Tag Archives: Undead Rising

“What Do You Write?”, or The Genre Prison

I just recently read one of those articles about how the “new wave” of self-publishers “must” act, and it left me rolling my eyes. It said, instead of just writing, editing, and publishing something, and then working on a social media platform/blog, you should do it the other way around: blog first, become popular (literally, that was the whole step–oh, ok!), hope you still have time for the book you originally wanted to write.

I’ve seen that advice before, but today it just made me eyeroll particularly hard (because of course it’s as easy as “get popular.” Gag me). The advice was further to pick what you were going to write about–presumably the same thing that is your future book topic–and then write extensively on that narrow subject.

Now, don’t get me wrong, that totally works for some people. I met a woman at a conference who started her blog about kids’ photography, and it led to a book deal and stuff. Great. But guess what? She didn’t start the blog so she could eventually write a book; she started the blog because she wanted to be a blogger.

Anyway, back to the “write about one topic a lot” thing: most broadly, that means writing about a specific genre. But I think that’s locking yourself into a prison for no good reason: so your first book ends up being a steampunk romance, great, but what if you want to do a sci-fi horror for the second one? Do you have to spin off a totally different blog? Start all over again? Insanity!

Besides, sometimes the genre is stupidly hard to define. That’s one of the biggest problems with Undead Rising. What genre is it? It’s got zombies, so that’s sometimes horror, even though it’s maybe PG-13 level scary. Zombies are also supernatural, so it kinda fits in that arena. But it’s also funny, so does that make it humor? Except it turns out, weirdly, that most humor books are nonfiction, so that isn’t exactly a good fit. It’s a gamebook, which is awesome, except it’s a genre completely dominated by children’s books from the 1970s and that’s not exactly a section most people are familiar with… so what, exactly, would my one-genre blog be about?

I guarantee you if I had to talk exclusively about zombies, this blog would have died a long time ago.

The conventional publishing wisdom is contradictory here, too. Officially, you pick a genre and you just write in that genre until your hands fall off. It used to be if you wanted to write in a different genre, your publisher would frown on that and your new stuff wouldn’t be published; you were only “known” in one arena. Except… if you got famous, then it was back to whatever you wanted, apparently. All my favorite authors right now may be best known for a certain thing, but they cross genres at will, following whatever they are interested in: Neil Gaiman (comics, children’s books, YA, adult novels); Brad Meltzer (historical fiction, superhero comics, children’s picture books); Margaret Atwood (dystopian fiction that she likes to call literary fiction, short stories, fantasy); and Jim Butcher (urban fantasy, role playing games, comic books, steampunk).

So I say….write what you want. Following your passion is far more interesting and more likely to keep you motivated. Who cares what the box is supposed to be? Just go for it. Make the box fit you, not the other way around.

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Amazing Halloween Book Signing

Well, my weekend was incredible. The weather was bleary and I didn’t get a single trick-or-treater, nor did I have a costume, but it may have been the BEST HALLOWEEN EVER.

Why? Because I got to meet so many people who were so incredibly pumped to discover that adults are “allowed” to read gamebooks, too!

This was my first-ever book signing (huge shout-out to the folks at Madness Games and Comics who thought it was a good idea! Buy all their cool stuff!), and my expectations were pretty low: smile at people, sit behind a stack of books all day, use caffeine to keep my spirits up. But y’all blew away my expectations! Instead of being the shy author I feel like, I was able to chat with so many people who were like, “wait a minute? Did you say zombies?! This is very pertinent to my interests!”

Undead Rising book signing at Madness Games

Writing–and self-publishing–can be really isolating; you do most of it alone, at your desk. I did not at all expect the high I got from meeting so many of my people, the folks who say “yeah, I probably wouldn’t survive a zombie apocalypse, let’s be real…but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try!” The people who think it’s ok to be a “grownup” and still have fun like an 8-year-old. The people who say, “heck yes I want to support a local author!”

