Saturday, June 29, 2013

Zombie Photo Story Ideas

Admit it. There are times when your brain seems as dead as a zombie. Nothing comes by itself.

I'm not talking about finishing projects that are already begun. Those have a foundation to work from. I mean  starting something new. (And should you if you already have unfinished stuff to work on, like we all do? But that's another post.)

I mean starting a new project, maybe short or flash fiction; something to keep yourself motivated, rejuvenated, creative...

I love story starters, especially photos. Looking at a picture usually sparks some kind of idea. Think not? Well, have you tried it?

Here's a great collection of Story Starter Photos on Pinterest.  Go ahead, pick one. (Which I never knew you could copy and embed pix from there!)

I liked this photo:

What is their story, you wonder?

Here's my take, short and sweet:

The Survivors
By C.A. Verstraete

The elderly couple clung to each other as they walked down the lonely stretch of sidewalk.

"Don't look back," the man warned, hugging his wife tighter.

She gave him a timid smile, but kept on, her arm wrapped in his, her head on his shoulder. 

Their heads held high, they walked slow, sure, and straight ahead as the eerie moans behind them grew louder.

* Got your own idea or care to post one?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Unlike Zombies, Time Keeps Going Faster and Faster

I swear, every week I'm like, Holy crap!  It's Thursday!  I have to get my blog post done.  It keeps sneaking up on me and comes sooner and sooner.  Where is all this time going?

Seriously, I need some more of it.  Sunday was the first day in about 10 days that I had a chance to sit down and write.  It's been crazy busy.  Sometimes I forget how incredibly freeing and stree relieving writing can be, especially when zombies are tearing someone apart or a character has worse problems than I do.  It puts things into perspective.

Well, since time is slipping away at an unnatural pace, I don't have a chance to delve much deeper.  I am on chapter 6 of my next zombie novel and hoping to accomplish more this weekend!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mini Review: Zombiestan by Mainak Dhat

Zombiestan - Mainak Dhar

Synopsis (From Amazon): 

It began with stories of undead Taliban rampaging through Afghan villages, and faster than anyone could have anticipated; the darkness spreads through the world.

In a world laid waste by this new terror, four unlikely companions have been thrown together- a seventeen year old boy dealing with the loss of his family, a US Navy SEAL trying to get back home, an aging, lonely writer with nobody to live for, and a young girl trying to keep her three year old brother safe.

When they discover that the smallest amongst them holds the key to removing the scourge that threatens to destroy their world, they begin an epic journey to a rumoured safe zone high in the Himalayas. A journey that will pit them against their own worst fears and the most terrible dangers- both human and undead.

A journey through a wasteland now known as Zombiestan.

Mini-Review:  A friend recommended this book to me, and since I wrote briefly about a zombie outbreak in Afghanistan in Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, I figured I should read it.  I was not disappointed.  The plot was one we've seen before:  world is overrun by zombies, but one child may hold the cure so we must get him to safety.  However, I was impressed by the realism of how people handled the situations, from tactics I could actually agree with the usual human stupidity I would expect in a world gone mad.  I also enjoyed the (for me) exotic locations:  Pakistan, Delhi, northern India.  I felt for the characters, especially the Navy SEAL.  (Sentimental me teared up when he did the heroic last stand to buy the others time, and afterward, a general (also a SEAL) promised to search for him.  "We don't leave our own behind.")  I will warn you, though:  if you hate head-hopping, then this book might make you dizzy.  Personally, I had no problem with it and thought it kept the pace fast.

Definitely a fun read for zombie fans.

Get it on Amazon:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Zombie Book Launch Party Coming Up!

Just wanted to share plans for the zombie book launch for GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie!

If you're in the Wisconsin/Illinois area - the launch party will be from 6-8 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 15 at the Southwest Library Community Room, 7979 38th Ave., Kenosha, WI

I'll have a short presentation, snacks, prizes, a reading and why, yes, even zombie jokes! haa!  Please let me know if you plan to attend.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Zombie games anyone?

Ooh, something I just came across and have to check out- a Zombie Games site!

