Tales of the Nothing Man

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You know I read a TON.  Luckily, most of what I read, I end up loving.  Sometimes there’s a dud and sometimes one stands out from the rest like a gleaming beacon of literary neon.  Here’s a little bloggity-blog about Nothing…dark glitter

On the island continent of Australia, twins Justin and Robert Dunne spent the last ten years creating stories together.  Sometimes it was a break from real life, i.e. stress-relief; sometimes it was just for fun.  Sometimes it was a way to get a feeling from the past down on paper for posterity.  Some of their stories attracted each other like ferrous metal to a magnet…and so began the creation of the Nothing Man.

Originally the stories were posted on Tales of the Zombie War, a website that allows fan-fiction, short-stories and continuing tales for the newb writer.  This is where I got my first glimpse of The Nothing Man.  I was intrigued, these guys write prose like an amalgam of Stephen King and Clive Barker.  And I was hooked, I wanted more!! But there was no more!!! and damn it!! Australia is outside my stalking budget.  You just know I searched…I found…on Facebook of course, my prize…The Dunnes!! They were active members on my favorite Facebook group, All Things Zombie.  So I bugged them and hounded them and snagged myself a copy of the unfinished manuscript of Nothing.  It was….something.  It blew me away.  The snippets I had read on the Tales of the Zombie Wars page were mere appetizers.  You are nailed to the spot on page one, prepare yourself accordingly, you will not put it down.

TNM

A handful of strangers, separate but joined by their fate of living in a post-apocalyptic, zombie filled world.  Each one pushed to their limits in a fight to survive.  At the end of the proverbial rope, cue the Nothing Man.  Who is he? is he even real?

The characters are so real, you feel like one of them, you experience their joy and loss.  The story pulls you in so deep that I felt my pulse racing and tears track down my cheeks as I turned the pages…riveted.  The Dunne boys have a unique writing style that is so complimentary and seamless that you can’t tell who’s writing.  Gotta admire that.  I’ve been pushing them for more.  There actually is a bit…more.

Both boys have stories in All Things Zombie/The Gathering Horde, a collection of zombie shorts with some really great ones from Chris Philbrook, Eric A. Shelman and Jack Wallen.  Justin has a co-written story with Jeff Clare, founder of All Things Zombie and ATZ Publications, called One Last Game. A gut-wrenching short that proves he is versatile enough to write hand-in-hand with very different styles. Robert also has a short story in the book called The Woes of Albert Cross. You see in Robert’s writing, the unique gift to get you comfortable inside the head of any character, he does it with ease.  That is a  story that easily lends itself to the possibilities of a full-length novel.  The third Dunne story in the book is called Zombies on a Plane. Silly name but not a silly story.  The Dunne’s have this ability to crank up your anxiety level notch by notch until you’re about to lose it, and then let you off with a little giggle of relief at the end and of course the question mark.  What if?

question

Here is a short by Justin Dunne that I just love.  Please enjoy…

http://www.talesofworldwarz.com/stories/2014/07/29/boys-in-times-of-war-by-justin-dunne/

And down below is the link for Tales of the Nothing Man

http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Nothing-Man-Brothers-Dunne-ebook/dp/B011F5M4KW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1437093991&sr=8-1&keywords=The+NOthing+Man&pebp=1437093991484&perid=1SN35XFQHKXTDHMMZERH

For the Dunne’s short stories, check out All Things Zombie/The Gathering Horde

http://www.amazon.com/All-Things-Zombie-Gathering-Horde-ebook/dp/B00PD6M7ZW

This is where all the cool kids hang out…  https://www.facebook.com/groups/AllThingsZombie/

Who is The Nothing Man? read the book, post a comment, lets talk!!

Shame on you Amazon!!

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So it seems that Amazon has decided that being “friends” with someone on Facebook is a like…the real thing! At first I was excited, YAY! I am totes friends with Stephen King and Norman Reedus!!! gonna go out for a beer with my FRIENDS!! …wait…oh yeah, reality bites.  In the real world I don’t know those guys.  At all. I haven’t ever met them or even talked to them on the phone.  Hard to believe right? I know! I’d totally hang with me!! Anyway…back to Amazon, (I’ll daydream later) most of us, of course realize that being friends on Facebook means you “like” a post here and there, squeee over a kitten picture or ten, and sometimes even chat on messenger.  Some of your Facebook friends are real, live, fleshy people that you actually DO interact with in the real world! But we know the difference, don’t we?  Amazon, clearly, does not.  The recent buzz about Amazon blocking reviews for books  by people they determine with their own special algorithm (c’mon…we know its Facebook) to be “friends” has now reared its ugly head in my neck of the woods.  I was blocked from reviewing a new book by a Facebook “friend” with a cruddy form letter response declaring me to be a known friend and or family member.  Furthermore decreeing that Amazon prides itself on unbiased reviews and that therefore mine would not qualify under their standards.

Yes, my knee-jerk response was to scream and rant at my computers email screen.  I’ve self-edited out my actual verbiage for fear of alienating the more gentile peeps. But…needless to say, I was MAD.  I have a blog for reviewing books! I have over 100 Amazon reviews! I review on other sites like Librarything and Goodreads! I am a review-a-holic!!  Not all of my reviews are glowing, and guess what, those authors are still on my “friends” list.  I pride myself on a fair and balanced review. Can you tell I was stung by this? So I Googled and found this is not isolated.  It’s happening A LOT. Because Facebook is a popular place to connect with your favorite authors.  And they count on our reviews.  Most people check reviews before purchasing, and reviews are not necessarily easy to come by.  Not everyone has the time or inclination to write them.  But now Amazon has made that coveted review even harder to come by.  For the new author, be it indie or traditional publishing house, this can be devastating.  More so for the indie that doesn’t have the resources of the big publishing houses, they count on their immediate circles to provide the first reviews.  Less reviews generally mean less sales, which in turn hurts Amazons bottom line.  So how does this make sense? How about when you see a review written by someone who openly admits they didn’t read the book at all or only read some of the book, yet take the time to rip the author to shreds…and this is ok with Amazon.  I have seen them, too many times for it to just be a fluke.

So how do we fix this? how do we make Amazon understand their folly?  Clearly not the way I tried, first with a quick email asking “why?” then with a longer email, both of Amazons responses were automated form letters.  Sigh….really Amazon? I even pay for your darn Prime services!! So how are we going to fix this??? Let Amazon know how you feel about this policy.  Sign this petition…

https://www.change.org/p/amazon-com-amazon-change-the-you-know-this-author-policy

Send an email to Amazon, call customer service and complain, SHARE THIS POST!! Share it like crazy!!!

The last part of this post will be the exact email I sent to Amazon…

Dear Amazon Review Moderator,
  I was recently denied the ability to post a review for a book that I purchased and read.  Amazons response was that I knew the author personally and so could not provide an unbiased review.  The determination was apparently based on an algorithm that would not be disclosed to me.  The book in question is call Tales of the Nothing Man by Brothers Dunne. Here is the link for the book as you sell it.
I AM “friends” with this author via Facebook.  But the term friends on Facebook is a bit misleading.  The authors live in Australia.  They have never been to America, which is where I live.  So I have NEVER met them.  I have never spoken to them on the phone.  I don’t actually know them.  Being “friends” on Facebook these days means very little more than, hey I am interested in you! I have been a reviewer for many years.  I have written numerous Amazon reviews, plus I review on my own blog, and many other sites.  My reviews are always fair and balanced and totally unbiased.  In this particular case I purchased the book from Amazon and wrote an appropriate review.
 I see from other friends and authors that I am “friends” with that being blocked from reviewing is becoming a commonplace incident.  I encourage you to review this practice.  I am sure that there are actually some biased reviewers out there, however basing it on Facebook friendships is not exactly fair.  Literally millions of people “friend” their favorite author on Facebook.  Most of them purchase their books through Amazon.  Some of them leave reviews.  Now that you are blocking people from posting reviews in this matter you are creating a situation where people who enjoy reviewing are afraid to interact with authors on social media for fear they will be banned from reviewing.  If this continues and less people interact with authors on social media, then they will be less likely to purchase another book.  This is due to the fact that many authors use social media to announce upcoming releases.  Do you see that you are creating a snowball effect here?  Less interaction with authors means less interest or awareness of new releases, which in turn means less sales.  So in a nut shell, Amazon will essentially be affecting its own bottom line here.  So far Barnes and Noble is NOT blocking reviews of this type.  Perhaps more authors will turn to sites other than Amazon to release their books if reviews become hard to come by.  Especially the indies.
Independently published authors may not make up the vast majority of Amazons Kindle sales but it is a powerful and constantly growing sector.  And of course social media makes it easy to get the word out when something is affecting this sector.  The recent decision to make Kindle books payable to author based on pages read count was greeted with mixed reviews. Review blocking is not something that anyone is going to ride the fence on though.  I see reviews posted by people who openly admit that they did not read a book yet felt they needed to post a slanderous review for whatever ridiculous reason they see fit, yet you block a reviewer who has paid for and read the entire book and provided and thoughtful and fair review.  Please review your policy.  I would appreciate a response.
Thank you,
Shannon Walters
SHARE THIS POST PLEASE!!

