Monthly Archives: August 2012

The Writing Week That Was(n’t)

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Bad week last week as far as writing, I completely dropped the ball. I don’t think I hit 3,000 words of anything important, and it sucked.

My personal life (which I won’t get into) is in the process of a huge upheaval, with me having to suddenly move at some point later in this week, many problems where I live and who I have been with for five years, and all that mess.

I’m also waiting patiently (but growing impatient, if I’m being honest) with a publisher about a certain series I’m supposed to be working on for them. Instead, I rushed to get the first one done and now I’ve been on hold for over two weeks. I need to write, and it is such a big project mentally I don’t want to dive back into another one. Endless phone calls is all we’re doing, but it isn’t the publisher’s fault, it’s the higher ups… this will make much more sense once I can finally let the cat out of the bag and tell you what I’m working on, and it is a pretty huge move for me and my writing career…

I did manage to release Still Dying: Select Scenes From Dying Days, and I am quite proud of this zombie book with thirteen short stories set in the Dying Days world. It came out this weekend and already sold a few copies, which I am quite happy about.

Still Dying on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and SmashWords (Kobo coming soon), as well as in Print.

I’m hoping I can get the green light to write the second part of the thing I’m working on now asap. If not I might try to ignore it and jump back into my other work like the third Keyport Cthulhu story, “Cabal” or Death Cult: Death Metal 2. We’ll see. Dealing with an actual publisher instead of making your own schedule is so different, but the rewards for this one make it worth it… but let’s get a move-on already…

Hope you all have a great week of writing and reading ahead of you.

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In-Depth Review of “Darlene Bobich” and “Dying Days”

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I just wanted to share a great, in-depth review Anthony Servante has done of the Dying Days series (Darlene Bobich: Zombie Killer, Dying Days and Dying Days 2) at his website… I am truly honored every time someone reads my work, and takes time out of their life to review it…

http://servanteofdarkness.blogspot.com/2012/08/zombie-apocalypse-zombies-ghouls-and.html?spref=tw 

 

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Great thoughts about Supporting Indie Authors from Tim Baker!

blindoggbooks

I wanted to open this post with a video.

It would have been about 90 seconds long, but so agonizingly painful to watch it would have seemed like an hour.

A mournful voice moans over a lonely acoustic guitar…fade in…your favorite Independent Author sits at his/her desk. Their clothes look like they’ve been slept in. The desk is littered with papers, fast food wrappers, an overflowing ashtray and a two-day-old cup of coffee.

If it’s a man – he hasn’t shaved in three days – if female, her hair would need to be primped for an hour to look as good as bed-head. Their eyes plead with you for rescue.

The image dissolves into pictures of other authors in similar states of down-trodden-ness…the voice of a familiar actor speaks;

“Every year thousands of Independent Authors spend countless hours in front of their computers, forsaking their families, their health and their…

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Guest Blog – E.Z. Graves of Horror On The Installment Plan

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Horror on the Installment Plan’s New Issues

I’m Jim Musgrave, or “E. Z. Graves” as I’m known on the pages of my new horror ezine, Horror on the Installment Plan.  I’m happy to say that my stories are now available in all formats (even print), and I’d like to give a shout out to the authors and the stories they’ve created.

Issue 1:  “Zombies and Children” (review thanks to horroraddicts.com)

In our introductory issue we have five stories and an interview with up-and-coming dark fiction author, Nat Robinson.  We also post interviews with our authors on our Purgatory Blogs.  You must register and login to view these interviews.

The first story in the June issue of Horror on the Installment Plan is The Flesh Eaters by Andrew F. Rey. It’s about a guy named Dwayne who is living alone in a California town looking for food and keeping away from the zombies that seem to be everywhere. This story reads like any other zombie story but has a twist ending that makes it a good read.

The next story is by Stacy Bolli called The Undead Addiction. This story includes zombies but is not your normal zombie story. The zombie outbreak has been contained but now there is a different problem. It has been discovered that a highly addictive drug can be made from a female zombie’s brain called zombion. One dose of zombion leaves you addicted and if you go into withdrawal you’re as good as dead. Problem is there aren’t a lot of zombies left and people are killing each other to get the drug. I loved this story because it was an original look at the aftermath of a zombie outbreak.

Basic Nature by Karen Dent is next up and looks at a father trying to save his daughter from himself as he changes into one of the undead. This one is followed by Back Seat Letter by Chris Castle which is told from a letter written by a little girl who is in a back seat of a car trying to escape a zombie infestation. Both of these stories were great character driven pieces and a lot of fun to read.

The last story in this magazine was by the publisher E.Z. Graves and called Born this Way. This was a fun little zombie tale that has a very funny musical part. Each story in this issue of Horror on the Installment Plan was a very different look at the zombie genre and each story was an excellent read. I’ve read a lot of horror magazines in my time and it’s very rare to find a magazine where all the stories are good but this issue of Horror on the Installment Plan succeeds. The best part is that this magazine can be purchased on Amazon for 99 cents.

Issue 3:  “Home Alone”

Were you ever left home alone?  McCauley Culkin made a career for himself out of the experience, but perhaps you were less enthusiastic.  There are always sinister shadows lurking about, windows that bang open, and creaking floorboards that  echo when you walk.