All kinds of interesting games to play online! Most look like you have to sign in to play, but it seems worth checking out....

Monday, June 24, 2013

Author Catt Dahman talks zombies - and the Titanic

Today, prolific author Catt Dahman talks about her latest take on zombies - and the Titanic! (Love that cover!)

About Titanic QED In 1912, the Titanic hit an iceberg and over the course of a few hours, plunged to the bottom of the sea, leaving a fraction of the passengers and crew to bob about the frigid sea in small lifeboats. The others, husbands, fathers, third class passengers froze to death in the icy water, but they were the lucky ones; there was much worse in the sea that fateful night.

Behemoths, leviathans, a hundred-foot megaladon and other flesh-devouring creatures broke the boundaries that night, crossing over into our world to prey. As the Old Ones slumbered, the beasts of Lovecraftian lore broke free to terrorize and consume the innocent.

Written as H.P. Lovecraft would tell the tale, Titanic QED explores the untold story of the night the Titanic sank.

Here's Catt!
              I have been labeled a “zombie writer” and I am one. I have a nine-book Z is for Zombie series being released by Severed Press right now and they are going to pick up the others that go with the series including he first book, X is for Xombie.  

              But I am also a horror writer, first and foremost. I have several very scary books available that are about a family of cannibals, Helen of Troy as  vampire,  a curse and serial killer, and about..well…crazed, violent people/rain/ the end of the world. In addition, Severed Press has me on another four-book contract for stories about “bad fish.”

           Titanic: QED was just released and is about the sinking of the Titanic during a time when Lovecraftian creatures and a megaladon make the catastrophe much worse. A giant, hungry shark going after the people in the water is the very least of the terror. I had fun combining classic Lovecraft with a shark and Titanic because they don’t go together, and yet, they mesh seamlessly. (Check out the assorted Titanic pix on her page.)

             I have been writing these for 30 years, but have been actively in the business for only a year. For some reason, I was grabbed very quickly by a publishing house and have done well enough to write full time. My degree is in psychology and education and I taught literature at a college for a while, but stopped teaching to write full time.
                Zombies, in true Romero and Walking Dead rules, are a vehicle of storytelling. I don’t list a ton about prepping or weapons or such, but I tell a very intense story with my series about loyalty, the right to decide one’s own terms for life and death, maternal love, morals, and how shades of gray matter as much as the typical good vs. evil ideals. 

             My series begins with old  retired men and how that, even in the worst circumstances, have wonderful stories and experiences that matter again in an apocalypse. My characters have feet of clay as they are sometimes scared, selfish, or depressed. I have heroes and I have cruel bigoted characters, men and women, strong, weak, old and young, black, white, brown, gay straight…everyone gets a voice when I write.

                I can’t say my series has a happy ending, but it also isn’t a typical zombie-story either. It is as real and fair as possible and sadly, that isn’t always happy. I am kind of becoming known for endings that are a little brutal and realistic, but when dealing with the intricacies of the human mind, we find some scary endings.

                I became interested this past year in getting my writing out because I feel some fans want my raw, honest style. I kept reading glittery, happy stories and sure, they make us feel good, but it’s like too much ice cream. I felt there should also be some hard core food topped with salsa hot enough to strip paint off a barn. That was my goal: to seriously break a few rules and push boundaries and make the reader as uncomfortable as possible. I have a need to get into a reader’s comfort zone and blow it wide open with terrifying images and disquieting words. If a reader feels as if I have crawled into his mind and dug around, leaving him to worry and ponder the ideals I set in print, then my day is done. There was a need to write about people, using zombies as the least terrifying issue as they rip and tear through the human population.

                My publisher, Severed Press, is great. My editor suggests themes that he knows I will fly with in very new ways and that’s why we work well together. I can say this: there is no one writing as I write that pulls no punches. Richard Laymon, Edward Lee, Ira Levin, and Thomas Tryon who all make the reader feel comfortable and cozy and then push them off a cliff of the story have influenced me. They can take the ordinary and make it very frightening.  I am just fortunate to have Gary Lucas at Severed Press, a great copy editor, and supportive family, fans, and friends pushing me to scare people.

