Friday, August 29, 2014

Good News for Undead Obsessed

The plan right now is for Undead Obsessed to be available on Halloween.  I'll be looking for readers/reviewers, so if you're interested in reading, let me know.  If you need a reminder, here's what the book is about:

My obsession with zombie films started when I was in junior high. They are a great lens to examine concerns society has about modern science. Let’s face it, when it comes to horror movies, science has a bad reputation. Blind ambition, experimental serums, and genetic experiments are often blamed for the giant monster terrorizing the city or the reason aliens are taking human prisoners or the cause of the dead rising from the grave to consume living flesh. 

Using film, literature, and interviews with experts, my nonfiction book, Undead Obsessed: Finding Meaning in Zombies (approximately 65,000 words), examines how zombies portray real-world fears such as epidemics, mind control, what may or may not exist in space, the repercussions of playing God, and the science behind the fears.

Science has made it possible for us to live the way we do; it has given us numerous advances in all fields of life from medicine to agriculture to entertainment. Yet, with all of these advantages, there are a multitude of disadvantages that could prove to be detrimental to humans and society. Weapon technology used in wars is one of these major disadvantages, but anything that is beneficial to humanity, including medicine, has the potential to harm us. My goal is to explore how zombies become a metaphor for our fears of science and what could happen if science gets out of hand. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Ten Books You Can't Forget

There is a little "game" going around on Facebook, which is an interesting challenge to take a look at the 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don't overthink it or take too long. They don't have to be classics or top literature, simply your likes. Tag 10 friends to do the same and share your list.

My List:: (in no particular order)
While I have always loved horror and recently enjoy reading zombie fiction, I also love a good historical story as I can see from this list of books that stuck with me or that I liked enough that I would reread them. (So far. The list could change or expand later. Ten may be hard to pick!) - -And yes, at the end I do link two themes - historical and zombies! And it's a book you may not have read unless you know this author.

1. Dracula  - Bram Stoker (one I reread occasionally) (Get Dracula free in various versions on Project Gutenberg)

2. 'Salem's Lot - Stephen King  (same theme, also one I reread)

3. The Plague Tales - Ann Benson - Fascinating story of a medieval doctor trying to save the royal family from the Black Death, and 700 years later, a female scientist unearths an ancient terror. Interesting contrasting chapters of both the past and modern stories.

4. One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd - Jim Fergus - Fascinating fictional tale of women who get involved in a goverment program to provide wives to the Cheyenne in 1875. Really gripping story.

5. The Hiding Place - Corrie Ten Boom - Inspiring story of faith of a Dutch watchmaker and her family who help hide Jews during the Holocaust

6. Dead of Night: A Zombie Novel (Dead of Night Series)  - Jonathan Maberry - A condemned killer is injected with a virus and wakes after death - evil, hungry and contagious. This was the first zombie book I read that attracted me with the unusual story line.

7. Raising Stony Mayhall - Daryl Gregory - This was the oddest story - a woman finds a baby who is dead but alive, and raises him. The story gets strange as he goes on his own and lives with others like him. Fascinating read though I didn't really like the ending.

8. Lily of the Nile (Novel of Cleopatra's Daughter Book 1)- Stephanie Dray- The story of Queen Cleopatra's daughter, Princess Selene.

9. The Vampire's Violin - Michael Romkey - Interesting take on a vampire tale when a vampire yearns to retain a violin that made the most beautiful music in the world.

10. Outlander: A Novel- Diana Gabaldon - Some may recognize the book from the new TV series now running. I read this years ago but the series is still a favorite. It tells the life and love story of Claire, a nurse in 1945 who finds herself thrown back to 1700s Scotland after touching a boulder in an ancient stone circle in the British Isles. here she meets and loves the fiery Scottish warrior Jamie Fraser.

The latest in the series, Written in My Own Heart's Blood: A Novel (Outlander Book 8), came out in June. Set in 1778, the country is at war with France and the Fraser's daughter is safe in the 20th century, or so they presume as her son's kidnapper focuses on his real target - her.  (And it's 849 pages. Her books are all big.)

