I wanted to share this cool video promoting one of the anthologies that I recently announced that I am going to be a part of with my short story, “Legacy.” Peter Giglio, whose own story appears within the pages of Live and Let Undead, created this video for Hollie Snider, who compiled the anthology. So I wanted to share it here.
Just hit the link and head on over to YouTube: http://youtu.be/kFkMtCjez4k
Well, I was going to wait until the official wrap around cover was released, but I decided I didn’t want to. There will be a few more tweaks to this one, but I love the artwork, and love my story that appears within its pages. The title of the book is Live and Let Undead, and as the back cover describes, it is a bit of a different take on the traditional zombie apocalypse story telling. More details to come on this anthology, and my short story “Legacy” as it gets closer to a release date.
The Zombie-pocalypse is real! Loved ones are returning from the grave in search of flesh and brains! Humans are running scared!
Here, rather than shooting them in the head, eighteen talented authors have figured out how to put the Undead to work. Zombies can now be contributing members to society once more.
Looking for some customer service help? “Operators” from AM Burns, has just the call center crew for you. Need road repairs? Check out the workers in Mike Baretta’s “Memorial Day.” How about a solution for all those bombs, drugs, and other nasty stuff crossing through our seaports? Matt Adams’ Sparky can take care of it in “Sparky Save The World.”
These stories, and others, from authors-
-will have you wishing for a zombie of your own.
Another anthology one of my short stories will be in has a cover and the Table of Contents to show off, so I wanted to share them here with you.
The Anthology is entitled: Zombidays, Festivities of The Flesheaters. Each story is shaped around a different holiday, done up Zombie style. My story is entitled “What a Fool Believes” and is about, you guessed it, April Fool’s Day.
More details to come when this bad boy is ready for release. For now, check out the cover and the TOC, which includes holidays celebrated around the world!
Table of Contents
Richard Marsden – “Revolucion de los Muertos” – Day of the Dead
Stephanie Kincaid – “Zombie’s First Christmas” – Christmas
B. M. Kezar – “Inhuman Resources” – Thanksgiving & Black Friday
Tonia Brown – “Caveat Emptor” – Father’s Day
Nic Brown – “A Grave St. Patrick’s Day” – St Patrick’s Day
Deborah Walker – “Burn Bright and Bide” – Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Night
Bryan Hall – “Reduce, Reuse, Reanimate” – Earth Day
Patrick D ‘ Orazio – “What a Fool Believes” – April Fools’ Day
Lee Pletzers – “He iwi tahi tatso” – Waitangi Day
Carey Burns – “Time To Eat” – 4th of July/Independence Day
Derek J. Goodman – “If a Tree Falls in a Forest” – Arbor Day
Stacey Longo – “Zombie Mama” – Mother’s Day
Keith Gouveia – “Dead Souls” – Valentine’s Day
Rob Rosen – “Kill Phil” – Groundhog Day
Christin Haws – “Land of the Voting Dead” – Election Day
Morris L. Crisp – “Bush Country” – Inauguratiion Day
Michael C. Lea – “Best Day Ever” – New Year’s Day
William Wood – “Lest We Forget” – Veterans Day
I wanted to post the cover of an anthology that I am proud to have a story in. The challenge with the premise of this antho was to use two different monster archetypes and mash them up and make it into a comedy story about them. It is entitled Groanology: Amusing Monster Mash-Ups Unleashed!
My short story, “Hell in the Family” will appear on its pages. Shocking tidbit about it: there are NO zombies in this one! So you see, I can actually write a horror tale without the undead in it. But of course, there have been others I’ve written. But of course, by now, you all know I love writing about the undead buggers, heh.
Anyway, here is the cover, and I think it will give you a great idea of how amusing this book will end up being. More details to come as the book gets closer to release.
Zombie Haiku isn’t a book filled with random haiku’s about the undead. Instead, it tells the saga of a man first running from the undead, and then becoming one himself, as he relates his experiences in 5-7-5 syllable sets. I would have enjoyed just some random sentiments about zombies, as I must admit that I have created a few myself (not so great) and seen plenty of others from friends (much better) on a message board I frequent. Comical, dark, and even thought provoking haiku that are fun to read and a challenge to create.