                I am from Texas and most of my stories happen in and around my state because only here do we find characters this rich, funny, and amazing. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Zombie Book Writing and Stuff

  It's 1 1/2 months until the official release of GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie .but the work is far from over. It's only just begun... (Hear that Carpenters song in your head?... yes, technically it's We've Only Just Begun - now do you hear it?)

Okay... so what does that have to do with zombies, you ask?

Well, sometimes it means thinking beyond the traditional.

Becca, the 16-year-old main character from GIRL Z is not your typical zombie. -----
* She's only part-Z.
*  She does not eat or crave "brains." Yuck!
* She'd rather eat chocolate and pizza and ice cream and... if only she could.

My point being: she's different, so she faces prejudices from adults, bullying from other kids, and deals with the garbage that comes with trying to fit in. Yet she's strong, showing that "different" isn't always bad.

* Pre-order at

New Project 1:
And while I'm talking about GIRL Z, I've been working on something fun - mini magnets! Cool, huh?

New Projects 2 plus:
The other project I've been working on is definitely different. I've been working on a couple things, actually, one being more historical and dealing with a long dead, famous person.

Writing-wise, it's extremely interesting to delve into records and do research. It also takes some thinking and figuring to get this person to fit into the situation I've dreamed up. Some purists may question it as some real life facts would have to be adjusted to fit the situations, places and time frames of my story. But when you hear the initial facts of the case, it really does make sense. And that is the fun of working on such a project, even if it is, yes, challenging. It may be a novella or a shorter book. Not sure yet. We'll see how it goes. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Famous and the Slasher Book

Today's post is going to be about horror, but not zombie horror.  You may or may not know that I write nonfiction under my real name.  My first book, Life Lessons from Slasher Films, was published last year by Scarecrow Press.  I'm very proud of this book.  It started out as my thesis and I expanded it.

I have a friend, Jerrod Brown, who painted my covers for Life After the Undead and Death to the Undead.  He is an amazing person.  He goes to conferences and conventions and takes my books with him so he can get pictures with famous people.  Here is the most recent batch.

Camille Keaton, from I Spit on Your Grave 

Oliver Robins, from Poltergeist

Tony Moran, Michael from Halloween (he's the guy on the cover!)

John Dugan, Grandpa from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Andrew Bryniarski, Leatherface from the 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Linnea Quigley, from The Return of the Living Dead

Scott Spiegel, cowrote Evil Dead II (one of my all-time favorite movies!)

Jonathan Tiersten, from Sleepaway Camp

April Burril (aka Chainsaw Sally) / Debbie Rochon

J LaRose, from the Saw films (III and IV)

Jen & Sylvia Soska, producers

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Chase Zombies in Utah!

Zombies are coming to Utah!  Run, baby, run!

Every year, Utah hosts the Zombie Chase, a 5K Obstacle course with a unique feature--zombies.  In addition to real and man-made obstacles for runners to scale, volunteers dressed as the undead will shamble on after you.  They also have a paintball court, where you have the chance to take out the zombies in a live-action carnival style game.  They also raise money for charities and collect shoes for Africa.

I took my boys last year, and they ran while I had a book signing.  They had a great time, and everyone got T-shirts!  Here's a video. 

This year's race will be held in the ghost town Eureka, UT starting at dusk.

If you live in Utah, don't miss this opportunity to chase or be chased by zombies... a ghost town....


Details at:

** And check out other zombie events...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Shop and drop zombies?

Ok... really? Just found this site where, yes, you too can fight zombies - just like in the movies!

UK - fight zombies in a shopping mall. And it's 139 pounds (about $150). Worth it? Would you pay it? Is this going too far? I like haunted houses and a good scare but...

Day of the Dead anyone? Is this getting too real or do some people have too much extra money to spend? (still?)