Funny how this series leads me back to the blog's theme of zombies. Yes, even Gabaldon succumbed to the zombie theme and wrote a novella (101 pages) focusing on her main secondary character and Jamie Fraser's nemesis, British Lietenant-Colonel Lord John Grey (there are several offshoot books focusing on him.)  I haven't read it yet, but sounds interesting.

In A Plague of Zombies: An Outlander Novella (Lord John Grey) - Diana Gabaldon, Grey arrives in Haiti to squash a  slave rebellion and learns the island's governor is being menaced by zombies, an unknown term to Grey. Then he is nearly choked by "hands smelling of grave dirt." Add in murder and plantations burning, and John Grey will need all his wits to keep the island from exploding.

* And feel free to add my book to your reading list!

  GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie is one girl's experience of what life is like when she turns part-zombie: part humor, part angst, part fear of the unknown. You can also read it free on Kindle Unlimited.

Monday, August 25, 2014

End of the World Words...

As a "zombie" and horror writer, this blog is, of course, in touch with apocalyptic events and end-of-world scenarios. In fiction.

In real life, I have, of course, thought about the things that I and others, I'm sure, never heard before and never expected to hear in our lifetimes. The news can leave you crying and weeping if you think on it too much. Faith comes in handy then for sure.

On the flip side, I guess that's why I like writing fiction, horror, and about zombies. Zombies are a symbol of the things we fear most - a symbol of utter chaos, fear, and horror, the end of "regular life" that, in the end, can be vanquished and life can be returned somewhat to "normal.". After all it is fiction and in my stories, at least, I still want the good guys to win.

In the past few years, who would ever imagine we would hear of the following things as real-life events:

Giant sinkholes
Islamic states
Antiobiotic-resistant drugs
Level 5 tornadoes
Land levels rising
Lakes disappearing

I'm sure there are others I have missed. And sadly, I'm sure there are others that will yet be added to the list.

  GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie is one girl's experience of what life is like when she turns part-zombie: part humor, part angst, part fear of the unknown. You can also read it free on Kindle Unlimited.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Zombie Sharks

It seems like no matter where you turn today, zombies are there.  Even Discovery has used them for their Shark Week programming.  Not that I'm complaining, I love zombies, it's just something I've noticed.

I also really enjoy Shark Week.  I've been watching it for as long as I can remember.  I'm not really of fan of the mockumentary that gets thrown in, but the real scientific shows that they highlight are amazing.  One of these happened to be Zombie Sharks.  The focus of this show was that great white sharks were turning up dead with HUGE chunks taken out of them, as if something had killed and eaten them.  A scientist wanted to find out what animal it could possibly be and how it was taking down such large sharks.

The basis of his research was that when sharks are turned upside down, they go into a type of trance.  Which can be seen in this clip.  They are completely vulnerable in this state--unable to move and unable to defend themselves.  In essence, they become zombies.  This allows other predators to attack and kill.

His goal was to figure out if it was possible for large sharks to be put into this trance, so he headed out to the ocean and tickled sharks on the nose so he could flip them over.  I'm not kidding.  He actually tickled them on the nose to overstimulate them, then flipped them over.  It was pretty dang cool.  His ultimate goal was to see if a great white could be put into this trance.

From what I could tell on the show, I didn't think he was successful.  According to him, the larger the shark, the harder it is to flip over.  Which makes sense.  A great white is also pretty aggressive, and most of them weren't exactly happy about being tickled on the nose.  Getting past the sharp teeth to the nose was often a challenge.  Still, there were dead sharks turning up, so something was being successful.

Turns out it's orcas or killer whales that have developed this strategy for killing sharks.  It's absolutely amazing.  It just goes to show you that with a little ingenuity and a whole lot or survival instinct, anyone or anything can defeat a zombie.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dana Fredsti Talks Zombies and Plague World

Today we talk with author Dana Fredsti, author of the Plague Town series - Plague Town, Plague Nation  and the new Plague World (Ashley Parker Novel).

