Friday, November 30, 2012

NaNoWriMo victories and eating elephants.

It is finished. Not nearly as epic as when it was spoken biblically, but still, there is something very satisfying about hitting the 50,000 word mark on November 30th. Now technically, I hit it on the 28th, but still...another NaNoWriMo has come and gone and I have a completed project that just needs to sit for a while before I go through it and start cleaning u the rough spots.

The wonderful thing about this experience is more than the is the sense of accomplishment. I can only speak for myself (duh), but one of the things I hear all the time as a writer when talking to friends of friends (my actual friends know better, but I will get to that later), "I have a great idea for a book, I just need to write it." Often I nod politely, but sometimes, as can happen with the human animal. I am tired and cranky. It is those times that I say, "Is that right? Think it is just that easy? Put a few words on paper and you'll have a book, sell a million copies, and live the life of leisure and luxury?" I then tell them about cover artists, ISBNs, and last but NOT LEAST...editing. 

However, the bottom line is that before ANY of the other stuff can happen, you have to take the TIME to actually write the book. Writing is actually a time devouring job. It is done in isolation, and it separates you from those you love. Outside observers may think you are just sitting at a desk staring into space. They have no idea that you are trying to figure out the perfect way to describe a footprint or a kiss or a sunrise without using the same words that you used last time.

To complete any story, long or short, is special. If you have done it, whether it has seen print or not as of this date, is an achievement. It makes you special because not EVERYBODY has taken the time to do it.

So, today is a day to celebrate for thousands of WriMos. And if you have been thinking about writing something...stop waiting. The only way it will be done is for you to take the time. As my grandfather used to say, "What is the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time." So get out there and eat your elephant.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A HUGE giveaway for December.

No surpise, but since we are May December Publications....we have our biggest promotions in those months. It is also why the DEAD books come out in those months. DEAD books release on my daughter Ronni's birthday in December and my son Cody's birthday in May. The thing is, Alex (who was born on the 13th of December) has not been included in this, so I think that I will start having a short novella ready, or perhaps my Ava or Dakota books on that day. But I digress...

In December, we are giving away a different book each day ALL month long. And here is the schedule:

December 1--A Clockwork Orchard: Rivets & Rain (our steampunk anthology)
December 2--Chivalry is Dead (all male writers for a zombie anthology)
December 3--Cryptic (by DA Chaney)
December 4--Eyewitness Zombie (first person account zombie tales)
December 5--First Time Dead 1 (our anthology of all newbies at the time of release)
December 6--Hell Hath No Fury (The all-female anthology and counterpart to Chivalry)
December 7--In The Arms Of Nightmares (by Robert Dean)
December 9--Fervor (by Chantal Boudreau)
December 10--Fresh Blood (New names to the horror crowd try their hand)
December 11--Gruesomely Grimm Zombie Tales Volume 1 (by TW Brown Grimm takes with a zombie twist)
December 12--Magic University (by Chantal Boudreau)
December 13--Spiders (the creepiest anthology I have ever edited)
December 14--First Time Dead 3
December 15--Dead: The Ugly Beginning (To mark the release of book 5...try book 1!)
December 16--The Boogeymann (by Bennie Newsome)
December 17--The Exoterrestrials (by TW Brown)
December 18--Elevation (by Chantal Boudreau and the second book in the Fervor series)
December 19--Midnight Movie Creature Feature (a collection of the creepy and the quirky)
December 20--The Book of Joseph (by Erik Rise)
December 21--Four in the Hole (zombies and vampires in novella form)
December 22--Zero (an anthology about the FIRST person infected)
December 23--That Ghoul Ava (by TW Brown, a horror/comedy)
December 24--Wake The Witch (a witch themed anthology-ALL proceeds from SALES go to Red Cross)
December 25--Dakota (by Todd Brown)
December 26--Dead: Steve's Story (the Steve story line from the first three DEAD books with bonus material)
December 27--Dead: Vignettes (the Vignette story line from the first three DEAD books with bonus material)
December 28--Dead: the Geeks (the Geek story line from the first three DEAD books with bonus material)
December 29--Goddesses of Lilith (by Tracy Ford)
December 30--Elena (by Duncan Lloyd )
December 31--Zomblog (by TW Brown)

So, get those Kindle's warmed up...clear out some space because we have something for everybody. Tell your friends. Share this blog with your reading groups. And if you are part of a book club, then just give me a holler if you would like to arrange to have either me or one of these talented authors available to you for a post reading Q & A.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The biggest announcement in my life...

It might seem like a bold statement, but in this case, it is undeniably true. And yes, I have had some pretty big events over the years...but this is really that big. On December 15th, I will see my daughter Ronni. Now that might not seem like much to some, but this is the first time we have seen each other in 16 years. In fact, 16 years to the day. The last time I saw my little girl was on her second birthday.

She will be arriving here in Portland from Missouri around 5PM on the same day that I will be having a book signing for the release of the fifth DEAD book. So after the signing, I will go home and pace for a couple of hours and then drive out to the airport to pick her up. Besides being the biggest day, it will also be the most terrifying. A lot has happened in my life. All of which she and I have talked about, but never face-to-face. Plus, let's face it...16 years has passed. I am a stranger to my daughter. My attachment to her is--and always has--been there. But who am I? What if she if less than thrilled with me? Between me and you...I am scared to death.

So, the plan was to follow this up and make the announcement of our December giveaway. It doesn't work for me. I can't talk about something like this that is real and actually matters, and then follow it up with some sort of Barnum and Bailey, "Step right up!" pitch. Try back tomorrow for that if you are interested.

This is really a huge life event for me. "So why are you talking about it here?" Some of the more jaded in the crowd might ask. Because, I know that my daughter doesn't read my blog. She has a few of my books, and is aware that May December Publications is named because of hers and her two brothers' birthdays. So she has at least some idea that she has always been on my mind. But you know kids...they don't usually get stuff until they are older. Somewhere in the universe, these little bits of code that carry this blog will always exist. She will see it one day and maybe then it will be an epiphany.

