Review of Dane Grannon’s “Lucky Streak”
Lucky isn’t so lucky…at least that is what I thought at the beginning of this first person narrative entitled Lucky Streak. He has been rescued, or perhaps captured would be a better word for it, by the military, after getting attacked by a zombie. He has already taken a drug to resist the effects of the zombie infection, and while the military monitors his progress in dealing with the viral battle going on inside his body, he is asked to tell his story, being told more than once that the information he shares could help save lives. That is when the real story begins.
Lucky, aka Barney Pinocle, is an eighteen year old kid who has a rap sheet, spending days of his misspent youth getting caught for various heists, some of which he was guilty of and others he was not. Lucky is a good kid though, and with a father and two aunts in law enforcement, they have watched out for him and also given him tips to avoid getting caught (unintentionally). Lucky’s tale in flashback begins with a heist he is pulling off, stealing a valuable antique from a local home. He describes with pride how he avoids getting caught, and works with his partner, Snake, to fence the goods once he has made his escape. After that, Snake is nervous about getting caught on another job, but Lucky needs the money after helping out his neighbor with her rent. You see, Lucky is a good guy despite his bad habit of stealing. Before and during the second heist, there are hints being dropped about the impending zombie apocalypse, but they are fairly subtle, and wouldn’t make someone who wasn’t completely paranoid too concerned. But when both Lucky and Snake get busted for the heist, and zombies start popping up all over the place, all subtlety is gone and hell breaks loose. Lucky manages to escape, holding out at a campsite that is pretty far removed from civilization. He outlasts the zombie invasion in hiding, returning to his hometown of Hutchinson, Kansas, to find many of the people he knew and cared for dead, but his parents, and the girl he had a crush on, still alive. But as Lucky finds out soon enough, the zombie menace is far from over for him and the rest of the world…
The author has created a story that moves along at a quick pace and gives us a chance to really get to know Lucky, who is just trying to make his way in the world both before and after the zombies come. He is a thief, but a good guy who helps those in need. He lives up to his nickname, Lucky, on more than one occasion, but it would seem given his overall circumstances, his luck isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. The story is entertaining and an easy read, and I was able to appreciate a story that comes from close to my neck of the woods, since I grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, not too terribly far from Lucky’s stomping grounds. I’ve probably only passed through Hutchinson, where most of the story takes place, once or twice in my life, but I could tell that the author has a good grip on the layout of his hometown and uses that to his advantage in this story. Overall, this is a fun and entertaining tale of one person’s life and times during the zombie apocalypse, both during the first wave of undead as well as the second.
You can find Lucky Streak here: http://www.amazon.com/Lucky-Streak-Dane-Grannon/dp/1936730073/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1317575237&sr=8-2
Review of Todd Brown’s “Zomblog II”
Zomblog II slides the reader into the story started with Zomblog with ease, with a second character having taken up the challenge to provide a journal about the ongoing zombie apocalypse. Meredith, who actually became the narrator perhaps halfway through the first book, continues to tell of her experiences as she moves from place to place and meets new survivors along the way, while trying her best to keep those she cares about alive. I thought the way the author shifted perspectives was quite creative and surprising in the first book. I won’t ruin the surprise here by giving away what happens in the second book, as I tend to prefer not to give away the overall plot. So if you are expecting the same type of shakeup here, you will have to read the book for yourself to find out what happens to the main character and if they make it through to the end.
Zomblog II moves at the same breakneck pace as Zomblog did, but Todd Brown has upped the ante with even greater challenges and darker realities for the narrator of this tale to face as the initial days of the zombie apocalypse fade into the distance. The most compelling aspect of this book is the author’s willingness to show both the absolute best and worst aspects of humanity and keeping you glued to every page as the story unfolds. Make no mistake, this is a gritty, raw tale that expects the reader to accept how depraved mankind can get when things go bad. Certainly, there are those who retain elements of their humanity, but while living in barbaric, ugly times, the bad seems to shine through, and those that are willing to do anything are the ones who tend to survive. Not that there aren’t good people still around, but even those people are forced to do questionable, brutal things, including the main character. Perhaps the dark, dim nature of this tale might be too grim for some, and fair warning if you like coming out of a tale like this with a strong sense of hope. There is perhaps some, but nothing that will reaffirm your faith in mankind, that is for sure.
