Category Archives: Cool Stuff

The Non-Believers, Pt I #free #bookboost #iartg @AtriaBooks

In the spirit of the anthology I edited for Atria Brooks I’ve written a story for you can read right here for free. If you have already pre-ordered your copy of Anything but Zombies, you already know what the anthology is about and that it is available this Tuesday. For those of you who have yet to read anything about it, please click on this Amazon link to be taken directly to the AbZ page.

With no further delay, I present to you part one of The Non-Believers…

Mario lay ahead of Cindy, clutching at his bloody shin and she leapfrogged him. The others were just behind her and she hoped one of them would stop to help him up. But she was just too afraid.

“Guys, help!” Mario’s words were thick and wet like he had hit his face and busted his mouth. City chance today look over her shoulder just as those things reach him, digging their hands and mouth into his young flash. Mario screamed and Cindy let out a scream herself as her boyfriend was torn apart.

“My legs!” Gregory screamed. “My legs hurt so bad!” He had been bitten by those things, three of them, while they’d been wandering through the trees. His sister, Janine had been bitten on the neck and as they had all run her face had turned blue and she had fallen, only to be quickly devoured before her brother could come to her aid.

“Just keep running!” Matt said, surging ahead until he was almost neck-and-neck with Cindy. She didn’t consciously think about where she was going, but she wanted to go home. She wanted to run upstairs and lock her bedroom door before climbing beneath her covers and staying under there until the danger passed.

Or at least until somebody else did something about it.

She stubbed her toe on a rock, but managed not to fall. It hurt like hell, she might have broken it, but she didn’t dare stop. Cindy gritted her teeth against the agony with each footfall, pressing on as they came out of the trees. The others screamed and cried as they ran close behind, their cries no doubt keeping those things on their path if nothing else.

Finally they crested the berm at the edge of her property. Cindy could feel her strength waning, but she couldn’t slow down. Slowing down would mean falling behind and falling behind would mean letting those creatures etch even closer. She’d seen Thomas and Sarah go down. Had dodged around one of those creatures as it munched on Kelly and beneath the lunging arms of another that continued on to gouge out Martin’s eyeballs as the hapless young lineman had beat harmlessly at it with his massive and useless fists.

AbZ

And then Mario. Poor Mario. The boy who had told her he loved her once upon a time, would love her forever and she’d believed him. Had believed she’d felt the same way. But the young track star had promptly raced out of the clearing of the initial bloodbath, leaving them all behind and disappearing into the woods. She’d seen the stone where he’d had to have bashed his shin, could have told him to watch out for it had he not been so far ahead of everyone else. After all, it was the wood behind her property and she’d known it well enough. So she’d felt no guilt in leapfrogging her boyfriend–her ex-boyfriend by her thinking. As far as Cindy had felt it was better him than her, better she found out what kind of boy he was before she realized twenty or thirty years in what kind of man he was.

They climbed over the old wooden fence that wouldn’t hold those things back for two seconds and she used the precious moment to fill her lungs and finally chanced a look back. As far as she could tell, it was just her, Gregory, Matt, and Delilah. Everyone else had been… caught and well, their catchers might still be eating.

Gregory took that moment to let his legs give out. Matt and Delilah helped him to his feet. All of them were grateful to have an excuse to take a breather, but Cindy couldn’t stop. She turned back toward the house and began a brisk walk.

“Cindy, wait up!” Delilah cried. “C’mon, serious! Greg’s hurt real bad.” Delilah’s boyfriend had been the first one to be eaten, going back to the cooler they had brought to fish out another beer only to have his own guts fished out instead. He’d been the lineman, punching the elderly monster in the face after it had shoved both hands into his stomach. It wasn’t the first time Delilah had been sprayed in the face with her boyfriend’s fluids, but that particular sentence had been ended with a resounding exclamation point.

I hope you’re enjoying so far. Please check back for the next installment and don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Anything but Zombies right now! And if you like pseudo-vampires, check out my first YA novel, Vamp-Hire!

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Stop Spinning Your Wheels & Track Your Work #amwriting

If you’re an author like me, you write a lot even when you’re not on your current WIP. Whether you’re looking for an agent, new reviewers, or anything else that you could make a list of, if you’re not making a spreadsheet to keep track of whom you’ve contacted, there’s every likelihood you’ll be contacting the same people over and over.

Stop doing that. Just stop it.

Seriously, you may have ready my post on why I moved to Google Drive and if you haven’t yet because you’re afraid the gummymint is watching you, well, 1) they’re probably watching you anyway, and 2) you’re more than likely not up to anything they’re interested in.

So come on already. Start a Gmail account and let’s get this thing going.

The reason I say use Google Drive and not just a flash drive with an Excel file on it is flash drives get lost. Okay, so I do still have a flash drive, but it’s so much more convenient to have Drive (and the Docs and Sheets apps on my iPhone).