NEW RELEASE ALERT!!! Scabs:The Gemini Exception by Eric A. Shelman

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http://www.amazon.com/Scabs-Exception-Eric-A-Shelman-ebook/dp/B010U386G6

Yup….its been awhile since I made a post, life can certainly get in the way sometimes!  I had to dust off my writing skills for my buddy Eric Shelmans latest and greatest new release.  This one is nail-biting, intense, and like all of Shelman’s novels, a great frikkin ride.  But also worthy of noting is that his gift of creating memorable characters really shines in this one.  But alas I have not yet finished the book so I am going to shut my yap and pass this on to my two good friends who have read the book and can’t stop singing its praises…so I pass on my pulpit for this particular show and I will be back soon….maybe very soon if these two don’t behave!!!

Please welcome back Giles Batchelor and my besty Lana Sibley…oh and try to ignore that odd British way Giles talks and spells…hahaha

 

Giles:  Hi everyone!  Obviously this isn’t everyone’s favorite book nerd (does she prefer bibliophile?).  My hair is shorter and I don’t do glitter. I’m guest posting from over the pond once again.  This time it’s not ‘cause blondie sucks, well not entirely, just somehow I have more time on my hands.  Oh yeah, and I’ve read the book we’re going to talk about.  In fact, while I type this I’m one of very few people lucky enough to have read this book. It could be because it’s a totally limited edition printed on the skin of a rare Norwegian elk with only 3 copies in known existence, OR it could be that the party starts on July 19th with its worldwide release and everyone finally gets to read it.

Lana:  (Elbows Giles out of the way)  Hey everyone!  Rise up!  The glitter famine has to end!   And don’t listen to Giles, he’s being all droll and British.  If you’ve been wondering where Blondie’s been, besides that silly work thing, she’s busy spending her summer on some special projects and writing her own book (it’s going to be amazing!).  She’s hardly had any time at all to sip frozen margaritas beside her Olympic size infinity pool.  We need to talk about a book that those of us who have had the chance to read in advance of its release on July 19th are beyond excited about it, so Giles and I have volunteered to step up to the twinkly, glittering  plate.

Giles: Today we are talking about…(Imagine a drumroll goes here and Blondie you can’t replace it with a glitter bomb, I’m just not having it.)

 

BOOM!!!boom

 

Lana:  Sorry Giles, there’s gonna be glitter.  I know you’re afraid your man card is at risk if you sparkle like a vampire in the sun, but you should have read the fine print on the friend contract.  If you’re hanging with Shannon and me you’re gonna get glitter on you.  Cue glitter bomb!

glitter

SCABS: The Gemini Exception

by Eric A. Shelman

scabs

 

Giles:  I was going to write “by The Very Versatile Eric A Shelman”, but I think that would make googling for his author page…interesting.  This guy is rather versatile though.  Did you know he sings and has hundreds of thousands views on his Youtube videos?  And besides his singing, he offers professional narration services to other authors…

Lana:  He doesn’t sing those.  But he might if you ask him to.

Giles:   Excuse the interruption but I’ve digressed. Back to the star of this show which is  Scabs: The Gemini Exception. What can we say about scabs?  Have you ever had a scab?  Did you sit there in school picking at the scabs from yet another graze on your knee?  What if they never healed?  What if any minor cut or abrasion scabbed over and never healed, even the smallest opening in the skin, like a mosquito bite. What if that scab kept growing to cover your whole leg, whole arm or even entire body?

Lana:  It would be horrible. And kind of gross as this thing creeps up all over you. And mostly freaking incredibly terrifying, that’s what.

Giles:  Yeah, not a pleasant thought… but well, that’s kind of the point, no one said Mr. Shelman writes fluffy unicorn filled marshmallow puff stories.  He writes horror.  Scabs is no exception so it has some icky bits.

Lana:  Icky bits might be just a tad too mild.  No glitter here people.

Giles:  The story centers around two brothers, Scott and Warren, separated by an acrimonious divorce when they were young and then growing up living their separate lives. Scott just over the border in Canada, Warren in Florida.  They have the same hobby and use it to communicate with each other from childhood – carrier pigeon.

Lana:  I love the pigeons!  It’s so amazing that these birds have the abilities that they do.  You know, I get lost in roundabouts.  And this isn’t just fiction.  They really do this stuff in real life! Also, I’d like to add, I really love the brothers too.  They’re kind of hot, but you probably didn’t notice that, Giles.

Giles:  Uh…anyway…  One day the lights go on.  I know it’s the opposite of your average apocalypse where the lights go out, and when I say lights I don’t really mean those dangly things hanging from the ceiling that Edison invented.  This light is more of an all pervasive light from everywhere.  Inside, outside there is no shadow, no night time – the light is everywhere and never turns off.  After the light has been on for a couple of weeks, the first reports of scabs begin to come in. People with innocuous little injuries – a scraped knee, a paper cut, a mosquito bite – their skin begins to scab, and the scab keeps growing.  Doctors can’t help. The government has no clue.

Lana:  (Snort) That’s not fiction either.

Giles:  And from then on things just get weird.  Scott and Warren (War to his friends) decide that they need to get back together and both set off to meet up halfway between Florida and Canada.

Lana:  And it’s not just Scott and Warren.  They manage to find some companions along the journey.  This is where, to me, this story has all the best parts of the zombie apocalypse genre even though there are no actual zombies.  It’s people who band together to survive.  They say that you can’t pick your family but you can pick your friends.  And I love that friends become family in these apocalyptic stories.  And of course, there’s the unrelenting threat.  But in Scabs, it’s a threat that unfolds as you go along but it’s every bit as terrifying and unrelenting as zombies. The threat isn’t slow in showing up either.  Just like in all Shelman stories, once it begins, it takes off and just keeps accelerating. I couldn’t stop reading.

Giles:  To say there are some challenges on the journey would be an understatement, but I really am in spoiler territory if I say any more.  What I loved about this book is the characters. They are real, they have depth, emotion and feelings.  The shared past of Warren & Scott is well explained, the differing paths they have chosen, and the bond they share as twins, is explored in depth.  Oh wait, I hadn’t mentioned they were twins, probably unimportant (It’s so totally not) – Gemini=Twins – clues may be in the name.

Lana:  Don’t forget the pets!  They’re important to the story!  A huge delight for me is that there aren’t just two legged characters in Scabs.  So many apocalyptic stories totally ignore the animals. Those of us who have pets know that they are part of the family.  The pigeons are their own characters.  You will get attached to them.  And…there’s a dog too.  And that’s a character that’s super special to me.

Giles:  I’m just gonna keep waffling away here till somebody tells me to stop…

Lana:  Stop Giles.  No really, you’d better stop.

Giles:  Wait here comes Blondie, she looks angry.  She’s waving a glitter cannon at me and telling me my time is up.  I’ll be quick, buy SCABS, read SCABS, enjoy SCABS.  Whatever you do, beware of SCABS!

guy glitterawww poor Giles!!

Lana:  Yep!  What Giles said!  And one last thing… if you’re a fan (or even if this is your first foray into the twisted mind of Eric A. Shelman) this one is truly different from anything else this author has written.  This is a really BIG story.  Set aside plenty of time to read Scabs: The Gemini Exception.  Bring some Kleenex, leave some lights on and don’t start it too late in the evening, because if you do, you may miss work the next day

DONT MISS THE RELEASE PARTY!!! https://www.facebook.com/events/461575684001729/

Check out this awesome video!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4Q8x3Z2MK8

BUY THE BOOK!! http://www.amazon.com/Scabs-Exception-Eric-A-Shelman-ebook/dp/B010U386G6

Eric is kinda awesome… http://www.ericshelman.com/

and of course all the cool kids hang with Eric here:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/AllThingsZombie/

 

A.J. Brown and Michael Robertson

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Amongst bibliophiles there is nothing more awesome than finding a new author that floats your boat and sharing it with your book-junkie friends.  I have two recent additions to my ‘shout it from the highest mountain’ list and dammit, I am excited to share them with you!! Cue the glitter!!glit

Let me start by reiterating that I was never a fan of short stories before.  I’ve admitted that.  I am so glad that my mind was opened to this world of shorts because I have found it’s a great way to discover new authors.  A short story is an even better way to see if you like the writing style of an author than a blurb from a full length novel.  Of course it’s not entirely fool-proof, and not every short-story writer has a full length novel to read but I have had great luck so far and the two most recent authors I have read was a direct result of enjoying their shorts.

