Monday, November 30, 2015

New Mystery Author Interview

Yes, I do write about other things besides zombies... 

Now up at Mysterical-e, I talk with fellow author Joanna Campbell Slan about her mysteries and writing, and mention some upcoming holiday themed books you might be interested in ... See Author Snapshot column. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving #Zombie #Mystery

Do those words - zombie, Thanksgiving and Mystery actually go together? You dare ask? ha! Of course!

Gotta share the art that was on FB with the story. Fun!

In my story, "The Nearly Ruined Thanksgiving" at Mystery Weekly  (Get issue or sign up by today/Monday for free weekly email.)

What's Thanksgiving without (almost) everyone's favorite dish? Potentially deadly, Becca learns, when her aunt's cranberries go missing.

It's Monday, #Zombie Monday

I'ts Monday, so.... lazzzzy.

Thinking on some posts so stay tuned! 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Let's Play a Zombie Survival Game

Let's play a Zombie Survival Game!

 It’ll be easy, don’t worry—and there are no right or wrong answers. Using the list of supplies on the left, decide which three are the most important for surviving the situation on the right. Post your choices and why you picked those three things in the comments, and I’ll enter you for a chance to win an ebook copy of  Life After the Undead.

The game will run until Sunday at 12:00 p.m. MST.  Please make sure to post a way for me to contact you in case you’re a winner!

  • You have the 3 most important things: water, food, and shelter. 
  • The zombies are traditional creatures, meaning they move slowly but are vast in number.

Handgun with ammunition 
(1 box)
Scenario:  You and your family live in a dense pine forest.

What items are essential to your survival?


Rifle with ammunition 
(1 box)
Metal match (flint and steel)
Long-sleeved Shirt and Pants
Running shoes
Steel Toe Boots
Camping Stove
First Aid kit
4-Wheel Drive Truck
Container of Fuel
Duct Tape
Pocket Knife

Monday, November 16, 2015

Zen of the Dead #Halloween #Horror Poems & Fiction

I'm one of the contributors to a fun little Halloween - Horror anthology Zen of the Dead assembled by Lester Smith at Popcorn Press. It' s the seventh annual edition with creepy little poems and strange fiction including my story, "Today's Special."

Get the print version  or on Kindle.  Get yours and read it with the lights out, of course! Don't say I didn't warn you!!!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Pontypool Review and Free Books

Last weekend, I had the privilege of going to Philadelphia to do my Women and Slasher Films presentation at MAPACA. While there, I met some incredibly amazing people and talked a lot about horror films. One of the movies my newfound friends suggested I watch was Pontypool.

I’d seen this movie on several lists previously, and I wanted to see it, I just hadn’t had a chance. I figured since I my evenings were free, I would check it out. I was able to get it on Netflix, so that was a bonus.

Here’s the trailer:

I loved this movie. It isn’t your typical zombie film, but it was done really well. If you’re looking for gore and carnage, this isn’t the film for you. There aren’t any major action scenes, and it’s not scary, but there is some really well done tension.

I can’t tell you too much about this film without ruining it. I feel like you have to experience it for yourself.

Has anyone else seen it? What did you think?

I also wanted to let you wonderful readers know that Life After the Undead, my zombie book that was rereleased on October 27, is currently FREE on Kindle. Today is the last day, so don’t delay! Get it now!

Seventeen-year-old Krista must quickly figure out how she's going to survive in the zombie-destroyed world. The one advantage humans have is that the zombies hate humid environments, so they're migrating west to escape its deteriorating effects. The survivors plan to construct a wall at North Platte to keep the undead out, and Krista has come to Nebraska to start a new life.

Zombies aren’t the only creatures she has to be cautious of—the other survivors have a dark side. Krista must fight not only to live but also to defend everything she holds dear—her country, her freedom, and ultimately, those she loves.

Join Krista in her quest to survive in this thrilling apocalyptic novel by Pembroke Sinclair.

When I checked this morning at 8:00 my time, it was still ranked at #2 in two categories on Amazon: dystopian and survival stories. This is incredibly exciting for me as I’ve never ranked before. Even before the book was free, it was ranking in the top 100 for paid. I think the lowest I got at one point was in the 80s. I lost my mind! It seriously didn’t seem real.

I have you amazing readers to thank for helping push my book up in the rankings. I hope you enjoy it!

Also, if you’re looking for another young adult read that involves demons, The Appeal of Evil is also free on Kindle. Again, today is the last day, so go check it out!