The other reason is that I am a writer. This is how I process things. Writing is my therapy. When I was flying from Seattle to Sacramento every weekend, and then renting a car and driving to Modesto just to spend two hours with her on Saturday and Sunday, often working a shift (I was a waiter in a very expensive restaurant in Seattle at the time) just before I left, and then having to be back to work that Sunday night...I wrote about it. When I was in a custody dispute, I was actually asked by a paper in Hurricane, West Virginia to write a column about it.

The above picture was taken on one of those visits. I still remember everything about that moment. We were walking to a park that was just down from her grandmother's house. It was hot. The type of heat that only exists in places like Modesto, California in August. I had about an hour left before I had to go. Ronni wanted to go to the swings. Her grandmother told me to take her. It was the first time that she and I would ever do something just the two of us.

I was holding her hand and she was babbling on about the grass and some ants on the sidewalk and a dog that would not stop barking. We went to the park and I pushed her on the swings for a while. It was absolute magic. When it came time to go, she asked me to pick her up. "Up, daddy." I almost had tears in my eyes. As we walked back, she was a steady source of chatter. I didn't understand hardly a word. But she could babble. I was so overwhelmed, I told her, "Daddy loves you, Ronni."She giggled and said "Love you, daddy." She did it just as I was holding up my Cannon Sure Shot to take our picture.

In a couple of weeks, I hope that I have some new memories. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Erik Gustafson wants to be America's Next Author

Tomorrow is big announcement day! How about a free book EVERY day in December? And if that were would be pretty great, but how about a reunion 16 years in the making? Yeah, you will want to be here tomorrow.

However, today is about backing another fellow writer. So here is Erik to give you the low down...

 I am in the running for a nomination in the America’s Next Author contest.
My horror story is “My Friend, the Dark”
Lukas had a deeply rooted fear of the dark. A fear that beckons to him and seeps into his reality, forcing him to confront his anxieties. When he embraces the dark, the affection becomes mutual.
I was sitting at number 19 today.
I am already very humbled to be sitting at 19, there are hundreds of entries! I have some strong supporters out there. This Tuesday begins the final week of the nomination rounds..and I need you help more than ever.
To get started click here:
Read the story. Drop a review. Click the vote button over on the right side. Share.
You can vote every week! Don’t be shy.
Oh and a note about reviews…they are randomly pick people next week that have left reviews on 4 or more stories and awarding them with an iPad!
Thank you very much for all your support!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Armand of the good guys.

Today I am proud to step aside for one of the good guys. Armand has been one of those people in the writing community that stepped out and offered his hand to a stranger. He invited me on his Summer of Zombie blog tour...despite some of the political crap from people who are not big fans of mine. To me, that is a friend...a word that I use sparingly in my life. He has something new hitting the radar, and it is an honor to have him come tell you a little about it. And now...that gruff, teddy bear of a man...Armand Rosamilia

Book Description:

When Michael Zaun takes possession of his late grandfather’s farm, he finds out he inherited more than he bargained for. Dubbed the “Tool Shed Murders,” the details of the deaths of two girls on the property, and his grandfather’s, seemingly by his own hand, are a little murky. Was his grandfather a monster or a hero?
The discovery of his grandfather’s journal awakens within him a new confidence. But what about the demon his grandfather mentioned? Is it real or just the ranting of a diseased mind?
 With the help of his friends, old and new, Michael will find not only the answer to that question, but a new strength within himself.

Interview Questions

1. What was the inspiration for Tool Shed?

The initial idea for the story began many years ago, when I was buying every Leisure Books paperback I could get my hands on. I loved the stories that Don was editing, and they were all classic horror tales. I wanted to someday write a 'traditional' horror tale, with a monster or demonic entity harassing our hero. I originally thought it from the grandfather's POV, with the murders happening on the farm. Then I put it away and began writing a dozen other stories. But while reading The Rising, or one of Brian Keene's zombie books, I came across a point where he talks about dead cows in the field. The line 'The cows had exploded' came to me, and I immediately thought of my Tool Shed idea. I rearranged the story a bit and began writing.

2. What other books in the genre would you compare it too?
I'd love to think my story holds a candle to classic Leisure Books work from John Everson, Keene, Douglas Clegg, and Simon Wood. But those books are amazing, and the period when Dorchester was firing on all cylinders is still my favorite books to read and re-read. I started writing it with them in mind, to be honest. Then, when it all fell down and burned, I decided to find another publisher that I wanted to be associated with. That was Angelic Knight Press. I was lucky because they obviously loved it enough to publish it, and I didn't have it sitting at half a dozen publishers, trying to get sold.

3. Is it a series? Will we get to revisit the characters?

Kind of. There is a longer novel I've written called Chelsea Avenue, 'starring' the elementals as well but set in Long Branch New Jersey beginning in 1987. I'm doing edits on the story and hope to get it ready to make the rounds as well very soon. It's another story that is many years in the making, and another more traditional horror tale.

4. What made you step away from the zombies that populate some of your other writing?

I never set out to be known as a zombie author. I wanted to write horror stories, period. When I wrote Highway To Hell it was only my second zombie story, after the flash fiction piece "Anything But Luck" starring Darlene Bobich (who has been my main character in all the Dying Days zombie stories) and I thought I wouldn't be writing too many more. Wow, was I wrong. The zombie stories struck a chord with readers, and I still find myself adding more and more to the Dying Days universe. But I still write horror stories, and just released a print horror short story collection, Skulls And Bones, that contains nine stories and none of them are zombies. I swear.

5. The main character, Michael, is a large man. No chiseled abs or buff physique there. And yet, he's basically the hero. Why write him that way?

I'm a big guy, pushing 300 lbs. I can relate to the character and his physical limitations, although I'd like to think I'm in better shape than Michael. I didn't want a Vin Diesel He-man in the story. I wanted a group of normal people, and even his best friend is more geek than anything. Characters that are relatable to a reader, instead of buff male strippers hanging out with super-hot chicks. I only do that in my real life. 

