Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A to Z is Coming!

Gasp! Is it really the end of March?

April means showers... and the annual 2015  A to Z  Blog Challenge. Tomorrow, April 1!

No April Fool's joke! haa! 

Here's the calendar of the days. We'll be posting short fiction, excerpts and whatever else daily, excluding Sunday. The topic is "everything" this month!

See you during April! 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Nature Oddities - Skeleton flower

This is so cool I had to share it!

Also, stay tuned for the A to Z Blog Challenge starting April 1 - and some new flash fiction!

The Diphylleia Grayi, also known as the Skeleton Flower, is a white flower that grows in China and Japan. Most interesting is that the petals turn clear like glass when it gets wet.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

#Zombie Yahtzee

A favorite game! I love Yahtzee and usually prefer the "classic" version of games. But when I saw these, well.. I'll have to look for these fun versions!

 YAHTZEE: The Walking Dead Collector's Edition -What I like is that it's still the regular version, just with a theme. ($18 on Amazon plus shipping.)

Also saw this one: cute!

YAHTZEE: Plants vs. Zombies Collector's Edition ($21 on Amazon plus shipping)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Arnie + Zombies = Heaven

The other day, it came to my attention that there is a new zombie movie coming out—and it has Arnold Schwarzenegger in it. It’s called Maggie, and you can find information here.

Here’s the trailer:

Most of you probably don’t know this, but I’m obsessed with Arnie. I LOVE him. I used to own all of his good movies on VHS. (I don’t consider Twins or Junior to be good). I’m converting them over to DVD and Bluray, but it’s been a process.

Anyway, when this came across my Facebook feed, I was more than thrilled. It includes two of my obsessions. From the trailer, it looks like an amazing film—serious and heartbreaking, yet full of undead fun. I can’t wait to see it, and I hope it lives up to my expectations.

What am I saying? It has Arnie AND zombies. It’ll live up to my expectations. I’m excited!

What about you? What are your initial feelings about this film?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A to Z Blog Challenge Theme

April 1 starts the annual  2015  A to Z  Blogging Challenge . It's a fun, maybe crazy way to blog for a month.  

April 1, Weds. begins with the letter A. Letters/posts continue through the month counting Saturday and skipping Sundays. Here's the layout:

If anything, it's a good way to come up with new ideas and get out of the doldrums. Surprisingly, I already have found some inspiration to come up with some new flash stories.

Our theme here will be "anything goes," but I hope to come away with a group of new short stories. So far the stories are running kind of grisly, but heh-heh, that's the fun of it. Once the month ends, I will be erasing the stories and will probably put them together in a short collection.

So stay tuned~ Be sure to come back on April 1 and stop by throughout the month!

Monday, March 23, 2015

#Zombies & Odyssey Con in Madison in April!

Can't wait! 

I'll be at Odyssey.Con in Madison, Wisc. next month, April 10-12. 

Not only will I get to meet authors Jonathan Maberry and Heather Brewer, but.... I get to be on panels with them!  (Hope zombies don't get my tongue. haaaa!) 

Here's my schedule so far:  If you attend, say hello. I'll be glad to see some other authors I know and share panels with again like W.D. Gagliani and David Benton.

Saturday, April 11
11 a.m. - Re-Inventing Worlds
Got a cool new vampire/faerie/zombie story you are dying to write? Putting you own spin on existing myths or folklore can be tough. Will your vampires sparkle? Will your mermaids feast on humans? Will your unicorns bite with venom? What liberties can an author take with an existing mythos, and what changes should always be off limits?
Panelists: Christine Verstraete, Jonathan Maberry, Anna Black, Monica Valentinelli

4 p.m. - Discover Local Authors
Many wonderful authors are located right here in Wisconsin! Discover them here.
Panelists: Paul Dale Anderson, Alex Bledsoe, Matt Forbeck, Christine Verstraete