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Zombie Mud Run

If you missed The Zombie Run in Middletown Delaware on June 15th, you still have at least five more shots to run your ass off in a 5k Post-Apocalyptic obstacle course which features zombies, mud, music, and beer (you should probably wait until you've completed the outrageous, adrenaline pumping obstacle course before you tip a few of those bad-boys back). The next race is in East Canton, Ohio this September, where you can either sign up to be a zombie or a survivor being chased by one, through piles of debris and huge rusty monster vehicles. You'll also have the opportunity to race through the deep woods and scenic valleys while being chased by other adrenaline seekers. If you make it through most of the course, eventually you'll get a chance to catch your breath while enjoying a lovely view of the Ohio Valley.  If this sounds like your kind of party, then check out for prices and future races.I seriously would LOVE doing something like this and may have to check it out in 2014 if the real zombies haven't gotten to us yet.

Photo from the

Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer of Zombies - Julianne Snow talks Zombie and Days with the Undead

 Welcome to part of the Summer of Zombies Blog Tour  on Facebook featuring nine zombie authors. (No they're not zombies, but they write about zombies.)

Today we welcome Julianne Snow, author of Days with the Undead: Book One who is letting her character Julie do the talking today.

It’s a journal of survival.

Five people set out to escape the Undead who have risen too close to home. Join their emotional and physical struggle on the third day after the awakening of Brooks VanReit, as they are recorded from the point of view of Julie, a former pathologist and part-time survivalist.

Each entry is geared toward helping those who want to help themselves and maybe give a few that don’t a swift kick in the ass. Join our group of survivors on their journey through these Days with the Undead.

* Get the book at Smashwords - 
Amazon: Canada, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Japan, Brazil

** Be sure to comment here on the blog to win 1 of several copies of Days of the Undead: Book One. **

Here's Julie from Days with the Undead:

What do you want from life?
I just want to survive. It’s simple really. Right now we’re on the move, trying to stay ahead of the Undead. It would be nice for things to return to some sort of normalcy, but we all know that what we’re dreaming is a pipe dream. Instead we’re faced with days upon days of struggle and that’s only if we don’t succumb to the hordes that surround us daily.

If you were granted three wishes, what would you ask for?
A world without the Undead, a hot shower, and a soft, warm bed.

What three things would you take to a Desert Island?
Unfortunately, not even the islands are safe… I’d want my handgun, an endless supply of ammo and a crowbar for when close quarters negate the use of a gun.

How do you fall in love? At first sight? Over a long period?
I feel in love with my husband at first sight. He’s dead now, however. At some point I may think about love again, but for the moment, my energy is directed at helping my group to survive.

How do you decide if you can trust someone? Experience with others? With this person? First impressions? Intuition? Do you test the person somehow? Or are you just generally disposed to trust or not to trust?
By their actions. If they act in good faith in the situation where you first meet them, you can pretty much rest assured that they are someone to that can be trusted. It does take only a single moment of stupidity or shiftiness to initiate a sliver of doubt in my mind. We don’t live in a world where you can make mistakes or carry dead-weight.

When you walk into a room, what do you notice first? Second?
The first thing I look for is the presence of any of the Undead. Once I’ve ascertained there are none of them inside, I look for all points of egress and ingress. It’s best to know where they may come at you from and where there’s an exit should you need to escape.

When you walk into a room, what do you expect people to notice about you?
That I’m a no bullshit kind of woman with a plan and the means to get it done. It’s fairly simple; I have a scientific background and I’ll use that when I can to get me from one day to the next.

Describe yourself to me.
Even though I’m a strong woman, I still see myself as an unlikely role model for others. I have been thrust into a position of authority through necessity and at times, it can certainly seem like it gets to me. I’m human just like everyone else and I have my weak moments. My scientific background helps me to survive, but even that can only get my so far. I need to rely on all of my strengths and work on counteracting my weaknesses – it’s the only way.

What's the worst thing you've ever done? Why?
I killed what was left of my husband’s body. Enough said.

What are you most afraid of?
Becoming one of them…

How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?
Right now, life sucks and it’s glorious. I’m still alive and that cannot be taken for granted, but I exist in a world that is hard to live in. If I could change anything, it would be to go back to the moment when it all started and end it shortly after it began. It would have been simple to end it all back then…

What makes you laugh out loud?
At the moment, it’s the pure joy that Lily and Liam exude. Even in a world full of the Undead, these two still find ways to be children and they never let a moment pass where being a kid again is a possibility. It’s as beautiful as it is heartbreaking.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Honestly, at this point it’s the fact that I’m still alive…

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Perfect happiness doesn’t exist. As a realist, I would only hope that the world can stop existing and start living again. That and a world without the Undead.