     This week’s theme brings you four stories that involve circumstances that happen inside our abodes.  Whether in the basement or flying around outside above our heads, danger and evil can occur when we’re home alone.

     For example, in our lead story, The Basement, author Jeff Poole brings us a situation we may have all faced.  Somebody we know may be missing, and we are aware of where he could be.  But, should we enter to find out?  You will find out when you enter “The Basement.”

     Next, J. T. Seate, in his second HOTIP appearance, takes us inside This Old House where the rivalry of two sisters leads to a tale of horrendous proportions.  This story could just as well have appeared on “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” back in the day.

     The third story is from yours truly, and it concerns a problematic search on the web where a military wife finds out a lot more than she ever bargained for.  Are drones becoming the new terrorist weapon of choice?  Find out in Pterodrone.

     Finally, to complete our quartet of stories for this week, we have HOTIP regular, J. G. Faherty’s True Love Never Dies.  This story is a cozy little tale about a husband who has trouble getting to sleep.  What keeps him awake will also keep you awake.

Issue 4:  “Freaks of Society”

Freaks are popular because they represent the misshapen values of commercialism and our need for freaks to make us look better to ourselves.  However, in the film, these freaks take out their revenge on the strong man, and in this week’s issue of Horror on the Installment Plan you will see other freaks who also get some amount of revenge.  However, in J. G. Faherty’s Jennifer’s Body, the woman becomes a freak at the very hands of our specialized medical profession.

     We hope you enjoy all of these stories, and that you’ll continue to subscribe each month for another roll of the dice in our themed issues.  Freaks are merely unlucky with the genetics they are given, and any one of us could be a freak due to fate or accidental dismemberment.

     We introduce Nick Medina, a writer with a flair for the dramatic, and his On the Edge of Town, gets down to earth about our freakish souls.  Following his fascinating story of freaks, Tracy Carbone gives us “Etta and Jojo,” which, she tells us, was inspired by the painting of a lunatic asylum.  Finally, Best Foot Forward, by writer extraordinaire, Troy Seate, takes us into the life of a modern-day hunchback.  It reminds us that we are just an accident away from freakdom, and we must count our blessings, lest we forget the lessons these stories teach us.  Until next week, enjoy the inner world of Horror on the Installment Plan!

Download samples at our web site:  http://www.contempinstruct.com

Guest Blog – Julianne Snow

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I would to thank Armand for the gracious opportunity to introduce myself to his audience. When he made the offer to allow fellow authors the chance to guest on his blog, I jumped at the chance. As a fellow Zombie author and lover of the genre, I knew this would be a great opportunity. But before I tell you about that, I want to share a question that I often get asked and how it relates to my love of the genre.

Why zombies?

I often wonder if the authors that pen tales about vampires, or psychopaths, or alien races ever get asked a similar one. While probably innocent, it seems like such a loaded question at first glance; almost a challenge to defend what you write. My answer has always been why not?

I have great affection for the Zombie genre. Its roots are deeply seated in my childhood where I happened to catch Romero’s Night of the Living Dead on television. I was six and the black and white grainy visual, made all the more terrifying because the channel it was on was always shrouded in a minimal amount of static, seemed more like a news account than an actual film. I knew at the time that it was a fictional movie, but the film’s austerity has stuck with me as I grew up. And each and every time I watch it, I’m still a servant to those same emotions of fear, revulsion, and tension. It’s a heady combination, but one that I look forward to like the embrace of an old friend.

On a broader note, I love watching films from the genre, reading the books that are written, and playing the games produced. I have friends that think I’m crazy because of it, but then I look at their love of sparkly vampires and wonder the same thing… to each their own; I will certainly stick with the undead. That’s not to say that I’m not a fan of other genres – I am, it’s just different when it comes to zombies!

Does that make it a logical step into actually writing about zombies? Yes and no. When the idea for Days with the Undead came to me, I was at a point in my life where literally, it was do or die. My struggle to survive is infinitely tied to the struggle that you encounter within the pages. I wrote the first book in just under a month and then decided to release it online day by day. The reasoning for that was to judge the level of interest in the journey, and my own writing. I didn’t know at first if I could write well enough to engage an audience but the response that I received soon let me know that I had created something special.

At the end of February, I released Days with the Undead: Book One through Sirens Call Publications. Knowing that I had released the story online for free initially, I added scenes and explanations that I felt would deepen the story. At the end of the process, I was pleased and proud of what I had accomplished.

So what’s Days with the Undead about? It’s a story of survival. The zombie apocalypse has actually occurred and while the world is trying to process that fact, one small group decides to put as much distance as they can between themselves and ground zero. You’re dropped into the action on the third day, and from there you’re immersed in their journey of survival. Told as journal excerpts, it has a very different feel than most books in the genre, and has been compared to DeFoe’s Journal of the Plague Year. You can find it on Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and CreateSpace.

You can also read my short fiction, though not all of it is zombie related in Women of the Living Dead, Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed, Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity, along with stories in the online magazine The Sirens Call.