Armand Rosamilia is a New Jersey boy currently living in sunny Florida, where he eats too much, drinks too much, and doesn't worry about the impending zombie apocalypse. And it is coming. He is the author of many, many stories and novellas (which are all awesome… seriously!), and his Dying Days zombie series is pretty cool, too. He loves talking to fans and friends about horror, zombies, Boston Red Sox and Heavy Metal music. Feel free to e-mail him at or visit his blog at He also loves speaking in third person.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Season 3 Episode 7

If you follow the Story-sync while watching The Walking Dead, and you participate in the polls, how often do you slap your forehead and scream "WTF?!" 

Tonight opens with Glenn and Merle in a little room. Merle is asking questions and Glenn gives him a solid headbutt in the face (far more painful than displayed on the show I can assure you from experience). Maggie gets to listen as the beat down begins. The question that pops up is "Which torture is worse" One third of the people said Glenn taking the beating was worse than Maggie having to hear it. Really? Punch me in the face anytime. But don't hurt my loved ones. That would be so much worse. It just makes me wonder sometimes who is out there watching, reading, et cetera, stuff in this genre. Sometimes there is a question where you figure it is an absolute 'no brainer'. That was one of them.

The highlight for me tonight was seeing Glenn fight off a walker while taped into a chair. Glenn has been a favorite since his first line to Rick in the tank back in Atlanta. Tonight he solidified himself as equal to Daryl in the bad ass department. He might not have the rugged, bad boy look going on, but he handles his business.

The Governor is starting to really show his true colors. Andrea seems about as clueless as one person can be. And Michonne is holding true to her character. She is perhaps the most realistically portrayed person I have ever seen. She is properly shell-shocked and has come to grips with the harsh reality of what it takes to survive. She did what needed doing in that shack. Some might have a problem with her choice, but it was kill or be killed, and that guy would have been dead a few seconds after he opened that door anyway.

With one episode before the mid-season break, things are likely to get hairy in that next episode. This was a proper set up. Who will take which side in the first showdown between Rick's gang and the Governor's? Daryl, Andrea...and even Merle are up for grabs. Keep the graphic novel on the shelves because I think all bets are off.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The cover for Dead: Siege & Survival!

The new cover came to our in box yesterday. I won't spend a bunch of time yammering, but I am thrilled as always by the work of Shawn Conn, the man who will be responsible for every cover in the DEAD series. And as an added treat, the scene I sent him that he based the cover on...

Shouldering his rifle, Jody exited the empty mess tent. As he walked along the muddy road that led into town, he began to take a closer look at the faces of the men. They looked tired. Many stared at the ground as they walked, their heads hanging as if it were too much effort to keep their chins off their chests. These men were beaten up and simply operating out of programmed discipline.
As he reached the high school, a queasy feeling began to build in his gut. His coffee suddenly felt like it had changed to concentrated acid, and he could feel an unpleasant burning in the back of his throat.
In the center of the parking lot was a hastily erected platform. It looked like little more than a few saw horses side-by-side with a sheet of three-quarter inch plywood on top. It was positioned directly below a sign that used to welcome students to Bald Knob High School—Go Bulldogs! Draped over the sign were two nooses and standing beside them was Captain Gould and Chuck “Slider” Monterro.
This could not be good, Jody thought.
As the men arrived, Jody was struck by just how few of them remained. He began to do a head count. Counting the locals who had been conscripted, there were a total of fifty-three men and women gathered minus the captain and Slider.
It took Jody a moment to register the fact that the two hooded figures beside them were wearing uniforms. This could not be happening. He began to scan the faces of the men, but everybody was so haggard that even familiar faces were hard to recognize. He wondered only briefly if he looked as worn out and beaten as these other men and women.
As he continued to scan the faces trying to figure out who might be under those hoods, his heart began to race. He couldn’t find Danny. He looked back to the hooded figures and tried to see if the body types might match his friend. It was impossible; they had just been eating breakfast and talking. Yet, he couldn’t see Danny anywh—
“What the fuck is this?” a voice whispered in his ear making Jody jump almost out of his boots. And that would have been a feat considering the fact that it felt like his socks had melded into his skin and that the boots were grafted on by way of the filth.
Jody spun to find Danny standing at his shoulder. He resisted the urge to hug the man. However, the look of relief on his face told the story.
“You thought one of those guys might be me?” Danny gasped. “Well I’ve walked the rows and I can tell you who it is. It’s Livius Nedin and Robb Olson.”
“What?” Jody had to bite his tongue and lower his voice. Several heads had turned his way and two of those heads belonged to the captain and Slider.
“A couple of the guys said that three of the civilian conscripts came into their tent and cuffed them while reading from some piece of paper listing a series of UCMJ violations that they supposedly committed,” Danny whispered.
“This just keeps getting worse,” Jody moaned.
“Men of Charlie Company…a-ten-hut!” a large woman that Jody vaguely recognized as one of the local bartenders bellowed. She was decked out in an ill-fitting uniform that looked as if the buttons might pop off at any moment and burrow into somebody’s eye. The spaces between each straining button bubbled out revealing her pale, cottage cheese-like flesh underneath. Her jowls quivered with each syllable and continued to sway just a bit for a few seconds after she spoke.
The soldiers came dutifully to attention. Heads came up and eyes stared straight ahead, but Jody didn’t think they were seeing anything. The captain climbed up onto the sheet of plywood and Jody couldn’t help but wish for it to break along with the man’s neck. Slider and the woman—Jody thought she resembled those pig-faced guards in Jabba’s palace in the Star Wars movie—manhandled each of the hooded men up onto the platform and then each took a place on either side.
“We have among us men who do not feel the need to follow orders…men who would take for themselves…not just of supplies, but liberties with those we are sworn to protect,” the captain announced, using the bullhorn so that everybody could hear him clearly.
Jody noticed both men squirm, but the nylon line used to bind them had secured their arms tightly to their sides and they could do little more than shudder.
“We have been given a solemn duty and I will not have our honor damaged by a few…”
He droned on, but Jody had tuned him out. This was wrong. He knew both of those men well. Neither would do what they were being charged with. He puzzled over the situation until a collective gasp snatched his attention back to the scene up front. Both men had been fitted with his noose and shoved off the platform. The drop wasn’t severe enough to snap their necks, so they flopped at the ends of their lines for what seemed like an eternity.
It was too much. Jody’s coffee had swirled with his stomach acid and created a toxic mixture. Doubling over, he vomited his breakfast all over his filthy boots.
He wasn’t alone.
American Legends: The Life of Sitting BullAmerican Legends: The Life of Sitting Bull by The Charles River Editors
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When I nabbed this, I was expecting some insight to Sitting Bull. I am fascinated with history and always seeking new nuggets to savor. SSadly, this is not as much about Sitting Bull as it is an introduction to the Lakota. I actually learned more about Sitting Bull in [[ASIN:B007MXB4TO The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn]] by Nathaniel Philbrick. If you have even a basic background knowledge, seek something else. If you are looking for a place to start...this is okay.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Peek at a Geek...