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First I have Jeff Brown, aka A. J. Brown.jeffbrown

His story in The Gathering Horde is “Carver”.   It actually made me cry.  It told the story of the deepest, saddest part of an apocalyptic situation, losing a loved one and the mental toll it would take on you.  Can you keep on going? Would you even want to? I’m mentally giving myself a shake because this story sucked me in and wrung my soul out.

So looking for more stuff from Jeff, I stumbled on a webpage called Tales of the Zombie War, where a writer may be so inclined to post chunks of a story in progress or a short.  Jeff had many entries of a story called Dredging Up Memories.  I noticed that the comments were all glowing, people were eating it up.  So I gave it a go.  And all of the sudden, half the day was gone, just like that.  When I ran out of entries I kind of freaked out a little; that could NOT be all of them.  So I did what any crazy, author-stalking, fan-girl does…I begged.  I messaged him and pleaded.  GIVE ME MORE!!! He didn’t want to.  He wasn’t ready, but you know….I can be persuasive, I may have mentioned something about persistence and staring through windows at all hours, unless he handed it over.  He finally did, and the remaining chapters blew my socks off.  There are zombies, but the tale of Hank searching through a world that had become basically shadow of its former self was intoxicating.  Tom Hanks “Cast Away” with zombies.  Seriously…with the same soul-searching and heart-break, there’s even a Wilson-type character.  Jeff has a way of delving into your deepest fears and desires and setting them in motion in an action-packed story.

So, next I hopped on Jeff’s blog page and I was seriously impressed.  The amount of content on there is amazing.  He is truly a prolific writer, and while not every story is on his blog, he confesses to have written over a thousand short stories that cover a wide range of genres.  He currently has three ebooks available on Amazon, plus he releases a short each month in a series he calls The Brown Bag, (all links will be available at the bottom of the page).  When I asked him what piece he is most proud of, he told me Cory’s Way.   This is a story about a kid whose Dad leaves and in starting over with his mom in a new place, finds himself the target of bullies.  He is saved from an attack by a homeless man living under an overpass, who becomes his friend.  A promise sets Cory and his only two friends on a journey, will they make it?  Well….guess what I’m reading now? But I won’t tell, you’ll have to read it yourself.

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Next up, Michael Robertson…michaelrobertson

My twin sister actually got me to read Michael Robertson sooner than I might have since she called me up with an “OH MY GOD you have to read this!!” This was after she read Crash, Michael’s first ebook release.  I personally, had only read Pandora, Michael’s piece in The Gathering Horde.  It was one that truly stood out because it was so different from the rest.  A tale that takes place over the span of just a few minutes yet so much is revealed within its time.  A story of karma in action.  It’s almost impossible for me to say anything more without giving away the story.  So back to my sister…she gushed for twenty minutes about how absolutely realistic and frightening the book was and she is, quite frankly, not easy to please.  So I knew I would have to squeeze this one into my ridiculous TBR pile.

Once I started, I really could not put it down and then I jumped right to book two.  It’s truly the stuff of nightmare because it’s so completely possible.  There is no suspension of disbelief that is so necessary with zombies, this one eases you in and you see just how likely these horrors are to come to fruition should we find the inevitable societal collapse upon us.  I saw a handful of reviews that seemed to point out the violence in the book.  All I could think was that if these people don’t realize that this type of thing is very possible then they don’t truly understand how ugly humans can get. We are savage, and take away our structure; things are going to get ugly.  Its part of the appeal of this book, to me; the ‘no-holds-barred’ way he writes, it brings the nightmarish reality of the situation right to your lap.  Afterword I spent way too long, discussing with anyone who would listen, what they thought would happen in the event of a financial collapse.  I find that not many people realize the tendency to violence inherent in our nature, until you point out various riots, really any riot that ended in violence, as most do.  All that anger and violence and the world as they knew it hadn’t even taken the proverbial crap yet.  Think about it, you will see what I mean.  A book that makes you think or want to talk about its subject matter days later is rare.  Book three is on its way and I cannot wait! But while I am waiting, I noticed that Michael has numerous short stories that span several genres.  Be sure to check out all the links at the bottom!

A.J. Brown’s links

amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/A.J.-Brown/e/B006UN58R6/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

his blog: https://typeajnegative.wordpress.com/

the Brown Bag stories: https://typeajnegative.wordpress.com/the-brown-bag-stories/

the link to Tales of the Zombie War: http://www.talesofworldwarz.com/

Michael Robertson’s links

amazon author page:  http://www.amazon.com/Michael-Robertson/e/B00DK2PRLM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1427677066&sr=1-1

his webpage: http://www.michaelrobertson.co.uk/crash.html

and of course the link to the magic that made this all happen: http://www.amazon.com/All-Things-Zombie-Gathering-Horde-book/dp/B00PD6M7ZW\

and these dudes hang out here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/AllThingsZombie/

How to Write a Bad Review

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HI GUYS. Sigh, I hate this subject matter because I wish everyone happiness and I just want to hug everyone and throw glitter. glitter

But, the fact is, sometimes I read a book that I just don’t like.  The reasons vary; sometimes its undeveloped characters that I just can’t seem to care about, sometimes the story line is uninteresting, boring, too unbelievable, maybe the author of the piece just doesn’t string words together in a smooth enough fashion to suit my tastes.   Regardless of why you love or hate a book, the first thing to remember is this.

 

                                  It’s your… OPINION

Yes, it’s an opinion.  NOT a fact. Unless you are a +3 Epic level Queen High Ruler of the Literary World, your review is simply your own personal opinion of the book.  That is something people forget often when writing reviews.  You need to explain within your review WHY you like or don’t like a book.  You can site examples if necessary but please keep in mind you are basically telling someone you don’t know why they should or should not read this book.

So! Let’s take a look at what I consider a BADLY written review, this is taken directly from Amazon and it’s a review of Chris Philbrooks Adrian’s Undead Diary.

 

 

22 of 26 people found the following review helpful

childish comments about fat people make good zombie fic?, August 30, 2014

By

Caroline

This review is from: Dark Recollections (Adrian’s Undead Diary Book 1) (Kindle Edition)

You know, I could handle the awkwardly handled first person narrative. I could handle the use of current colloquialisms, even though I knew that they would date the book, leaving it potentially difficult to understand in the future (honestly, it kind of spoke to me, using my kind of language in some cases). I could even handle the sadly obvious attempt on the authors part to insert themselves as the “hero” of the story, a’la the “Marty Stu” Adrian, who “never loses his cool under pressure.” Frankly, all of these writing flaws are quite common in a beginner. I’m a big fan of the zombie genre, which is populated by amateur writers, so this sort of thing is not unusual. No biggie, especially if there are some interesting new concepts and plot twists being presented. Here’s what I couldn’t handle. The following is a bit taken from the book, verbatim: “I have never seen such fat people move with such vigor before. One lady with a mega-fupa* was literally tearing up pavement as she ran. I still laugh today thinking of her jiggling rolls as she nearly ate s*** getting into her far too small compact car. It might’ve been the springs, but I swear to this day that I heard her car cry out in pain when she got into it.” wut? Is the author in grade school? Is he an internet troll who gets lolz thinks that this sort of thing is a normal viewpoint? I would rather read a TW Brown r@pe scene (and I can’t stand TW Brown) than read another page of this drivel. Go get some counselling or something Philbrook, you need it. (* a “fupa” is a term for “fat upper pubic region.”)

 

 UGH!! SO HATEFUL!!

So, why is this review bad? Firstly is the most obvious, a personal attack on the author. Please remember that unless the book is dedicated to you personally, the author is NOT writing this book for you specifically. It’s for “the readers” a general population of people that the author hopes to appeal to. As such, a review should NEVER contain a personal attack. She called him names and suggested he needed therapy. That is just mean and does zero to help another reader decide if this book is something they would like to read.

 

So what could she have said instead? Let’s try to fix her review, shall we? I’m going to throw some glitter at that bitch and make her a good reviewer!glittterblow

 

Here is my revised version of what she could have said instead:

I didn’t enjoy this book. Personally, I found the narrative to be awkward and the use of current colloquialisms makes me fear this book will not be understood properly far in to the future. I felt that the author injected himself into the book as the hero and in my opinion the main character was entirely too perfect. I read a lot of books in the zombie genre (she SHOULD give examples of her favorite authors at this point so the person reading the review would know what she likes and then be able to determine if they may like the book based on their shared interests). My biggest complaint in this book was that the main character made fun of overweight people. I personally do not find this funny and so it detracted from my enjoyment of the story so much that I am not sure I want to continue reading any more from this author.

 

SOOOO! The difference is pretty clear, right? No personal attacks, no statements of fact, because this is, after all, merely your opinion. This review made it clear why she did not like the book. If you ARE finding yourself writing a negative review, you should actually include a couple of authors that you do enjoy so that the person reading the review will know what you are comparing this book to. I wouldn’t suggest adding specific titles because that gets seen as pimping those books. But properly structured sentence, such as “I normally enjoy books by INSERT AUTHORS NAME and this book was very different” followed by why you didn’t like it. Because let’s face it, every book you read is either liked or hated on that base line curve set up by the books you DO like.