Twitter: @CdnZmbiRytr

Authors I Like Professionally and Personally

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I know I haven’t been around much this week… sometimes your personal life gets in the way. My personal life is like an eighteen wheeler that locked up the brakes and is thundering down the highway at me, fish-tailing… and I’m not exaggerating.

I’m trying to remain positive and decided to spread some of that by doing a quick post about some of my favorite authors in the indie scene, ones I like both their work and their personalities as well. This isn’t a fluff list. There are quite a few people I am friendly with on social media that I’m not a fan of their work, or I love their stories but they have zero personality. Simple enough. So… in no particular order:

1. Bryan Hall and his marvelous Southern Hauntings Saga series, currently getting the royalty treatment from Angelic Knight Press… find him on Facebook (but the dude doesn’t have a Twitter account… odd)

I recommend: The Girl

2. Tim Baker writes thrillers set in Palm Coast Florida, where I currently reside. We met by chance and have become fast friends. Thankfully, the dude can write a great rollercoaster crime/suspense/thriller/funny book.

I recommend: Pump It Up

3. Vincent Hobbes (don’t call him Vinnie) is one of those cooler than shit writers (scruffy beard, mirror sunglasses) you’d think was an extra in The Big Lebowski… but he’s actually a great author.

I recommend: THEY

4. Jeffrey Kosh is not only a great writer but a great cover artist as well (check out my own Keyport Cthulhu series, which Jeffrey does!) and I always look forward to his next story.

I recommend: Dead Men Tell No Tales

5. Allison M. Dickson is a prolific writer, and her body of work covers many genres and subgenres, but everything I’ve ever read from her is wonderful. Seriously. I always look forward to seeing what’s next.

I reccomend: Dust

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I might make this a weekly or occasional feature if I get responses to it, showcasing five of my favorite indie authors currently out there.

Weekly Writing That Was

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OK, so last week was another ‘write whatever I want to’ week, and word-count-wise I didn’t come close. So, in that respect I failed. I’m human. I make mistakes.

I did, however, write a 7,500 word short story in under 3 of those days I am quite proud of. I’m going to have to be super-cryptic, but I’m excited because things are turning behind the scenes right now that could lead to some huge things in my writing career. I’ll let you know when I hear more.

And that was pretty much it. I wrote another 1,000 words on “Cabal”, the third Keyport Cthulhu story while I was waiting for information on the secret story, but my head wasn’t in it. Or any other writing in the last week.

My personal life took a big dump on me as well for a few of those days, so it was hard to focus when everything around you is crashing down. It was a very up and down week for me.

This week? I think I’ll play it by ear again. I hope my author friends get some good writing in, and my reading friends find some great stories to read and review.

Guest Blog – Wendy Reid

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I have wanted to write a book from as far back as I can remember and last year when I fell sick and wasn’t able to do anything physical for a while, I thought “Why not now?”

Six months later, I self published my first novel for Kindle on Amazon, “A Mother’s Love”.  Although rough around the edges and considered “offensive” by some, the story will grab you by the throat and keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.

Right now, I am working on my second serial killer novel titled “The Keeper” which I expect to have published by the end of 2012.

My first experience with writing was actually back in 2003 where I wrote several short erotic stories and published them on Literotica, where one story won the Best Erotic Horror story for that year.  I put them all, plus a few new ones, into a collection called, “Bedtime Stories, Vol. 1” which is also available on Amazon.   The second volume, “Domination Diaries” is expected out by the end of the year.

I welcome you to visit my facebook author page, join me on twitter, check out my website and follow my blog.  I may not always say things that are politically correct and I might even use language that would make your mother cringe, but I am always, consistently 100% me.

A big thanks to my friend Armand for allowing us to promote ourselves and our work on his blog.  Hats off to you, big guy.

A Mother’s Love (Amazon)

Bedtime Stories Vol. 1 (Amazon)

Wendy’s Works (blog)

Wendy’s Works (website)

Facebook

Twitter

Guest Blog – Scott Colbert

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I haven’t been to the town I grew up in since 1989 but I know everything that’s changed.  I know Karp’s, where I would go with my Grandmother to get the best egg creams in the world is gone.  So is the Associated Grocery store-that’s a BaptistChurch now.  The 7-11 where my Dad would send me to buy his cigarettes (before he quit in ’76 and laws were much more lax) is still there.  So is the elementary school, and junior high I went to before moving out West.  I even know that the patch of woods behind the Brady’s house is no more, bulldozed to make way for more homes.

How is this possible? Am I some sort of Warlock, able to see these things in a bubbling cauldron full of unspeakable ingredients? Well, no.

And in a way, yes. I used my phone and laptop. Thanks to programs like Google maps and Google Earth, there is virtually nowhere in the world I can’t go and see. Using street view within maps allowed me to get a true close up view of my old neighborhood. Websites and apps allow me to not only research what stores and restaurants are in a certain area, but do it in minutes so I can get back to what’s really important-the writing.