Zombie Haiku is fun as it is, though not all of the verse is created equal. Still, it is a plenty amusing, though short. The book lasted me perhaps 45 minutes at a leisurely clip. I guess if I had a major gripe with this book, it would be that I wish it were longer, though there are some haiku gems in it that had me snickering. The author has apparently tried his hand at vampire and werewolf haiku as well, which certainly might be fun, but as a zombie fan boy, this is the one I had to check out.
An entertaining little read that perhaps doesn’t give you something unique as far as the overall story, but it is told in a different and funny way.
You can check out Zombie Haiku here: http://www.amazon.com/Zombie-Haiku-Good-Poetry-Your-Brains/dp/1600610706/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1297823961&sr=8-1
My interview with Sonar 4 tonight, for those who didn’t get the chance to check it out live.
Lori Titus and Tonia Brown did a great job and it was a lot of fun talking about Comes The Dark, some of my short stories, and the absolutely horrendous book I wrote back in high school that remains locked away forever.
Check it out!
Well, its been a while since I posted something. I’m not really sure I am feeling guilty about that, because I have been spending a great deal of my free time writing, which is really the point of all this, so at least I feel productive. I think this blog is an extension of that desire to write, but is also a way to help promote both what I have written as well as some other people out there whose books I’ve read and really enjoyed. So I need to do a better job of keeping up with things, but for now, I will report when there is something to report on.
But hey, I just ordered some book through the Amazon Vine’s program that is supposed to tell me five steps to becoming a better blogger. So watch out world! Patrick D’Orazio’s blog is going to knock yer socks off…once I get the chance to read that book. I think.
The challenge, at this time, is that nothing I’ve written is out there yet for you to pick up and buy. I have five short stories that have been accepted for different anthologies thus far, along with my trilogy of novels. I have several other stories out there going through the submission process and I will hopefully hear back on them over the next few months, but as I wait, I will continue to write. You just wait, in a few months, I will have plenty to talk about that is actually out on the market…and hopefully a lot more to come. Then again, I think this is a good and humbling experience. I am getting rejections along with acceptances, which makes me want to work harder at being a better writer. Every day, that is my goal.
I think I have made up my mind that writing my next novel is a process that will begin after the editing of my current novel begins, which is actually ongoing, but I am hoping for the first book of my trilogy to be completely edited before I begin to focus on writing the first draft of an entirely new story. I know this is a random thought, but I swear there is a method to my madness. Or at least I think there is. The madness does sometimes get in the way, but honestly, that is the fun part.
Up until that time, I have plenty to keep me busy with the various short story anthologies asking for submissions that are out there. I actually submitted something for the first non-Library of the Living Dead/Library of Horror/Library of Science Fiction and Fantasy anthology last night, so I am spreading my wings a bit. My next effort, the one I am working on right now, is a time traveling anthology for Permuted Press. Two non-Library submissions in a row is great. But two non-Library acceptances would be far better.
The majority of the stories I have written and submitted so far have had zombies in them. Some more traditional stories than others (when you start talking zombies and politics, zombies and cowboys, and zombies being used as a April Fools’ joke, you are not sticking to the beaten path, that is for sure). In the mix of what I’ve written have been a story about phobias, one about terrorism and spies, and one that is science fiction comedy. Some of the anthologies I am targeting past my current efforts involve horror comedy, super heros, and serial killers, thought not all at the same time. Although, that might be interesting. But no zombies in my short term future (just sent a zombie story off, so I got my fix). Beyond that, I am going to start searching beyond the anthology sources I am familiar withrequesting short stories and find some other ideas that may challenge me into writing beyond my comfort zone. I know of two anthos involving Steam Punk and Bizarro respectively, but I am not sure I am ready to dip my toes into either of those pools quite yet. I think I need to read more of those genres before I presume I can write in them.