There is one instance where stating a fact is ok in my opinion. If the book was released with glaring and multiple editing errors. Multiple missing or incorrect punctuation or lots of misspelled words, some people get nuts over that one. I was going to say…”that is not a grey area, it either IS or IS NOT edited correctly” HOWEVER…there are exceptions and you need to be aware of this if you plan on pointing it out in your review.

For instance in the case of the book above that I used as a review example, the book is a diary written by a dude in the apocalypse. It has errors because the main character has no interest in correcting his errors being that it is his personal diary. In this case the occasional error is merely making the story more authentic. Another case in point is any book by Cormac McCarthy. I have seen multiple reviews that point out his lack of punctuation. Fact is its part of his storytelling. It is one of his trademarks. He writes in simple sentence structure and he doesn’t believe he needs punctuation to make his sentences read correctly. Some people argue that fact, I personally enjoy reading his work and found his lack of punctuation gloriously pure. Again, OPINION. So be careful when suggesting that editing issues were what ruined a story for you.

 

So, you read a book by a Facebook friend. You hated it. OMG, what the hell are you going to do!!! RUN! HIDE! Discreetly unfriend? Drop out of groups the person is in thus avoiding? SIGH, people!! Sigh!! I’ve done it. I’m speaking from experience here.

MOST people that are writing something are secretly hoping everyone will love it and have nothing but praise for it. PLUS? Even when the writer says “tell me the truth! Don’t hold back! How can I improve if you don’t tell me what you didn’t like?” its truly a hard thing to do, isn’t it? You don’t want to hurt their feelings! Whether you found a few things you didn’t like or if you just hated the whole things from start to finish, its best to approach this exactly the way you do a bad review. You hated the story? Why? Break it down into manageable blocks.

For instance, if the writer happens to have a lot of religious reflection and you are opposed to that or have very different feelings regarding religion, you could explain to that to the writer; i.e. “I personally don’t like to read a story that includes religion.”

If you found continuity or timeline issues in a story, those can be fairly easy to point out. But not connecting to the main character can be difficult to explain to the writer so be concise so that they may use your critique in a positive way. “I personally think you need to flesh-out Jack, I didn’t find myself connecting to him and so it was difficult to stay interested in his story.” See? This is HELPFUL!

Then you might balance your review by finding something positive. Every work has something positive. It might be hard to find, but do it!! Was the setting interesting? Was the plot original? Did you like the characters names? Find something. You can do it! After all these writers are human and everyone needs a little pat on the back to go along with the “this is what I didn’t like” part.

Next we have the issue that has been discussed in a lot of groups lately. Whether or not to actually publish a bad review. EEESHHH! I personally have messaged writers to tell them that I didn’t like their story and so I will not review on Amazon. Why did I do that? I wimped out. Truly. What is the point of a review system if they are all 5 stars? How can a potential reader decide whether to part with their hard earned money if they only see the positive reviews?

I recently purchased a book that after reading the reviews, all five stars, decided that if it was so well loved then certainly I would love it too!! Guess what? I didn’t love it. In fact not one reviewer mentioned that there was graphic rape in the book. Even the synopsis of the book left that out. Are you going to tell me that all those reviewers were just ‘totes ok!’ with that subject matter? No, what happened here is that the reviewers were friends with the writer and simply wrote glowing, generic reviews to appease said writer. Of course we want to want to support a friend but understand that you are doing a disservice to the purpose of  having reviews to begin with! Honestly can be both fair and balanced.

And now I am going to get on my soapbox for a minute about those of you who will not give a book 5 stars.  I don’t get it.  No one is asking you to review Shakespear and Chaucer and so the argument that a book is rarely so AWESOME as to deserve five stars is silly.  Did you love the book? want to read more by the author? FIVE FRIKKIN STARS!! and to truly deserve one star I think you need to actually HATE it.  It must be written like a third graders homework.  It must SUCK, like in suckinessess truest form.  I have only given one EVER one star review and I hope I never have to again.  But even a book that you think deserves one star should have a properly written opinion/review.  I think it might be even MORE important if you are giving a book such a low score, to properly explain why.  Never forget that this is still someone’s hard work, their hopes and dreams may be pinned on it and if you are going to tell the reviewing world that it totally sucks balls, you really owe it to them to explain why.

 

LASTLY!! yes, I am just about done.  A few words about bullying authors via reviews, Twitter, Facebook, etc.  We, as a society, have called attention to this subject when it applies to kids; and collectively,(with the exception of a few assholes), have decided that we will not allow that behavior.  How can we as adults, allow this, PARTICIPATE in this!, and still expect our children to do different?  Shame on anyone that thinks this type of behavior is acceptable.  It really is just low and scummy and I hope anyone who does this sort of thing is blacklisted from the reading and writing world.

QUESTIONS? COMMENTS? send them my way!! Need help writing a bad review? I am HERE!

 

 

 

 

 

UnAlive by Kevin J. Fitzgerald

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book coverI’m sure by now if you have read any of my blog posts, you know I have a short story in a very awesome anthology ATZ:The Gathering Horde. I may have mentioned it a few (thousand) times. You better have read it by now!! SO…anyway, I made a point of reading all the other stories and following up with the other authors in the book, checking out their other works.  Kevin J. Fitzgerald has a really awesome story in the anthology called “The Zombie Race”, it’s a perfect mix of The Running Man and The Hunger Games type of dystopia where everything we currently hold dearly to, for instance: security, humanity and hope; is gone and the world very much resembles ancient Rome only with zombies instead of lions.

This Kevin dude is mad cool.  glittterblow

I show my love with glitter. Get over it.  So aside from the upcoming novel and the short story, Kevin has written, directed, and produced dozens of stage productions. Lets add dancing, singing, acting, a song writing career, plays guitar along with other instruments and I am wondering what this guy CAN’T do!!

I really dug his story and his writing style, so I contacted him about reading his upcoming debut novel “Unalive”, prior to its release, which consequently is this Monday, February 23.  There will be a release party on Facebook with trivia, q&a’s. and prizes!

unalive party

https://www.facebook.com/events/1608118556074326/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

unaliveI devoured the book a couple of days.  It was quite a terrifying yet thought provoking literary journey.  It’s been described as The Night of the Living Dead meets The Book of Eli, and that is quite accurate. Here is my spoiler-free synopsis…

The number of catastrophic events happening in the world are escalating, thousands are dying and it seems like nowhere is safe.  Of course the scientists cannot agree on the cause.  One theory is that the world is simply “winding down” and man, does that bring the creepy chills or what?  SOO…we have the protagonist, Adam, who have some disturbing visions from his past.  He seems to be a good guy caught in an epic battle of good versus evil.  He has a questionable past and equally disturbing present, choices are made, and we hope that Adam will lead the band of survivors to salvation.

Honestly, I don’t want to give too much away.  This story surprised me, in a GOOD way! sheesh….settle down! The zombies are there, but they are almost background noise…and guess what? its ok!! The zombies are like the icing on the horror cake that is UnAlive.  One minute you feel like the best path is to lie down and give up, there’s no way to persevere in this landscape, and then the littlest things bring back the hope and faith that humanity CAN move forward. There’s surprises and twists that I did NOT see coming. The book is to be part one of a trilogy and I am excited to read the next one.

MORE EXCITING NEWS! Kevin has been hard at work turning this story into a film.  Check out the teaser, gave me goosebumps!!

unalive movie

HERE is the link to pre-order UnAlive: http://www.amazon.com/UnAlive-Novel-Kevin-J-Fitzgerald-ebook/dp/B00TQ6BJF4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1424478530&sr=8-2&keywords=Unalive

Kevin’s Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=Kevin%20J.%20Fitzgerald&search-alias=digital-text&sort=relevancerank  

Kevin’s Home Page: http://www.kjfwriter.com/

BUY ATZ:The Gathering Horde: http://www.amazon.com/All-Things-Zombie-Gathering-Horde-ebook/dp/B00PD6M7ZW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418775419&sr=8-1&keywords=ATZ+the+gathering+horde

Happy Valentines Day!!

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dkstreet2 copy

Back in December I started a writing project with four friends.  We wanted to see if we could write a story together and since we had already conquered the Christmas zombie theme in ATZ’s A Very Zombie Christmas book release, we decided to take on Valentines Day.  It turned out to be a lot of fun and a surprisingly seamless story emerged.  I would recommend this activity for anyone interested in writing or even experienced writers.  Just when you think you know where the story is going to go, another personality hops in with their own idea of where it should go. The challenge of then being flexible enough to work within that persons idea was exciting and eye-opening. Thanks for all the fun Giles Batchelor, Suzanne Casey, Justin Dunne and Lana Sibley.