10 p.m. - Frankenstein - Monster or Hero?
Since 1818 Mary Shelly's Frankenstein has captivated imaginations. Over the last two centuries, Frankenstein has been re-interpreted countless ways. Is he a monster, a hero or the original zombie?
Panelists: Christine Verstraete, W.D. Gagliani, David Benton, Georgie Schnobrich

Sunday, April 12
10 a.m. - Writing horror for Kids
Writing scary characters and subjects for YA & kids can be problematic. How do you make both kids and parents happy? Which authors push the boundaries? Are there any subjects or monsters that should always be avoided?
Panelists: Christine Verstraete, Heather Brewer, Jonathan Maberry

11 a.m. - Urban Fantasy & Mystery
Why do so many urban fantasies have a detective plot as the main thread? Who are your favorite mystery solvers?
Panelists: Christine Verstraete, Melissa Olson, W.D. Gagliani, David Benton

2 p.m . - Must-read zombie fiction
What are the best zombie books on the market? Are zombies urban fantasy, or do they have their own genre like superheroes?
Panelists: Christine Verstraete, Joe Alfano

Saturday, March 21, 2015

#zombie TV

So who watched iZombie? Cute. Enjoyed it. Looks like it'll be a good show.

If you missed it, they have the pilot and some trailers you can view online. Also see their Facebook page.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Do You Know Your Zombies?

My friend had a quiz posted on their Facebook page yesterday, so I decided to take it.  I got 100%.  I really know my zombies.  Do you?

Play here.

Happy Friday!  I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Free #Horror #Mystery #Zombie Fiction

There's always some interesting new short fiction to read online. Following are some stories to check out: (Read at your own discretion.)

   * Stephen King's story about a girl's murder and her suspected killer -  "A Death" in the New Yorker  (Published 3/2) 

*  Short mysteries at Kings River Life Magazine. They usually have a holiday-themed story.

* Stories (it says more than 22,000?)  in 30 categories at the UK site, Short Fiction

*  Free horror stories on Wattpad.

*  Free zombie fiction at Home Page of the Dead  - (sign in required)

*  Selections from The Living Dead 2 anthology online or get the stories in the free ebook sampler at Baen Books

*  Free zombie stories at All Things Zombie

Have fun reading!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Teaser Tuesday #history & #zombie

Today is Teaser Tuesday at I Should Be Reading. (See post at http://adailyrhythm.com/)

 ** It's also First Chapter - First Paragraph Tuesday Intros at Bibliophile by the Sea.  See end of this post for my paragraph. 

What to do: 

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 


*** I just finished reading Heather Graham's The Unseen (Krewe of Hunters Book 5), (which I shared here  and also have Daikaiju Attack on my TBR list. See last week's post). 

What I'm Reading Now:

Did I mention how much I've come to loooove Heather Graham's Krewe of Hunters series?

 I just finished The Unseen (Krewe of Hunters) and just started Phantom Evil: Book 1 in Krewe of Hunters series (I'm reading backwards though each story seems to stand on its own.) 

Wow! This one has one of the spookiest and best first chapters I've read! Who can resist a haunted house and a ghostly boy?

About the book: 

Though haunted by the recent deaths of two teammates, Jackson Crow knows that the living commit the most heinous crimes.

A police officer utilizing her paranormal intuition, Angela Hawkins already has her hands full of mystery and bloodshed.

But one assignment calls to them too strongly to resist. In a historic mansion in New Orleans's French Quarter, a senator's wife falls to her death. Most think she jumped; some say she was pushed. And yet others believe she was beckoned by the ghostly spirits inhabiting the house—once the site of a serial killer's grisly work.

In this seemingly unsolvable case, only one thing is certain: whether supernatural or all too human, crimes of passion will cast Jackson and Angela into danger of losing their lives…and their immortal souls. (--From Amazon.com)

Excerpt: (page 10)

"You're not...not there," she whispered.