I did do my first interview over Skype recently, which will hopefully be appearing on Tim Long’s blog (a great horror/comedy/bizarro/fantasy writer) very soon. It was a round table interview with some of the newer writers in the Library of Living Dead stable. It was a lot of fun and really gave me a chance to interact with some other folks who are just as excited about the writing process and the concept of seeing our words in print as I am. I probably blabbed way too much during the hour plus interview, but it was pretty loose and I was glad I wasn’t on my own. My first solo interview is definitely going to be a trippy experience.
Once a couple of my stories are actually in print, I will probably be able to start promoting myself more effectively. Getting a fan page on Facebook sounds like an plan (although it sounds weird…asking someone to be my fan, or more specifically, a fan of my books, just feels a bit surreal). Having an author’s page on Amazon would also be a step in the right direction to getting myself out there.
So there it is. I am at the starting gate, and have been preparing for my journey of pimping my wares, but have only just begun. Wish me luck. I might have spent most of my career in sales, and everyone in sales will tell you that selling yourself is the key to being successful, but it is still a bit strange to me that I actually will be selling myself during this process.
Crazy stuff. But a lot of fun as well.
One of the biggest challenges that wears me down as I have gotten more serious about writing is coming up with new, fresh ideas for stories on a continuous basis. Some will say that stories that have creatures like zombies in them, which have been used in a wide array of stories over the years, is probably not going to get you an award for creativity. It’s certainly true that I have read my fair share of rip-off zombie tales that follow the patented process made famous by Romero and others, with a group of people hiding out in a enclosed area desperately trying to figure out how they will survive because the undead are bashing at the doors, or gates, or whatever, and things are getting tense inside, and perhaps there are some other living humans outside that are also causing trouble, etc. But I have also read quite a few zombie stories that bring new ideas to the table by making the zombies intelligent, fast, demonic, alien, etc. I have also read the same type of stuff in other genres countless times with the rehash factor playing a major role. Heck, I have read an author who has regurgitated the same idea they had years before and just put some new decorative touches on it before selling it again.
What I have gathered from all of this is that even if you use a tried and true set of story guidelines and keep going back to the same well, it doesn’t mean you are creating something dull, drab, and uninspired. Similarly, if you throw some real curve balls with your ideas to make your story stand out as unique and different, you may still have the same stale and flabby plot if that is all you are relying on to make your tale something someone will want to read.
In other words, the setting is only one piece of the puzzle. I have read in excess of 300 different zombie books over the past few years, mixed in with a wide assortment of stories from other genres. And no, I am not just some incredibly obsessed fan boy who cannot stop pouring over the minutia of survival that apocalyptic and zombie stories usually give you. Sure, I’ve given my fair share of thought to what it would take to survive if things go terribly wrong in the world. I’ve written my posts on various message boards talking about that topic and others, both with the very serious folks out there that thing the world is going to end tomorrow and those who just love to kick around ideas and have some fun with it. BUT, and this is the big BUT, that does not mean I like reading the same old story with just minor changes just because they have zombies in them. Because what I really enjoy in good zombie story is a writer who can come up with new characters, new challenges, and essentially someone who will paint a fresh coat of paint over a basic story that has been around since Romero created Night of the Living Dead. In other words, if you are stuck in a farmhouse with a bunch of other people, I am not going to groan this setting has already been used, but I expect some new perspective , new and compelling characters, and something that will perhaps shed NEW light on the human condition. This is not to say that catapulting these characters into a new fresh environment with an entirely new breed of the undead might not be a bad idea, but what it boils down to for me, at least with what I would define as a ‘good zombie story’ is that you’ve made a serious effort at presenting the reader with characters that are multi-dimensional, intriguing, human, and perhaps allow us to love or hate them based on who they are and what they are willing to do. No, scratch that. That doesn’t just make for a good zombie story, it makes for a good story in general.
