Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Blogging A to Z, Z is for Zombie Coloring Pages

 Blogging A to Z - Z is for Plants Vs. Zombies Coloring Pages

Today marks the end of our month-long adventure from A to Z. I hope you enjoyed stopping by as much as we enjoyed sharing some different posts. Keep coming back to see what else we have lined up and for more about our upcoming work!

(** I'll be doing Story a Day in May  - May 1 prompter is Neil Gaiman! Check it out and see what stories I and my fellow GirlZombieAuthors come up with! - Chris)

  I've probably shared this in the past, but these Plant Vs. Zombies Coloring Pages are worth a second look. Besides , they're cute and free, so go check out the page for more zombie art. Enjoy!  

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Blogging A to Z - Y is for Younger Readers

Y is for Younger Readers

I'm using the letter "Y" to announce that I'm revamping my vampire series - The Night Roamers - and offering it to younger readers. In all honestly, it was mainly written for ages seventeen and older, because of the language, violence, and steamy romance scenes. I'd even put a disclosure in the book descriptions, warning that all four books were meant for older readers. Now, we're not talking about erotica, just scenes that I wouldn't feel comfortable letting my own daughter read, who is almost thirteen. I just wouldn't.

Well, after receiving several emails from readers (many of them thirteen!) telling me how much they've enjoyed the Night Roamers, I've decided to create a censored version of the series and offer it to tweens and young adults (I will still keep my original as well).

 I will be removing anything that couldn't be shown on the Disney Channel, and releasing it within the next couple of months.  I will leave in words that many teens do use like "Crap, butthead, heck,"  to make it believable. But, I think I'll be able to sleep better at night knowing that the series can still be enjoyed by younger readers without the adult content. Anyway, here is the cover for my censored version (also less provocative than my current).  Coming soon!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Blogging A to Z, X is for eXtraordinary authors - Debbie Macomber, Sharon Sala & More

Blogging A to Z  -- X is for EXtraordinary Authors 

I attended former Publisher Weekly blogger Barbara Vey's third annual Reader Appreciation Luncheon Saturday for the first time - and certainly NOT the last.

(Author Debbie Macomber)

Wow! Some 60 authors and 400 readers with guest speaker and best-selling author Debbie Macomber!! (I'm a fan of her Cedar Cove and Blossom Street series! And now I have an autographed copy of the first book in her new series, The Inn at Rose Harbor (with bonus short story "When First They Met")).

  My friend and I were fortunate to sit at the table with lovely Oklahoma author and New York Times Bestseller Sharon Sala (seven-time Rita finalist and many other awards.) I got her  'Til Death (A Rebel Ridge Novel) autographed, and am especially intrigued by the beautiful cover of her recently released The Dove (Prophecy Series), which she proudly states features Native American models. 

(Pictured: Author Sharon Sala)

Sala, who is part Cherokee, says she feels a special connection writing her Native American stories (under the name Dinah McCall) and was glad to return to that theme with her latest release, a paranormal story. Of note is the beautiful cover features handsome Native American model/actor Rick Mora, and Sala's beautiful granddaughter, Logan Sala. 

(I'm so looking forward to reading this! I love historicals and Native American stories - one of my early favorites was Sacajawea.)

Writers write because they love it, and they especially love talking about their work since, as Sala joked, "Writers are in a lonely business. The only things we talk to are figments of our imagination."  (ha!)

Most writers can be pretty funny. Debbie Macomber  (author of 100 novels with more than 170 million copies in print and  #1 New York Times Bestseller) was no exception, offering a few funny stories and some inspiring writing advice.

She shared that "at four, even then I had an active imagination."  As all she had at the time were Golden Books, she said that when she received her first library book, she was hooked. "From that point forward, I never went to bed without a book," she said.

Letters from...

Most amusing were the snippets of letters she shared from readers (I'm not sure if you can call all of them fans.)  While Macomber admitted she never attended college as she married young, she shared one letter that said: "I like your books because you use small words."

Even better is the letter writer who said, "You're my favorite author. You put me to sleep every night."

"I don't make this stuff up," Macomber added.

And authors should note: apparently you shouldn't consider yourself "having made it" until you get letters from prisoners. "I get at least two to three letters every week from men in prison," she said. (To which Sala agreed, "it's true.")

 It almost didn't happen... 

It's different now, but Macomber knows what it means to almost have to give up and is thankful for her husband Wayne's patient faith in her. She'd been writing 2 1/2 years, she recalled, and he'd been out of work and on unemployment. Things were tight and he told her "I need you to find a job." 