Book Two:

  I'll include another couple lines from my book: GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie   - (See Amazon sites or website)

About the book:

Sixteen-year-old Rebecca Herrera Hayes faces every teenager's biggest nightmares: bad skin, bad hair, and worse . . . turning into one of the living dead. Now she's part-zombie... with weird quirks and habits no teenage girl wants to be known for.

But... time is running out. Becca  needs to find something, anything, to stop this deadly transformation-- before it is forever too late...

First Chapter - First Paragraph Intro:
Prologue: (page 3)

A virus. A freaking virus.
   I'd been sick before, you know, measles, mumps…kid stuff…but not really sick.
   Never like this.
   This...this couldn't be happening. (You can read the rest of the prologue here.)

Teaser Tuesday Excerpt: (page 33)

She stared at me. "That's the one thing makeup won't fix."
I squinted at her.  "Huh? What're you talking about?"
"Your eyes. Actually your right eye. It wanders."

Monday, March 16, 2015

Book Author Branding; #Zombies #Horror & #Miniatures

Everyone needs a brand apparently. No, I don't mean the branding used on animals. I mean author- book branding, that is - what a book or author is known for.

Easy, right?

No, it's not that easy.

In this bloated world of millions of authors, musicians, celebrities, etc. screaming for your attention (and yes your $), as a writer, you want readers to remember you. When a word comes up, you want someone to think... oh, that book/author, (but in a good way!)

For instance: let's play word association. Your word choices may vary. (Please be kind if you comment.)

Celebrities and TV:

Well, easy:
 * Kardashian - (sorry, "but" I'm sure you will think of the first word that comes to mind.)
* Humor - Ellen show
* Monsters - Grimm

Here's a word (or a few)  and the authors I think of:

 * Zombies - Jonathan Maberry (Author of Rot & Ruin series, Dead of Night series)

 * Sister Wife - polygamy - Betty Webb (Author of Lena Jones mysteries, Desert Wives, etc.)

 * Scary, spooky - Stephen King or Dean Koontz

* Sweet Historical & Romance  - Deeanne Gist 

Your references may vary, but see what I mean?

Okay, how about brands for:

C.A. Verstraete


Haaa. No, it's  not a trick question. I admit sometimes I feel like that TV commercial that began... Do you know me? Remember that?

I'm a journalist by trade, but my fiction is all over the place - children's, mystery, sci fi, horror. When I write fiction, I write what I like and what comes to mind or to fit. No control over that. But I do have two constants, it seems.

1. More and more of my stories feature zombies. Not all are icky, bloodthirsty, or gory. I happen to find them scary, interesting, a perfect boogeyman and great story fodder.

  My first short story in this genre, The Killer Valentine Ball, which I call "zombie lite" features a different take on Valentine's Day. It's short (16 pages) and a bit different.

 ** An upcoming story, "Second Chances" will give an entirely different take on zombies - and what it means to have compassion. It'll be coming out soon in the Baby Shoes Anthology.


 ** My book, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie, features 16-year-old Becca, whose life is changed when she's infected with the Z virus and turns part-zombie.  (See Amazon links.)

No, not the usual zombie-brains-flesh-eating scenario. She does none of that. It's a story that has zombies, but is also about a girl facing a new world and different way of life.

** I explore another aspect of Becca's life when she faces her fear of dogs and helps solve a mystery in an upcoming story, "Puppy Love and Zombies." Yes, there is both in the story. Coming soon.

** And there is more coming with an even more unique twist. 

So back to that brand question - what do you think of when you hear the name C.A. Verstraete?

2.   I won't mind if you think of me when you think of zombies and horror, but I also write about, collect and build dollhouses and miniatures. (See my book, In Miniature Style II.) Nope, no apologies. I enjoy it. It's my art and my other creative outlet.

The two even meet when I put copies of mine and other authors' miniature novels  (blank inside)  in my miniature rooms and houses.

So, think of miniatures, dollhouses--and zombies? Yup, that's me. That seems to be my brand.

