Tag Archives: zombies

Rise From The Grave (Without Actually Being a Zombie)

What if I told you there really is a way for you to be un-dead, in a very literal, and very helpful way? To be gone from this life and yet still helping people.

No, not as a zombie—they mostly just chase you for your brains. But in a way that will allow you to save someone’s life.

You can: sign up to be an organ donor.

I just recommitted to organ donation last week, when I renewed my request to be an organ donor. Here in Texas, you can do it through the DMV.

I’m an organ donor because of my friend David. David was my high school theater teacher, and he had to miss our actual performance of Romeo & Juliet because he was coughing too much to sit through the show. David has cystic fibrosis. It’s a disease where phlegm builds up in the lungs. Over time, David’s body was literally suffocating, drowning him from the inside out. He lost most of his weight, coughed so hard he broke ribs, and was on a first-name basis with the hospital staff.

But David is alive today because he was able to get brand-new lungs; well, lightly-used, or at least in better shape than the lungs he was born with. Now David celebrates a new birthday every year—the day he received the gift of a lifetime, new lungs.

Before his operation, David’s lung capacity was down to 7%. This year, it was at 110%.

Unfortunately, here in the U.S. and in most other places, essential organs like David’s new lungs are lost forever because organ donation is an opt-in rather than an opt-out. So you have to actually think about it, check the box, and make the commitment. Even when you’re gone, you could save someone’s life. What an incredible opportunity.

Go sign up to be an organ donor today and save a life sometime in your future.


Undead Rising coverNot enough zombies in this post? Why don’t you go buy my novel, Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny, available in print and on Kindle. Much like with organ donation, there’s an afterlife: when you die in the book, sometimes you rise again as a zombie, unlocking new adventures.

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Zombies Are Coming! (Zombie Simulator)

How long could you survive the zombie apocalypse? Thanks to this zombie simulator, you can plop a zombie down into the American city of your choice, set a few variables, and wait to see how long it would take for the zombie plague to get to you. If you play long enough, you can also figure out where a zombie plague might slow down or get “stuck”–these places would make excellent spots to hide out!
At the default setting, I feel pretty safe. I put a zombie in New York and it took well over a month to get to me here in Texas.
That said, this simulator isn’t perfect: the biggest gap is that it assumes all zombies will be exclusively on foot. I guess we’re supposed to hope that not a single person changes while riding a bus, car, train, or plane? It only takes one, and then you’ve got multiple vectors to worry about!
I think it’s also assumed that this is an exclusively human zombie virus; it’s a whole ‘nothing consideration if it could jump species! Avian zombie plague, anyone? (That would be an awesome new version of The Birds though!)
How long will you survive?

Undead Rising coverNot enough zombies in this post? Go buy Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny, available in print and on Kindle. Your choices shape the story! When you die in the book, sometimes you rise again as a zombie, unlocking new adventures.

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Undead Rising- Cover Reveal!

Look at this! It’s real! Fantastic work by artist Jessica Pace.

Undead Rising cover

 

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Publishing Nightmares: When the ‘What Ifs’ Come To Get You

I couldn’t sleep last night. It was my book, Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny. Out of nowhere, I was just struck with this sickening realization that my book is, at its core, stupid. I mean, I knew that, all along: it’s supposed to be stupid-fun to imagine you’re being chased by zombies in New York; it’s supposed to be stupid-fun that you’re choosing what will happen next in the story, because that’s a rarity and a hefty dose of nostalgia. It’s stupid because no one really expects to have to put their zombie plan into place. In fact, I wrote it, at least in part, because it was a stupid idea that made me laugh and I had a great time doing it.

But last night, for whatever reason, I was swallowed by a tidal wave of shame. And because it was late and I was tired and fears were coming out of the depths of my brain, it ballooned. OMG, I thought. I can’t publish that. It’s not serious literature. Everyone will know me as ‘that author who writes really stupid books. I’m doomed.

I’m blessed in that I have a very forgiving husband. Because he moaned in his sleep, so I decided he was awake, so I woke him up. I told him I was going to publish a stupid book and no one would ever take me seriously ever again.

He told me it would be fine and to go back to sleep already.

This isn’t the first time he has had to talk me down from some big scary publishing fear that came out of nowhere. I keep finding more, actually. There’s a lot to be intimidated and afraid of.

I wish I could tell you that my fears were stupid by the time I woke up, but I can’t. My book is still kinda stupid. Fun, absolutely. But it will never be studied in high school English classes (and we can all be thankful for that). It’s not “serious.” But it wasn’t meant to be. There are lots of “not-serious” authors out there who nonetheless had a huge impact on readers (for example, the recently deceased Terry Pratchett. May his books be read forever.).

So it may not be bad to be a “not serious” author.

It probably won’t be the last time self-publishing wakes me up with a nightmare. What are your self-publishing fears? Why are they unfounded?

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Review: Medusa’s Gaze and Vampire’s Bite

Medusa's Gaze and Vampire's Bite: The Science of MonstersMedusa’s Gaze and Vampire’s Bite: The Science of Monsters by Matt Kaplan

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I had really looked forward to this book. Mythical monsters plus informative history, what’s not to love? I bought it for my husband as a gift and was delighted when I found it idling on his nightstand. But now I see why. It’s interesting in places, sure (hey, wanna read some kooky accounts about real zombies? I know I do!) but it’s a struggle to hold your interest. The story is artificially paced (why start an explanation with the wrong answer only to correct it a page later?), leans heavily on modern movies, and cherry picks when it will refer to social sciences.

If you love mythical beasts and know much about Greco-Roman literature, you’re going to come away from this book bored and/or annoyed.