Even for my recently released novella, “Barbed Wire Kisses” about serial killer brothers in the Old West, much of the research was made far easier by utilizing websites, maps and in one instance visiting the remnants of the town where much of the story takes place. In fact, it was by searching for serial killers who were related that gave me the push to write it in the first place. Though I changed the time and place, the lead characters were very much based on the Harps brothers (who were actually cousins), the first reported serial killers in the US. Their reign of terror ran throughout the south and while I could have mapped it all out my tale needed a great deal of embellishment. I switched it to the southwest, having lived here for 30 plus years I knew a lot of the geography already, and even though a lot of what I researched and found out never made it into the final version, my writing, I think, felt informed by the knowledge at hand. There’s a surety and confidence that would have been missing if I simply winged it all.

The wealth of information we have at our fingertips is absolutely astounding. Gone are the days of taking a trip to the library, poring through outdated encyclopedias and temperamental microfiche machines. Now we have the internet, smart phones with hundreds of thousands of apps to utilize, to not only aid us in the quest to write the best story possible but also to let us write the story in the best possible way.

While no one will ever get every detail right, with all the tools available, there’s no reason not to try. And who knows, playing with the apps, getting lost in the maps, may just offer up the germ of an idea for the next great American novel.

http://khpbooks.com/barbed-wire-kisses-scott-colbert/

Guest Blog – John F.D. Taff

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I Write Horror

There’s a lot of ridiculous talk these days dismissing horror as a clearly defined genre.  Many authors even feel brow-beaten into claiming that they don’t write horror at all.  Instead, they write “thrillers” or “dark speculative fiction” or “dark fantasy.”

Why?  Well, some dismiss horror because they contend it’s become all about gore.  In the movies, at least—or so it seems to me—this is true.  One of the most gorgeous turns of phrase has come out of this trend…torture porn.  Many movies referred to as horror have been thinly disguised reasons to film outright blood baths. 

OK, there’s little more horrific than violent death.  And if horror is to be a genre, there has to be room for nuances within its framework.  But the needle has been pegged on “full-tilt arterial spray” for a few decades now.  There have been a smattering of good horror films with nary an exsanguination (The Sixth Sense springs to mind), but they’re few and very far between. 

On the other hand, some dismiss horror because it’s become sanitized, like a hotel toilet with a paper band around the rim.  I’m in no position to criticize the author of the Twilight series.  And why should I, other than grinding jealousy or abject poverty?  Vast armies of people, most of them young and decidedly feminine, love her and love the work.  But (and if you’re touchy you might want to skip ahead here) it’s my contention that writers like her have denatured sci-fi, fantasy and horror; made them thinly veiled romance books. 

Now, before you set your poison pen to paper, let me clarify that I don’t mean all of these writers are bad and I don’t necessarily mean that even all of the books I’m referring to are inherently bad.  There is obviously a large, vocal audience for this kind of writing, and where there’s an audience…

However, this has killed (or at least maimed) some of the best genre tropes.  Let me present the much-maligned vampire; one of the oldest and most reliable staples of the horror novelist.  Over the years, beginning with the classic and very good Interview with the Vampire, these same vampires have been…well…defanged.

In making vampires too much like us, these authors have removed what it is that makes them frightening.  Is any teenage girl truly frightened of Edward?  Really?  I think not.  These “vampires” are brooding bad boys…no wait, not even bad, that’s too dangerous…naughty boys who can be turned if only they meet the right girls.  I think 1978’s Salem’s Lot might be the last of the true vampire books, and that was more than 30 years ago.  Sadly, I think it might be 30 more years until we get another one.

And hold on to your collective pelts, they’re starting on werewolves.

Some dismiss horror because much of it tends to be of the psychological variety—Silence of the Lambs and its innumerable pastiches.  Away with the ghosties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night.  Give us slashers and serials killers and maniacs with mommy issues.

Some say these are scarier than the made-up monsters of childhood.  The fear these madmen bring is the fear of the known or maybethe what could really happen…the guy who sneaks up behind you in the parking lot and conks you on the head in order to haul you away and do various unpleasant things to you in the relative privacy of the pit in his basement.

But our old monsters represent the fear of the unknown, the fear of what is out there that is profoundly mysterious and strange. In the best horror stories it is the fear not just of the unknown but of the unknowable, that makes the reader’s heart beat faster.

Finally, there are those who dismiss horror as being a sign of a juvenile mind.  I remember getting this creaky sentiment from college professors who agreed with Henry James that a taste for Poe was the mark of a decidedly primitive stage of reflection.  Well, that’s just utter bullshit, as Penn & Teller would say.  The things that make up horror—monsters, ghosts, violence, retribution, a dark underworld, fate, blood and guts—have  been part of the best of our literature since Day One.  They’re hardwired into us, part of every mythos, creed and religion in the world.

            In the end, though, when horror is written well, labels evaporate, and the reader is submerged in story.  Isn’t that what every writer wants; for a reader to be lost in the words, lifted out of their life and into another?

            It’s what I want of my work, whether it’s called horror or terror or suspense or whatever.  But I choose to call it horror.

           

 Little Deaths on Amazon

Guest Blog – Bryan Hall

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First off, thanks to my gracious host for letting me take up some space on their blog.  I’m here because my novella “The Girl” has just been released by Angelic Knight Press as part of my Southern Hauntings Saga.  I want to take a few minutes and talk about the story, and the real horror that lies within it.  It’s not what some automatically assume when they hear the term ‘ghost story’, which is certainly what the story is.