I use the zombie genre as an example because it is one that I have been immersed in for some time as I have written my book and the short stories that have followed up with more recently. My novel, in some ways, has a very traditional setting for a tale of the apocalypse. The undead nemesis is, for the most part, is very traditional. But I didn’t focus all my energy on the undead. Most of my effort went to developing characters that felt real and natural, doing what they can under terrible circumstances. Whether or not I succeeded in creating a compelling story with them is something each reader will have to decide for themselves, but finding a publisher willing to put out my book and having others who have read it indicating that it is a compelling has definitely given me the confidence to know that I can perhaps write something enjoyable and entertaining. But the first person I had to please was myself. Just like every other author I have know, I am by far my harshest critic. So with my novel, I didn’t slam my head against the desk desperately trying to write a story that didn’t have elements no one else has ever used before. Instead, I devoted myself to making my characters people that would keep someone glued to the page to see what happens next to them. Hopefully I pulled that off.
Short stories are something I am spending time with right now. The ideas for these are ones you can put together and develop without mapping out massive story arcs, which is a nice change of pace for me from writing the novel, although I will be getting back to writing my book within the next month or two. Writing short stories, after diving so deep into one story with a very specific characters, is a refreshing twist for me. It allows me to work with character that aren’t perhaps as complex, at least on the written page, but still definitely have intriguing stories to tell.
I do struggle more with coming up with creative stuff for short stories than I did with my book. I think of these smaller stories like guerrilla warfare. You sneak in, do the job, and get out before anyone realizes what you’ve done. Writing a novel is like going to war. You are the general and you are looking at thousands of different troop movements and trying to figure out what the enemy will do before they do it so you can adjust your techniques to outwit them. It is waged over months and years and generally speaking can be quite costly for all involved. A war takes lots of planning before you ever attack, and there are lots and lots of battles, and the map you are working with changes daily, because things change as you move forward-you discover you don’t like the direction a particular plot point is taking, some wonderful idea has filtered through that will require you to revamp over 100 pages of your tale, etc. The whole objective of guerrilla warfare is to get in and get out before the enemy can point its artillery at you and smash you flat. So it requires you to be light on your feet and come up with a story idea that can be effectively relayed in just a few thousand words, rather than 80,000.
I am not sure how good I am at writing short stories just yet. I have four accepted currently, and three more I have to wait until the editor gets past their designated deadline to even look at, but none of that means that I know for sure that I have what it takes to come up with something new and different every few days or weeks, which is what writing short stories is all about. Because you see, unlike with a novel, I think there is more onus on the short story writer to have something unique and different each time they set pen to paper. In 5,000 words or so, you need to set the stage, build the drama, let the story unfold, and bring it to a conclusion. Trust me, that is not such an easy task.
So far, I have been able to come up with something different with the short stories I have written. There are a few others I haven’t tried to get published because they really haven’t fit in the anthologies I have been working with, but if an idea strikes, the first thing I do is write it down and then stow it away. If it really is something I am obsessed with and have fully shaped inside my brain, I will start writing it right away. But usually the ideas I have are half formed and need time to gestate.
An example would be a story idea I came up with about a sixteen year old girl who has been bouncing around the foster care system her entire life. She is a chronic troublemaker and no one can handle her for long. Along come a very stern, very religious couple, who agree to take her and intend on scaring her straight. The main character takes that as a challenge and tries to torment these people, but they are un-tormentable, or so it seems. They lock her in her bedroom at night and she hears them down in the basement, praying. She wants to mess with them and wants to also find out more about their very secretive beliefs, so she breaks out of her room one night and suddenly, she discovers… Well, that was as far as I got. The idea was fairly basic, and would need a lot of molding and shaping, with some major embellishments. But what did I do with this idea? I later found a anthology that was looking for stories on phobias. These would be horror stories about the innocuous fears we have. So I started morphing my idea and wrote a story where there is a little girl who has a phobia of God and religion and she gets taken in by a very religious but very kind couple. I submitted the story and am waiting until the deadline passes in another month or so to see if its been accepted.
Sometimes you just never know where a story will lead you.
Other story ideas pop into my head fully formed. Writing the outline is simple and easy to do. A story I hope to start writing today is one like that. Another anthology is looking for stories of doom. In other words, major catastrophic events that wipe out whole civilizations. That was their only guidelines, but the idea that popped into my head was fully conceived and very specific. I wrote the full outline for it in around ten minutes and thus far, I love the idea as it is. That’s not to say it won’t change as I start writing, but for now, its a go and I just have to make sure I stick to the story guidelines about length and content before I turn it in.