About the book:

The thrilling conclusion of the zombie apocalypse begun in PLAGUE TOWN and continued in PLAGUE NATION! The zombie plague has gone airborne, and the conspiracy that began it all reaches the boiling point.

Interview with Dana Fredsti: (Read on for an excerpt!)

What inspired the story?

Plague World is the third in a trilogy so the inspiration really was just the need and desire to finish up the story and character arcs started in Plague Town.  As far as specific inspiration for parts of the story and setting, I really love setting things in places I’ve visited and there’s something just unhealthily fun about destroying, say, a neighborhood in one’s home town (or place of birth or wherever!). For Plague World, I take out my current neighborhood in the Outer Sunset district of San Francisco, and demolished Balboa Park and Cabrillo Point in San Diego. 

How do you feel when a series ends - or isn't it?

This is the first series I’ve written and writing a trilogy wasn’t easy because while each book had the characters accomplish something specific, it took all three books to tie together all the loose ends and plot points I left dangling in the first two books.  So finishing Plague World felt great because I feel I accomplished what I set out to do.  That being said, there is still plenty of room for new stories and adventures in Ashley’s world and I hope to write some standalone novels in the series.  No more “Han in Carbonite” endings, though. 

 What's different in this book?

Plague World is slightly darker than the previous two. The humor is still there, along with the pop cultural references because that’s Ashley’s “voice”, but Ashley gets her ass kicked emotionally and physically this time around.  The last two books she pretty much comes through unscathed and does most of the ass-kicking, and while she still does plenty of it in Plague World,  I really do put her through a lot because it served both the story and her character growth.

What was the best part of writing it?

Finishing it.  This book was the toughest I’ve ever written, both because I really wanted to fulfill the expectations of my readers and tie off all dangling plot threads, and I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to do that going into the book, and… well, let’s just say real life sometimes brings you a lot of challenges and I had quite a few of them last year. In a way, my personal challenges made it easier to do what I had to do to make the story work, but they made actually sitting down to write nearly impossible at times. 

What do you plan next - will these characters appear elsewhere?
 There’s talk of more Ashley Parker books (I’ve got the next one outlined, yay me!);, I’ve got a YA fantasy series I’m outlining, and several horror/ ark urban fantasy projects as well as developing a very cool series with my boyfriend, who is also a writer.  And I’m really excited to be writing a story for V-Wars #4.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Christine! 
Synopsis:  from the Amazon website, except without a sort of kind of inaccurate spoiler that’s there…   