Guess I'll have to get to work soon on that story about zombies taking over a dollhouse. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015


Yup, doing that. I actually got a spur-of-the-moment idea on a zombie story that may work.... Something rather different... 

Here are a few writing prompts I found if you need some. Funny thing is my idea actually came after reading a post on something completely different. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

What a Week

Ugh!  It's been one of those weeks.  I've been fighting off a cold for about 3 weeks now, and on Wednesday and Thursday, it hit me like an anvil falling from the sky.  I spent the vast majority of those days in bed.  I think I'm starting to feel better, but only time will tell.

The only news I have to share with you at this time has nothing to do with zombies, but with another book I have coming out.  In May, the sequel to my middle grade book The Ifs will be published.  It's called The Ifs Return.  Currently, the publisher and I are looking for ARC reviewers, so if you're interested, shoot me a message.  Don't worry, the first one will be available if you haven't had a chance to read it.

Here's what the book is about:

“Gage escaped.”

These are the worst words Broden could hear from his big brother Landon—just one day after they battled alongside Slade’s Ifs and his army of forest beasts.

Sure, the brothers had learned to work together to fight and capture the evil If Gage. But, now, Slade has informed them that Gage has escaped!

Fear and distrust have entered the boys’ world. Why should they help Slade if he can’t keep control of his prisoners? Will they be able to fight against a familiar foe? Plus, Landon has more news…

“Gage has magic.”

What kind of magic? Will he use it against them? As the boys are drawn into yet more adventure with the Ifs, they find out just how powerful, and dangerous, Gage’s magic can be.

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend, and here's to hoping next week is "normal"!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Intelligent Corporeal

Truth to tell, I’m not a big zombie fan, but I do enjoy seeing how different people have different takes on what a zombie is. Walking Dead goes for the traditional mindless, shambling killing machines, while Generation Dead treats is as much as an affliction than a horror. My own Neeta Lyffe novels treat them as something in-between: shambling killing machines that carry just enough of their past personalities to be influenced by things in this world like a desire for cigarettes or an aversion to gas guzzlers.

I recently discovered another fun variation: the sentient corporeal. Seen in the web series Journey Quest, Carrow is a paladin who was the victim of a healing spell gone wrong. He ends up neither healed nor undead, but an intelligent corporeal. And he’s none-too-happy about it.

It’s been fun to see his character deal with his bizarre affliction and the resulting loss of favor from his god. Journey Quest can be found on YouTube.

Dead Gentlemen Productions, the creators of Journey Quest have several excellent videos and series out. You can find more here: http://deadgentlemen.com/ If you play D&D, then I highly recommend The Gamers.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Teaser Tuesday - #zombies #monsters Oh my!

Today is Teaser Tuesday at I Should Be Reading. (See post at http://adailyrhythm.com/)

What to do: 

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 


*** I'm still reading Heather Graham's The Unseen (Krewe of Hunters Book 5), (which I shared here last week). 

Next up on the TBR pile: 

   For a change of pace, I'm sharing a different kind of book - a great giant monster - Godzilla read - Daikaiju Attack from fellow Wisconsin author Stephen D. Sullivan

He's a pretty versatile guy, writing all kinds of stuff (including Dungeons & Dragons, Dragonlance, etc,), but I think this was one of his best, and most fun, reads of his recent works (and maybe more female-oriented, at least to me.) I'm a fan, having grown up watching the old monster movies, (Mothra was a favorite), so this is a great take on the giant monster stories. I guess I also like it since the character works in newspapers and I have a newspaper background. Plus, who doesn't like Japanese monsters??

I admit reading this first as  serial story, but it will be fun to read it as a whole book.  And I LOVE the colors on this book and the title text is cool! (Fan of bright colors. The cover is more vivid in real life.)

About the Book: 

It’s 1966. The Space Race has blasted off, the Cold War is heating up, and Giant Monsters are attacking Japan!