Despite the fact that this is a diary approach to writing and there really isn’t dialog because of that, we are able to get to know Meredith and some of the key characters that surround her quite well and what drives and motivates them through her words and the emotions that resonate off her journal pages. Meredith is a fleshed out, hard nosed character that keeps the story moving forward every step of the way. This book kept my interest from start to finish, and I look forward to checking out how the story continues with the next Zomblog journal entry.
Zomblog II can be found at http://www.amazon.com/Zomblog-II-T-W-Brown/dp/0984537252/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1294071777&sr=1-1
“A Soldier’s Lament” now in e-book form!
I am happy to announce that my short story, A Soldier’s Lament, has been published as an individual story available for sale for your e-book reader. May December, who originally published the story in their first person zombie anthology, Eyewitness: Zombie, has made it available via Smashwords. You can check out Fangoria’s review of Eyewitness: Zombie, which specifically mentions A Soldier’s Lament in it, here: https://patrickdorazio.com/2010/12/04/great-review-of-eye-witness-zombie-on-fangoria/.
I am quite excited about this, and part of the reason I am is because this particular story takes place in the same world as my Dark Trilogy of novels. Without ruining anything, if you have read Into The Dark, you might recognize a couple of the characters when you check out this short story.
At $2.99, this is a pretty cheap price as well. So check it out!
There is no specific cover art work for this short story, but the publisher did commission this killer drawing that ties into the story quite well for Eyewitness: Zombie. Just click on the image to head over to the link at Smashwords.
Great Review of Eye Witness: Zombie on Fangoria
It’s always really nice when an anthology you are in gets warm praise. It is even better when it is from one of the premier horror magazines in the business. But the icing on the cake is when they mention your story by name as one of tales they really liked.
It is always flattering and humbling to receive praise like this. The fact that this particular story in Eye Witness: Zombie is tied into the world where my Dark Trilogy takes place is even more gratifying.
So take a few seconds and swing by this link and check out the review for Eye Witness: Zombie from Fangoria!
First review of Into The Dark!
The first review of Into the Dark is up and I am pretty pleased with it. Todd Brown did a great job being honest with both his praise and criticism of Comes The Dark and does so again here.
He does mention some confusion with the timelines, and that the second book jumps too far forward. The first book takes place six weeks after the apocalypse has begun, and the second book is just a couple of days after that. So I hope the confusion there isn’t something that causes problems with too many readers. If so, I apologize for that. Anyway, I just wanted to bring that up since it was a concern of Todd’s with this review and want to alleviate that concern as best I can.
So check it out here: www.maydecemberpublications.com/reviews-2/
Great review for Eye Witness: Zombie
If you are looking to check out a great zombie anthology, there are plenty I could recommend. I am excited about the fact that Eye Witness: Zombie got a detailed review over at Zombiephile that talks about each story in detail that is included within its pages. Terrific review and I am proud to be a part of this one. Check it out over at: http://www.zombiephiles.com/zombies-ate-my-brains/may-december-publications-releases-new-zombie-anthology-eye-witness-zombie
Eye Witness: Zombie is out now!
Quicker than expected, the May December first person zombie apocalypse anthology, Eye Witness: Zombie has been released and is available on Amazon.
I am very proud of my story that appears in this anthology, as it ties into the world I created with Comes The Dark and its two sequels. My story is entitled “A Soldier’s Lament” and is my first foray into first person storytelling. I am used to doing third person traditional, but it was good taking a different perspective for this one and I am pleased with how the story ended up.
So check it out!
Here is the description on the back of the book (and the cover is listed one post below this one, so you can take a look at it there):
THE DEAD WALK! Slip into the skin of common men and women and experience the horror through their eyes. Follow the Zombie Apocalypse from its initial stages to the brink of the abyss, and over…into the pits of an unthinkable Hell on Earth. Tune into your local stations for the latest updates or stay here and follow the story as it unfolds on…Eye Witness: Zombie.
Cover for “Eye Witness: Zombie” Anthology
I am quite excited about this anthology from May December Publications. It is being released soon and contains a story of mine that is derived from the same world as Comes The Dark. I won’t reveal the connection, but suffice it to say, there are a couple of characters that appear in my trilogy that also appear in my story, “A Soldier’s Lament.”
This one should be out in the next month or so, and my copy is on its way from the publisher. I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
As time goes on….
I haven’t really posted something that was just my thoughts on writing since this whole process of the book actually being publish began a few weeks ago. At this stage in the game, it seems to be all about promoting my work more than anything else, so I really haven’t talked about what is going on with my writing efforts nowadays (except for short stories that are being released now, or very soon). So I thought I would take a few moments and actually contemplate where things are at the present moment.