"I married young, I had no job skills," Macomber said. "There's no way I could work 40 hours a week, keep up with the kids, with all their activities, and write. I said, 'God you gave me this dream, I'll have to give it back to you.'"

She couldn't sleep, and when Wayne woke at 4 a.m. she told him, "I thought I really could've made it as a writer." He said, "okay, honey" and let her keep on trying. "It was another 2 1/2 years before I sold my first book,"  she said. "He really is my hero."

Even selling one of her first small stories for $5, she recalled, was reason to celebrate. Her advice is worth remembering:
 "What I tell young authors is when I sold a story for $5, it was validation. Celebrate the small successes. They're little pieces of hope."
"If you want to be an author, the key ingredient is passion.  You have to want this more than anything you've wanted in your life."


Macomber said that while none of her children have shown any interest in writing, her grandson shows promise.

 "When his school was vandalized, the first thing he did was write a story," she said. "The last line was 'And when they got out of jail they were too old to play bingo.' I said, 'can grandma use that?' And he said, 'only if you pay me.'"


A couple other books I got (signed) and can't wait to read:

 USA Today Besetseller Tonya Kappes -  A Ghostly Undertaking (Beyond The Grave) (Sounded like a fun premise - a town undertaker sees ghosts and now tries to solve the murder of a recently deceased client.)

Jason Mott - The Returned (Been watching the show, Resurrection on TV, and hoping they don't spoil it. I thought it'd be longer than five episodes though! Wow, what TV can do for a book. I saw plenty of people buying this.)

(Also looked at these and will borrow them from my friend. Set at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago and such beautiful covers:)

Deanne Gist
It Happened at the Fair (Oh! I see on the website it says there are photos of the actual fair in the book. I didn't look at that!) and....

Fair Play. (No wonder I looked at it. On her website she calls it "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman Meets Walker Texas Ranger." I loved Dr. Quinn and yes, I watched Walker too!)


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Blogging A to Z, W is for Woodcut Artist Loren Kantor

Blogging A to Z  - W is for Woodcuts

(Woodcut - Karloff)

by Christine Verstraete

Today I wanted to share the unique work of woodcut artist Loren Kantor.

I happened upon this Hollywood-based artisan's blog, WoodcuttingFool, a while back and  was fascinated, so I asked him to share about his carvings and how he does them. Be sure to read the interesting stories and bios he writes at his blog about the person or image he's carved. 

Kantor carves realistic portraits of rock artists (Cat Stevens), to famous faces (Mr. President), and intriguing faces (Salvador Dali), to old (Fatty Arbuckle) and new Hollywood stars (Lauren Bacall and Pacino among others), monsters (Karloff), and even animals like this Great White Shark. Then there is this slightly creepy story from The Carpenter...

(Woodcut - Edgar Allen Poe)

From Loren Kantor: 
"My interest in woodcuts began in the 80's when I attended a German Expressionist art show at LA County Museum. I encountered the woodcut prints and paintings of George Grosz, Kathe Kollwitz and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. I was mesmerized. I loved the stark lines and bold imagery.  Even though I'd never seen the images before they felt instantly recognizable.  Characters expressed emotional angst and the images seemed alive, almost three-dimensional even though they were just black lines on white paper.  I was writing screenplays in those days and I never envisioned attempting woodcut carving myself.  But the images stayed in my subconscious and whenever I saw a woodcut print I felt a sense of excitement.

"In 2007, my wife surprised me with a woodcutting set for my birthday. I checked out a few online tutorial videos and I dove in, head first. The carving process was difficult at first.  My fingers were ravaged as I cut myself often on the sharp blades.  The blocks were ragtag and I felt like a kindergartner with his first set of fingerpaints.

(Woodcut - Peter Lorre)

"After about six months of carving, I began to feel more comfortable with the carving.
I've always been attracted to old movies.  We needed art for our walls at home so I began a series of prints based on my favorite classic films.  Friends complimented me on the prints and asked if they could have some for their walls.  Within a year, I had enough images for a show and I was able to display the prints at a vintage film theater.

"The images I choose are based on people I admire.  These includes artists, filmmakers, writers, political figures, friends, family, animals.  I don't have to like every personality I carve (Richard Nixon, for example.)  I only need to find the person or subject compelling.  I enjoy writing about the woodcuts as well, how they influence or moments from their life.

"When carving the woodcuts, the process begins when I find an old photo or image that I like. From this image I make an initial pencil sketch which I then transfer to a wood or linoleum block. I use standard woodcutting blades and gouges and other odd tools (awls, dental implements, sewing needles.)