Hope you enjoy the story!!

BE MY ZOMBIE VALENTINE written by Shannon Walters, Giles Batchelor, Suzanne Casey, Justin Dunne, and Lana Sibley

The card and candy section of the small pharmacy was picked over; cards strewn about on shelves, no longer mated to their envelopes, candy boxes haphazardly stacked. All competed for his attention with the few remaining stuffed bears clutching stuffed hearts.  The sayings were as cheesy this year as they were every year; “Be Mine” and “My heart belongs to you!” proclaimed each remaining chocolate box.  This is what I get for waiting to the last minute again, thought Jack grumpily. Surely his wife knew after this many years that he simply didn’t plan ahead and that he actually despised these frivolous holidays.  But he also knew that if he wanted to sleep in his own bed tonight, and maybe luck out with a little nookie, he’d better produce something.

Clutching a hastily chosen box of inexpensive chocolates and an innocuous looking stuffed bear Jack approached the checkout counter.  The sullen teen girl that was standing there with a glazed look on her face when he entered the store was now nowhere to be found.  Tapping his foot impatiently, Jack swiveled his head, huffing impatiently and finished his reconnaissance with an audible sigh.

“Hello? I’m ready to check out!?” he called out toward the back of the store.

“Does this mean it’s free?” he said enjoying his own sarcastic wit

Jack left his items on the checkout counter and walked to the back of the store. He thought the sullen faced teen had probably snuck out back to smoke and that irritated him.  Kids today had no sense of responsibility. He looked around a bit, the store was completely empty.  A large sign hung over the abandoned pharmacy counter that flashed ‘’OPEN 24 HOURS FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE” completely contradicting what Jack was finding.

“Where the hell is everyone?” Jack muttered to himself.

Jack was getting even more irritated.  He was fully aware that going home empty handed was not an option, and based on his habit of last minute shopping, the selection was likely to be just as meager in the few other locations he knew of.  He called out a couple more times before throwing his hands in the air and stomping back to the checkout counter.  He calculated the total of the two items, rounding up just to be safe, and looked up to the security camera hanging in the corner.  Jack took a $20  bill out of his wallet and made a show of flashing it in front of the camera.

“Look assholes…not stealing….here is the money right here.” Jack said as he placed the bill on top of the register, grabbed his  items and headed for the exit.

The parking lot was still and quiet, but Jack didn’t really notice.  He was too focused on getting home with the meager gifts, and ensuring he didn’t face the wrath of his wife.  He stalked across to his car, a black sedan that had seen better days.  Scuff marked fenders and paintwork scratched all down one side where some toe rag had keyed it.

A scream startled  him as he juggled the gifts purchased from the store to the other hand and was reaching down into his pocket for the keys to unlock the vehicle.  He started to look around as he pushed the remote, pulling the door open hastily and tossing the items onto the seat.  It was then he started to realize – there was no one else in the parking lot, no cars moving –  Is it that late? he thought to himself and looked at his watch.

Again came that scream, louder, clearer and chilling in tone. Jack realized the scream was coming from the alley right next to the pharmacy and peered into the dark shadows.  As much as Jack felt that he should go to the aid of the person that screamed, he had no intention of putting himself in danger. He stood frozen in place trying to decide what to do.  The sound of sirens along with red and blue flashing lights startled and relieved Jack.  He stood in stunned silence as the police car came into sight, then drove right past Jack as he waved his arms wildly in the air.

“What in the hell………”  Jack’s sentence was interrupted by a garbled scream coming from the alley.  Despite a nagging feeling that he should run the other way for his own safety, Jack headed toward the  blackness of the alley.  You are a fucking idiot Jack…..just go home…..not your problem…..walk away…….you might even get laid tonight if you play your cards right…..Jack thought to himself as he continued to approach the darkness.

Standing at the opening of the alley, Jack squinted into the darkness. Two dumpsters stood side by side and a full white bag of trash lay on its side on the ground in front of Jack.  From out of the darkness the teenager Jack recognized as being the cashier from the pharmacy stumbled from between the two dumpsters clutching her throat. Blood that appeared almost black in the darkness gushed from between her fingers and ran down the front of her torn flowered blouse. The young girl reached forward and mouthed the words “Help me.” Her face a mask of terror, she struggled for breath and grasped the side of the dumpster attempting to pull herself closer to Jack.

Jack rushed toward the girl and she stretched out her arm, reaching for him as tears left streaks through the dirt and blood on her face.

A disheveled looking man in a bloodied white lab coat wearing the name tag  “Your friendly Pharmacist HAROLD is in”,   emerged from the space between the two dumpsters and moved forward in what appeared to be a drunken stupor.  Jack watched in complete horror as Harold grabbed the young girl’s ponytailed hair, pulling her backwards and into him.  The pharmacist’s face was contorted in a sick and twisted grimace and his eyes were a strange milky color. He made a  primal growling sound deep in this throat, then sunk his teeth into the shoulder of the young girl in his grasp.

Shit, this was more than just an HR problem.  Jack was frozen in fear, rooted in place. His brain struggled to process the senseless act, a cacophony of thoughts barreled through his mind at high speed; What the fuck… run… help her…who calls anyone Harold these days.. help her… run.  One thought finally linked to his nervous system and Jack jumped into action. He moved forward and grabbed the pharmacist’s shoulders, violently shaking him until the poor girl was released.  She dropped to the floor, bleeding.  Jack pulled the pharmacist round, and swung a big haymaker right into his jaw. An audible crack was heard as fist contacted flesh.  Jacks aim was true and Harold dropped to the floor.  Thinking that the threat was neutralized, Jack turned to help the girl.

“Are you okay?” he knew the question was stupid as soon as it came out of his mouth.  She was lying on the filthy ground in a pool of blood.  Her hands still wrapped round her neck, Jack could see the vicious bite mark in her shoulder, ragged torn flesh and a glint of white bone.  He knelt beside her, realized she was not breathing and checked her wrist for a pulse.  He did not want to touch her bloody neck. He wanted to help but he didn’t want HIV or some other blood born disease that this kid might be carrying.  Pulling his cell from his pocket, Jack dialed 911 and put the phone to his ear.  He was treated to a fast busy signal and he tried redialing three more times before he gave up and the chill of fear began to creep up his spine.

Pre-occupied with wondering just what was going on and the impending creep factor of the whole night, Jack failed to notice the vast shadow grow behind him.  Harold the friendly pharmacist had regained his feet.  Harold took tottering steps toward his next meal.  He was in grabbing distance, soon to be biting distance, when his head snapped back and disappeared in a red and white chunky spray.

Jack instinctively ducked when the sound of the gunshot reached his ears. He turned to escape and slipped in the still falling slurry of brain, flesh, and bone; sliding like an Olympic skater and hitting the dumpster face first.  Knocked out cold, Jack landed in a slump next to the no longer undead body of Harold.

From behind Jack’s car rose a figure, which moved into the alley and fired one shot into the head of the teenage cashier from the pharmacy that had just begun to move.  Holstering the pistol, the figure moved deeper into the alley.

Jack woke up. He opened his eyes to a dimly lit room that he didn’t recognize.  He sat up quickly in the bed and instantly wished that he hadn’t. Nausea and the pounding in his head competed for bragging rights.

“Whoa there fella, take it easy, you’ve got quite a bump on your noggin.  You must have quite a screamer of a headache.”

The voice came from a tall, lanky blond.  She stood at the foot of the bed with her hands on her hips,  head cocked to one side examining him with a quizzical expression that was hard for him to read.  She was not exactly pretty, her face was too long for that, her nose just a bit too big. Her voice was deep for a woman and she seemed strangely excited.

“Where am I? How did I get here? Who the hell are you?” Jack peppered the strange girl with questions and he felt himself getting angrier and angrier as she took her time answering him.

“Um, I don’t know how to tell you this dude, but we are in the midst of a genuine (she pronounced it Jen-U-wine) zombie apocalypse, yup.”  She became even more excited, bouncing on the balls of her feet.  He noticed, because thats just the kinda guy he was, that her nipples were hard and pressed against the thin material of her tight fitting olive-drab t-shirt.

I’ve been kidnapped by a crazy blonde with great tits,  thought Jack.  At that moment he decided he might not be all that eager to escape her clutches after all.  This could get interesting.

“You gonna tell me how I got here?” he asked a bit more gently this time.  His ‘interest” was peaked and he didn’t want to frighten her away.

“I saw that big-ass zombie about to take you out to lunch in the alley next to the pharmacy.  Dude, you are sooo lucky I happen to be in the area.  I was headed for my bug-out location.” She spoke like a man, which was weird when she had those amazing tits. He had to focus on something else, because  clearly, she was kinda crazy.  He suddenly remembered that he should be getting back to his…wife. Ugh.