I’ve noticed something in recent years with my reading.  I’m a father now, and that’s had a huge impact in the way that a book impacts me.  When I read a story with a youth in danger or one that’s been killed or abused, it really gets me in a way it never did before.  The story “Stranglehold” by Jack Ketchum really was hard for me to fathom, and when I reread “The Shining” by Stephen King it took on a whole new layer of horror for me.  The reason is simple – My mind automatically conjures up images of my son in place of the kids in those stories.  That level of parental empathy makes the terror in those books strike one hell of a personal chord with me.  I’m sure other parents feel the same.

So, while “The Girl” is a ghost story, the actual ghost isn’t really where I think the true horror resides within the tale.  Yes, seeing a ghost is probably scary as hell (I haven’t had the chance to see one in person, but I’m sure it’s not something I’d respond to with a small and a laugh and a lollipop).  And “The Girl” as well as most of the other stories in the Southern Hauntings Saga will have their share of ghosts.  But as I mention in another blog today, a ghost holds some measure of hope and happiness within it in my mind.  It’s a sign that there really is life after death, that the end of our lives isn’t the end of our consciousness and that we don’t simply disappear into the ether we’re born from. 

It’s the void a loved one leaves behind that holds the true horror.  The memories that a child’s toy triggers in a grieving parent, or a photo that takes a brother back to happier times with their dead sister.    The emptiness that one suffers after losing someone is truly terrible, and I can’t imagine what I’d do if I lost one of my children.  The thought is terrifying.  I’ve lost a lot of close friends and family members over the year, but a child…that’s an entirely different horror.  I’ve actually got a story on my hard drive right now that I think would be a damn good one if I could just get past the first chapter.  But that first chapter deals with a child and their death in a way I’ve never written before, and I can only work on a a few paragraphs at a time before my mind rebels and forces me to focus on something else. 

So, with all of that said, you’ll notice that a lot of the stories that make up the Southern Hauntings Saga deal with grief in some way.  Not all of them do, and none quite as intensely as “The Girl”.  That’s because it’s not the ghosts that frighten me as much as it is the loss of life – mine, or someone close to me.  In most cases I think that’s true for everyone.

The Girl

Guest Blog – Kirk Allmond

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I read a lot, and for years, I read zombie novels exclusively.  I love the post apocalyptic feel, and wanted to write a story about a father and son surviving in a dystopian world, but without the standard Romero type zombies.  I wanted to do something a little different.  When I wrote What Zombies Fear, I expected to get completely lambasted for not following typical “zombie canon”. 

You see, my zombies aren’t your typical  zombies.  Some of them are, the hordes are, but then there are those who are smarter, stronger, and faster than their shambling counterparts are.  I’d read so many fictional accounts of epic sized battles with hordes of mindless, shambling, flesh eating undead, I knew there was no way I could do something I felt was truly original along that route.  I’d watched so many of my favorite zombie heroes degenerate into, “Oh look, a zombie, let me smash its skull like I did the last 10,000”.  Even the zombie inflation that happens in every book was no longer enough for me.  I needed something different.  I needed super-zombies.


Thus, the E’Clei were born.  The E’Clei are a parasitic alien life form. If a human is bitten by a zombie, parasites are transferred into the victim.  Infected people with a small number of parasites turn into the classic slow, rotting, zombie we are all familiar with. Those who are more strongly infected retain more of a semblance of life, as the parasites are able to control more areas of the brain.  Finally, in those most heavily infected, the parasites activate parts of the brain that were dormant in regular humans, giving them some super powers.


Of course, when you create a super powered enemy, there is only one way to combat that.  In my universe, some people have slightly different brain chemistry than the rest of humanity.  That difference causes their bodies to be toxic to the parasites.  In those “immune” humans, the areas activated by the parasites continue to stay active, giving the humans similar super-powers to the zombie leadership.

The series, now spanning five novels, follows Victor Tookes and his son who, by luck of genetics, are immune to the parasites.  Victor will do whatever it takes to create a safe place for his son to grow up.  In the first novel that means getting to the safety of his family home, two states south, and fending off a super-horde.  Along the way, he makes some friends, fellow heroes who throw in with Victor in his battle against the zombies.


When I wrote What Zombies Fear, I never expected it to become what it has.  When I first published it on Kindle, I thought I might sell ten copies.  I never expected it to become the number one book in the horror category on Amazon.co.uk.  I never expected it too even rank in the top one hundred on the US Amazon list, where it peaked at #17.  The entire experience has been life altering, and I owe it all to those who read and enjoy my books.  If you’ve read What Zombies Fear, thank you.  If you intend to read it, thank you as well, I love writing and I love sharing these stories with you.

You can find my books at www.whatzombiesfear.com and find our facebook page at www.facebook.com/whatzombiesfear

Weekly Writing Goals, Midgets and Eggnog

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OK, for the millions (and millions) that religiously follow every post from me, I thank you. Entire nations have been known to structure their day around my omnipotent blog. I get it. I’m cool.

Anyway… if you remember (and who can forget?), last week I tossed all basic structure out the window and decided to write whatever the Hell I wanted to write… and I did. And I wrote quite a bit, hitting just about 15,000 words in 7 days. That’s a bit over 2,000 a day and well over the 1,500 a day goal I’ve been striving for.