"Once the image is carved I clean the block, apply a thin layer of ink and hand press the image on archival paper using a Japanese Baren (a bamboo tool that look kind of like an air-hockey paddle). The entire process takes 40-50 hours depending on the size and complexity of the image. If I make a major mistake I have to start over. Minor mistakes I live with; they add to the organic nature of the print.

"Each carved block yields between 40-50 prints before the block starts to degrade.  I sell the prints between $40-$50 each, depending on the size of the print.  Each print is individually hand-pressed and each is wholly unique depending on the amount of ink used, pressure of the baren, absorption of the paper, etc.  I sell the prints via my blog and at various gallery shows around the country.

"Woodcutting has become a refuge for me.  The process is slow and meditative.  I'll put on music, immerse myself in the carving and hours will go by in a flash.  In these days when everything is moving so fast it's nice to have an activity that forces me to relax.  I guess woodcutting has become my personal yoga."

Loren, thanks for sharing your story and your beautiful work.

(Read the story about this beautiful black ink print with watercolor, The Scarlet Tanager.)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Blogging A to Z, V is for Virus

More often than not, a virus is what causes the zombie outbreak.  It's a good candidate for this illness because viruses are hard to fight, they act quickly, and they mutate fairly rapidly (look at the flu virus, it mutates every year).  Viruses have the capability of causing mass casualties, and throughout history, they have.  They are scary.

I did a whole chapter in my nonfiction zombie book about viruses, and it was a lot of fun to research.  There were parts of it that were frightening, such as Ebola viruses, but it was also intriguing to read about how we have evolved alongside each other.  In the process, humans developed an immune system to keep them safe, and viruses keep finding ways to get through that system.

I also got to talk to a guy from the CDC about disease containment.  It was fascinating!

Some films that portray zombies coming from viruses:  World War Z, 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Resident Evil

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Blogging A to Z, U is for Us Girl Zombie Authors

 Blogging A to Z  --  U is for Us Girl Zombie Authors, of course! 

Today's post seemed the perfect day to share why we -- the GirlZombieAuthors -- like to write about zombies.

Karina Fabian, author of Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator:zombie exterminator

Why do I like writing about zombies? 
"I was asked, and they are funny."

Favorite Book Quote: Napalm sticks to zombies!

Kristen Middleton, author of Zombie Games (Origins - Book 1):

Why do I like writing about zombies? 
"Hmm... because the idea of an apocalypse is so terrifying and intriguing. Throw that in with dead humans who will do anything to eat your brains and are everywhere you turn, it makes for some really good stories."

Favorite Book Quote:
Kristie snorted. “Okay, everyone, time to leave. The testosterone in this room is going to either make me go nuts or grow a pair; frankly I don’t want to do either.”

Pembroke Sinclair, author of Death to the Undead:

Why do I like writing about zombies? 
"It gives me a way to examine what it means to be human. It puts characters in a horrific dire situation that usually makes them do things they don't want to do and they have to decide how it affects their humanity."

Favorite Book Quote:
"I knew Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I was pretty sure the zombies could destroy it in one." - Krista, Death to the Undead.

C.A. (Christine) Verstraete, author of Girl Z: My Life As A Teenage Zombie:
Why do I like writing about zombies? 
"Because I have a twisted mind? ha! I like the challenge of thinking up something different, and having fun with it. Just because the character's world is ending doesn't mean beyond the trauma, challenges and dire circumstances, they can't sometimes have a sense of humor. 

"While most zombie books involve a lot of fighting the zombies and are more male-oriented, I wanted to show it from the other side—that of a girl not only fighting zombies, but fighting herself, outside prejudices, and dealing with the fear of turning into what she fears most."

Favorite Book Quote:
Becca thinks, Laugh or I'll cry.
And a little suspense:
Standing on my tiptoes, I bounced up and down, ready to jump if a hand pulled the door or something came out around the door frame.
Nothing stirred. The quiet was almost worse.
My mind raced, picturing all kinds of horrors—the creature lurking behind the door waiting to get us, the monster under the bed . . . a whole catalog of childhood nightmares came to life. The worst image—no. I shoved that one away—fast. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Blogging A to Z, T is for Teenage Zombie

 Blogging A to Z  -- T is for Teenage Zombie, of course! 

Often you'll find several books and movies with similar or the same names.

As I chose the name for GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie randomly since it seemed to fit, for fun, I thought I'd see what movies are out there with a similar name. 

No guarantees that they'll be any good, of course - warning - they probably are really bad!). (Read the book, it's better just like what happens with a lot of movies.)

