise makes for an interesting case study that psyche students would love.

Overall, the book is okay. It isn't salacious or titillating; it is an emotional catharsis laid out for the public to read.


Friday, October 26, 2012

What if you throw a party...and nobody shows up?


So, tomorrow is my first ever book signing. Now, I'm no Stephen King...Max Brooks...or Mark Tufo. I'm just a guy who has clawed his way to the middle and finally done well enough that he could devote his life to a dream. Tomorrow at noon I will be having my first book signing at noon PST for Zomblog: Snoe. I don't think I have ever gone into something with such a bad case of the nerves. My dream last night, not even the bookstore staff showed up to work! Tune in Monday to find out how it went. For now...here are a few words about the book (available on Halloween!)

It has been a crazy road when I look over my shoulder at the Zomblog series. Considering that the very first book was never intended to be published, I would have to say that I have very little to complain about. For those who didn’t know, I actually began work on Zomblog as a daily writing exercise that was supposed to get me warmed up for writing my first real zombie novel—Dead: The Ugly Beginning. When a small publisher found it (as an actual blog), I was asked if I had considered publication. Long story short, a last minute email with a “deal change” that meant less money for me and more for the publisher brought the whole thing to a screeching halt. That year, my wife Denise presented me with the physical copy of Zomblog.

As time went on, due to the ledge that I left readers on with Zomblog, I wrote a second book, creatively titled Zomblog II. Since trilogies are fairly common, I eventually penned Zomblog: The Final Entry. In my heart and head, I was satisfied with the series and prepared to put it to rest. Some of my readers were not exactly happy with that decision. I’ve always claimed that I am in this for the readers and see them almost as my boss. After a few very adamant “requests” from some very dedicated readers, I agreed to return to the Zomblog universe. The question I had for myself was this: What the heck are you going to do now?

Fans of the series know (and many asked) about Sam and Meredith’s daughter. So it seemed logical that Snoe be the central figure for the new book. To that end, I had to put the world on fast forward and then introduce the readers to a world almost twenty years after the first zombie got up and took a bite out of some poor unfortunate individual. Snoe grew up in a world where zombies are a way of life.

The biggest challenge was getting inside the mind of an eighteen-year-old girl; being a forty-seven-year-old man…that was quite a task. I had to go back to all of those excellent History Channel shows, Life After People, to get my brain around how the landscape would be changed. Also, I wanted this to be something different. I did not want it to be “just another zombie story.” Also, I had to take into account that some folks may pick this book up without having read any of the others in the series. I had to balance giving new readers a good story with rewarding the fans of Zomblog. One thing I have learned when it comes to a world that you create…your readers know it far better than you ever will.

I guess if you take anything away from this before you set off on your little adventure with Snoe, it is that this is NOT a “zombie” book. Yes, there are a few zombie appearances, but after twenty years, they really have been managed as far as being a threat. I don’t delve into biology, so just assume that whatever freakish event (like those giant rat-type animals discovered in Indonesia back when I wrote the original Zomblog) that has turned people to zombies is also keeping them from all turning into decomposed piles of goo. What I want to do over this three book story arc (and them I am OFFICIALLY done with Zomblog) is delve into the people. What makes us tick?

I’m no shrink, but I have studied people. I catch some flack about how negative I can sometimes portray humanity. The thing is, if something like this were to happen, it would devastate our infrastructure. First responders would be decimated and hospitals would be a nightmare. Those who are always the first to offer help would also be the first to fall. What would that leave? Cowards? Those people who tend to look the other way? The bad guys? Would some decent folks survive? Sure…but just pick up your paper or watch the evening news if you don’t think there is some legitimate evil right in your own back yard. People out for themselves would outnumber the rest. And with nobody to enforce the rules…have you ever been in a citywide blackout? How about watching some footage of the Los Angeles riots? How much worse would it get if ALL law and order were wiped out? These are the things I considered when I sat down to write Zomblog: Snoe.

Above anything else, I hope I entertain you. When it all comes down to the bottom line…a story should entertain. If I accomplished that one task, then I have succeeded in my ultimate goal. I don’t have any lofty ideals that I am trying to push…I am not into being symbolic or trying to make some grand statement. When I sit down to write, I have one goal: entertain you.

Now for today's Coffin Hop entry...what will you find in stall #102? (And yes...you can enter each day if you like!)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mark Tufo stops in and more Coffin Hopping!