I just wish I could go give you all a big hug–you made my year!

If we met this weekend and you’ve had a chance to read some of Undead Rising, let me know what you think! And I would be so grateful if you’d review the book on Goodreads, or tell a friend, or leave a copy conspicuously on a park bench for an unassuming stranger to discover (ok, maybe not the last one!).

Also, big announcement: because of the success of the signing on Halloween, Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny will now be available for purchase at Madness Games and Comics!

Y’all are awesome. And remember: Choose wisely.

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Zombies! Destiny! Sales!

What do you do when you desperately want to know if you’d really survive a zombie apocalypse but you’re afraid of spending too much money on ebooks?

a) Let your brains get eaten.
b) Continue to engage in pointless circular conversations with your friends who are by now quite tired of listening to you babble on about zombies all the time.
c) Buy Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny while it’s on sale!

There’s only one right answer this time, folks, and it’s to seize the day and decide your own destiny by buying yourself a copy of adult adventure novel Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny this week while it’s on sale for only $0.99!

Undead Rising zombie book

Other zombie preparation items cost much more, and have a more limited use:

  • Baseball bat, $20 — that’s 20 copies of Undead Rising!
  • Zombie machete, $23 — that’s 23 copies of Undead Rising!
  • The Walking Dead box set, $95 — you’ll have plenty of copies of Undead Rising to share with your friends!
  • Urban survival kit, $140 — well, you might as well start reading, because that’s a lot of 99 cent copies of Undead Rising!

Undead Rising is a zombie book like no other: your choices determine the path of the story, and there are more than 45 different outcomes…including some as a zombie! It’s funny, it’s creepy, it’s a lot of fun, and it’s got 5 stars on Amazon for a reason. Here’s the most recent review:

Undead rising review

So what are you waiting for? Strike while the iron is hot! You only have a few more days to get Undead Rising while it’s on sale!

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The One Thing I’d Get During an Apocalypse

I’m writing this on Saturday, when the Super Moon is getting eclipsed, and all I can think about is the end of the world. Namely, the one thing I’d want to have with me in the event of a serious, bad apocalypse. In addition to the sensible running shoes and outdoor clothes I’d of course already be equipped with, I’d run back into the burning city for one thing.

There are a lot of good contenders: a fire starter would be clever, some kind of water-cleaning device, perhaps a camping tent. A can opener would have its uses for a long time. A good knife, always handy. But as a female apocalypse-survivor, there is one luxury that would really make survival 100 times better.

Hair ties.

hair ties for the apocalypse

Yup, those things (and preferably on a convenient clip just like this)! Absolutely essential. My day is practically over if I lose mine. You always see women in adventure shows with their hair down and flowing, and let me tell you, that’s a surefire way to get your hair tangled as heck, caught in some twigs, or at the very least annoyingly frizzy. And I’ve tried those complicated faux-Greek hairstyles where they “don’t use a tie” or just a leather thong or whatever, but I assure you, there’s really nothing as good as a nice elastic hair tie. I wouldn’t want to be in an apocalypse without it.

Besides, this comic by Kevin Warren has it about right:

Kevin Warren wonder woman scrunchie

Wonder Woman art by Kevin Warren

What one thing would make the apocalypse almost survivable for you? Share your best ideas!

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Movie Review: Zombieland – 4 Juicy Brains!

I have a terrible confession: Even though I’ve written a zombie book, I really don’t like zombie movies. I’m actually a big ol’ weeny when it comes to gore. I can handle reading about it, more or less, but actually watching someone’s arm get ripped off and eaten is just too much for me. It’s why I haven’t been watching The Walking Dead: I saw the first episode, and got to that one zombie that was just a top torso with its spine swishing along behind it, and just noped right outta there (but was still interested, so I took to reading weekly recaps to follow the story. I’m such a nerd).

But having missed these zombie cultural touchpoints is just a character flaw, honestly, so I’m trying to repair it.

Starting with: Zombieland.