I have given some thought to posting some of the extra “stuff” that I wrote for the three novels that start with Comes The Dark here on my blog. Stuff that helped me develop the story and give it some background-stories about the characters that didn’t make the final cut. Since there was so much of that, it might make sense to provide a few blog entries on the story of George and Jason, or Megan, as well as some of the other things that took place ‘behind the scenes’ as it were. In time, when the book has been out there for a while, I may start doing that, although not on any specific schedule. I will have to see what comes of things. What really makes me think that it may be worthwhile to do this is the fact that one of these ‘stories’ has been accepted as a stand alone short story for an anthology called Eye Witness Zombie, being published by May December Publishers, and are tales of the zombocalypse told from a first person perspective. I had to do some modifications to make it first person, but after that was done, the story worked well as a stand alone. It has ties with the second novel in my trilogy, which will be released early next year, but not enough that it actually reveals any (or much) of the plot of my novel. I remembered originally writing this story in one fevered pitch-I pumped out about 16,000 words in one night, most of which was unintelligible garbage at the time. It was a total tangent-loosely related to the novel, but off on its own, with a character who appears nowhere else as the central focus. He had a very vague connection to two characters in the books though and that led me to write it that night. The unintelligible garbage got reworked and inserted into the novel, then I realized it was a massive amount of words that took the reader on a journey that was off the primary path of the story, even if i felt it was a good story to tell. So finding it a home after I cut it from the final novel made me extremely happy. I really believe it is a story worth telling. Now if only the other ones I have in mind are as well. They will be more closely related to the novels with main characters at the heart of them, so it will be much more difficult to promote them as stand alone short stories, but giving them a home here on the blog may be the idea place for them.
In other news, as I have been doing since I started this blog, I have been writing a lot of short stories. I am probably not the most prolific writer, but I do try to hit as many submission calls that my publisher has, as well as some others out there from other houses that look interesting. I wish I had specific release dates on some of the ones that have been accepted, but whether they are coming out this year or next, I am pretty excited about all of them (as most writers would be about their babies). I am currently trying my hand at a bit of erotic horror, which is much like bizarro for me in that I have never written anything in this particular genre before, and doubt it will ever become my forte. Then again, my bizarro story made the cut in an anthology, so if my erotica tale does as well, who knows? I don’t know much, but what I have learned so far is not to pigeon hole myself as a writer. I am keeping all doors open, especially as I help my son write his YA zombie/vampire/werewolf story. The boy has no boundaries when it comes to ideas, so it is always a trip to hear him talk about it.
As I continue promoting my novel and work on getting the second one ready to go for my publisher (the first round of edits are already complete and I have turned in my revisions, so that process is going great), I also need to start working on my next book, which I have been saying to myself as well as anyone else who will listen, that I have already started on it. Given that it is outlined and I like the outline a great deal, the time is probably ripe for me to start pounding it out on the keyboard. Outlines for me are guides that can be adjusted and modified as needed for as many sudden changes that need to take place in a book or story. Many writers I know find outlines to be restricting and binding to the point that they hate them. I guess I am not that type of writer, because while I love to have as many sudden inspirations that change everything as much as the next person, I need a skeleton, even a weirdly shaped one, to start pinning stuff to, which is why I outline so much. So I build a blue print, which for others may be the equivalent of actually starting to write the story, since my outlines often take on a rather deep complexity, with minute details in them that sort of defies the idea of it being only an ‘outline’. But since I don’t consider it writing until I start putting it into the actual MS word document, the term outline will have to due for whatever it is I have already done for novel number 4.
I guess that is enough rambling for now. Tomorrow is another day for me to keep attacking this new erotic story and to beat myself up a bit more about the next novel, and to think about all the formatting stuff I need to do for the second novel…and some of the other submission calls and what their due dates are, because I don’t want to miss them.
Review for T.W. Brown’s “Dead: The Ugly Beginning”
Author T.W. Brown indicates that this will be the first of at least five books in his Dead Saga. All I can say to that is: when is the second volume coming out?