Teenage Zombie (1961) takes the usual crazy scientist angle, but this time it's a woman in charge who turns teens into her slaves.  Wishful thinking when it comes to getting teens to clean their rooms perhaps?

In I was a Teenage Zombie, (1987) high schoolers kill a drug pusher who comes back as a zombie on a killing spree.  (Don't they do that anyway?)

In a slightly different play on the title, Zombie Crush, a Teenage Zomedy (2013) has 13-year-old Bobby waking  from a coma and having to grow-up fast in a new zombie-filled world. 29-minute short comedy. (With a $50,000 budget, I'm not sure of the results but it may be better than expected or better than some anyways.)

From there on IMDB, the title listings degrade into few choices including an "I was a Teenage Zombie Prostitute" episode on a TV series. Two parts yet. Never mind.

Sometimes it pays to read instead.

First lines - Prologue:
A virus. A freaking virus.
I'd been sick before, you know, measles, mumps…kid stuff…but not really sick. 
Never like this.

First line - Chapter 1:
Funny how the most important or memorable moments of your life are bookmarked between the ordinary.
That's how it was the day my life changed—forever.

In GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie16-year-old Rebecca Herrera Hayes finds her life changed when she's infected with the Z-virus through an accidental scratch.

 Now as a part-zombie, she must cope with weird bodily changes, a strange new diet (no, not that!), and prejudice as she struggles to fit in because of her new condition. 

She finds strength in fighting off the full zombies while protecting her family and friends, and hopes to find something to stop this deadly transformation . . . before it is forever too late.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Blogging A to Z, S is for Horror Author Kristie Shafer

Blogging A to Z - S is for Shafer!

Meet Kristie K. Shafer, author of a new horror series called The Eternals!  She was kind enough to answer some questions for our Blogging A - Z Challenge this month, which I'm sure I'll be eternally grateful to her for doing so.  Anyway, I've read both of Kristie's books and I highly recommend them, especially if you're into apocalyptic horror and science fiction (and enjoy a little romantic steam in your books as well!) The first book is free on most Ebook stores, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by checking out this new author!

What inspired you to write your first book?
I have written short stories over the years, but never shared them with anyone.  When my best friend Rani passed away, I realized that life was short and we are only granted so much time on earth to follow our dreams.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The main message in most of my stories is that love and family are truly the most important things in life.
What books have most influenced your life most?
I have so many books that have influenced me over the years that it is hard to pinpoint just one. I would have to say that any books by Stephen King, James Patterson or Dan Brown are all tied for first place.
What book are you reading now?
Room, by Emma Donoghue.
What are your current projects?
I am currently writing the third installment for my Eternals series.  It was such a blast bringing life to those characters, and I was not ready to say goodbye to them quite yet.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I can honestly say that I would not change a thing.  Each characters storyline was exactly where I wanted it to be.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The biggest challenge that I had and still have is that I tend to be my worst critic.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that it truly is never too late in life to do what you love to do.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
My advice to other writers…
My advice would be to always stay true to who you are, and to write about things that you are passionate about.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I want my readers to know what an honor it is that they have taken the times out of their lives to read something I have written.  I feel truly blessed knowing that my books are being enjoyed by so many people.
Get your free copy of The Eternals today!
Rani's world is shattered when Tyler, one of her good friends, reveals a horrifying secret, and then disappears without a trace. Later, she meets a mysterious stranger who steals her heart and sweeps her off of her feet. Little does she know that he has his own dark secrets, ones that threaten her very existence...

Monday, April 21, 2014

Blogging A to Z, R is for Zombie Reality TV

R for Blogging A to Z is for Reality TV

by Karina Fabian

If we are ever so unfortunate as to have a zombie problem, I'm sure that soon enough, Hollywood will get involved.  So when I was asked to write a novel based on my zombie exterminator, Neeta Lyffe, it was a natural progression to put her in a reality TV show training up apprentice exterminators.  Of course, by the 2040s, realism won't be enough; it will have to be real.  And that means real stupid gets real dead real fast.  Here's how Neeta, her plebes, and the director Dave of Zombie Death Extreme handle it when one plebe, Bergie Eidelberg, fatally fails the episode's challenge.