The reason you want to put everyone you contact on a spreadsheet is twofold. You want to keep track of not only the people you contact, but what, if anything, they wrote back to you, said about you, or wrote about you. You can create fields to keep track of all that information. The other reason is if they do say something good about you, you want to be sure to utilize those people in the future. That’s assuming we’re talking about reviewers, of course. But if you have a spreadsheet tracking potential agents, you can use it to keep track of when you emailed them, when they responded, and whether or not it was positive. Just because they rejected a manuscript doesn’t mean they always will. Maybe you needed a little more seasoning or the right idea to hit them in just the right way and if it was a soft no, you can try them again versus resubmitting to the agent who responded with a form letter by mail six months after you contacted them.

With the release of Anything but Zombies from Atria Books right around the corner, I figure it’s time I found myself an agent, so I put together a spreadsheet to keep track of the people I’ve contacted so far. I’ll share it with you. It’s not the information that’s so important, about ten minutes worth of researching and you could have the same names plus some. It’s my format I think you’ll find useful. Just click this link and it’s yours. Sorry, if you don’t have a Google account, you’ll have to create one in order to access it. Again, they’ve already been watching you, so don’t worry too much.

All I ask is for a little feedback. Let me know how it’s working out for you! Copy it, download it and personalize it to do whatever you want it to do. I also have a spreadsheet to keep track of my review requests and I add to and prune that list regularly to keep it up to date and weed out the negative reviews and dead accounts. I’ve spent a lot of time creating that list and that one you will have to create on your own.

And if it’s not too much trouble, why not consider downloading a book? My YA book, Vamp-Hire was published back in February and Anything but Zombies is due out in a couple weeks.

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Anything but Zombies! #PDF1 #SNRTG #IARTG http://bit.ly/AbZombies @AtriaBooks

Want to see a book get a lot more attention? Upload the cover. I’d been keeping the cover to the upcoming anthology, Anything but Zombies, under wraps until I got the official go ahead to share it when I perchanced to see it already on Amazon a few days ago. All of a sudden, my site has gotten a lot more views and pre-orders have skyrocketed. With the release a little more than a month away, I’m churning with excitement at the prospect of a lot of people having a copy.

It’s hard to believe I announced this book was coming out way back in September. Time really flies. Pre-order your copy of Anything but Zombies right now! You can also download a copy of my first YA novel, Vamp-Hire, out now from Permuted Press.

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The Return of Dethm8

After a super long hiatus, Dethm8 will be returning soon. For anyone who hasn’t read it before, it’s the story of a group of people trapped in a restaurant by a killer in a strange-looking race car. The waitresses are slowly developing super powers and one of the patrons isn’t human. The fun thing about this is I don’t entirely know where this storyline is headed. I will repost the first half of the story with the second to follow immediately after. Stay tuned for an announcement of the date (still figuring that part out).

In the meantime, why not check out some of my published works, including Vamp-Hire and the soon to be released Anything but Zombies?

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This is What It Looks Like #razorlinepress

So I got the temp cast off this past Monday (which is kind of odd; aren’t all casts temporary?) and I have to say, it didn’t look as gory as I expected. The nurse didn’t faint, I didn’t let out a high-pitched squeal and the doctor didn’t cackle madly as lightning flashed in a window behind him. That’s not to say it isn’t gross at all, it just doesn’t gross me out.

I took pictures, though. I would have gotten more, but these guys get you in and out fast. I’ll start with the pics of the casting.

Cast 1

 

For those of you who have broken a bone, you already know the deal. That white stuff is like really sticky, really soft toilet paper. It tears easily and yes, if you had enough of it, you could be a really cool mummy for Halloween for all of five minutes. It would more than likely snag on anything you came near and leave you undressed for the party.

Cast 2

That black stuff was originally in a roll. After the nurse dunked it in some water she began quickly wrapping my hand, snipping it (the material, not my hand) here and there to wind tightly around my thumb, under to the edge of the medical toilet paper (at some point she rolled that up and down so the edges weren’t ragged like you see above) until everything was covered to her satisfaction. Midway through I began to feel heat in my hand and asked her about it once I realized it wasn’t my imagination. The actual cast is made of a fiber-glass type material that has a chemical in it that heats up to promote drying. A minute or two after she was done, the cast was solid and she said it would take twenty-four hours to cure.

Cast 3 Cast 4

 

What I wound up with is lightweight and solid. And despite movies like Terminator 2 where the woman with her arm in a cast hits Arnold across the face with her cast, smashing his sunglasses, that would absolutely hurt. I mean hurt me. I’ve already lightly hit it at the wrong angle and been in agony, so I won’t be beating any cyborgs over the head with it.