Zombieland poster

Premise: A few months after a zombie apocalypse, a young guy (Columbus) is just trying to survive, until he encounters a few other survivors: the wild and rough-edged Tallahassee, and the innocent-looking but cutthroat sisters Little Rock and Wichita. They team up to find family, a long-sought Twinkie, and the fleeting memories of childhood safety in what amounts to a zombie apocalypse roadtrip.

Zombie Characteristics: Virus is some variant of the mad cow disease, turning people into slavering, necrotic people-eaters within just a few hours of being bitten. They don’t mind pain and are pretty fast, as zombies go; these aren’t shufflers but joggers (keep up that cardio!). A blow to the head or a double-tap shot is the best way to kill them.

Apocalypse Level: Fairly low. Sure, lots of people are dead, but there are relatively few zombies (or people) in this movie at all. You’ve got to remember “the rules,” but no one is particularly worried about finding food to eat, having a place to sleep, siphoning gas, or having clean drinking water. All the electricity is on everywhere they go. You just have to keep an eye out for zombies.

Gore Level: Medium-low. This is hardly horror-movie fare. There were a few occasions that buckets of blood were called for, but it was pretty mild as zombie movies go. Not much worse than anything you’d see as roadkill.

Overall: Pretty funny and highly irreverent. I’m sorry I waited so long to see this one, particularly as the really clever “rules” technique interlaced through the film caught on as a pop culture reference. It was even a little heartwarming. Let’s just hope this is what a zombie apocalypse looks like; seems pretty safe. Just remember to work on that cardio in the meantime.

I give it 4 juicy brains!

juicy brains

juicy brains

juicy brains

juicy brains

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Win a Free Copy of Undead Rising–Courtesy of Rachel Caine!

My husband is awesome. He honored our first anniversary this weekend with a very modern “paper” gift: he reached out to Rachel Caine, one of my very favorite and most inspirational authors, to ask her for a letter to me, to help me get over the first-book jitters.

And she’s proven she’s my idol for a reason: she way over-delivered!

First, she sent me a very beautiful reminder to just keep trying. Here’s part of it:

 There’s no “right” way to publish. We are all blind people in a dark room, bumping into things, making mistakes, learning, moving on… I’ve written under 3 other names in my career, and had to change and reinvent myself because my books weren’t selling, until they were. It’s a hard road, with lots of twists and turns, and it can seem like it *should* be easy, but it’s only easy from the outside.

(I’m keeping the rest, just for me!)

Then, she tweeted about my book (and anniversary!) to all her fans! As a bonus, she’s giving away 5 copies of Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny.

Undead Rising Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter to win!

And my many, many thanks to Ms. Caine and my dear sweet husband. This is the best anniversary gift I could have ever asked for!

If you aren’t already reading Caine’s books, I can’t recommend them enough. I particularly love her Weather Wardens series, though she’s most famous for her Morganville Vampires series. She’s got another book coming out soon, too!

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How to Support an Author

Bestseller and ebook trailblazer Hugh Howey had a blog post that I think bears repeating: What’s the Best Way to Support Your Favorite Authors?

The answer may surprise you: while buying stuff is absolutely great (and hey, you can buy my book here!), but it isn’t actually the best way to support someone.

Howey says:

“If you really want to support your favorite authors, my advice is simple: Read their books. Spread word-of-mouth. Write reviews. Email them and express your delight.”

The best–and easiest–way to support an author, be they independent, with a small publisher, or from one of the big publishers, is to tell someone else how great the book was. Despite all our gizmos and features, we still value word of mouth most. Telling your friends, neighbors, coworkers, and others how much you liked a book is powerful mojo. Tweeting about it, blogging, sharing on Facebook, or writing up a review on Goodreads or Amazon or anywhere else are all bonus ways to share with more people all at once.

It’s humbling, really, to know that the most powerful way to boost your favorite authors (or even your most recent read) is just to tell someone else about it. I review every book I read on Goodreads. How do you show your support?

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