“Ok, look doll, would you just tell me how to get back to my car please? I probably should be getting home.  What time is it anyway?”  His watch was never going to tell time again, the crystal was smashed into the inner mechanisms. He pawed through his pockets without finding his cell phone feeling the creep of anxiety-laden anger.

“Oh, well it dont matter, you can’t go back there.” she said dismissively and turned to the door.

He got out of the bed and stood up, holding onto the corner of the bed until the wave of dizziness passed.  His weakness was making him even angrier and now even those sweet tatas were not going to distract him.  He walked toward her quickly and grabbed her shoulder.  She turned around and as quick as a snake grabbed his offending hand and twisted his arm back in just such a way that he was immediately immobilized and practically whimpering from the pain.  Holy shit that bitch was fast. he thought and managed to yelp out a “Mercy!!”

Pain, fear and nipples, it was a surprise, but he couldn’t help but smile. A real man can only tolerate so many years of marriage, buying bed visits with chocolates and flowers, the same routine, same positions. Sex at home wasn’t so much a pleasure as it was a mission…or an exercise. This was something new. Something different. Blood was flowing, and not only to the pain in his arm.  As the oxygen laden blood rushed to other parts of his body and deserted his brain the thoughts of his wife began to fade again.

Though he did want to wrestle, and oh how he wanted to wrestle, he didn’t fight back. Instead he apologized, becoming submissive. “Sorry lady, shit…ow…lemmegoyoucrazybitch.” But not too submissive. Bruce Lee with tits spun him round. He gazed upon her heaving chest. She kicked him swift and true. The pain in his head was gone. The pain in his arm had fluttered away. He wasn’t sure if he needed to vomit or poop, but being in the fetal position would work ok for either.

She snarled at him, shouted “My name is Tabitha.” and stomped from the room.  Jack lay in his misery until he could take in a full breath again and then he managed to get himself into a mostly upright position.  He trudged from the room out into a hallway and noticed her across the way, sitting at a table in what appeared to be a corporate type lunch room.  Slipping quietly up behind her and peering over her shoulder he saw a large heart-shaped box filled with half eaten chocolates.  She dropped another half eaten piece of candy and huffed out a long sigh.

“What the hell are you doing?” he asked as she leaped to her feet and came up swinging.  He was prepared this time and dodged the first and even second blows, but she surprised him by yet another kick to the nuts.  He could barely breathe, lights flashed in his eyes and he went down, hands to his crotch once more.

“Look buddy, I may have saved your life out there, but that doesn’t give you the right to touch me” she said angrily.  “Christ I saved your worthless sniveling ass and all you do is have a go at me.” Jack began to wonder if she was possibly psychotic, but then, because he had seen Harold eating the cashier and because she did have knockers to die for, perhaps she was only a little crazy and he could still get laid.

“Okay yeah, okay … we’ve obviously gotten off on the wrong foot” jack said as he slowly tried to stand, massaging his balls with one hand to check that they were still the right place and in the right shape, not like an egg dropped from a 3rd floor window.  “Just tell me please, why are you taking one bite out of all those chocolates?”

She looked suddenly sheepish and somewhat embarrassed, a quick change from the violence of a minute ago.

“I only like the ones with the cream center.” she said quietly.

“Yeah, I noticed you had a thing against nuts.”  Jack grimaced and shook his head “You know there’s a sort of map type thing, right here.” He gestured with his hand toward the heart-shaped lid that had a diagram with a description of each candy.

“Oh.” was all she said and dropped the piece of candy into the box, pushing it away.  “I’m done anyway.”

She shook her head and looked at him. “ You just don’t get it, do you? This is the zombie apocalypse, man! The dead are walking the earth and all that.  Like that show that got cancelled last year? Only this? This shit is for realz.”

“Are you trying to tell me that those people in the alley were…zombies? C’mon, that’s fiction! TV! Nonsense!  Look,  I need to get back to my car and get home before my wife decides to hunt me down and kill me for not showing up on time.”

“ Is she a tough girl? Carry a gun or a knife? Maybe a sword?”  Tabitha asked with intensity.

“What!!? No!  None of those things, she’s very, uh… innocent?  She doesn’t even like horror movies!”

Tabitha leaned forward like she was going to divulge a secret. “ She probably fell to the walkers then.  Sorry fella. The soft ones don’t make it in this new world. Me? I’m going to hit the LARP store over on Mission Street and then I’m going to head over to the old prison.  That’s what they did on that show and it worked pretty well for a while.”

Jack thought the girl was certifiable;  a total nut job.  The thought occurred to him that maybe she’d broken out of the psyche ward over at the hospital. Tits or not, it didn’t matter, it was time to go. He backed up out of the room and then turned and ran for the door with the exit sign over it.  He pushed through into a dimly lit parking lot.  He thought he recognized the area and started walking until he came to the alley beside the store where he’d had his run-in with Harold, the not so friendly neighborhood pharmacist.

There he saw a heart-shaped box and a stuffed bear lying on the ground.  Maybe I can salvage this night after all, he thought. He bent over and picked up the items and brushed them off.  He started walking up the street, passing dark office buildings on his left.  The heart shaped box felt suspiciously light and on a whim, he stopped under a street lamp and pulled the lid off.  He almost screamed with frustration. Every one of the candies was missing a bite.  He threw the box down, cursing the crazy chocolate eating bitch when suddenly a terrible pain blossomed in his shoulder.   Jack was pulled down to the ground by a hulking man with an unbelievable stench.  Still cursing Tabitha and not understanding what was happening to him, a dark form blocked the street light and he felt something clamp down on his privates, quickly followed by paralyzing pain and a ripping and tearing sensation.  Jack screamed and began to lose consciousness.  He felt like a half-eaten chocolate in the heart-shaped box.  And then he felt nothing more.

Tabitha had watched the demise of Jack from her car.   She had tried to feel sorry for him but it was hard, he had been a jerk.  She had struggled not to laugh when the 400 pound walker had latched onto his crotch  “Zombie-bait was always staring at my chest, I hate that.” she muttered as she put the car into drive and peeled off down 51st Street, smoke pouring from the tires of her Mustang.  She knew that she needed supplies to set herself up at the old prison, just like in her favorite show.  Maybe one day she would meet a man like the crossbow guy.  She smiled and headed toward Mission Street.

When she crossed Central she saw a billboard sign with a chubby little cupid proclaiming “Say I Love You with a Card on Valentine’s Day – Hallmark” Tabitha impulsively stomped on the brake and slid to a stop with a squeal of tires.  She checked for the undead in her side and rearview mirrors, then jumped out.  She quickly went to the trunk, rummaged around for a minute before exclaiming “Ha, I knew it!” and ran to the billboard, spray can in hand.  She scrawled in giant luminous green letters:

HALLMARK: Welcome to the Apocalypse cards now in stock.

When you care enough to send the very best!

She jumped back in her car and spun away once more.

Tabitha saw what she was looking for in the distance.  The huge unlit neon “XXX ADULT NOVELTIES, KARATE EQUIPMENT, FIREWORKS, LARP” sign.   She fist-pumped the air and high-fived no one. Tossing the half-eaten chocolate over her shoulder, she clicked off the safety on her pistol and got ready to kick some zombie ass.  It was an excellent day.

 

myself and the other authors can be found in

book cover

http://www.amazon.com/All-Things-Zombie-Gathering-Horde-ebook/dp/B00PD6M7ZW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418775419&sr=8-1&keywords=ATZ+the+gathering+horde

AND

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http://www.amazon.com/Very-Zombie-Christmas-ATZ-Special-ebook/dp/B00R7RU27A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423888152&sr=8-1&keywords=a+very+zombie+christmas

 

 

Peace, Love, and Zombies

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DH8

Today we are celebrating the release of one of my favorite authors newest book! Eric A. Shelman has released part 8 of the Dead Hunger series. Normally I would be all, YAYYY except, I was late to this Shelman love-fest and I am only on book three. SOOO I was not ALLOWED to skip ahead and read this new book. Not ALLOWED! I was told I must read them in order.  Well…pfft. Fine, I enlisted my pal from across the pond, Giles Batchelor, who has read the series and the new book, to do a GUEST POST!!!

THIS is Giles, holding another stellar book, one that both he and Eric are part of All Things Zombie:The Gathering Horde!

!giles

The only thing Giles FAILED to mention in his spectacular guest post, and I must say that I will not reveal my sources for this info because I don’t wanna end up beaten and bloody behind the library…is some very cool CAMEOS!! As you read the book you will find some familiar names! For instance Giles! and our great friend Lana! Also a name that everybody knows, Jeff Clare, has a MEGA cameo!!

SO without further ado, or a-don’t, haha? No? fine…heeeeere’s Giles!!!