I know of plenty of authors who out there who are superbly more talented than me who can see some submission guidelines for a short story or even a novella and their brain immediately starts creating something that works perfectly for what the editor is looking for. I envy those folks, but that is not me. I have to be hit by inspiration or I just don’t have the enthusiasm to carry a story through. The eureka moment is a big deal to me, and while sometimes it comes when I concentrate, most of the time it comes when I am not even thinking about writing, stories, or anything creative. Its not always a lightning bolt and thunder clap, sometimes its just a light drizzle that slowly saturates me and allows me to slowly poke and prod the idea until it fully develops into something tangible and hopefully, publishable.
I am afraid that one day, I will be sitting down, having just finished a story, and my brain will go blank, with nothing left inside as far as creativity is concerned. So far, it hasn’t happened, but the fact remains that I can’t always come up with something new that fits with something someone actually wants. An example is a new anthology looking for submissions that are supposed to be humorous science fiction tales. I would love to be a part of that and create something that is a riot, but unfortunately I haven’t come up with a single good idea as of yet. The good news is there is no deadline for this story just yet, so I have time, but I am still wracking my brain trying to come up with something for it. In the meantime, I have other ideas that just pop in my head that will make interesting stories, but none that are remotely close to something sci-fi-ish and humorous. But such is life.
I wish I had written this topic with some sort of advice in mind for someone reading this, but I really don’t have anything for you. Sorry if that seems selfish, but the muse visits different people in different ways. It seems that everyone has a different way of coming up with story ideas. Different inspirations, different personalities, different ways of thinking. I guess the best thing is to keep an open mind and listen to the world around you. Because you never know when or where inspiration will hit.
“My Girlfriend is a Zombie”
…and thus we set the tone for this intimate look at a man and his undead island-mate.
The Zombie Wilson Diaries plays on the castaway scenario replacing the volleyball named Wilson from the Tom Hanks film with a zombie girl who is quite a bit more animated and a whole lot more bitey than a ball with a bloody hand print for a face. Our nameless narrator begins his diary while on a business trip to the islands, which turns into a plane crash which lands him on a deserted island in the middle of the ocean with one of the other passengers, who apparently floated up to the island alive, just like him, but made the unfortunate decision to eat some exotic berries that have turned her from a hottie model type into a rottie gooey type. But fear not, our narrator decides to take her under his wing instead of bashing her skull in with a big rock because she keeps him company on a island lacking in others to socially interact with. Oh, we do get the occasional interloper, like our fair lady’s dead rotting hubby and a few natives who have canoed over from another island, but for the most part, this tale of a fateful trip is all about a man and his zombie.
A nice touch with this book is the appearance of handwritten text and the hand scrawled stick drawings that the narrator puts at the front of each chapter, which added to the personal diary feel of this story.
It is an intriguing relationship that this deluded and desperate man has with a creature that I found hard to define as far as what her role was. Each chapter starts with “My girlfriend…” but it becomes clear that the zombie in this story plays multiple parts, and girlfriend, it seems, is probably the least of them. Desperate for companionship, it is almost as if she is his pet or willful child, as he takes care of her and keeps her from getting into trouble, while at the same time she snaps at him and generally acts like a brat, but there are moments when it seems that his girl, undead Friday, seems to recognize and even relies on him, especially when there are thunderstorms and undead sharks trying to snap her in half.
The comedy here is dark and should be appreciated by a fan of the zombie genre for certain, as well as those who like a bit of a twisted tale in general. The self-induced torture that this castaway goes through as he debates, on a daily basis, whether it would just be better to kill this creature even though she provides him with a shred of human contact, is a wickedly humorous conflict. I’m not really sure whether I liked this guy or I just wanted to smack some sense into him, but I know one thing for sure, this book was an entertaining journey into the surreal.
The Zombie-Wilson Diaries can be found on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Zombie-Wilson-Diaries-Timothy-W-Long/dp/1450542565/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274809398&sr=1-1