Finally, in her senior year of high school, Katie is resolute in getting over her lifetime crush, Wes. It also helps that Josh, the new and incredibly attractive boy at school with his bad boy persona, gives Katie the attention that Wes never did.

It doesn’t take Katie long to fall for Josh. However, Wes, the boy she had pined over for years, now wants back in her life and for her to stay away from Josh. Even with Wes’ warnings, the choice seems clear to Katie – until she finds out that Josh is actually a demon from Hell.

Torn between loving the “good” guy or the “bad” guy, Katie struggles with the idea that even though Josh is a demon, he might genuinely care for her. Katie wants to invest her heart and soul in love, but she may end up losing both to Hell.

The Appeal of Evil makes you question whether the “bad” guy is truly so bad and if being born a demon truly makes one evil.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sherlock Holmes...and Zombies?

Sherlock Holmes against zombies? Trenton Mabey has given the sleuth a lively new challenge in "An Improbably Truth: the Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," edited by A.C. Thompson. Today, Trenton talks about his undead characters and how they fit into the Victorian era.

How to Bring Steampunk Zombies to Life

By Trenton Mabey

Creating believable characters is a challenge for any writer in every genre. Whether you are writing books or screenplays, characterization is a key component to the successful engagement of your readers. You want your audience to relate to the characters, feel their emotions, to cheer their victories and despair in their defeat. It is just as essential to develop your zombies, as it is to develop the heroine or villain of your tale. Zombies are not two-dimensional creatures set within the story purely to cause unrestrained destruction. While absolute devastation might be the purpose and ultimate outcome of the zombie infestation, with proper development, you can really bring your zombies to life.

What about steampunk zombies? Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction and ripe with undead possibilities. Generally set in the 19th century, the Victorian era of exploration and innovation, when steam was queen and gas lamps lit the streets of cities like London, Paris and New York, steampunk explores the historic time period between the Industrial Revolution and World War I. Imagine an alternate timeline where steam technology explodes into endless possibilities, of airships traversing the globe and submarines trolling the depths of the world’s oceans. Now add a sprinkling of zombies.

Three of the most recognizable elements of any steampunk story are airships, gears, and goggles. Zombie airship pirates anyone? Maybe the zombies won’t be wearing goggles and flying airships but adding zombies into a steampunk world allows the heroes to use the basics of the steampunk technology to deal with the evolving zombie problem. Before you begin the first draft, begin the development of the zombie character by answering this simple question; what is the origin of the zombies?

One of the critical components of the zombie tale is the origin story. How did the zombies rise from the dead, was it a mystical or a scientific process? Establishing the basis for the dead rising is the foundation for the development of the zombie as a character in the story.

Mystical Origins
The mystical process of raising the dead as zombies has origins in African folklore and the voodooist practices of the Caribbean isles. Zombies raised through magical means provide the writer with limitless opportunities of developing the personality of the zombie including the intelligence and mobility levels. Mystical zombies may be supernatural and their abilities extend beyond the range of normal humans. Here area a couple of story ideas to get you started on your own mystical zombie steampunk story.

1. A lot of steampunk is set in Victorian London or other European settings but what about the United States. The 19th century in America was a time of rapid development and change. Expansion of the territory led settlers and schemers, gold miners and gold diggers, to the west. The western migration displaced Native American tribes and sent them either to reservations or graves. Imagine a Native American medicine man with the power to create an army of zombie warriors. A struggling town must contend with the undead led by an innovative blacksmith with a talent for creating steam-powered weapons.

2. The African continent, also called the Dark Continent, still held the European powers enthralled during the 19th century. Europeans navigated the continent searching for valuable resources, trade routes and missionary opportunities. Mount Kilimanjaro was “discovered” by Europeans in 1848. Africa has a diverse landscape and countless indigenous tribes. What if zombies raised by a local shaman hunted a steamboat expedition up the Congo River?

3. An airship pirate band land on an island in the Caribbean to find fresh water and game. The crew drinks from a spring that has been poisoned by deadly sulphuric gasses leaking from the island volcano. The captain strikes a deal with a voodoo witch to transform his dead crew into a crew of zombie pirates with the intelligence of a human but the morals of a zombie.