Much as Neeta hated to admit it, Dave had been right about the place.  Eidelberg would have loved the twilight memorial on the beach.
The location crew found a nice little spot above the tide line, not far from a scrubby overhang.  Dave sent people ahead to rake and clear the area of trash, animal debris and dead seaweed, and to move the federally mandated signs warning of the many dangers of swimming in the ocean (including cramps, chills, stings of naturally occurring wildlife that are really quite shy but have every right to defend themselves, shark attacks, porpoise buttings, and the completely understandable but nonetheless unsanitary bathroom habits of the ecologically rightful inhabitants).  The four-by-four signs took two people each to move, but Dave insisted that their reflective surfaces would interfere with the lighting.
Just outside the ring of logs, they'd set up a shrine to Donald "Bergie" Eidelberg: his favorite surfboard rose from the ground like a California tombstone.  The production crew had enlarged a photo of him from the first episode and framed it with leis, which they hung on the board.  They'd spread one of his beach towels in front it, and everyone had set some item on it that reminded them of him: A canister of Sex Wax; ironic, considering that he claimed celibacy was absolutely necessary for champion surfing.  The sunglasses Neeta had refused to let him wear into the warehouse, not that it had helped.  The surfing trophy he’d kept by his nightstand--second place.  The painting he'd been working since the beginning of the show; they thought it might be a wave.  The keys to his classic 1978 AMC Pacer; he'd bragged that once he won the million, he was going to give it the overhaul it deserved.  Lawyer Larry, whose real name was Eugene, had already put it up for auction on eBay, with the proceeds to go to the Retired Surfers Association, in accordance with Bergie's will.
Neeta and her plebes had trooped to the site, accompanied by the filming crew, just as the sun hesitated over the horizon, like a swimmer preparing to enter a cold pool.  As the sun dipped, then sank into the horizon, they ate hot dogs, drank sodas and shared stories about their fallen teammate.  Roscoe waxed poetic about his legs; Katie admitted to a secret crush.  Gordon laughed how Bergie was going to teach him surfing when this was all over in exchange for learning how to dum-dum bullets.  LaCenta rolled her eyes and declared him a damfool, but her eyes misted when she said it.  Spud, silent and thoughtful, said he'd go visit Bergie's mom with Neeta before heading back to Idaho, and Nasir offered to join them.
Within the circle of logs, the campfire roared merrily, bathing Neeta and her plebes in its warm light.   Soon, they'd each light a candle from that fire and hold it close as they discussed the day's tragedy.  Dave was having paroxysms of joy over the effect.  Neeta wondered if he'd gotten permits, planned to pay the fines, or had bribed someone to arrange this cozy beach scene.  Since the California Carbon Footprint Reduction Act, such "eco-destructive luxuries" like campfires had been banned.
From her log apart from the others, LaCenta was complaining.  "All I'm saying is that my family lost everything in that fire and then the judge fined us for starting it, but oh, let the Hollywood man want 'authenticity,' and they turn a blind eye."
Roscoe sighed heavily.  Perched on the log with his feet flat on the sand, knees together, wrists resting on knees, wearing a tailored white t-shirt and matching boat shorts, he looked like an out-of-pace model.  He insisted white was the Chinese color of death and symbolized purity and nobility of the spirit, but Neeta suspected he just wanted to stand out in the dim light.
"Give it a rest, Placenta," he sneered.
"It's LaCenta, and if you can't come up with a more imaginative insult, Roscoe, you should just shut your hole."
"Which one, honey?"
"Stop it!" Katie shrieked.  "We're supposed to be saying goodbye to Bergie!" She buried her head into Spud's shoulder and sobbed. 
He patiently reached into her backpack and handed her a tissue from the boxes she'd brought with her.  They'd started the fire using the dirty ones as kindling.
Good ol' Spud.  Calm, dependable, and about as exciting as potatoes.  He could be good at this job, Neeta thought.  Yet every week, Dave complained about his low ratings on the online polls.  "Sure, people love potatoes!" he'd ranted at one writing session, "but who really thinks about them?"
Gary spoke up.  "They like them with something.  Cheeseburger and fries."
"Steak and potatoes," Wang added.
Dave grinned that maniacal grin.  "Potato and gun!  Yes!  Yes!  I'm seeing it!  So what do we hook him up with?  Who is our 'steak'?"
The next day, Neeta had walked by LaCenta's trailer just in time to see Wang go flying headfirst out the door.
"I may have been raised in the hood, but I ain't no Hollywood whore!" she shouted.
Neeta had rounded up Gordon, and the two of them had a found Dave for a sandwich and a talk.  Rather, Neeta talked while Gordon held Dave sandwiched between himself and the wall.  Afterward, Spud found himself teamed with Gordon as a weapons master apprentice, none the wiser of the behind-the-scenes dealing.  Dave had had to settle for potato gun.
Now, thanks to Bergie's death, it seemed Dave might get his steak and potatoes, too.
She was really growing to loathe Dave.