What is your current state of mind?
I won’t lie to you – I’m frazzled, confused, diligent, resolved, and tired.

What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is that we’ll never rid the world of the dangers of the Undead. We have no idea what has caused the situation, so we really cannot even fight our foe intelligently. All we can do is continue to fight the symptom and hope that we can eradicate the cause in the long-run.

What do you most value in your friends?
The ability to use a firearm. The ability to assess situations and act accordingly. The fact that they always have my back. Their mere presence is something that I value as I have no desire to navigate this world on my own.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Probably the word Undead, but I just cannot bring myself to call them the ‘Z’ word…

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My physical strength. While I am strong, I would love to be stronger. As it stands, each and every time I have to take down one of the Undead with pure brute strength, I find myself tired after each blow. That tiredness scares me. It worries me that at some point, in a situation not stacked in my favour that I will lose the strength in my arms and be unable to continue. That’s a scary, sobering thought.

Which living person do you most despise?
I don’t think I despise anyone living. There have been a few people we’ve come across that I wouldn’t hesitate in killing should the opportunity arise, but that is born out of a need for retribution. If you hurt one of the people I love, I won’t hesitate in hurting you back. It may seem callous and cold-hearted but this world has a way of changing you. I’d gladly give the shirt off my back to a person who needed it and who was willing to help themselves survive, but when you think that taking what isn’t yours is the correct path, my generosity begins to run thin.

What is your biggest regret?
With the world the way that it is, that’s a very hard question to answer. I have felt regret for a few stupid things in the past – the perm I let my mother give me in ninth grade the day before picture day, kissing Charlie Stoles on a dare, and not taking enough study breaks in university in order to have fun. But those things pale as time goes on, especially now.

I would like to add that I wish I had been able to go to my parents and make them leave when all of this occurred. Just to know they’re safe would mean the world to me at this point.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
The lowest depth? You can easily see it on the faces of those locked in batter with the Undead. Sometimes the bodies you’re so intent on killing wear the faces of those you once loved, still love. To know that you cannot save them makes a part of you die each time you have to deliver the second death to them.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My own insular thoughts. Being able to deal with a lot on your own can certainly he helpful in certain stressful situations, but there are times when you need to get what you’ve seen out of your head in order to be able to move on. I have a hard time letting go of the things I have seen.

How would you like to die?
In my sleep. Just to fade away into the darkness of nothing. To not know my death was coming and that it wouldn’t be painful. To have my last thought be a dream (hopefully not a nightmare) and not the panicked thought of becoming one of them.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
It certainly wouldn’t be one of the Undead. Altruistically, I’d like to say that I would love to come back as the cure for what has allowed the dead to rise again, but it’s not likely that will ever happen. If time were not a factor, I would love to come back in a time before the Undead, to have lived my life fully and free from their threat.

About author Julianne Snow: 
Watching Romero's Night of the Living Dead at the tender age of six solidified Julianne’s respect for the Undead. She's since been preparing herself for the (inevitable) Zombie Apocalypse. While classically trained in all of the ways to defend herself, she took up writing in order to process the desire she now covets: to bestow a second and final death upon the Undead. As the only girl growing up in a family with four children in the Canadian countryside, Julianne needed some form of escape. Her choice was the imaginations of others which only fostered the vibrancy of her own.

Days with the Undead: Book One is her first full-length book, the basis of which can be found in her popular web serial of the same name. Along with many zombie shorts published on her blog, she has a story in Women of the Living Dead as well as two zombie pieces; a standalone short and a collection releasing the summer of 2013. Julianne’s second novel in her Days with the Undead series will also be released in 2013. Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Zombie Author Max Brooks Coming to Chicago area!