News photographer Akiko Natsuke’s life fell apart when she caught her boyfriend cheating. But she didn’t expect that night would literally herald the End of the World -- not until she found the creature lurking in the meteor crater. Now Japan’s top scientists and military brass are racing to protect the country from rampaging monsters, while Akiko finds herself caught between salvaging her personal life … and saving the world. - from Amazon.

Excerpt: (page 11)

But, no. Akiko was stronger than that. She wouldn't give Shinobu--or that tramp--the satisfaction.
    The newspapers, even the Tribune, where Akiko worked, painted Miss Tadaka as pure and innocent; that was part of her appeal.

Book Two:

  I'll also include another couple lines from my book: GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie   - (See Amazon sites or website)

About the book:

Sixteen-year-old Rebecca Herrera Hayes faces every teenager's biggest nightmares: bad skin, bad hair, and worse . . . turning into one of the living dead. Now she's part-zombie... with weird quirks and habits no teenage girl wants to be known for.

But... time is running out. Becca  needs to find something, anything, to stop this deadly transformation-- before it is forever too late...

Excerpt: (page 24)

The next time the pains started, I frantically searched the room for something sharp.
End it.
End the gnawing inside. End it all.

Monday, March 9, 2015

#Zombies, Teens and Arnold Schwarzenegger

Ever picture Arnold ("I'll be back") in a #zombie flick? 

Me, either. This actually doesn't sound bad, but don't expect any big budget extravaganza. 

The film "Maggie" (Henry Hobson, director; John Scott 3, Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions) is about a teen (Abigail Breslin from "Ender's Game") who becomes infected and "during her transformation, her loving father stays by her side," according to IMDB.

The movie will premier as part of the 14th edition of the Tribeca Film Festival, April 14-26, in New York,

I did find this trailer on YouTube:

 Hmmm... sounds a bit like a certain book I know about a girl who is infected and faces the future with the love of her family at her side, especially a cousin she's close with....  (See Amazon sites or website)....

The one difference being she turns part-zombie and survives with her own weird quirks and such.... 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

#Zombie Toys: Undead Pets

So, even the family pet isn't safe from the Zombie Apocalypse...

Saw this Accoutrements Zombie Pet Shoppe Play Set.. they're 1" to 1 1/4" so wondering if they'd work in a dollhouse scene... some would be too big. But an idea... Hmm, a miniature undead pet shop.... 

A bit steep in price, though, $29.99 + shipping...  Still, kind of cute and unique. I like the dog and the bunny best.

Friday, March 6, 2015

2015 Has Been Good So Far

Can you believe it's already March?  Man, time flies--even when you're not having fun. :)

So far, this year has been really good to me.  In January, Dealing with Devils, the second book in my Road to Salvation series came out, and the third, Good Intentions, will be out later in the year.  In May, my middle grade book, The Ifs Return, will come out.  Isn't that exciting?  I'm thrilled!

I've also started a new project, although it isn't zombie related.  I'm writing my grandfather-in-law's biography.  He's a WWII vet and a Wyoming rancher.  I've learned so much so far, and I have a feeling that by the time the project is finished, I'm going to know a lot about WWII and ranching.  It's all very exciting!

On top of that, I've been scheduling Surviving Zombies and Undead Obsessed workshops around the state--at libraries and high schools.  I'm really looking forward to those.  They are going to be so much fun!

I'm can't wait to see what the rest of the year has to bring.  I'm sure it's going to be fantastic!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Authors Supporting Our Troops Book Drive Ongoing

Don't forget! The Authors Supporting Our Troops book drive event organized by author Armand Rosamilia is still accepting new, author-signed books to send to the troops serving overseas.

So far... just over 1,500 books have been collected (and probably more since this last accounting.) Wow!   

You can also order a logo T-shirt to help support the event and offset the postage costs. 

The event ends May 1.  All details on what to do can be found here. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Dolls that Scare #Horror

Being someone who likes and collects dolls, both larger dolls, Barbies and dollhouse size dolls, I found this new anthology pretty interesting sounding.