I am flying with Death Cult: Death Metal 2, topping 20,000 words and realizing the followup that was supposed to also be a 25,000 word novella is looking more like a 60,000 word novel. I’m only done with part one of three, and ideas are flowing.

And since I’m having so much fun, a quick reminder that Death Metal is free today and tomorrow, so grab a copy, read it, love it, Amazon review it, and let it become part of your life. Name your future children after characters in the book… and wouldn’t Death Metal be a pretty name for a litle girl? Just sayin’

I also wrote 3,000 more words on Dying Days: Origins, and this one is going to be a fun read if I do say so myself. I also added 1,500 words to an untitled zombie novella not in the Dying Days world I hope to finish soon and get edited properly.

Plus, I began the third Keyport Cthulhu short story, “Cabal”, and so far it might be the best of the bunch.

So, my goal for this week is to once again do whatever the Hell I want. Wish me luck.

Oh, and the midgets and eggnog in the title? Just slipped in two keywords for the search engines, because studies show people who like midgets and eggnog love reading horror books. It’s a fact.

Guest Blog – Brian J. Jarrett

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First, I’d like to thank Armand for graciously allowing me air time in his world and I’ll do my best not to waste any of your time. That said, I’d like to take this wonderful opportunity to tell you a little more about myself and some of my work.

I wrote my first short story in fifth grade, but didn’t really start writing seriously again until high school. I wrote some seriously terrible stuff, moving on to less terrible after getting a few years under my belt. After high school I wrote like crazy while entertaining notions of becoming a professional writer, but I never followed through. I stopped believing in myself and I gave up the dream.

Fast forward to 2010. I discovered the Kindle and learned that others were self-publishing on it. Inspired, I wrote a short story and then went to work on my second book, a viral zombie-apocalypse novel called “Into the Badlands”. Honestly, I never expected it to sell; I was just writing for the love of writing again (and happy to be doing so).

As it turned out the book did sell. Before I knew it I’d sold a couple thousand copies. Since September of last year I’ve sold nearly five thousand copies. The book is typically well-reviewed and sells a consistent four or five hundred copies a month.

After releasing a collection of both old and new short horror stories, I decided to write a new horror novel. I had this idea that had been bouncing around in my head for some time about a recently divorced man who moves to a small town to start his life over again, only to find out the town is bad news (of course). I released that book a couple of weeks ago. It’s called “The Desolate” and I think it’s my best writing to date.

As much as I love supernatural horror, this book just didn’t go that way. But even though the antagonist is very human, he is also very much a monster. At its core it’s a story about accepting who we are and realizing that simply changing the scenery won’t change what’s inside us. The Desolate unflinchingly follows a tortured soul as his paranoia and drinking spiral out of control, until he finally has to face up to some bitter truths. It’s dark, but hey, it’s a horror novel, after all.

Why horror? Because I love it and I think we should write what we love. I grew up on horror, it’s part of my DNA. I enjoy reading about the horrific, the macabre, the dark and the gruesome. When the lights go out, the fun begins.

I think just about all horror novels are thrillers, but certainly all thrillers are not horror. My hope is that with The Desolate I’ve succeeded in mashing up genres to create a horror-thriller. It’s fast-paced with a lot of action and it doesn’t pull any punches.

Thanks so much for your time. I hope you have a chance to check out The Desolate and my other books. And read Armand’s books! I just read “Barren” and it’s pretty damn scary.

Links:
Homepage: http://brianjjarrett.com/
Blog: http://brianjjarrett.wordpress.com/
“The Desolate” on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008NOAMEO
“Into the Badlands” on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005L4ITN0

Guest Blog – William Markly O’Neal

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My name is William Markly O’Neal.  I am a 51-year-old Hoosier.  I have been a writer all my life and always loved horror.  My favorite author is Stephen King.   My favorite television shows are Dexter and True Blood.  

When I was in third grade I tried writing a mystery along the lines of a Hardy Boys story. The story was big on cliff-hangers at the end of each chapter… and made no sense whatsoever overall.  In high school, I wrote about a high school student who aspired to be a murderer… and his mind-reading girlfriend who could see his crazy dreams. It was the first time I wrote using a fictitious setting I would return to time and again in my future writings: Trinity County, Indiana, and the imaginary city of Middleridge. 

For the last ten years, I have been working on my writing (while also working day jobs not worth mentioning). ‘Bob Bodey’s Body Parts’ was short horror story of mine that originally appeared in ‘Weird Tales’ Magazine, issue #346.  My dark comedic novelette was published in issue #15 of ‘Written Word Online Magazine’. It is called ‘The Rejection Letter that Destroys the World’.  ‘Sensory Desolation’ is a horror novelette of mine that appeared in ‘Cover of Darkness’, from Sam’s Dot Publishing, in May of 2011.  My poem about falling in love a mad woman– ‘Delusions on the Rocks’– was published in the January 2012 issue of ‘Cover of Darkness’. A script I wrote for a ‘One Minute Weird’  was made into a YouTube Video, produced through the official Weird Tales website. It is called ‘I Was A Teenage Beehive’. 