Like the rest of the city, the streets below were clogged with unmoving vehicles, some of them smashed in an interlocking metal mess, and others abandoned all helter-skelter. Two Muni streetcars had become jammed at opposite ends of Taravel in the block between 40th and 41st. Cars had sheared into them, creating a roadblock at either end while leaving a sizable clear space in the middle—large enough for our whirlybird to set down.
“Why are we landing?” Griff sat up from his seat in the back.
“I have an errand to run,” I said coolly, ignoring the churning in my gut as the helicopter swooped in to land.
“What errand?” Lil asked. She hadn’t been in on it either, for obvious reasons.
“Simone needs some… er… stuff for Gabriel’s antiserum.”
Stuff. Yeah. That’s the ticket.
“We didn’t want the bad guys to know. We’ll meet you at a rendezvous point up the road.”
Someday I’d get a vocabulary worthy of the situations I now found myself in. Even so, it worked. Lil nodded, and Griff shut up, at least for the moment. He kept on staring at me suspiciously, though, right up to the moment the pilot set the helicopter down.
Whatever, I didn’t care what he thought.
Once we hit ground and stabilized, I scrambled for the door, determined not to spew. My stomach thought about it for a brief moment, but thankfully everything stayed put. Tony leaped out after me, hefting Thor’s Wee Hammer. Nathan and JT followed swiftly. I saw Lil staring at me in confusion through one of the windows, so I gave her a reassuring wave and blew a kiss.
She grinned and waved back.
Zombies appeared from both ends of the street and began stumbling toward the helicopter, drawn by the noise. I heard cries for help from a building across the street and my heart dropped. I looked up to see a middle-aged man leaning out of a second-story window, waving frantically. Zombies in the street below immediately zeroed in on him, moving toward the entrance to the building and fresh meat. The man’s eyes widened and he vanished inside, hopefully to fortify the front door of his apartment.
Sorry, dude. 
And I really was. I wanted to charge in and save the day, the Mighty Mouse of zombie killing. But… I couldn’t. Instead I dashed over to the entrance of the Walgreen’s, along with Nathan, Tony, and JT.
The helicopter, in the meantime took off again, ascending to just above the grasping hands of the hungry crowd gathering below. Our ride headed off to its next destination and it was up to the four of us to accomplish our respective goals and meet them there.
Nathan looked at us. “You all clear on the plan?”
“I go get the supplies,” I said.
“And I back her up.” Tony gave Thor’s Wee Hammer a swing.
JT grinned. “I create a distraction and lead as many zombies away from here as I can so you three have a semi-clear shot to the beach when you’re finished.”
“Excellent.” Nathan nodded approvingly. “I’ll clear whatever stragglers don’t follow JT.” He clapped a hand on JT’s shoulder. “We’ll see you at the Great Highway and Vicente when you’re finished.”
“That you will,” JT said. He grinned at me. “I’ll race you.”
Then, with a whoop and a holler and no sign of fear whatsoever, he took off at a run, east on Taravel, using any and every available surface to keep his momentum going and avoid the clutching hands of hungry undead pedestrians.
“He really is crazy,” I observed, watching in bemused admiration as he leapt without pause up a brick wall and onto the roof of a residential garage. He stopped there, hunkering down on the edge, and gave another ear-splitting rebel yell to attract the attention of the neighborhood zombies.
“Come on dowwwwn,” he hollered gleefully. “Get your share of the tastiest piece of ass in San Francisco!” He turned and twerked with a dexterity that would have made Miley Cyrus jealous. And the crowd loved it, judging from the increased volume of moans and the outstretched hands.
Ever the showman, JT turned to one side in a classic “The Thinker” pose, flexing his biceps.
“Is there a vet around here,” he yelled, “because these pythons are sick!”
“Dude needs help,” Tony agreed.
“Or not,” I commented as JT bounded across the length of the garage rooftop, where he nimbly scaled a balcony and hoisted himself up a trellis to gain access to the second story of the house. He vanished from our eyesight shortly after that, his war whoops still clearly audible.
I really hoped he’d be okay.  He was on the lighter side of nuts, for sure, but he was risking his life even more than the rest of us because one scratch or bite, and he’d be screwed. I couldn’t remember the exact percentage of people immune to the zombie pathogen, but the odds of becoming a wild card were only slightly more favorable than winning the lottery. 
There was a muffled pop as Nathan put a round in the skull of an Asian teenage boy who hadn’t been entranced by JT’s award-worthy performance. It reminded me that we needed to get our asses in gear.
Minus the twerking.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Zombie Book News of the Week

This week's Zombie Book News includes:

* Congrats to Dana Fredsti, author of the Plague Town series - Plague Town, Plague Nation  and the new Plague World (Ashley Parker Novel), who says the audio book rights have been sold, and she will be recording the books as the narrator.

* Cool! Artist Byron Rempel just released his first zombie coloring book, DEAD SKETCHES! How fun!

* Also new but not new is author Armand Rosamilia's Arm Cast, Dead Sexy Horror Podcast

The Dying Days series author began the podcast in July and talks with authors and others each week, usually on Fridays. Check his blog for details and updates. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Surviving Zombies in Thermopolis, Wyoming

Last Wednesday, I had the privilege of visiting the library in Thermopolis, Wyoming, to give my workshop on Surviving Zombies.  It was a blast!