Final edits are almost done on the new DEAD book. Yep, number 5 comes out in a few weeks. Stay tuned for the cover reveal of Dead: Siege & Survival a week from today if all goes well. For now, I will be featuring excerpts throughout the week. 

So, as we left off with Kevin in Dead: Winter, he and Willa were heading back to the country club with the medication he'd scavenged for Valarie, the girl with Down's syndrome who was suffering from hallucinations.

Kevin leaned out the door as the Snow Cat rumbled to a halt. The dazzling brightness reflecting off the snow hurt his eyes. Every time he closed them, he saw spots. Still, he didn’t need perfect vision to see that there was big trouble up ahead.
“I guess the ride is over, Kevin,” Willa said as she shut down the motor. “Grab your bags, looks like we’re hoofing it from here.”
Kevin didn’t say a word. There wasn’t really anything to say. He looked at the herd that packed the breadth of the highway up ahead. Even from as far away as they were, he could hear them moaning and crying. There was one other noise under it all. It took him a moment to realize what he was hearing.
“The snow,” Kevin whispered.
“What?” Willa asked as she shouldered her pack and buckled the weapon-laden webbed belt around her slender waist.
For some reason, Kevin found that simple action amazingly sexy. He had to shake off the inappropriate thoughts starting to bloom involving her wearing only that belt dripping with blades and a few more exotic hand-to-hand items.
“You can hear them walking though the snow,” Kevin said with a nod towards the approaching mob.
Willa tilted her head slightly and peeled back her tight-fitting knit cap. With one finger, she tucked a strand of black hair behind her ear. Kevin couldn’t help but stare.
“Hey,” Willa said with a big smile, “you’re right.” She tugged the hat back down. “Not much gets past you does it?”
There were a few seconds of silence between them as Kevin struggled to banish the thoughts in his head. The only sounds carrying on the cold winter breeze came from the approaching wall of undead. He shook his head clear and focused on the situation…and Aleah.
“The best choice for us would be to head north. The river should be that way. If we can come across a bridge at any point, I say we take the opportunity to make the move.”
“You lead the way.” Kevin nodded.
The rest of the day was spent in relative silence. It didn’t seem that the herd saw them. If they did, they chose not to pursue. The zombies they did encounter were usually singles or small groups. Kevin continued to insist that they only engage the ones that took an active interest in them.
“You ain’t worried about bringing a bunch of them with you on our heels?” Willa asked at one point.
“We have so many places we will be ducking in and out of that I just don’t see the need for the waste of energy.”
At one point, just after they had crossed an open field and began winding through a scattering of trees, Willa grabbed Kevin’s shoulder and motioned for him to keep quite. She swung a crossbow off her shoulder and placed a bolt. Bringing the weapon up and tracking something in the distance, he looked around for what she might be taking aim at in the general direction she seemed to be focused. All he saw was snow…and more snow.
With a thrum and a hiss, there was a puff of snow about twenty yards away. Willa clapped her hands and bounded off to retrieve her prize. Reaching down, she stood and waved a plump rabbit in the air. Five more times that day, the ritual was repeated. Four of those times resulted in a dead rabbit.
As it began to grow dark and the first snowflakes of the evening began to fall, Kevin spotted the shadows indicating a scattering of residences. He veered off course, searching for the first intact home.
Luck was with them as the very first home they came to looked to have all its windows and doors. As an added bonus, the picket fence surrounding the front yard was in excellent condition. At first, Kevin thought the residents might still remain. He discovered that he was only partially correct as he drew close enough to see the large front window. It was smeared with filth, a clear indication that a zombie (or two) was inside.
“Let’s go around back,” Kevin whispered when he came to a stop across the street from the two-story home.
“You see something?” Willa let her crossbow slip down her shoulder and into her hands.
“Nope.” Kevin shielded his face with his hands to cut back the glare. “But I don’t want our tracks to just advertise where we went. It’s bad enough that anybody who wanted to could follow us, but if we circle around to the back of the house and make tracks to each of the five houses in this little area, it will help me relax.”
“You are something else,” Willa said appreciatively.
Kevin headed around the side of the house, his face turned away to hide the blush and the grin. All his life, he had been the awkward one…the geek…the nerd. Now, he had the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen waiting for him back where he currently called home while he was out in the middle of nowhere with another very pretty woman who lavished him with compliments and openly flirted with him. Not to mention the fact that he’d had to fend off the advances of a teenaged high school cheerleader that he’d saved from a horrific situation.
It took them about a half hour, but Willa did exactly as he asked, and they eventually had tracks all over the place; each house in the area had multiple sets of them leading to and from.
When it came time, Kevin pulled a small case from his own bag and made short work of the locked door. He drew his sturdy machete and nodded for Willa to open the door. Slowly and cautiously, so as to make as little noise as possible, she turned the knob and pushed it open. There was a tearing sound as the weather seal and the door, gummed together from any combination of not being used for months during the hot summer and now this freezing winter, separated. Then…the metallic rattle as the door chain reached its end and kept the door fast—open no more than a few inches.
A second later, the stench of rot and death hit them both square in the face. Kevin staggered back and shook his head, but Willa stumbled as if struck by something physical. The sounds of her retching were met by a low moan from the other side of the door.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 6

There is a lot of things in the zombie genre that sort of get taken for granted. One of the biggest is the psychological toll. There is so much loss experienced, yet the stories mostly deal with survival. Tonight, we get to see a little bit of the mental damage. Rick is obviously disturbed by what happened and has spiraled into a bit of madness.