Video 

I am listed on the Internet Speculative Fiction Database and I am a member of the Horror Writer’s Association. 

I have just self-published thirteen of my horror stories– of varying lengths: from micro-fiction to three novellas.  That book is available for Kindle at Amazon.com.  It is called ‘FISHING in BRAINS for an EYE with TEETH.’   It is newly published, approximately 337 pages long, and available for the low low price of just .99 Cents.
FISHING in BRAINS for an EYE with TEETH

My anthology of Thirteen Tales of Terror include the aforementioned story that appeared in Weird Tales: ‘Bob Body’s Body Parts’, as well as ‘Sensory Desolation.’

Other stories in this anthology include…. ‘www.$ellYerSoul2Satan.hel’, the tale of a man who gets the girl the old fashioned way: by selling his soul to the Devil; ‘The Legend of Bullet Lake’, a ghost story that turns deadly for five young men on a hunting trip; ‘Crimson House’, answering the timeless question, “What happens to successful serial killers when they get old?”; ‘The Night Lightning Strikes Paintersville’, a place where madness manifests itself in art; ‘Edgar Alan Poem Meets Elizabeth Barrett Brownie’, where a monster stalks a lady using the Internet; ‘She Dreams of Murder’, the story of a man who hears his wife talk about killing him in her sleep; and ‘I Was a Teenage Beehive’, a tragic tale that just might give you a buzz. 

Even the worst monsters have ‘Embarrassing Secrets’. Even perfect machines experience ‘System Failure’. Truth or Dare makes for fun ‘Graveside Games’. And when the Emergency Broadcast System declares, “THIS IS NOT A TEST!” shouldn’t we listen? 

The anthology does contain profanity, graphic violence, and some sexual situations.  If you shell out .99 cents for it, I’ll be grateful.  And I do think you will enjoy the horror show(s)!

Follow me on Facebook… if you dare.  

http://www.facebook.com/WilliamMarklyONeal

Guest Blog – TW Brown

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TW Brown was one of the authors I chose for the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour because he’s a great writer. And that’s the bottom line. I love his work, I love his energy, and I can’t wait to keep reading what he’s putting out there. Let’s learn a few things about the man, shall we?

 Tell us a little about yourself and your work.

TWB: Zomblog is a trilogy written as a journal. Because of reader response, I am actually returning to that world and am working on the 4th book in the series titled Zomblog: Snoe. It was actually a warm up intended to get me ready for DEAD and never intended to be a book. After a reviewer contacted me and asked when the next book in the series was planned, I decided on two, then people asked for more but I drew the line at a trilogy. DEAD is going to be a 12-part series. The 4th book, Dead: Winter, just came out on May 30th and is being well received. All of the books are told in 3 rotating chapters: Steve, The Geeks, and Vignettes. I wanted something that focused on characters, not the usual rending and ripping of the standard zombie fare. I have some very evil villains and hopefully a few people that readers can relate to no matter their background. That Ghoul Ava is my newest undertaking and I think what started as a fun short story will have legs as a full length series of books. She is witty, sarcastic, and very unlike anything else I am writing.

What drew you to the horror genre and zombies in particular?

TWB: I got hooked on horror at an early age watching the late night “Creature Feature” movies being shown at Friday at midnight (on my black and white television that my folks gave me for my room when they upgraded to color…so that shows my age). As for zombies, it happened at age 14 when I saw the original Dawn of the Dead. I can’t even begin to express how in awe I was at all the amazing things I saw that day, plus, a girl in the row ahead of me puked in her popcorn. How cool do you think that was for a teenage boy? The movie is tame by today’s standards, but it was absolutely a life changer.

What is a typical day in your life like?

TWB: Usually I wake up around 6:30 to my Border Collie, Aoife (pronounced Eye-fa) nudging my face to go outside. After that it is a mandatory pot of coffee and maybe some yogurt to eat while I read a few blogs that I follow and scan my email. From there, I get in my first 500 words in whatever my current WIP might be. After that I pull up whatever happens to be the current May December Publications anthology where I read, edit, and score a few stories. By then, it is close to noon and I get in my workout. I just resumed the P90X after a nasty knee injury that laid me up for a while. A dog walk and a shower before I settle in for another writing session. If I have a novel that I am editing—either for MDP or as an outside job that I have a contract for—I work on edits. Another writing session takes me to dinner. After dinner, it is time for my last writing session of the day. At around midnight, I hit the sack ready to do it all again. Some days—though not as often as I like—I get out one of my guitars and play some Rolling Stones, KISS, or whatever strikes me at the time.

Do you still allow yourself time to read, or does writing hinder this?

TWB: I read quite a bit. I keep my Kindle beside me at my desk and break up some of my previously mentioned daily grind with reading. I don’t believe you can be a good writer if you don’t read. Also, I write reviews for my “Brutally Honest Reviews” page, Amazon, and Goodreads. I think it is important to read if you write. Period. I get a bit weary of people asking for reviews, but then they don’t bother reading or posting any themselves. I actually have a goal to reach the top 1000 as a reviewer on Amazon.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of getting a book ready for print?