Scientific Origins
The scientific possibilities of bringing the dead to life extend to some of the first science fictions stories.  The origin of the science fiction genre has its beginnings with one such story, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Considered one of the first modern science fiction stories, the tale centers on the trials of Dr. Frankenstein and the consequences of his scientific method of animating an undead creature. Not strictly a zombie story, Frankenstein is like a distant uncle to the modern zombie. The mad scientist is a common character in steampunk stories; crazy tinkerers who mess with scientific processes and chemical elements. Picture the basement laboratory complete with chemical filled beakers and steam-powered machines capable of infusing life into a corpse. Steampunk science is rooted in 19th century scientific discoveries. Though alchemy fell into obscurity with the rise of modern chemistry during the 18th century, steampunk allows for the continuation of alchemical practices with elements not on the standard table of chemical elements like aether. Aether is considered a fifth element and one of the components of the philosopher’s stone. It is a mysterious element that can be integrated into any steampunk zombie story due to its unknown nature. Maybe aether is the vital substance needed to reanimate the dead. Here are a couple of story ideas.

1. Weaponized zombies. An expedition into the heart of the African jungle uncovers a mysterious element rumored by the natives to restore a person to life. A Confederate scientist experiments and uncovers the process for infusing this element with a blood-based chemical into recently killed soldiers bringing them back to life but with loyalty to the Confederacy. He creates an army of zombies to fight in the American Civil War.

2. Vaccines were first introduced during the 19th century. These included vaccines for cholera, anthrax, and the plague. What if one of the experimental trials for humans went horribly wrong? How would 19th century society deal with a zombie problem?

3. A mad scientist inserts mechanical gears and steam engines into dead bodies, reanimating the corpses.

This last idea I used in a recent Sherlock Holmes anthology. I used a mixture of the scientific and mystical process to bring zombies to life.

Knowing the origin of your zombies allows a writer to explore how the zombies interact with the environment of the story and why they react to different elements. A zombie created by mechanical means might react differently to the sound of a gunshot than a zombie raised by magical means. Thoughtfully developing the origin story of your zombies will create more menacing and convincing zombies for your human characters to escape or destroy.


Trenton Mabey is a freelance writer, poet, and photographer living in Arizona. He is working on an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University. He was recently published in the Star82 Review and has a story in the forthcoming An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes from Mocha Memoir Press, due out in October 2015. He has written several steampunk short stories and is working o his first steampunk novel. His writing is influenced by mythology, Asian philosophy, and a small dose of insanity. 

He can be reached on Facebook: and his website: .

Excerpt From “The Case of the Rising Dead” by Trenton Mabey

“Don’t dally doctor, we must be off,” said Holmes as he lifted himself out of the carriage and dropped out of sight. I scrambled to my feet and hoisted myself out of the carriage. A wave of heat greeted my face just as I cleared the door. I suddenly realized that the carriage was on fire! I quickly jumped to the safety of the road and moved away from the wreckage.  Holmes was kneeling down next to one of the horses, a pitiful whinny of pain emanating from the creature. The other lay next to it, unmoving.

I looked around for the driver but I could not locate the man. Movement caught my attention, a shadow moving into the trees, hunched over and dragging something along the ground.  

“Holmes, there,” I said, pointing towards the figure. As Holmes stood to give chase another hellish scream rent the air stopping us cold. An apparition from hell stepped from behind the burning carriage. It stood staring at us, clenching and unclenching its hands. Its long hair hung limply, framing a nightmarish face; bloodshot bulging eyes, gray lips, black tendril lines stretching up and across its face. The carriage fire cast a reddish glow on its face. It raised its head to the sky and let out another scream. 

Holmes grabbed a burning piece of the carriage, holding it in a fencer’s stance. I moved to the left in a flanking maneuver, keeping my pistol trained on the creature. The creature was clearly no longer human and stared at each of us for a few seconds, hands still clenching and unclenching. I cocked my pistol, ready to fire. Suddenly, the creature rushed Holmes. He jabbed with his flamed weapon but the creature batted it away and tackled him to the ground. It appeared to possess incredible strength. Holmes threw it off and scrambled to his feet. The creature stood to make another charge at him, but I fired my revolver. Just a warning shot above its head. The creature ducked to the ground, looking around wildly. I cocked the pistol again and its eyes stared into mine for a half second before it darted away, running faster than expected.

Holmes and I gave chase across the field and into the woods beyond. The moonlight that filtered through the trees barely provided enough light to follow the trail of our attacker. The cracking of branches and crunching of autumn leaves sounded ahead of us. We moved quickly but the creature moved with supernatural speed. Continuing on our path, the sounds of our prey diminished in the distance. A cart trail appeared in a clearing running perpendicular to our path. We stopped to listen but could hear nothing, our purpose lost. We slowly returned to the burned out carriage aware of the slightest sound in the darkness. Holmes walked back to the injured horse.