©Axel Howerton

So, today I am thrilled to have the author of the hit series Zombie Fallout sop in as a guest. But, as you can see, the Coffin Hop is now in full swing. So what does that mean to you? Well, if you want a free ebook a month from the May December catalog, all you need to do is visit Coffin Hop and tell me who resides at slot number 95. By doing so, you will be entered in the drawing mentioned yesterday. And while you are there...check out some of the other Hoppers. You might win some very cool stuff. And now, I give you Mel...I mean Mark Tufo. (Sorry...inside joke.)



What has led you to writing?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, I mean as far back as I can remember. When all my classmates were complaining about writing book reports or short stories I was like ‘sounds good to me!’ But if you’re asking why am I writing full time now, well that’s obvious, it was on a dare from my wife.

Has your experience thus far been all you expected?
Three years ago when we (the missus and I) posted our first book Indian Hill, it was just something cool to say ‘LOOK what I did!’ It was awesome, those first seven months we sold 3 copies and I couldn’t have been more proud. Then a couple of years ago I wrote the first book in the Zombie Fallout series, and not much happened at first, and then everything kind of went crazy. Not in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought that a year later I would be writing full time and that would be my career.
  
Poor editing seems to be a big issue in the Indie scene. What is your take on the subject?
If you want to put a book out HIRE an editor, HIRE an editor! (Written twice for dramatic effect) I read and re-read my first book 9 times, thought I had it NAILED, go look at some of my early reviews on ZF1, I didn’t have it nailed. I got hammered for my lack of editing, my writing has improved since that first book but no way on God’s green earth would I trust myself to ever put anything else out again without an editor.
  
The writing community can be its own worst enemy at times. What are some of the problems (if any) that you see today?
There’s more pettiness in the industry than I would have imagined, but there are also some awesome folks out there that will do all they can to help out whenever and wherever they can. I have learned to quickly separate myself from the groups that I see tearing at each other. I’m a very reserved person, believe it or not, and I belong to maybe two writing groups, having gone through and totally eliminate the ones that were just a drain on my psyche.
  
The social media is…
My bread and butter.
  
Share some information about your work with us:
My first book ever is called Indian Hill, it is now a trilogy and I will be working on IH4 come 2013 (if the Mayans were incorrect). I have the Zombie Fallout series which consists of 1,2,3,3.5,4,5 and 6 which was just released on October 1st.
I have a paranormal book entitled The Spirit Clearing, a zombie novella from the perspective of the zombie ‘Timothy’ and a zombie novella from the perspective of an American Bulldog, ‘My Name is Riley.
  
What is one question you are sick of being asked—not in interviews, but by individuals who know you write?
I get a lot of folks who wish to write a book (and I applaud them for that) and they will ask me to read their work and critique it. I am truly honoured that folks would want me to do that BUT I am not a critic, you could send me the ingredients for Frosted Flakes and I’ll tell you ‘THEY”RE GREAT!’ I don’t have it in me to tell folks usually what they need to hear.
  
How do you deal with negative reviews?
Not well apparently, so much so that I have completely stopped reading reviews. I can take constructive criticism, hell I know I’m not perfect, but I’ve got a fair number of reviews where the folks are just down-right nasty, I can’t imagine what goes through some folks minds that they need to be so vindictive against others but I guess that’s what makes the world go round.
  
How much reading do you get in, and can a writer excel at his or her craft if they do not read?
I get in WAY less reading than I should. I love to read but usually after a day, of writing and proof-reading I’m just kind of torched and I watch mindless television at the end of the day. I’m not going to lie it bums me out. As an author I think it’s imperative to always keep reading.


Share some promotional wisdom with the writing community.
Tough to share what you don’t have! Sorry had to. If you know me then it’s no secret what I do, I treat EVERY reader that contacts me as I would like to be treated. If they take the time out of their day to write, then I do the same. Without them, I’m merely some guy that bangs away on a keyboard. I am appreciative of every single one of them.

What other projects are you currently working on?
I just wrapped up My Name is Riley part 2. And now I’m moving on to Indian Hill 4, a detective novel starring fan favourite BT, I have a project I’m working on with author John Ramsey Miller and another with John O’Brien, and I just had a dream last week that has completely morphed into a book idea I cannot wait to write. So I’ve got a few things going on.

What is one thing about you that would surprise the readers who do not know you personally?
I’m pretty reserved, I don’t generally like to be in large groups.

If you could team up with any Indie author, (no fair if I let you choose from one of the big names), who would you choose, and what would be the subject matter of the book?
I honestly haven’t read a lot of indies, from who I have though and just because I know him relatively personally, I’d love to do something with Armand Rosamilia.
  
Is there anyone you’d like to give a mention?
I would like to give a mention to you Todd for all your hard work in polishing off some of the rougher edges on the Zombie Fallout series, thank you for that.