Now, what you really came to see. The gore. Well, not the gore, but the metal shards jabbed haphazardly into my hand. Okay, I’m exaggerating, I’m an author–sue me. But before that, a small commercial or two.

Vamp-Hire

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Mankind has won the Vampire Conflict. But the cost of victory is that a few humans have been turned into vamps–half human, half vampire. Prejudice against the vamps is high so finding work is near impossible. Plus, the slightest infraction could send any one of them back to the Pens, a place that’s as awful as any place on Earth.

Nick is a loner who walks a narrow line between legal and illegal to make ends meet. He begrudgingly shares his home with a woman and her young child and finds work doing odd jobs suited only to vamps. When a chance encounter seems like it could lead into real work, Nick discovers he’s in more danger than ever. The military is trying to kidnap him, and something old and hungry has begun to roam the streets preying on his kind. To fight this ancient evil, he has to reach out to his own kind for help–and decide how human he is after all.

Anything but Zombies

Coming soon from Atria Books, a Simon & Schuster imprint. I edited that.

And now what you came to see; the gore.

 Pins 3

Pins 1

And here’s a closer angle. I don’t know why my thumb looks so huge.

Pins 2

And here’s an extreme close-up. No, that’s not a hole, it’s a sore. I left it because they left it.

Pins 4

I should have the cast on for three weeks and then I’ll get another checkup and they’ll put a new cast on (maybe next time I’ll choose purple or neon green).

Now that The Walking Dead is over, why not try a different kind of monster? Where the Monsters Are, only $0.99.

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#TheThing Should be on Your #Christmas Movie Watchlist

In the spirit Easter, I’d like to talk about Christmas.

Like every horror writer, I’m a fan of horror movies. I saw movies like Creepshow and The Howling when I was five years old. I’ve seen my fair share of really bad ones and some good ones too. Occasionally, there are great horror movies that I see something new even after watching them hundreds of times. One such movie, my favorite of all time by the way, is John Carpenter’s The Thing.

The Thing is the 1982 version (not remake) of the John W Campbell, Jr. short story, “Who Goes There?” which was originally made as The Thing from Another World. Everyone who’s even a casual fan of horror over the last 30 years has seen this movie, so I don’t need to rehash the plot. But there is one key sentence that reveals that the story unfolds during the holiday season.

John Carpenter’s The Thing is an allegory for what happens to bad little boys at Christmas.

Five words are all that’s needed to set up my argument. “First g***amn week of winter.”

Those were MacReady’s words after the two Swedes Norwegians landed at the U.S. outpost, intent on killing what appeared to be a malamute, but who wind up getting blown up and shot.

The first day of winter back in 1982 was December 22, a Wednesday, three days before Christmas.  The movie is seen over the course of five days–from the helicopter firing on the malamute to Mac and Childs sitting near the burning camp, exhausted. Now your first assumption might be that the first day was a Wednesday, but had he meant that he would have said it was the first day of winter. So how do we know what day it is when Mac declares they’re turning the corner of the Winter Solstice? The week starts on Sunday, the 19th in this case, to Saturday, the 25th.

The movie begins on a Tuesday. And before you say I have no evidence to back that up, let me lay out out my argument over the course of days and you’ll see how I backdated to this day.

We all know the story (and in case you don’t, I’ll wait while you purchase and watch), but let’s go through the chronology. I’ll just hit the highlights.

Day 1 :

  • Dead Norwegians
  • Malamute infects Palmer and Norris

Day 2:

  • Norwegian camp and two-headed corpse
  • Malamute eats sled dogs

Day 3:

  • Bennings is assimilated
  • Blair goes nuts
  • Fuchs is killed (or assimilated?)

Day 4:

  • Nauls goes with Mac to his shack
  • Mac takes control with a stick of dynamite
  • Norris-thing kills Copper
  • The test
  • Palmer reveals itself
  • Blair-thing kills Garry
  • Outpost 31 is systematically blown up

Day 5:

  • Blair-thing gets blown up with a stick of dynamite
  • Mac and Childs are the last two left

You might dispute the chronology slightly, but the last item for each day could just as easily bleed over into the morning of the next considering there weren’t any clocks and I do have to concede the Blair-thing could just as easily have revealed itself at 8pm as 2am, but if movies like to do anything, they like that sense of arbitrary balance. The monster tends to like popping out at midnight and that’s what I believe happened here. Starting from Tuesday the 21st that makes the Blair-thing blowing up happen on the 25th. Merry Christmas.