I was excited to be at the Hot Springs County Library, and they were excited to have me. They decorated their room, and a few of the kids dressed up in costume. Eighteen kids total showed up to talk about what it would take to survive in the zombie apocalypse. And they had some great ideas and suggestions. I think they'll have a fighting chance. Then, we all ate pizza and cupcakes.

Boarded up windows with zombies trying to get in.

A zombie menace.

Message left by a survivor? 

Another menace.

Hoodied zombies.

Zombie slayers.  And they were tough!

A striped zombie.

It was an amazing and fun experience to go to Thermopolis.  We want to go again and stay for longer.  There's a lot of stuff to do, and I would happily visit the library again!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Get a Zombie Book on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon's giving readers a chance to get their fill of books free for only $9.99 per month in their new program, Kindle Unlimited.

If you're a big reader, it sounds like it could be a great chance to read a lot of new books! And read at least 10% of a book for the author to get credit. (Though you'll read the whole thing, right?)

Curious? Check out just a few of the authors whose books are enrolled. Zombie, horror and all kinds of books. Join the Kindle Unlimited group on Facebook.

  Yes, my book, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie is in it, too. See Amazon link.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Medieval zombies

I love medieval manuscripts. The details of the art and the ways of life then were so fascinating. Here is a different twist.

According to the British Library's Medieval Manuscripts page, certain medieval manuscripts feature a zombiesh tale.

The Three Living and the Three Dead is a kind of pre-Scrooge-like tale in which the three living persons encounter the three "living dead" in varying stages of decay who warn them about the fleeting time of life and to amend their ways before it is too late. Read more about the tale and see more art at the British Library page. You can also see more manuscripts at their Digital Library.

(Manuscript: British Library)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Zombie Book Research Topics

As I've been busy writing, I haven't had much time for in-depth blog stuff. I'll also be hopping over to the county fair this week. Finally entered some things again, haven't done that for years....

So, for fun, I thought I'd list some of the subjects I have looked up while working on my current book project. Some topics I may not include - yet - so I don't give away the subject until it's near time to release more details.

Writing a historical novel or one set in a certain time period requires looking up all kinds of weird and related topics... and some not related when you veer off. ha!

Zombie Research:

Victorian era
Indoor plumbing
Embalming supplies
Ancient Egyptians
Life of historic person
Vintage newspapers
House plans
Trial transcripts
Inquest records
Killing zombies
Religious societies
Victorian era occult practices

So far.... Will share more later. Hoping that this blog post can be updated to say it's done! (Almost! About 20-25 pages to go!)

Monday, August 11, 2014

New Review of Girl Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie!

Nice new review of GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie - 4 "monsters" at The Bookie Monster

In part, "There are humorous parts of the book when the main character tries not to take herself or her situation too seriously. The characters are endearing and fun. For a zombie story, it is quite positive and light-hearted. The book did not end the way I expected it to, making the story even more enjoyable."

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Friday, August 8, 2014

More Zombie Presentations

On Tuesday, it became official that I will continue to be a presenter for the Wyoming Humanities Council.  In addition to my Women and Horror presentation, I will always be presenting Undead Obsessed:  My Journey to Find Meaning in Zombies.  I'm so excited and so thankful for the opportunity.  I've had a lot of fun doing these presentations.

The presentation focuses on what I learned while researching my nonfiction zombie book and explains how zombies are a metaphor for our fears of science.  It's going to be awesome!  It goes on the schedule November 1, 2014.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Writers, words and Scrabble

Most writers love Scrabble, I know I do, and still remember dad's attempts to put his own words on the board.

Well, now it looks like it's time to actually get a new Scrabble dictionary since the latest fifth edition (and first big update in 10 years) features a mind-boggling 5,000 new words!!

While there isn't a full  list of the new words (why not, as I now I'd wonder what all those words are?), the new entries apparently are aimed at the "milennials," and let's face it, you need to keep the game updated and relevant to younger generations to keep it going. 

(* Need Help? Neat Find - there's a Scrabble Word Finder - confirm your words.)

So, do you agree with some of the new entries?