In other fronts, we get to see Andrea stray into the firm grasp of the Governor. She continues to show absolutely horrendous judgement in men. The real problem that I have with this aspect of the story line is that the Andrea character was so strong in the graphic novel. They are making this one into a weak version that falls into the sack with every bad guy she meets. First Shane, and now The Governor. It is really a shame because the genre can really benefit from strong female leads. Perhaps we will have to rely on Carol.

Merle chases Michonne and is definitely outmatched. However, when he encounters Glenn and Maggie, you can almost tell the outcome before it comes. That leads to the question...why do people always talk to the bad guys when they know damn well that he/she has nothing but bad intentions?

What remains to be seen is if those two poor suckers end up facing what Rick and Michonne endured in the graphic novel.

All this said, I guess the question that I have is this: Do we expect the story to follow the literature that it is drawn from, or is it okay when it veers way off track as The Walking Dead has done?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

So what do you want to know?

I've said it in many posts, I have a comment on my author's bio that I served time, and on our company's web site, there is a disclosure statement. Perhaps the saying about "hiding in plain sight" is true. So, is this going to be some long version of my past? Nope. The bottom line is that I went to prison in 1998 for charges stemming from an accusation of something from 1990.

Here is what I won't do. I won't defend myself against anybody who wants to sling mud. People will say and do what they want, and seriously, there is not a damn thing that I can do about it. What? Did you expect me to snap? To hop in my car and start hunting people down? I don't have time for that sort of thing.

Maybe you are looking for me to spin this long and detailed response about how "I didn't do it." What point would that serve? People will make up their mind. Some have very little mind to make up.

So let's look at two possibilities. Start with the "He definitely did it." Okay. Now, if that is the case, can a person change? Can a person pay for their sins and move forward? Is it possible for a person to be redeemed. (And I am not even including any sort of spiritual transformation, I am just talking about the person's ability to make core changes.) That answer is personal for each individual.

Now let's look at "He didn't do it." Do innocent people go to jail? Is the court system perfect? You probably expect a longer case made here, but why?

Now let's consider a third possibility. "I don't know." Unless you have an eye witness account to share, you can never know anything for certain. So perhaps you take a person at face value and let them show what kind of person they really are. Nobody can wear a mask forever. Their true nature will eventually shine though...for good or bad. 

So, there it is. I will be leaving this post up for a couple of days with out a new one to bump it down the page. If you have any questions...I have always been open to them. But not here. You can email me, or I will even talk with you by phone if you want to ask a million questions and a billion follow up questions.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The DEAD are getting closer...are you ready?

One month from today the fifth book in the DEAD series will be released. Yep, Dead: Siege & Survival will be available. However, right now is when I get that pre-release jittery feeling. It is funny, but I feel more pressure with each subsequent release. Why? Because of the readers. This has become your world. I have said it before, but it merits repeating...many of you know these characters better than I do.

When I set out to write this series, I just felt that the 'zombie' genre could be more than just people getting eaten. I wanted it to be about the people. Some readers have really gotten into the concept. Of course then there are the ones who complain about 'too many characters' or that 'the story is bleak' or my favorite, 'all men in this post-apocalyptic era must hate women.'

People fixate on things that I would have never considered. But the biggest issues have stemmed from the three rotating chapters format that I chose (and will continue with to the end)...and Garrett. For many of you that have read the series and communicated with me on either or both of those topics, we have had some interesting conversations. But I wanted to talk about that second issue here.

Garrett served a purpose. He went someplace most people avoid because it is uncomfortable. However, his purpose was missed by many, and that is what happens when a writer gets an idea that he (or she) thinks will make perfect sense. Garrett was there to show how strong a person can be when faced with the most horrific scenario possible. I wrote Garrett to show the strength of Kirsten.

We live in a world where we see things on the news, and as long as they don't affect us, they are just stories. A funny thing happens when we read a book. We form a relationship with the characters. Garrett was vile without any help. And I based him on somebody that I met. As hard as that may be for some, I met a real person who thought much like Garrett. I created Kirsten to take away some of his power. I knew from the beginning how that vignette would end. That is one of the few times where I had a predestined ending for somebody.

I don't know if the DEAD series will ever hit serious numbers in sales and be a "commercial" success. I don't think it will ever be sniffed out by movie or television types. It just has too much going on. But I didn't write it for that. I write that series because I love it. I enjoy seeing where it will go. I have said a few times that there is only one character in that whole book who is absolutely safe. And no, I've never said who, nor will I.

I wish time would hurry up so I can find out what those of you who have read the series think of the newest installment.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Have you met Donna Galanti?

I believe it was Woody Allen who said "I would never join any club that would have me as a member." Heck, maybe it was Rodney Dangerfield...but in any case, recently I tossed my hat back in with the HWA (Horror Writers Association). The next 15 months will be my chance to discover if this is something I really want or need. My experiences have been mixed, but some people that I have very high opinions of are involved, and it is their guidance that I trust enough to see if this is indeed a tool to further my career, or, as some have suggested (let me make note that I am not sold on this line of thinking) that this is an "old boys club" where you are always on the outside looking in. I have met a few people who have been very helpful during my time in the HWA. And for me, it isn't really about the awards, it is about the community and how they can provide guidance for writers of all ranges of ability.

And now, for the reason that you came to the lovely and talented Donna Galanti.

Your bio says that if you could not write, you would bike, hike and kayak every day. So it is desk jockey or super outdoorsy…not much middle of the road. Are you able to find a balance?
Being a writer is a stationary job. It’s not a spectator sport or one that gets your blood pumping (only metaphorically speaking). Exercising keeps me feeling good so I try to do it early in the morning before I sit down at my desk, or it never happens. If I could find a cabin in the woods alongside a creek with a mountain view–that would be my favourite mix of writing and outdoors to tackle.