  Max Brooks, author of New York Times best-selling zombie books  WORLD WAR Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (inspiration for the new Brad Pitt movie, World War Z) and The Zombie Survival Guide will be appearing at 7 p.m., July 12 at Harper College,  1200 W. Algonquin Rd., Palatine, IL

Tickets: $5 general admission, free to Harper summer students (with valid ID) - ticket required; $3 staff/faculty, seniors, and other students with ID.

Box office: 1-847-925-6100

Friday, June 14, 2013

How Do Zombies "Survive"?

When I travel (which, remember, isn't often), not only do I look for ways to escape town, I also take in the climate.  We have such a varying climates in the U.S., from tornadoes to wild fires to blizzards to extreme heat, how do we survive?  Probably because we bend the environment to our will.  We create heaters and air conditioners and safe places to go.  But what about zombies?  They don't have the brain capacity to create new things.

On the plus side, zombies no longer have the ability to feel.  They don't notice the extreme heat and cold.  As the walking dead, they no longer worry about anything, except maybe finding and eating humans, but I doubt the thoughts consume their entire day.  It depends on what you're reading.  Anyway, the weather still has to affect them in some way.

 In  Life After the Undead, I explore that same question and claim that the zombies can't live in the East because the humidity causes them to deteriorate faster than normal.  They move to the West where the dry air preserves them.

At the moment, I'm in the Southwest visiting family, and I'm wondering if zombies would be able to survive here.  It's dry, there's no denying that, but it's also incredibly hot.  The sun pounds the earth with harsh rays, and it makes me wonder what it would do to a corpse.  As humans, we can counteract the effects by drinking water and finding shade, but zombies don't have that capacity.  What would happen to them?  Would they turn into a walking piece of leather?  Would they become so brittle every step would cause them to fall apart?

I'm going to have to contemplate this a little more and do some research.  To me, this kind of stuff is fascinating and could mean the difference between life and death.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Barbara Custer, author of zombie book, Steel Rose

About Zombie Book, Steel Rose by Barbara Custer:

The denizens of hell attack. The zombies feed. She's their meal. Sometimes they come back. At least the Kryszka aliens do. Their leader injects captured humans with a drug, turning them into zombies. Yeron escapes the Kryszka Colony, hoping to practice medicine on the humans who fear him. Alexis-a patient-is afraid too, until his seductive attentions arouse her. Despite his experimental drug, severe arthritis leaves her too weak to handle most guns. The Kryszka troops and zombies who break into the hospital are hungry. Very hungry. How will she fight them?

The Story behind Steel Rose

Before I wrote Steel Rose, I had arthritis in both wrists and needed surgery. I hoped that science could invent an easy operation or drug to rebuild my cartilage. Although I embellished a lot, many of the physical difficulties protagonist Alexis had on her job happened in real life. 

Other inspirations were seasoned into Steel Rose; Tom Johnson and I coauthored Starship Invasions, where aliens and humans interacted on a daily basis. City of Brotherly Death came next with its zombies and revenants, creatures invented by my nightmares. Before I wrote Steel Rose, I read about a respiratory therapist who’d been convicted of killing six patients with Pavulon, a drug that stops a patient’s respirations when they go on a ventilator. I was also caring for my husband Mike, who had Parkinson’s disease. What would I do if hostile aliens or zombies broke into our home?
Why zombies? I read a lot of zombie novels and wonder how people would handle an invasion in real life. Like many authors who write horror, I’m trying to face my secret fears. I’ve feared skeletons since I was ten, when I saw a mummy up close and personal, sitting up in a sarcophagus, waving her arm. Later on, I’d found out that the entertainer was using props to make the body move, but at the time, I thought that this mummy was reaching for me. I tore out of that pavilion fast. You can get the details about my encounter here

That encounter, among other things, has spurred me into writing zombie tales. Alexis will be kicking serious zombie butt in Steel Rose and the sequel. How she does it, given her health challenges – well…you’ll have to read the book. 

Steel Rose By: Barbara Custer,Dawné Dominique

Order a signed copy through PayPal for $19.00 postpaid.
Purchase a paperback version through Amazon here.
You can download the Kindle version here.
Purchase a paperback through Barnes & Noble here.
 Steel Rose is available in Nook and Kobo, too.