What is the most misunderstood thing about being a writer?
I think most folks think this is a pretty easy field to be in. ‘I’ll hammer out a book and make a million! J.K. Rowling did it how hard can it be?’ My wife and I work over 160 hours a week, between the two of us to do what we do, it’s a hard life. Don’t get me wrong, I friggen love it, but it‘s a hard life.

What is in your “to be read” pile right now?
Oh crap, this question bums me out, because I literally have over 50 books in this pile. And since I have a pretty advanced case of O.C.D. I feel like I need to read all of them by yesterday.

Hey Todd, thank you for allowing me some time to spend on your blog! Much appreciated.


Links:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What could be so hard about writing zombie stories for a living?

With a week remaining until the release of Zomblog: Snoe (the 4th book in the series...and the first after I released what I titled Zomblog: The Final Entry), I am starting to get that pre-concert rush of adrenaline. That's really the best thing I can equate it to. Having been the lead singer for a few garage bands, I always got that little surge right before taking the stage. That was usually accompanied by me wondering if I would remember all the words. Of course, once the show goes live, there are no fixes...no do-overs. The release of a book is the same. Still, while I may not be raking in the big bucks, I do well enough that this is my life, my job...my dream realized.

One of the new events in my life is the way I get to answer when somebody asks me what I do for a living. There is something very groovy about being a writer for a living. Lest anybody thinks it is all fun and lazy days...I start my day at a quarter to six in the morning. My wife is an accountant at what many of you would refer to as "a real job." I check to make sure my blog post went live as scheduled (6 AM PST) and then it is time for her and I to hit the P90X. Then, while she hits the showers, I make her lunch, which I pack in a little lunch box I bought for her.

Once she is out the door and I have had at least one more cup of coffee, I sit down for my first session of editing whatever project is on the docket. (Currently I am blessed to have Zombie Fallout by Mark Tufo as he has brought me in to clean up his back catalog after recently editing Zombie Fallout 6. Next up is The New World by John O'Brien.) After my first editing session, it is time to let my OCD run wild. I get in some house cleaning, laundry, and take the dogs for a walk. 


After that...it is time for my first writing session. Currently, I am working on the fifth book in the DEAD series, Dead: Siege & Survival. I tend to write in 1,000 word blocks. After each sesssion, I get up, take out the dogs and clear my head for ten or fifteen minutes before going at it again. I stop around noon for a light lunch and a little time with my guitar. to clear my head. 

After lunch, I do another editing session. I like to do those when my head is not into being creative, that lets me focus on mechanics. I usually have a dozen or so links up on my screen to various grammar sites just in case I have a question about a particular rule. It is like instant replay in football.


Once I have edited to my target page, I set it aside. Sometimes it is really hard to just quit...especially if you are in the middle of a great scene--which Tufo seems to sprinkle liberally. However, with that done, I get to take another walk with the dogs and then come in for my afternoon writing session.

By now, it is closing in on around four in the afternoon. That means I need to start getting dinner ready. With Denise working PLUS going after her SECOND Master's degree, I like to make sure that she has a good dinner waiting when she gets home. The only day that is not the case is Friday. We go out to dinner on Friday nights. After dinner, Denise settles in to study and work on homework. I usually try to get in another short writing session and then some reading. I firmly believe that a good writer HAS to be a reader.


Saturdays are a bit more relaxed. I have a lot of the same schedule, but Denise tends to the house and the meals on Saturday. She does school work and I try to write with college football on in the background unless it is a big game or my Oregon Ducks or LSU Tigers are on. Then the game has my full attention.

Sundays are family time until 6PM. Now to be honest, I get a bit of a pass because football is a big deal for me and brings me a lot of happiness even when my Seattle Seahawks are miserable. Denise watches bits and pieces with me, reads, or naps. It is a lazy day by comparison. So there you have it...a very encapsulated version.
Art, covers and publishing services by R.L. Treadway can be found at http://atrtpublishing.com/
So here is what you can look for the rest of this week. I am tossing my hat into the Coffin Hop ring. What is the Coffin Hop you might be asking? Well, since I am brand new to it, I am discovering it with you. However, in the spirit of spreading the Coffin Hop love, I will be making the link to their "Linky List" available every day and have a number posted. All you have to do is go to the linky list, go to the number and then share something in my comments about that link. Three lucky winners will be chosen from the posts over the next week. And what do they win? That person wins a free ebook a month from the May December Publications catalog for ALL of 2013! Also, one Grand Prize Winner will receive a signed copy of any book that I have written from the DEAD or Zomblog series.