Share your favorite moment while in the Navy (I was a submarine sonar man in the 80s)?
I was also in during the 80s! I can’t pinpoint one moment really. Being stationed as a photographer with Fleet Intelligence in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was all around great with island hopping (especially with Magnum P.I. being filmed there at the time). However, I loved best going to Navy Photo School in Pensacola. Our barracks were right across from the white sand beaches and it was fun to be in school. A great time before we got our duty locations and the “real job” set in. Ben Fieldstone in A Human Element was also a Navy Photographer stationed in Hawaii and a dark scene there comes into play. Can he be saved? Read it here.

What can you share about your writing process with new or up and coming writers?
The more you improve your craft of writing the harder it gets. Honestly, ignorance is bliss and that’s what I had when I wrote my first novel. Now I’m pressured to use all the tools I’ve learned in the writing process to produce a better novel. It’s hard work, yes, but a novel keeps on giving. That first rough draft is just that–rough. Keep peeling back the layers of your story to see what it reveals to make it even better. Do the necessary work in revision–then revise again and again. I think writing a novel’s first draft is easier than making it shine.

If you were to change genres, what would be your next choice?
I love challenging myself to write outside my comfort zone and wrote about it here. I’m outlining a young adult novel right now and also have a middle grade adventure out on submission, so I guess you’d say I’ve already crossed genres. My current paranormal suspense novel, A Human Element, is a cross-genre novel as well. It’s been called a “sci-fi/thriller/romance/roller-coaster.” It means I need to read a lot of different genres as well to know multiple genres.

What could traditional publishing learn from the Indies? And how about the other way around?
I see a big divide today, sadly: self-published vs. traditional against one another. I don’t think there needs to be as there are so many wonderful authors on both sides. The traditional publishing route could definitely update many of its processes in sync with today’s speedy online world: divvy up royalty checks monthly not every 6 months, provide more author support, and speed up the process of getting a book to market. If self-published folks want to be taken seriously they need to have their work professionally edited, have a big-6 looking cover created, and set up an author platform online with web/blog/social media. It’s work being an author either way. We’re really small business owners in charge of our own fate as novelists.

The writing community can be its own worst enemy at times. What are some of the issues you see cropping up? Solutions?
Again, this points to the above question. I don’t think any writer has the right to bash another writer for the route they decide to go with publishing. I see this quite a bit. Each writer needs to make that decision on their own. I have good friends who went traditional and others small press or self-published. Good for all of them! This isn’t a competition and one way isn’t the “right way”.

The social media is…
…a time (sucking) machine! Yes, fun, addicting, and work–it takes away that time from writing. Plus I think there’s a “Writer ADHD” now. We can’t simply sit down and saturate ourselves in just writing for long periods of time–and that is where the creativity comes in. I believe social media stunts our productivity and creativity as writers.

Share some information about your work with us: 
My current paranormal suspense novel, A Human Element, is murder and mystery with a dash of steam, sci-fi, and horror. In it, Laura Armstrong’s loved ones are being murdered, and despite her unique healing powers, she can do nothing to stop it. The savage killer haunts her dreams, tormenting her with the promise that she is next. Determined to find the killer, she follows her visions to the site of a crashed meteorite–her hometown. There, she meets Ben Fieldstone, who seeks answers about his parents’ death the night the meteorite struck. In a race to stop a mad man, they unravel a frightening secret that binds them together. But the killer’s desire to destroy Laura face-to-face leads to a showdown that puts Laura and Ben’s emotional relationship and Laura’s pure spirit to the test. With the killer closing in, Laura discovers her destiny is linked to his and she has two choices–redeem him or kill him. Read an interview and excerpt with the villain X-10 here.

What is one question you are sick of being asked—not in interviews, but by individuals who know you write?
Can I have more than one question? J  #1. Will you teach me how to market my book? #2. So how much was first your royalty check? #3. Won’t you read and review my book? I read yours and reviewed it, you know.

Do you read and review other people’s work? And if so, do you find it difficult as a writer if you don’t like the work?
I review other people’s work I am so inspired to review. I do not like to take review requests from authors as I feel pressured to write a good review. It’s funny how an author can read and review your book, without your asking, and then use that as reason to request reciprocation. Please, do not do this!  If “hounded” to write one (see above) I write a balanced one if I have issues with the book–pointing out the good and not-so-good. Here’s a post I wrote on finding good-fit reviewers. As an author I so appreciate mixed reviews as people took the time to read my book and write a review. We are all different and bring our experiences to the table when we read a book. For example, it’s funny how some say A Human Element is a great love story and some say that it doesn’t have that much romance in it. Thank you to all readers who take the time to review!

How much reading do you get in, and can a writer excel at his or her craft if they do not read?
I try to read two books a week. Sometimes I cheat and read novellas. Really getting into them! You can crank one out at the park. Authors need to read to write. We need to see what works and what doesn’t, as well as know our genre. When I first began writing books I lost my love of reading. This was hard for me as I’d always been a reader. It’s like I traded one sense for another. Read about it here.

When does self-promotion cross the line and become a nuisance?
When it’s all the time. I see twitter streams full of self-promotion by many of the same authors and after a while I tune them out. We need to find a balance of self-promotion, promoting others, and just chatting. A great way to get people talking is open up discussions on topics that are in your book and slip it in down the line.

What projects are you currently working on?
The sequel to A Human Element is in revisions now, A Hidden Element, and I also have a short story collection coming out soon that features characters from book 1 and book 2. All dark fiction with a dash of hope. 

What is one thing about you that would surprise the readers who do not know you personally?
I’m adopted and met my natural mother when I was 18. I since had to cut those ties, but so glad I was given up to a wonderful home. My characters in A Human Element carry some of my background regarding this. Read about it here. Watch for my special donation program running December 1st through the 22nd. I will be donating $1 for each book sold to the Pearl S. Buck Welcome House adoption program. Author Pearl S. Buck’s home is close to me and many don’t know besides being a Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner, she also was an adoptive mother.