“Doctor, your services are needed,” he said.

The gunshot rang out loud in the silence of the night.


Mocha Memoirs:    

Shortlink (Amazon):  

Saturday, November 7, 2015

After #Halloween #Horror Tale!

How about a little after-Halloween horror?

A flash story I wrote is over on the Mangled Matters blog for its 250-word contest. 

It's called...

The Collection

by C.A. Verstraete

With Burt busy upstairs making them lunch, Ernie knew this was his chance.  He could finally take a quick look around his friend’s room, something he never got to do since Burt hardly left it for long.
Now that looks interesting, he thought.
The closet door opened with a groan.  He stood there and stared.
So good old Burt had a secret hobby…        

Friday, November 6, 2015

How Do You Prefer Your Vampires and Zombies?

This past week, I started watching the From Dusk ‘til Dawn TV series on Netflix. I’d seen the trailers for it on TV, and I really enjoyed the movie, so I thought, “Why not?”

So far, I’m really digging it. It pretty much follows the movie, with the Gecko brothers staging a daring prison escape and heading down to Mexico for freedom. The only difference is that the series foreshadows the upcoming vampires where the film didn’t. However, that makes sense, especially if you consider that most people have probably already seen the movie and know what to expect. And yet, even if they haven’t seen it, the foreshadowing reveal is still done really well.

It’s shown through the perspective of Richie, the brother who has some obviously mental issues. So if you don’t know what’s coming, you might just think it’s his mind playing tricks on him. But if you do know what’s coming, you can’t wait until they show up.

From Dusk ‘til Dawn is one of my favorite movies. It starts out as something completely different than how it finishes. And most people never see the twist coming. Robert Rodriguez did an awesome job with the film. And he’s the one who created the TV series too. I’m not very far into it; I just started episode 2, but I’m enjoying it.

It got me thinking about the evolution of the vampire and what my favorite kind has been. The vampires in From Dusk ‘til Dawn are hideous monsters that feed and gorge in horrific fashion. If you’ve seen the film, you know that they can go through clientele in very little time, and blood and body parts get everywhere—they even become the instruments of the house band. It’s gory, much like a feeding frenzy with zombies.

While all vampires are monstrous, not all of them look like monsters. The vampires in Interview with the Vampire had a sexy quality about them. And so did Count Dracula in Dracula when he decided to look a certain way. But no matter how “sexy” they appeared, they were still incredibly dangerous. They still killed humans—even if they had a moral objection to doing it (such as Louis in Interview with the Vampire).

But as time ventured forth, the vampire evolved. They became less dangerous and way sexier. So sexy, in fact, that they would glitter in the sun. And they wouldn’t dream of killing a human. They satiated their hunger by hunting animals.

Even zombies have taken on this type of evolution. In Warm Bodies, R has the ability to feel for Julia. He can even go so far as to eat her boyfriend’s brains so he can indulge in his memories of her. He’s dangerous at the beginning of the film, but as it progresses, he becomes less and less of a monster. By the end, he’s able to regain his humanity.

Personally, I like my vampires monstrous. I like them evil and vile, like how they are portrayed in From Dusk ‘til Dawn and pretty much every movie before Twilight. They can have a sexy quality about them, but it must never be forgotten that behind that beauty is a killer.

I also like my zombies as mindless killing machines. I don’t have a preference if they are fast or slow, as long as they do what a zombie is supposed to do: kill mindlessly.

Although, I will say that it’s fascinating to think about vampires and zombies evolving. It’s intriguing to see how people reimagine them and how they affect a story.

How do you prefer your undead?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Pre-Order! Young Adult Anthology with #Zombie story!

Young Adventurers: Heroes, Explorers & Swashbucklers has 14-plus tales including a young boy before he was Repairman Jack by F. Paul Wilson and my story, "Puppy Love and Zombies," where Becca faces her fear of dogs and solves a mystery.  

Young Adventurers: Heroes, Explorers & Swashbucklers - also coming in paperback.

**** PRE-ORDER now on Kindle! *****

CONTEST! Take a pic with the book and post it to the Facebook group for a chance to win a bunch of different books!! 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Cool New #Mystery Mag Cover! Story Coming!

How cool is this!! 

Here's the cover of the November Mystery Weekly Magazine. 
 (My story comes out online and in the email version near Thanksgiving.)  Oh, and yes, I figured a way to get my part-Zombie girl (from GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie) into a new adventure...)

In "The Nearly Ruined Thanksgiving," Becca helps her aunt find out what happened to the (dreaded) cranberries...