Tune in tomorrow for the number of the day and some up close and personal time with Mark Tufo.





Monday, October 22, 2012

When did it become such a bad thing to FEEL bad?


I have a semi-serious little rant to get to, but first, this is the start of my countdown. In 9 days, Zomblog: Snoe releases to the masses! I am really anxious, and just a tad nervous. This is something that will go in a different direction from what you might consider "typical" zombie fare. To that end, if you have a blog, and have a spare day in the next couple of weeks, I have a little promo package prepared and would happily send it to you if you are interested. So, shoot me an email at twbrown.maydecpub@gmail.com and I will send what I have. Of course, I am also available for interviews...whatever.

Now, on to my rant. But first, see the smiling puppy? Isn't she cute?


I have no idea when it happened. Somewhere along the line, having anything resembling a sad or negative feeling became some sort of taboo. Take a pill and make it go away. (And is it just me, but is it a little discomforting when the commercial for the anti-depressant medication warns that "increased thoughts of suicide may occur"?)  Now I'm no shrink, but if you can't feel down, then how the hell do you know when you are up?

Now a days, we have "conditions" for everything and five pills to combat it. For crying out loud, people, it's okay to have a crappy day. It is normal to get up sometimes and just feel like the world dumped in your coffee. Is it pleasant? No! THAT'S WHY THEY CALL IT FEELING SAD!!! Take a walk! Go outside and breathe some fresh air. Take a moment and gather your crap...don't just jump to the pills.


What brought this on? Well, I am reading a memoir right now titled Stripping Down. It is an interesting read, but like so many of today's "younger" generation, (If you didn't watch Happy Days, Welcome Back Kotter, or Mork and Mindy in prime time, then you fall into that demo), there is a lot of whining. It is like the whole "Emo" music thing. Honestly, I don't get it. 

What happened to dealing with your problems? Why do so many people hide behind a diagnosis and then alter themselves with laboratory created mood altering drugs? Now, before you fire off that hate mail about how "I don't get it...blah, blah, blah..." You should know that I already KNOW that! This is the point behind my rant. I am not saying that chemical imbalances don't exist. But am I the only person out there that thinks we have gone too far? 


This probably seems insensitive. I already know. And yes, so does my wife. She disagrees with me a great deal on this subject...and guess what? THAT'S OKAY. We are allowed to have differing opinions. We are married, that doesn't mean we now must share the "hive mind" and be on the same page on every subject.

Look...I'm not denying the Holocaust or saying that PMS is a figment of the imagination. I believe in BOTH of those things. I also believe in the moon landing and think it is possible that extraterrestrial life exists. All I am saying is that we are human. By nature, we feel. Embrace the beauty. Otherwise, you may not just be putting dampers on the negative stuff...but you might not fully appreciate the good.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Walking Dead, S03EP02...(yes, spoilers)

The episode one ending introduced us to some potential new characters...a group of inmates holed up in the prison cafeteria. Surprisingly, they turn out to be a "less-than-desirable" group. I was actually surprised that Rick tolerated them as long as he did. When things go sour--one particular inmate makes an obvious attempt on Rick in the chaos--Rick doesn't delegate to Daryl, and instead, gets the nomination for the "Tom Savini Machete Kill of the Year". If that moment was not a direct nod to the original Dawn of the Dead, then it is the best unintentional homage ever!

One of the most entertaining lines of the show has to fall into a similar category. There is no secret that Lori is possibly the most hated woman on television. She has been a regular "bad Mother" poster on an almost episodic basis. I believe that fans of the show got a "We love you" note from the writers and producers when Lori, during a scene with Rick, says, "Look, I know that I'm a shitty wife...and I'm not winning any Mother-of-the-Year awards..." Truer words were never spoken...

Concerns over Hershel continue, and one of the best "Made ya jump" moments involves him and Lori. It is nice that Kirkman and company took a little veer off of the normal zombie track and allow for the possibility of survival of the area can be amputated (a fact that will be the doom for one of the inmates). Romero fans all recall the arm amputation scene from Day of the Dead.

The honorary Boy Scout award goes to Carol. It is almost like taking a look back in time to when medicine was in its infancy. Before people were allowed to donate their bodies to science and grave-robbers were making a lucrative business delivering cadavers to would-be healers, the human body was a real mystery. 

In closing, with Rick's new attitude, how many people think that maybe he and Shane were really two peas in a pod. There is a harsh side to the aspect of survival that Shane understood from day one. His only downfall was his obsession with Lori.

Overall, episode two hits the ground running and offers a few new "questions"...like who was watching Carol from the bushes...and where are Andrea and Michonne?