Is there anyone you’d like to give a mention?
My wonderful developmental editor and dear friend, Kathryn Craft. She goes above and beyond in her service! She also participates in a fantastic writer resource blog with a team of other editors called The Blood Red Pencil and check out her editing website.

What is in your “to be read” pile right now?
These are all being read right now on a rotating basis J. I’m finishing up horror reads to consider recommending for the 2012 Bram Stoker Awards right now including Joe McKinney & Michael McCarty’s Lost Girl of The Lake and Patrick Freivald’s Twice Shy. I’m also reading two great books by self-published authors. Shadow on the Wall by Pavarti Tyler, a controversial and daring Muslim thriller, and Wolf Dawn by Susan Cartwright, a sci-fi thriller.

Donna Galanti Bio:
Donna Galanti is an ITW Debut Author of the paranormal suspense novel A Human Element (Echelon Press). She’s lived from England as a child to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. If she couldn’t write she would bike, hike, and kayak every day. Donna lives with her family in an old farmhouse in PA with lots of nooks, fireplaces, and stinkbugs but sadly no ghosts.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The world of writing is a marathon, not a sprint.

I am not a big fan of a lot of things about the world that we now live in. People have gotten ruder and more disrespectful. Everybody seems to be in a hurry to get someplace no matter who they cut off or derail along the way. Just about everything can be thrown into a microwave. Places offer 5 second credit approvals. And then there is the advent of the rise of the indie publishing scene where you push a button and your book is available to the world by the time you get back with that bowl of popcorn.

These days, people expect everything to just happen overnight. That is a problem. No, this will not be another article about editing issues. I have had my say on that as have many of my guests (one of the best being Catie Rhodes last month). No, this is about writers thinking that all that needs to happen is that they send in a story and it should be up and live in a week.

Many of you know that my wife is the owner of May December Publications where I work as an editor as well as the label my books are published under. We have lost more than a couple of titles when authors believed that their books were not produced quickly enough. First, let me say that I was only sad to see one of those titles slip away, but not enough to sacrifice my desire to produce something that looked and read clean.

A great deal of work goes into a book once it leaves an author's hands. The editing alone is can be hundreds of hours worth of work. Depending on the author, that task can be epic. I am blessed with a few writers who are very meticulous and have great test readers already in place. Their books often arrive so clean that I can get lost in reading it and have to backtrack and go back to work editing. (Chantal Boudreau and Steen Langstrup come to mind. I simply love reading their stuff and have to remind myself that I am actually working.)

So, if you are a writer, I don't care who you are published through, you need to relax. While much of the world has sped up, and even the publishing world has gone into turbo mode, if you want quality, then it takes time. Now if you are satisfied with being mediocre and don't care what people think when they read your book, by all means, just push the button. But when review after review mentions the absolute horror to read that is your poorly edited work, you have nobody to blame but yourself.

And if your working with an editor or publisher and they ask you to re-work something, do it. Work with them. Communicate. What you should not do is take the file they send you, delete it, and then just send back your original work minus all the edits and notes that they have sent you and a few spelling corrections. It is possible that your high-minded story idea actually goes nowhere and confuses the reader. Or perhaps you have decided that every sentence is a paragraph, but since you are NOT Cormac McCarthy, your "artistic" idea may just come across as poorly written. And if you have butchered your dialog to the point where it reads like a bad junior high English paper, maybe you should read it out loud and ask, "Do people really talk like that?"

So, rant over. An update on my NaNoWriMo project...

That Ghoul Ava and The Zombie Queen is around 20,000 words long so far. I will start now, but I am asking for a few Beta readers. This is a different sort of story for me and I want to know if I am on to something here or if I should stick to zombies. I must confess that the second DAKOTA book had to be put on hold. It is important that the DAKOTA books maintain their authenticity to the era. I have to be able to stop everything and research. Sometimes that research takes hours to find the answers. You can't NaNo a project like that. However, I am committed to a sequel to DAKOTA coming out in 2013.

Here's to your Monday...I hope it goes well for you and I will return on Wednesday with a confession on two people who I killed in the new DEAD, as well as an announcement about our big contest where you can win a free book a month in 2013 from MDP. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Season 3, Episode 5..."Is that you?"

Can we jump right to the ending? Thank you for bringing that part of the story line from the graphic novel in to play. And now back to the front...anybody else enjoy that sweet father/daughter moment when The Governor was brushing Penny's hair. For anybody who give haircuts to the little tykes for a living...I bet that isn't too far from what it seems like.

We finally get to see Michonne in all her glory! The highlight of the episode for me was when she let those walkers out of the cage and shook some rust off of her swordsmanship. To see her finally step up and make the choice to cut Andrea loose was very refreshing. Andrea has some serious issues when it comes to her choice in men. And she draws the line at a gladiator-style fight? Really? That is going too far?

Meanwhile, back in the prison, Rick has lost his mind, the baby is hungry, and Daryl chooses the best baby name since Barney on "How I Met Your Mother". I am a little disappointed in Carl, but now we get to wonder a couple of things now that this episode has come to an end. Where is Lori? And who is buried in Carol's grave?

Overall, this episode is a little of a let down after the last one, but this holds with the Kirkman formula of action versus emotion. This was obviously a set up episode. Plus, it gives us just a tiny bit more of a glimpse at how screwed up The Governor is. I imagine next week will be more edge-of-your-seat action.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Patrick Freivald stops in and shares...

Today I am pleased to have a guest pick up the "be my guest" gauntlet. I hope you will all behave and play nice. Try to play nice with Patrick and put him back on the hook when you are finished...

You have been at this for a little while now, what are some of the best and worst things about being an author?

The best and worst things about being an author are the best and worst things about being anything else, I suppose. I'm a teacher and beekeeper as well as an author, and each experience brings its own highs and lows.

Writing is a passion. Publishing is a business. The publishing world is one of the most dysfunctional, strange, slow, aggravating, frustrating things I've ever experienced. I guess this is what you get when supply is ever-present, but varies dramatically in quality.

What are some of the lessons you have learned as a writer that caught you off guard?