Hey everyone, how you all doing?  Wait I hear you ask, that ain’t Blondie with her funny, giggly humour and the confetti blasts, plus you’ve spelt humour wrong???  Let me colour it in a little bit; I’m guest posting from over the pond because… well to put it bluntly Blondie sucks, well kinda and sometimes.  I love her posts really, but she’s just ill equipped to talk you through the topic this week. (does she post weekly?) See the thing is, that our book loving Blondie, isn’t currently allowed to read the book we’re discussing this week – she’s not far enough through the series and everybody knows YOU CAN’T SKIP FORWARDS.  Well perhaps you can in some series –  you wouldn’t have missed much if you skipped over say the 1st Harry Potter, or the first Twilight book.  But we’re not talking about the annoying boy wizard, or those damned sparkly vampires, we’re talking about Zombies… yeah that’s right ZOMBIES!  Come on everyone shout with me; We Love Zombies!!  did you all join in??  no, so it’s only me that looks like a fool shouting that out while writing in the pub.

Zombies, you heard me!  This week we are talking about Zombies, in particular the Zombies in Eric A. Shelman’s latest release Dead Hunger VIII: Peace Love and Zombies.  Actually we’re not just going to talk about the Zombies in the book, we’re going to talk about the whole book and try really hard not to give away any spoilers… probably quite difficult.. perhaps I should quit now

Buy the book!

Naa can’t just stop there can I?  No! I’m not just gonna stop there, but you should buy the book, if you haven’t read the first 7 installments you should probably buy them too.

This much-awaited sequel takes us back to the start of the Apocalypse by looking at it through the eyes of stoner hippie, Nelson Moore.  When the shit hits the fan he’s living in the trees of central park minding his own business and getting stoned.  This tale tells how he survived the end of the world – as he knew it – in one of the largest, most populous cities on the planet.  Thrown in is how he managed to meet up with Flex, Gem, Hemp and Charlie; the main characters from books 1 to 3 (and beyond) to forge a friendship that would see them taking on the challenge of securing an entire town against the hordes of undead.

The humour you have come to expect from genre master Eric A. Shelman is here by the bucket load. Mix in some of the darkest, most gruesome horror in the mainstream market and it makes this a must-read.  Like I said earlier, you need to read the other seven books first, and I strongly recommend you do.  In fact I pretty much demand it.  Blondie knows she is in my bad books for only being at book 4, apparently she has other commitments – but I’m unsure how life and children could take priority over this series.

I’m gonna sign off for now, maybe Blondie will let me come back and post again some time (hopefully she won’t notice that stain on the carpet I left).  In the mean time; Take care people, don’t let the zombies bite and don’t forget there will always be time for a proper cup of tea in the apocalypse.

P.S.  Don’t forget to buy the book, read the book (love the book) and leave a review to support the indie author community.

GREAT JOB Giles!! and I will bill you for the stain.

LINK TIME!!!!!

Here is the Amazon link for Dead Hunger 8 http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Hunger-VIII-Peace-Zombies-ebook/dp/B00T0UDE86/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1423175409&sr=8-6&keywords=Dead+Hunger

This is Eric’s  Amazon author page http://www.amazon.com/Eric-A.-Shelman/e/B001K91I2Y/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Eric’s webpage http://www.amazon.com/Eric-A.-Shelman/e/B001K91I2Y/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

The coolest place on the web, and Eric’s favorite place to hang out https://www.facebook.com/groups/AllThingsZombie/

the link for the book our buddy Giles is holding so lovingly http://www.amazon.com/All-Things-Zombie-Gathering-Horde-ebook/dp/B00PD6M7ZW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418775419&sr=8-1&keywords=ATZ+the+gathering+horde

Interlude for an Interview with Mike Evans

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HEYYYY Please welcome to Blondie Loves Books, author Mike Evans! *Applause!! Flying confetti!! Glitter bombs!  YAYYYYYY!!!*

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So, obviously I don’t often, or ever, interview authors but I think it’s time to give it a go! *flail! GASP! More glitter!*

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and Mike Evans so kindly agreed to be my guinea pig. Um…that’s not entirely true, I may have just neglected to tell him that I haven’t interviewed anyone. I’m a terrible liar, so I had to disclose that lest I break out in a rash from guilt. *scratch scratch* So Mike! Let me tell you about him.  To start he has a brand new book out this week called Gabriel-No One Gets Out Alive.  It’s about a guy who loses everything in a horrible tragedy and then becomes a CIA assassin.  But he never gives up his morals.  I have already heard great things about this book, for one, that it is an adrenaline-junkies dream.  The action never stops.

gabriel

Prior to this release, in June of 2014, Mike released a zombie apocalypse tale called Orphans.  This story follows Shaun and his father, who is a doctor attempting to cure his second wife’s cancer.  Things turn deadly as the cure becomes the seed that starts the apocalyptic zombie outbreak.  Again, this one has awesome reviews and I personally had to purchase a dead tree version of it as it is also visually appealing.  In October this book won Zombie Book of the Month Clubs coveted award on Facebook and we were treated to a whole month of learning that Mike is a really cool and funny guy and an asset to both the indie community and the zombie genre.  Currently Orphans is in the hands of Winlock Press awaiting a rerelease next month and Orphans 2 can be expected in June.  Mike has assured me he is working on a third addition to the Orphans series and we can also expect a Gabriel sequel sometime in the future.

Alright! Crank up some Black Sabbath and Metallica, (Mike prefers to write at his kitchen table with the tunes cranking! Or on the couch in the basement with the tv on reruns.)   Let’s Play “Getting to know you!” with Mike…Shannon style.  I asked Mike if he had any rituals, superstitions or “special” things or foods that helped him get creative. 

MIKE: I like to drink apple juice when I’m writing if I’m not drinking apple juice I like to have orange juice. I don’t have too many rituals but I do like to write in the morning. I try to do an hour before I need to get my kids up for school. Typically you’ll find me at the table or downstairs in the basement with a giant mug of coffee no sugar just a splash of milk and hazelnut creamer. I prefer when writing at night to have the dog hanging out with me, he always seems like good luck, I always have good word counts and flow when he’s hanging out. He is also very overweight and makes a wonderful armrest.

mikes dog

I love that dog!! *squeeeee*

So, Mike, when did you start writing and what made you decide to throw your hat into this crowded ring?

MIKE: I tried writing my first book when i was like 21 which sadly is 13 years ago. I didn’t know what I was doing and took quite the break from it.  Then when i was like 30, (so 4 years ago) I started writing my first book, Buried. I had gotten about 50k words into it and started all over changing my approach to writing which is still one that I use today and seems to be pretty successful for me so far. It ended up taking probably a year and a half on the first book and then i started The Orphans right after that and it took me about 2-3 months to write.

I’m not quite sure what made me want to start writing everyone says they have a book in them. I am of the mindset that once I think I should do something or that I can do something that it is going to happen. I don’t like to be told I can’t do things regardless of if its by myself telling me or someone else. That usually just makes me try even harder.

Mike just let me know that his first book, “Buried” is in the hands of his publisher and will be released soon. It’s a first-person suspense novel that’s sure to be as exciting as his others.

Can you tell us what your inspiration for Orphans and Gabriel were?

MIKE: The Orphans… I had just recently finished writing Buried,  I had been watching more Walking Dead marathons than one man should be allowed to. I realized how dangerous hordes of zombies could be but I began thinking of zombies that could rip your head off or any limb or your car door and hunted in packs and started forming my idea to write a bad ass story called can you guess it, yes that is right The Orphans!

Gabriel was originally going to be named Zombie Hitman and it was awesome until I wrote one scene where he goes to a billionaires house and murders him for free because he broke the rule that Gabriel lives by, which is no kids and no women. You are correct, and safe from Gabriel, Shannon. So after I read that and had sent it to a few friends they were in agreement that while I hate to say it, it was cool enough on its own to not have zombies in it. So I decided for my second release I would make it non zombie, super-fast paced, lots of action, throw in some gore, and maybe a little torture and round it off with a “take no shit” kind of attitude. He is the hero who doesn’t always want to be a hero.

Do you read at all when you are in the process of writing?writing

I listen to audio books when I can. When I was going hardcore on Gabriel I listened to 11/22/63 and loved it, it was amazing. I don’t listen or read too much zombie genre and that is mostly because I don’t want to steal any ideas by accident or do what has been done because I read or listened to it in a book.

Everyone knows, and can tell by my book collection, that zombies are my favorite, so tell me what got you interested in the genre?

I watched too many of the Walking Dead marathons. I hadn’t read any zombies prior to writing mine so at the time, (you can laugh, most people do)… I thought that I was doing something completely original! Once it was in the editing phase I started finding the clubs like ATZ and Zombie Book of The Month Club ( that I am proud to say I won while still a little indie writer). Shaun Phelps and his crew there were great to me that month!! I have met many awesome people since then and everyone is so nice. It would probably surprise most people how outgoing the fans, readers, and authors are and it seems like one big family. I think the only rule is that you just need to be nice to one another, which isn’t that hard to do since everyone is so damn cool!