Dolls are something that are far from neutral. Some like them. Some hate them. Some fear them. 

No wonder.... (take a look at the Mexican Island of the Dolls if you don't think dolls can be pretty scary...) 

The potential creepiness of dolls (think Chucky from the movie Child's Play) can inspire some great stories. I can't read to read this!  (Bonus: it has photos!)

 The Doll Collection, (releasing March 10) edited by World Fantasy and Hugo Award winner Ellen Datlow, features all kinds of dolls... the ones that you likely won't want to meet... 

Featuring everything from life-sized clockwork dolls to all-too-human Betsy Wetsy-type baby dolls, these stories play into  e true creepiness of the doll trope, but avoid the clich├ęs that often show up in stories of this type.  The collection is illustrated with photographs of dolls taken by Datlow and other devoted doll collectors from the science fiction and fantasy field.  

Stories by: Stephen Gallagher, Joyce Carol Oates, Gemma Files, Pat Cadigan, Lucy Sussex, Tim Lebbon, Seanan McGuire, Carrie Vaughn, Stephen Graham Jones, Miranda Siemienowicz, Mary Robinette Kowal, Richard Bowes, Genevieve Valentine, Richard Kadrey, Veronica Schanoes, John Langan, Jeffrey Ford. - From Amazon.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Teaser Tuesday Paranormal & #Zombie reads

Thought I'd join in today in Teaser Tuesday at Should Be Reading. (March 9 the blog moves to adailyrhythm.com)

What to do: 

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 


*** I'm guilty of hopping to several books lately unless it's one I really get into. So I'll include a couple reads today.

I fell in love with Heather Graham's Krewe of Hunters series, an arm of the FBI with paranormal abilities who investigate crimes with "ghostly" influences. Each book is set in a different era.

About the book: 

  In The Unseen (Krewe of Hunters Book 5), bodies are being dumped in  San Antonio. The Krewe members use their abilities to see ghosts to investigate what happened in the 1800s that could be influencing present day crimes at the historic Longhorn saloon and the Alamo. 

San Antonio, Texas, 1800s: In room 207 at the Longhorn Saloon, in the long shadow of the Alamo, a woman was brutally murdered. Her killer was never found.

One year ago: In that same historic room, another woman vanished without a trace.

In the past months, San Antonio has become a dumping ground for battered bodies. When Texas Ranger Logan Raintree is approached to lead a group of elite paranormal investigators working the case, he accepts the challenge. And with it, his powerful ability to commune with the dead. - from Amazon.


Hearing Alana call to him when she was already dead hadn't been his first experience with unacknowledged senses. He'd had opportunities as a child to embrace both Apache and Comanche ways--entirely different from each other.

  I'll also include another couple lines from my book: GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie  (From Chapter 11)

About the book:

Sixteen-year-old Rebecca Herrera Hayes faces every teenager's biggest nightmares: bad skin, bad hair, and worse . . . turning into one of the living dead.

But... time is running out. Becca  needs to find something, anything, to stop this deadly transformation-- before it is forever too late...


Even I had trouble breathing and stumbled backwards at the horrid stench of rotten eggs and spoiled meat wafting my way. Several long gashes on his arms, and probably elsewhere, explained the smell. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Fellow Wisconsin Author in Bram Stoker Award Nominated Anthology

Big congrats to all the authors whose work has been nominated for a Bram Stoker Award (R) from the Horror Writers Assn.

  Another big congrats goes to fellow Wisconsin author Christian A. Larsen (author of Losing Touch). 

His short story,"Cataldo's Copy" is in the anthology, Qualia Nous, which has also been nominated for a Stoker Award for "Superior Achievement in an Anthology."

The anthology includes stories from such noted authors as Stephen King and Logan's Run author, William F. Nolan. 

I recently interviewed Larsen for the Kenosha (WI) News. See the preview or read the full story.