Some of the new words include: 

Beatbox, bromance,  buzzkill, chillax, coqui, frenemy, funplex, hashtag, jockdom, joypad, mixtape, mojito, ponzu, qigong, schmutz, selfie, sudoku, tweep, and yuzu. Geocache was another entry, which was voted in by Facebook members during a May contest (which apparently I missed.)

I admit some of these like bromance, hashtag or selfie are so used now as to be familiar by most everyone. But a few of these some of us, (yes, me too) will have to look up to see the context... what about you?

So, your thoughts - are these words too out there - too slangy?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Angela Scott's New Apocalyptic Book and Contest

Fellow author Angela Scott  (Zombie West series) is having a fantastic giveaway and cover reveal this week for her upcoming YA book, ANYONE?, coming Dec. 1.  It's an apocalypse book with a great premise... what happens when 16-year-old Tess goes in the underground shelter... and her dad tells her to stay put and not open the door... but doesn't tell her what to do if he doesn't return?

I won't spoil the surprise, so go read the full blurb and see the cool cover! And enter the rafflecopter at Angela's blog.  

And check out the amazing bracelet she's giving away too! (which I'm claiming - I wish!)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Redneck Zombie Humor with "Josie's Last Straw"

Josie's Last Straw: a Redneck zombie short story 
by Karina Fabian

Josie's husband has come back from the dead! Yes, it's true all he does now is sit in front of the TV and drink beer, but dying takes a lot out of a man - and he is a better listener.  But is he really the first tangible proof that the undead are simply mortality challenged, or is he actually a monster ready to eat her brains with the right provocation? Find out as Josie struggles to make her even more difficult marriage work in "Josie's Last Straw."

This story is free to read in Liberty Island Press. (There is a tip jar, however, so if you enjoy it, please drop a dollar for the author and make her feel loved.) Josie first appears in Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator as a spokeswoman…but I won't tell you whether it's for zombie rights or for educating people that dead is dead. I loved her spunk, however, and her trailer-trash past was a lot of fun to explore in the short story. Redneck humor is awesome, and combining it with zombies! Guns, beer, zombies... (And Liberty Island came up with the best graphic!)

I hope you enjoy reading about her as much as I did creating her.

Monday, August 4, 2014

More Zombie Book and Horror News

Lots of stuff still going on in the zombie book and horror world. Let's see what some of our favorite authors are up to so far this month:

* Author Shana Festa (aka the Bookie Monster) also has her first book out now. Time of Death: Induction (Volume 1) was recently released from Permuted Press

About the book: The dead are coming back to life  - and they're hungry. As infection ravages the Eastern seaboard, Emma, husband Jake and their dog, Daphne, must find a way to survive. (The dog was a favorite character for me!)

 * Author Emily Goodwin's first book, Contagious (Contagious (The Contagium Series Book 1), of a four-book series, has just been re-released with a brand new cool cover, also from Permuted Press.

 * I fell in love with the unique idea of zombie westerns after reading Angela Scott's zombie western series, beginning with Wanted: Dead or Undead (Zombie West Book 1), continuing in Survivor: Roundup and Dead Plains (Zombie West Book 3).

 (Get all three in the The Zombie West Trilogy.)

* Now author K.A. Laity has a new zombie western novella, High Plains Lazarus: A Weird Western, with  this interesting blurb:  "Whatever's got the corpses jumping is bound to spell a bad day for anyone unlucky enough to ride into town." Read an excerpt.

* Julie Rudolph, author of The Complex: The Reanimates Book I; The Highway: The Reanimates Book II; and The Escape: The Reanimates Book III, has released a fun, new video for her first book in the series, The Complex. (Read excerpt.)

Check it out! (Different as she uses Lego peeps!)

  * Author Mark Tufo (of the Zombie Fallout series) announced a project two years in the making! Look for A Shrouded World - Whistlers, coming soon from him and fellow author John O'Brien  (of the A New World Series and the latest short story collection, A New World: Untold Stories.)

* More zombie book news coming so be sure to check back soon!