This is the beginning, and so we are introduced to a wide array of characters. It is the beginning of the zombie apocalypse, the beginning of the end for the human race, and the beginning of some incredible and wide spanning journeys for characters both big and small. We are provided with two main stories in this book. One is told from the perspective of Steve, a guy living in Portland, Oregon when the infection begins, although he is soon on the road, picking up a neighbor girl on the way as things quickly unravel around him. The other story is of a group of geeks in Norfolk, Virginia who are also attempting to cope with the apocalypse and get on the road almost immediately, to start heading west to an area they hope is lacking enough in population that it will be safe. The author doesn’t stop there with the characters, adding chapters entitled Vignettes, which share the stories of others, both survivors and the not so lucky, as they live and die throughout the country (and in a couple of cases, in other areas of the world). Some of the characters introduced through those chapters will continue to play a role in the upcoming books, or at least the sequel, although many face their doom rather abruptly in this story.
This is a very traditional Romero zombie style story, which means that you shouldn’t expect the zombies to be demonic, speedsters, or intelligent. These are the slow moving, inevitable shamblers that inhabit nightmare not because you can’t run away from them, but because they never stop coming for you, in greater and greater numbers. You have time to pause and consider your fate as they close in, slowly, awkwardly, knowing that they will get through the barricades in time because they will never stop until everyone is devoured and turned into what they have become.
The key to a story like this one is to have compelling characters, which is what Mr. Brown has created. Whether they’re one of the main characters like Steve, Kevin, or Mike, or any of the multitude of more ancillary characters, there are very few “extras” in this tale. Even those who have been bitten in the vignettes that you know almost immediately are about to die are provided with a compelling enough storyline to make it so I cared about them as a reader. There are good and evil people, as there always are in these stories, but more important, the good guys can and do make mistakes, which means that while you are rooting for them, they are still human and still apt to make a monumental mistake that gets someone killed. The author has developed “real” characters, which is why I am looking forward to see where they end up going in this story, even if it is always in doubt as to whether or not any of them will be able to survive until the very end.
Dead: The Ugly Beginning is on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Ugly-Beginning-T-Brown/dp/0984537201/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274811322&sr=1-1
Review of Zomblog, by TW Brown
TW Brown has created a very readible book in diary form about the first nine months of the zombie apocalypse. Our writer is Sam Todd, who is an every day guy who decides he will start a blog to document what is going on in his life and it just so happens that he starts writing it a few days before the start of a plague that sweeps the world where the dead begin rising up to destroy the living.
The pace is swift, with each day passing at a clip of about a page each. Sam goes on the run fairly early in the book and almost never stops, taking breaks along the way at different safe havens, but determined to find a place that he doesn’t feel locked in and kept from the outside world, where both the hordes of zombies and the savage living lurk around every corner.
The action is intense and you barely get the chance to catch your breath. I won’t reveal something that happens more than halfway through the book, but suffice it to say, there are some genuine surprises in store for the reader. I though the author did a nice job of switching things up on us and taking the story in a different direction. Not what I expected.
Since this is a journal entry type of story there is no dialogue and we are given a synopsis of events for each day. Some readers might consider this a weakness if they are not a fan of that type of writing but I believe the author does a good job of revealing things in a way that makes each entry compelling. Of course, the tough part is that since we are living inside the narrator’s head and they are writing these entries at the end of each day, we are often given a sentence or two at the beginning of many entries that gives us a synopsis of the day (or at least hints at one) and then gives us all the details. In other words, some of the suspense is gone because we at least have a hint at who has died or what had taken place (although I will note that the author does a good job of surprising the reader on that account as well and not revealing too much in the synopsis at the beginning of the entries for the most part). That is perhaps what makes this type of book tricky to pull off sometimes. We are not “in the moment” as it were, we are getting the blow by blow after the fact. Still, I think the author did a very good job using this writing style to its fullest potential.
Something I really liked with this book was the author’s use of geography and really mapping out a multi-state environment. The characters are constantly on the move, constantly facing new dangers, new challenges, and again, the reader never really has much of a chance to settle in or expect things to slow down. We get mountains and rivers and a lot of excellent descriptions of the northwestern environment. For someone who has never traveled in that region, the author really showcases the area.
No one is safe in this book, the body count is high, and its clear that the writer is directing both his zombie horde and the vicious survivors who our main character comes up against with merciless efficiency here.
For fans of zombie fiction this is a nice addition to your library. The pacing is good and the action is intense. I am looking forward to the sequel to find out what happens next to the narrator.
Zomblog can be found at http://www.amazon.com/Zomblog-T-W-Brown/dp/1449962203/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274809114&sr=8-1