TWB: Hands down, the least favorite is the editing. It is so time consuming. After the 6th or 7th read through and still finding a mistake here and there, you can start to feel like an idiot and wonder how you could have missed the error so many times. As for the favorite…just writing without a filter and seeing where the story takes me. I love being surprised by my own work. Since I am vehemently opposed to outlines, I never really know where my story may go from one day to the next.

When did you know you were talented enough to make it in this industry?

TWB: I could be modest here, but anybody who knows me would know better so I will say that I’ve always felt talented enough to make it. I think you have to be confident in yourself to make it. That said, I feel there is a ton of talent out there being ignored. I am just starting to get lucky enough to gain a following that has allowed me the luxury of doing what I love. I’m not getting rich, but I am doing well enough to pay my rent.

If you could give any advice to someone wanting to become an author, what would that be?

TWB: Do it because you love it, not because you think you are going to get rich. And be ready for a lot of work. This isn’t a part-time gig. It drains your time and if you commit to it, it may cost you a lot more time than you realize. Also, you better have the fortitude to take negative criticism. Some of it can even be nasty. But don’t EVER engage a critic. You look like an amateur when you start arguing with critics or whining because not everybody loves your work. That is a part of the business and if you can’t handle it…quit now. Also, there is a balancing act when it comes to the social media that many struggle with and few find balance.

I have seen a disturbing trend in the industry where authors seem to be overly critical of each other’s work, to the point of being malicious. How do you feel when you come across these comments or reviews, and why do you think authors aren’t more supportive of each other?

TWB: Some of it may be based on jealousy. Every dog wants to rule the yard. I think there is a difference between critical and malicious. I get hit with criticism and accept it as part of the deal. When it gets nasty, I just ignore it. I won’t say that some of it doesn’t sting, but it is just something that happens. If I let it get to me, then that person wins and has power over me that I am not willing to give them. Also, when it comes down to it, I have a house full of people who love me. I have my Border Collie who thinks I am king of the world and I have a CD of one of the concerts my band played in where the crowd is going wild…if it gets really bad, I draw on those to make me feel better.

Where do you see your career going from here and what is your ultimate goal in this industry?

TWB: My career has just started taking off. I see it going up. As for my ultimate goal…a couple of NY Times Bestsellers and a movie adaptation of any of my books.

Want To Promote Fellow Horror/Thriller Authors

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Yep, pretty simple. It won’t be some big, convoluted blog tour thing or a set day in mind, or just promoting the authors I am buddies with. I just want to give back. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a ton of great authors and bloggers over the years, and I love doing interviews and writing guest blogs and getting my name out there.

I decided, on a whim today, to give back a bit. I posted on Twitter:

If you are a #horror or #thriller #author I’d love to run a guest blog from you on my site. Because I like to help. DM me.

And the messages are rolling in, so I decided to post a quick word about it here. I’m looking for a roughly 500-word guest post about your latest release, or how you became a writer, or what you love about horror, or anything else you feel like talking about. That’s it. I’ll run it with your author photo, book covers, and links if you add them at the end of the guest blog. That’s it.

I’m not doing this to add my own book links in it or expect you to talk about me or my blog. In fact, I welcome authors I’ve never met before or had contact with to send me something. I’d love to expand on who I talk with and hopefully help everyone, without making this a huge deal and do a hundred or more posts… although, if that many come in, at least I know I’ll have more than enough posts for the blog, right?

Oh, and there will be a great one up tomorrow (see how fast this works?) by none other than my good buddy Todd Brown, the great zombie author.

Pinterest: What Am I Supposed To Do Again?

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I joined Pinterest a few months ago, since I felt obligated… I join every social media outlet in the fear that if I don’t I will miss something truly important or they’ll suddenly close the gates to the site and only the cool kids will be allowed on that side of the fence.

When MySpace (I’ll explain what that was in another blog post) was all the rage, I had 184,000+ friends on my Carnifex Metal account. I had four accounts on there, and probably had over a quarter of a million close, personal friends. It helped me sell a ton of Metal Queens books but then simply died away.

I’m iffy when it comes to Facebook. As an author, I want (and need) to use social media to help me sell books. Facebook doesn’t do that. Ever. I don’t know anyone who says ‘I need a new read, let me go and surf through an endless stream of people posting links to their new book’. No, you go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble for that. Unfortunately, most people go to Facebook to see funny cat pictures. Won’t you join me? Armand on Facebook

Twitter is my current addiction. It’s really bad right now. I have index cards filled out, charting how many followers I get each day and how many overnight add me… it’s getting ridiculous. I’m averaging 188 new followers per day this week, and will break 15,000 followers by the end of the weekend. Sad. Watch as my followers grow on Twitter

Now, onto Pinterest.

I’ve been dutifully and obsessively adding random people, which seem to be mostly women. I have 729 followers and I’m following 2,779 myself. No idea if that is good, bad, or what it even means.

I added boards with my books on it, and then a few with my own personality: the Red Sox, comic books, Heavy Metal, New Jersey, steampunk, shapes of women I like… now what?

So, here’s the big question… do I keep on this path of adding more and more people and boards and hope I figure it out, or give up on it, or do something different with it? Does anyone know what any of it even means? Oh, and here’s my Pinterest