Damn straight, Mike, we are effin cool!!

Do you have any hobbies?

I don’t have a lot of hobbies, I like hanging out and coloring with my kids, and teaching my daughter to read takes up a good part of my nights; at least until their bed time when I usually open up the laptop and start working. When I do have a lot of free time, I like deer hunting. It can be bow, muzzleloader and shotgun and I’m just as happy with any of them. I also like to fish when we are at my parents lake house, my son is a big fan of eating catfish. I also really like playing bags with my friends and for those of you not from the Midwest, it is a game that has a board that is rectangle and you throw bags bigger than your hand, filled with corn and try and get them in a hole. Yes it seems dumb, but it is addictive and a very good time.

We all know you play guitar, how long have you been playing? Have you written a theme song for your books? Will you? 🙂guitar

I have been playing guitar since I graduated high school. It was the one thing I treated myself to with some of my gift money. I bought a used Ibanez bass guitar from my friend and a small amp and that threw me headfirst into the world of creativity. I pretty much just play classical nowadays although I kept one metal guitar that is a beauty and once in a while my children can talk me into pulling it out and plugging it in. I have not written one yet, I had a bluesy song that I did for Buried on a Kickstarter trailer, but I’ve yet to write anything for Gabriel, or The Orphans.

Hey Mike? Do you think that YOU would survive a zombie apocalypse?

Hell yes I would survive! I moved this summer and my neighbor is a pilot. I figure if we can make it a few miles to the airfield we will be good to go. If that goes to hell in a handbag I still have my car and me, the family, and our fat beagle can hit the road and take back roads down to my bug out location which I shall not disclose here and now.

Good plan, me? I think I will hide in my closet, eat Oreos and cry.zompoc

Do you have nightmares about zombies or apocalyptic scenarios? I know this one seems weird, I’m just curious if horror writers have more scary dreams than most people!

I don’t dream too much, but I do have a pretty vivid imagination the rest of the day. I can play out something so well in my head I typically have to calm myself down.

When I do dream it is like I’m thrown into a movie headfirst and its extremely detailed. I have not had too many zombie themed dreams, but from time to time if I do like a five thousand word day, sometimes it’s inevitable that they are going to find me in my dreams. So I don’t think that writers have more scary dreams but I would say there is a good chance we at least have them when you’ve been buried neck deep in a story for an entire day.

Mike actually THANKED me for torturing him with all my nosy questions! Can you believe that? He really is just such a nice guy.

Please check down there, at the bottom! Below!…scroll the hell down! There are links for Mikes books, youtube videos of him strumming a six-string, and links for the places he is reported to hang out…CLICK AWAY!

Mikes author page http://www.amazon.com/Mike-Evans/e/B00IQ9Z75A/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Link for Gabriel http://www.amazon.com/Gabriel-Only-one-gets-alive-ebook/dp/B00QOI923S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422500369&sr=8-1&keywords=Mike+Evans&pebp=1422500404530&peasin=B00QOI923S

Zombie Book of the Month Club on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/ZBotMC/

All Things Zombie on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/AllThingsZombie/

Mike on youtube https://www.youtube.com/user/mevansm01

 Mikes Publisher https://www.facebook.com/WinlockPress

Chesser, and Philbrook, and Wallen, OH MY!

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The zombie genre, ahhh! It has quite literally exploded! And while its been going strong among its original fans, the genre has had the biggest pick-me-up from the success of The Walking Dead. The popularity of the show has introduced many new readers to the fan base and of course social media like Facebook and book junkie sites like Goodreads also increased readership.  Now, in the past I have seen the trends of zombies and vamps wax and wane.  This time though, it feels like they are here to stay.   The genre keeps growing and expanding and I don’t see Mr. Zombie as quite ready to jump the veritable shark just yet.  With that being said, I have three authors I am going to be babbling about today, one who I have worshipped since the beginning…Shawn Chesser , and two that I’ve just been introduced to, Jack Wallen and Chris Philbrook.  The three came on to the scene around the same time and all three have put out several books.  I have some catching up to do!

First up is Shawn Chesser. chesser

Undoubtedly my favorite and he has just released an 8th installment of the “Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse” series that began with “Trudge”. Let me just remind anyone who doesn’t know, this guy wrote the first book in the series on his iPhone while watching his kid play soccer.  Think about that! Blows my mind really. So, the series follows Cade, a former Delta force operator, who spends his time trying to keep his family safe from the zombie threat but also continues to unofficially serve his country.  The shadow of what is left of the military and government is fighting not just the Z’s but also madmen that would take advantage of the situation for their own gain.  That’s where this series differs from a lot of the others, there is the human survival tale but also we get the big picture and the unfortunate side effect of a world in turmoil and the ugly, greedy side of the human condition.

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This latest edition, “Ghosts”, picks up where “Warpath” left off, and I am just not going to spoil it for you… read it, or start with “Trudge” and let me know what you think. The evolution of Shawn’s writing is most evident in this one.  The emotional tie to the characters has never been stronger and instead of feeling burnt out after eight books, I actually sensed a renewal and a new excitement to the series.  One of the most unexpected things is a new player in the game and I was extremely excited by her unexpected addition, I cannot wait to see what this adds to the story in the next installment.  Also take note of the new covers, awesome to look at, they bring to life our favorite characters in the books.

Next in the triple threat is Chris Philbrook! philbrook

Next I read Adrian’s Undead Diary by Chris Philbrook, at the prompting of a trusted friend.  I actually wasn’t even looking for another book to read and my To Be Read pile is quite intimidating actually.  However, I was convinced that I was seriously missing out by not having read this yet, I almost felt…guilty and ashamed for not having read it.  Like, how dare I call myself and indie-loving zombie fan and have never delved into the world of Adrian Ring? I could feel the shaking heads and exasperated sighs, and it got to me.  So I picked it up, at first only to assuage my own guilt, but after about five pages, I was in literary love.  Hooked, completely!!  Also…this guy had a pretty awesome story in the anthology that my story is in! yayyy!!

adrianThe book is told through Adrian’s diary, and FYI? Adrian is a dude.  Ok…so that is why I held off so long, I thought ‘he’ was a ‘she’, and my own personal opinion is that I just seem to enjoy the perspective of the man versus the woman in the zompoc.  Go ahead…call me chauvinistic or whatever, but mostly, the way chicks are written into the zompoc tend to irritate me, and I don’t relate to them.  We can agree to disagree here if you would like. MOVING ON…Adrian is,  mostly,…a regular dude who just wants to stay alive, but isn’t entirely convinced he deserves to be.  He tries his best to help others and you just find yourself wanting to hang out with this guy, pat him on the back or something.  I laughed out loud more than once and I also found myself wiping away a tear at times, yeah, its that good.  Any author that can get me so emotionally invested in his or her story that it evokes outward emotion, get my highest accolades.  This one is getting shelved next to Chesser.  I am reading the rest of these asap!

AND Last but certainly NOT least…Jack Wallen   jack

Another author that was recommended to by a trusted colleague, (plus he is also in the anthology with me, I know, how many times can I mention it? its my blog so probably all I want!!! all links will magically appear at the bottom of this post!) and again I wonder how I missed out on this guy the last couple of years.  Jack has quite a few books, a frikkin awesome blog, plus a mind-fucky radio show that you should definitely take the time to listen to.  Makes me think of Rod Serling and Orson Wells does zompoc, which really…is AWESOME!

izombie So …the book that I read is called I Zombie I.  Starts out with a literal bang, and you are right there in the apocalypse with Jacob, the main character and a very realistic, and interesting guy.  He has self-deprecating humor that breaks up the monotony of the dead world he is now living in. Jacob undergoes so um…changes as he goes along trying to be the good guy and as the story progresses I found myself growing more attached to Jacob and more in love with Jacks ability to weave words like a master.  This is still zompoc yet it reads like something much more mature and poetic and the contrast is quite addicting. I won’t spoil the book for you, it simply MUST be on your TO BE READ pile…preferably at the top.

LINKS LINKS LINKS!!!

Shawn Chesser! http://www.shawnchesser.com/

his books! http://www.amazon.com/Shawn-Chesser/e/B005QUZ194

Chris Philbrook! http://thechrisphilbrook.com/

The home of Adrian’s Undead Diary http://adriansundeaddiary.com/

his books! http://www.amazon.com/Chris-Philbrook/e/B00FC2H02W

Jack Wallen! http://monkeypantz.net/

his radio show! http://zombieradio.org/tag/jack-wallen/

his books! http://www.amazon.com/Jack-Wallen/e/B004MZWR3W

The best zombie anthology EVER!! http://www.amazon.com/All-Things-Zombie-Gathering-Horde-ebook/dp/B00PD6M7ZW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418775419&sr=8-1&keywords=ATZ+the+gathering+horde

PSST!! I know where these guys hang out!! https://www.facebook.com/groups/AllThingsZombie/