The problem seems to stem from author Matt Kaplan’s unyielding insistence on two things: 1) all mythical beasts must be directly related to something observed in the natural world, and 2) once science has a logical explanation for something, it ceases to be frightening. I disagree with him on both counts.

While I agree that the original storytellers probably did see something that sparked a story in their minds, I disagree that there has to be some kind of one-to-one relationship. For example, Kaplan explains in length that massive boar mentioned in Greek mythology probably never existed, that there is no evidence of an actual super-boar who was impervious to weapons. I believe I speak for all the readers when I say: “no shit.” But why would there even have to be? Is it such a stretch to believe and accept that a creative thinker might have concocted the story entirely?

The boar and the Nemean lion, are, of course, just the most basic examples. I don’t need to believe anything remotely chimeric actually existed for me to believe that a storyteller could come up with the idea. Why the concept that a person found a pile of mismatched fossils in a stream bed and came to believe it was a terrible monster, is it not just as plausible that a storyteller looked around and invented the creature from the characteristics of other natural beasts? That perhaps this explanation came not from literal physical creatures but from symbolism? (Medusa is a great example as a symbol: a woman so beautiful she attracts a god’s unwanted assault is reborn–hence snakes–into a monster who drives all men away and can destroy them with but a look. We don’t need actual snake-haired people!)

I guess I’m offended that Kaplan has left so little room for human ingenuity. Particularly when there is so much evidence of it all around.

My second issue is that he believes people aren’t afraid of monsters that no longer seem realistic thanks to scientific discoveries. Perhaps they aren’t as prominent as monsters as we discover new things to be afraid of, but that discounts the many people who ARE afraid of those things and context. What do I mean by context? I mean, yes, if you ask me in the middle of the day what I’m afraid of, a big scary animal is not going to be the top of my list. But you bet when I’m in the dark in the woods I suddenly begin imagining I’m being stalked by a huge and terrifying predator (despite knowing full-well in my human brain how unlikely it is that a tiger is stalking me in the parking lot). Most irksome is that Kaplan’s evidence for the lack of fear-factor is overwhelmingly modern TV and movies. … Except he’s not watching the same stuff I am, apparently. I mean, Supernatural has many frightening episodes and chilling stories, for example, and I know it’s fiction. Just because Twilight told a different, non-scary story about vampires does not mean that the vampires in True Blood aren’t decidedly scary (ok, in moments. That show is all over the place). And Interview with a Vampire, which he cites in the book, was quite scary to me!

So I don’t know. I think this book might be a good lazy read for a TV and movie buff who has a light interest in Classics, or maybe for the Classics nerd who wants something different. But I don’t recommend seeking a deep understanding or passion from this monster montage.

View all my reviews


Undead Rising coverWant better monsters? Go buy Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny, available in print and on Kindle. Your choices shape the story! When you die in the book, sometimes you rise again as a zombie, unlocking new adventures.

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Off the Fence and Into Self-Publishing

Icat on a fence‘ve written a lot about publishing versus self-publishing, and have made it pretty clear that I’ve been fence-sitting: researching both, querying agents, and monitoring the self-publishing world and the struggle between the two methods of publication.

Well, I just got pushed off the fence.

At DFW Writer’s Convention in 2013, I was able to sit down with two agents for pitch sessions. They both went really well, and I went home with two full manuscript requests for my zombie gamebook, Undead Rising. I sent them in, and began my patient waiting.

After a few months, I received a rejection from one of the agents. It was short and vague. I found out a week later that she had switched agencies, so I think she probably picked up only her favorite things and took them with her. So my feelings weren’t that hurt.

And then I waited some more. And, frankly, I had a really busy year… so I forgot about it.

I just this week got the other rejection. That’s 15 full months (a year and a quarter!) of waiting to hear back one way or another on a  requested manuscript; she’d already shown enough interest to get me to “phase 2” of querying.

Now, the agent was really kind in her rejection and apologized for the “unconscionable delay,” which she attributed to her “large backlog of requested material.” In fact, the rejection was largely positive; she mentions a quibble or two, but it (in my opinion) seems extremely minor and not a big deal. She said it was “well-executed” and that there was “a lot to like here.” Which is good to hear.

I’m not trying to call her out here–I’m not going to say who the agent was; she was very nice in person and I would have liked to have worked with her. But a 15-month delay on a requested manuscript seems ridiculous. Particularly because it is considered good manners to not consult other agents while a manuscript is with an agent (though I could have, had I notified her. Like I said, I forgot.)

This isn’t the only reason–the stars in general are feeling like they’ve aligned for me–but this is a big reason that I’ve decided to self-publish this book. The traditional publishing structure seems to be oriented toward very narrow types of books (whatever the gatekeepers think will sell well immediately) set on incredibly long-term time frames (making the process more about luck and timing than content). That combined with the lower rate of return… I just don’t feel like my oddball book will ever be a good fit in the industry. And that’s disappointing.

But it’s also exciting.

So, by Halloween of this year, I intend to have a complete zombie gamebook adventure available for sale as an ebook (and maybe a print book). I look forward to getting Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny to an audience in time for All Hallows Read!

If you’ve self-published, can you offer any tips or tricks?

 

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Zombie Love Song

In which we ask the age-old question, “Is there room in your undead heart for me?”

Plus it’s quite catchy.


Undead Rising coverNeed more zombies? Go buy Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny, available in print and on Kindle. Your choices shape the story! When you die in the book, sometimes you rise again as a zombie, unlocking new adventures.

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March 8, 2014 · 10:49 am