But that’s only half the argument. What do bad little boys have to do with anything? The first two clues are staring each other in the face at the end of the movie: Mac and Childs. Childs is obvious, you know what a child is. MacReady is a Scottish name and the nickname Mac is Scottish for son. Childs has a temper, Mac breaks his toys (pouring booze into his computer), Palmer smokes weed, Windows falls asleep instead of getting his job (or chore) done, Nauls plays his music too loud, Blair doesn’t play well with others, Fuchs plays with fire, Garry loses his keys, Clark lets the dog make a mess, Bennings has a boo-boo and Norris is a follower. I couldn’t really think of what Copper did that could be considered bad and the Bennings one is weak. Perhaps that one can be swapped with Bennings running with scissors (his hands after he’d been assimilated). Also consider this: Windows’ name originally had been Sanchez in the script. Sanchez is a Spanish surname that means holy or blameless. Another word for blameless is innocent. You know, like children are.

And as long as we’re bringing up religious undertones (it is CHRISTmas, afterall), a palmer is a pilgrim who has returned from a trip to the Holy Land. The name Bennings derives from the Roman name Benedictus, which means blessed. A clark is a person of a minor religious order. When Blair says to Mac he doesn’t know who to trust anymore, Mac responds with, “Trust in the Lord.”

Finally, also consider what a present is. It’s a container that has something in it that is unknown until it is unwrapped. Just as Palmer had something in him that was unknown until he was unwrapped. A large part of Christmas is the unknown as gifts are put under the tree where they await opening. A large component of The Thing is fear of the unknown. By the time Nauls comes back  from Mac’s shack without him, no one trusts anyone and Childs is about ready to burn everybody just to be on the safe side. Oh, and Copper derived from kuper which derived from kup, which is also a container.

Although my evidence is admittedly akin to circumstantial, taken in total it plainly shows how Bill Lancaster either intentionally or subconsciously had a horrifying idea that bad things should befall little boys around the Christmas season. There is no way to see this from any other angle. Nope. None.

…Unless when Mac referred to the first week of winter he wasn’t harkening back to the northern winter solstice (I assume by his accent he’s American) and really meant the winter solstice of the southern hemisphere, where the Antarctic and Outpost 31 are which occurs sometime between June 20th and 22nd. No, my carefully laid out, time-devouring argument is right. It just has to be.

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Are You Nice to Your Characters? #iartg #BookBoost #PDF1

One of the most recent reviewers of Vamp-Hire wrote something to me that got me thinking. “Poor nick,” she wrote, “you are pretty mean to him.” As it had been about six months since I’d read the whole story, I was kind of surprised. Was I? My intention was to write an every-man story set in a post-apocalyptic world. Of course something bad had to happen so he had something to struggle against and (hopefully) overcome. It never crossed my mind that I wasn’t being nice. But then again, I began to think, wasn’t that part of the point of the story?

Life definitely kicks Nick in the balls and he goes through some tough times and experiences a half vampire’s version of racism (specism? hemophagism? Ah, my brain isn’t going to let this go until I think of a proper-sounding word). I guess I have been mean to him and I was just late to the game so far as seeing that. If I ever get around to writing a sequel, I’m certain to be nasty to him some more.

Already read the book? Why not pre-order Anything but Zombies, available May 26 from Atria Books!

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Smells Like #bookboost #snrtg #iartg

Smells Like

 

Some books just don’t get enough attention. That being said, I’ve decided to offer my little eBook, Smells Like, for free this weekend. Maybe you’ll think about it during the Big Game or on your way to the store or something, but it’s yours–free for the cost of clicking this link.

I was looking at the Amazon page for this story and saw it doesn’t have anywhere near enough reviews. So why not get a copy and review it?

And as long as you’re already on Amazon, why not hop over to Anything but Zombies and pre-order the anthology before it’s published this May? I’ve already reserved my copy!

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Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories

I got this book back way back in 1984 for Christmas. It was one of the very first non-school related books I ever received. My brother got a different book by the same publisher, but he wasn’t as big a reader as me (nerd). I loved reading the stories and re-read the one by Poe several times about the dying girl who predicted she would return as an animal, then a half-naked African boy.

I would often read this book in class rather than pay attention to whatever the teacher was saying. One day in 7th grade, I left my book beneath my desk after Mr. Greg’s class and realized I’d forgotten it several hours later. I rushed back to his class and checked beneath the desk to find it gone. I never got my book back, but I never forgot it, either. Over the next few months, I checked the shelves of all my local book stores. B. Dalton, Waldonbooks (they were owned by Barnes and Noble and Borders, but the bigger book stores hadn’t made it to southeast Michigan even though Borders was headquartered out of Ann Arbor) didn’t have a copy and with a general title like Ghost Stories nobody could locate it.

After some industrious searching, I finally found my book and ordered it. I can’t wait for this gem to arrive in the mail. Maybe I’ll read it to my daughter for bedtime.

You can grab a copy of Ghost Stories for as little as $0.01. And don’t forget about Vamp Hire, coming February 24 from Permuted Press!

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