I wrote my first novel--as yet unpublished--with my twin brother. We were so proud of our first draft, and felt that it was ready for the world to see. Then we sent it out to beta readers, and were so, so very fortunate to have people who cared more about being honest than our feelings.... The twenty-first draft is ready for the world to see, I think!

Let me just say that, were I forced to read that first draft aloud in public, I think I'd have to set both it and myself on fire.

Honest feedback is the most valuable commodity a writer can have.

What can you share about your writing process with new or up and coming writers?

Nothing whatsoever. Everyone writes differently, and there is no right or wrong way to produce a good or a downright awful manuscript.

On the publishing process, I'd give the standard cautions: there are a ton of scammers out there, and perhaps even more well-intentioned people that look legitimate and successful but who have no idea what they're doing. Successful agents are few and far between, and successful non-big-six publishers even more scarce. Don't sign anything you don't completely understand, and don't sign with anyone who doesn't have (a) a track record of success and (b) a completely, utterly open business model.

If you were to up and change genres, what would be your next choice?

My two completed novels are thus far a modern day thriller about a serial killer hunted by the FBI, and a YA satirical horror story just drowning in irony.... I don't set out to write in any particular genre, I just write stories I like. I do, however, have a fondness for the twisted, the weird, and the off-center.

The writing community can be its own worst enemy at times. What are some of the issues you see cropping up? Solutions?

The blind leading the blind is a big one, especially with the burgeoning writing coops that seem to drown in their own world without realizing that their vision stops at their door. Publicity is the biggest challenge facing any new writer, and I don't know that anyone sees an answer in the sea of social media, blogs, and advertising.

The social media is…

A great way to annoy people (intentionally or otherwise), and perhaps a reasonable way to advertise your book... If you wish to become an advertiser-in-person-guise and not a writer.

I'm still not sure how to best "use" Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media outlet, and I don't think there's a single shred of evidence that says that social media antics sell books.

Share some information about your work with us: (feel free to be as in depth as you like)

Twice Shy is my second novel, but the first published. I wanted to treat some very serious issues facing your modern teen in a very flippant manner--think Mean Girls meets Heathers meets zombies. There are several juxtapositions in the book that are meant to harmonize, but it should be a dissonant harmony.

The premise is that Ani Romero died at fourteen, but unlike other carriers of the Zombie Virus, she didn't become a mindless, brain-eating monster. Her mother is a ZV researcher who helps her control her cravings through the injection of specialized appetite suppressants, and who has forced her to join the emo crowd because their fashion sense helps her hide her nature. The idea of a high school teen who has a secret that absolutely mustn't get out isn't a new one, but the consequences here are amped to a Spinal Tappian eleven: if anyone finds out, the government swoops in and burns everything to the ground.

Most zombie books fall into two categories: either the zombie apocalypse is starting and the protagonists are trying to survive, or the apocalypse has happened and the protagonists have banded together in some post-apocalyptic world and are, well, trying to survive. In Twice Shy, the zombie virus outbreak happened before Ani was born, and was contained before it destroyed all of civilization. I deliberately leave the details vague, because the story is told entirely from Ani's point of view, and being a teenager, she treats everything that happened that long ago as at best an anecdote, regardless of how it's influenced the world in which she's grown up. (Ask any modern teen about September 11th, Columbine, or Jonesboro, and most only vaguely know anything at all about the first two, and have never even heard about the latter, despite the fact that all of the above have had a profound effect on their day-to-day lives.)

What is one question you are sick of being asked—not in interviews, but by individuals who know you write?

I'm a schoolteacher, and a science teacher at that... I get asked the same questions year-in and year-out, and have long ago realized that the old adage that "there's no such thing as a stupid question" really is true (with the follow-up, "the first time"). What people don't know they don't know, and I'll never begrudge someone not knowing.

Even, "when are you going to quit your day job?", while trite and silly and rhetorical and not nearly as witty as the asker thinks, is a form of well-wishing. And wishing you well is almost as good as buying your book!

I think my thoughts on the subject are summed up well by

How do you deal with negative reviews?

The writing process taught me to have no ego whatsoever when it comes to my writing. My favorite review thus far is a one-star from Goodreads, where the reviewer illustrates quite clearly why she thinks Twice Shy sucks and I suck and both of us should be immolated for the good of humanity. What's obvious is that she just didn't get it, and that's okay. One can't write zombie high school satire and expect everyone who reads it to get it.

I figure if what I write doesn't offend or puzzle someone, I didn't write anything worth reading.

How much reading do you get in, and can a writer excel at his or her craft if they do not read?

Lots, and no. I try to read a book a week. Realistically, in the past two years I've read about a book a month. I also read every issue of Newsweek, Time, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, the daily newspaper, and almost every article on,, BBC, and Al-Jazeera -- usually excepting the trash about stars and starlets, though sometimes I read those, too.

Can a writer excel without reading? I very much doubt it. Is it possible? Sure, though exceptions would be hard to find. Is any given person who doesn't take time to read the exception? Almost definitely not.

When does self-promotion cross the line and become a nuisance?

Most of the time.

What projects are you currently working on?

The sequel to Twice Shy, tentatively titled Special Dead, though it's been brought to my attention that a cheesy, offensive zombie movie already has that name.

What is one thing about you that would surprise the readers who do not know you personally?

I spend almost every moment of human interaction amused. Then again, that might surprise those who know me personally, too!

Is there anyone you’d like to give a mention?

How about the entire HWA? The Horror Writers' Association is an awesome group of people who do great things to promote the genre and its authors.

My publisher, JournalStone, gave me a chance and are working very hard to make my and their dreams come true.

The Redhead(tm) puts up with me on a daily basis and sometimes sees me naked without running away, so she deserves quite the shout-out for that. :)

What is in your “to be read” pile right now?

Paradox by Jim Al-Khalili, a ton of Bram Stoker Recommendations for First Novel (my competition this year, a few of which I've read and a lot I still need to before voting closes... while somehow doing NaNoWriMo...), and then the submissions for JournalStone's 2013 Horror Writing contest.

For Twice Shy:

My author page on the Book of Faces:

My previously published work: