A new review, Deadlocked off to the editor, and Bedlam begins

What a title. I’m saving the best for last, though.

I needed to rework Deadlocked‘s ending. The previous one didn’t feel perfect, which simply will not do at all. I may play with the order the stories come in, after Bedlam. Speaking of Bedlam, I just finished its outline. It certainly lives up to the name, lets just say that.

In news that is awesome, The Zombie’s Bride just got a review from Double Shot Reviews. Head on over and check out what they’re saying, then download the story for free!

 

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The Zombie’s Bride, now free on Kindle, and other good things

At long last, Amazon has made The Zombie’s Bride free for Kindle. This is not a limited time offer, I consider it to be a sampler of my work, put out there as a way to entice people into trying my other work (notably, the Zombie Bedtime Stories.) So please, download it early, and often!

It’s interesting to note that I’ve moved 560+ copies in one day as of this writing. It’s pretty well ranked, and I’m hoping that good things will come of it!

In other good news, I’m pretty hopeful for even more reviews to be out within the next week, thanks to some nice blogger-types. Now, all I have to do is finish Deadlocked already, and I’ll be set for meeting October goals.

October goals:

  • Write outline/chapter guides for NaNoWriMo
  • Start/Complete Zombie Bedtime Stories draft #4: Bedlam
  • Sell 50 copies (combined) of Locked In and Locked Out. (I made my goal of 25 for September, why not aim high?)
  • Edit Deadlocked and aim for end of October release (or early November, depending)

 

 

A New Bite-Sized Zombie Story, Zombie Pride, now free!

That’s right, I said free. My beloved cover artist came up with a suitably nice cover, and now, I’m showing it off to the world, for your reading pleasure.

My Bite-Sized Zombie Stories exist in the same universe as Zombie Bedtime Stories, but they do not follow the story chronology and do not carry on the plot. They’re essentially me killing nasty people with zombies for the amusement of all. The nasty people totally asked for it and deserved it, so no sympathetic characters were harmed in the making of these stories. However, sometimes, a sympathetic character will be mentioned. (Haley from Locked In was mentioned in The Zombie’s Bride, for instance. I wonder why she stopped answering her phone. Hmm.)

Check out the cover art:

Zombie Pride

Zombie Pride Cover

And now, for links:

Smashwords

Kindle Version (not free yet, that apparently takes a while. I won’t complain if anyone buys it, however.)

Of course, I plan on creating a YouTube video for Zombie Pride, which I will create when I’m over this stupid flu-type bug. I also plan on doing a reading of Locked Out chapter 1.

The next big thing – Zombie Bedtime Stories news

I’ve been thinking of my naming scheme. Back when the series was in its infancy the “Locked” theme made sense, but as I expanded the series and the ideas behind it, the limits to which I can effectively use the titles are strained. After Deadlocked, I have one more “Locked” title upcoming, but the rest are all changing. I think it gives me a bigger degree of freedom. The first three stories (The Locked Series) set the stage, and the rest of the stories build on them.

Want to know what the next three stories are?

#4: Bedlam (Formerly Lock and Load)

#5: Cabin Fever (formerly Locked Up)

#6: Inter Inferis (formerly Locked On)

Especially in the case of story #6, the Locked title wasn’t really appropriate to the story. Plus, the new ones sound way cooler.

In writing news: Deadlocked is coming along. I’m getting close to the end. For some reason, Locked Out practically wrote itself, and Deadlocked is much more challenging. I want it completed before NaNoWriMo starts, because I need to take that month off from ZBS, so I can work on something different.

Science fiction.

Fall approaches, and I have a haiku dedicated to me.

I’m going to do these in order. The haiku stuff is at the bottom.

Fall is here. It’s that time of year when I spend 20+ hours/week in the kitchen. I make preserves, apple crisp and great fresh food. I’ve been documenting some of my recipes and thoughts on my Youtube channel. My latest cooking video was about tomato canning. This same video also is compelling me to step up my weight loss inititives. I know the camera adds 10 pounds and all, but yeesh. Extreme cooking is exercise, right? (Especially when it all goes into jars and you don’t even get to eat it!). My awesome neighbor just dropped off a few pounds of fresh plums from her sister’s tree. I think plum jelly is in the works.

I’m trying to teach myself javascript, to increase my skill set. Maybe soul-destroying sales jobs won’t be the only places who find my resume interesting if I add yet more non-sales skills. Monster.ca is lame like that.

Locked Out is doing great, it’s already overtaken Locked In‘s record sales week, and it’s only Thursday. I’m so in awe of all the support and enthusiasm my friends and family have for the Zombie Bedtime Stories project. I intend to keep delivering! Deadlocked is nearing it’s gory and catastrophic conclusion, and then it’s time for yet another perspective.

Now, a lovely twitter friend and fellow #Zweepette (kind of a code for girl who really likes zombies) made a haiku for me, because it’s Friday (for her, not quite for me yet) and because I’m awesome. The pickle juice drinking is in reference to this video.

And, for the haiku:

haiku

The best haiku ever

Sneak peek: Chapter one of Locked Out

Locked Out will be coming to an internet near you Monday. So, why not show off chapter one, just to whet the appetite a little.

And now, I give you chapter one of Zombie Bedtime Stories, part two. I recommend reading Locked In first, but there are no real spoilers and the stories are pretty much interchangeable as far as series chronology goes. You might even recognize some people.

Locked Out Cover

Zombie Bedtime Stories: Locked Out

Doctor Anna Lewis sighed. Her blond hair was bound in a too-tight bun that made her scalp ache, and freckles sparkled on her pale skin below her hazel eyes. She was closer to forty than she’d like to admit, but she maintained the boundless, youthful energy needed to do her job. She administrated a small, underfunded and understaffed infectious disease research center had been ordered to take on an important, top priority project. She waited in her small, utilitarian office for the courier who would bring the samples and briefing. The morning sun peeked through the window behind her, illuminating the room and the specs of dust floating in the air. Anna was annoyed at the request and the strain it would put on her staff. She wondered if they would have to work double shifts and overtime. Anna didn’t know why they couldn’t handle the problem at the much newer facility in the capital. She’d heard there was a riot there, but it was doubtful that a riot would affect the efficiency of a world-class laboratory.

She busied herself with endless paperwork, signing off on purchases, reviewing grant applications and various proposals concerned with expanding the facility. She had been in charge of the facility for just under a year. It had been a significant career advancement for Anna not only because it was a prestigious posting, but because Anna was early into her career as a researcher. She attributed most of her success to the brain drain—many capable scientists had already left the country for greener pastures and bigger research grants. Willful ignorance and resentment towards the scientific community didn’t do much to encourage the remaining scientists to stay. She was anxious to find out what this mysterious new project was, and if her labs were up to the challenge.

The sound of a phone cut through her concentration. It was the receptionist’s extension.

“Hello Lucy, are they here?”

“Yes, Dr. Lewis. They’re setting up in the conference room,” the girl answered with a hint of tension in her voice. The formal language she used was strange and uncomfortable.

“I’m on my way, thanks Lucy.” She got up from the simple wooden desk and locked her computer. A bookshelf dominated the other side of the room—a relic from the past. Anna filled her bookshelf with obsolete text books. She liked to imagine what the golden age of Western science was like, and having a bookshelf laden with reference books seemed like a quintessential part of capturing the experience. For actual reference she used a body heat powered reader that could fold into her pocket. Some paintings decorated the walls, and notes were stuck to every available surface close to her desk. She checked her hair on the way out, making sure her tight blonde bun hadn’t frayed and straightened her black framed glasses. She regretted her decision to forego wearing make-up. Freckles stood out along the bridge of her nose. She snatched her notepad and pen from the bookshelf and headed for the conference room. Unfamiliar voices trickled down the hallway, and she heard the buzz and whine of hand-held radios.

Turning the corner, she missed a step as she took in the group of uniformed men. She recognized their green army uniforms, and was taken aback by the crates of equipment, sealed samples and the glare of sunlight that shone through the usually sealed outer doors. Lucy was overwhelmed by the volume of equipment and personnel coming in. Her attempts to keep up with the requisitions and signing off on new equipment were frantic and rushed. A few researchers had ventured out of their offices and simply watched the spectacle, mouths agape. A tall, solidly built man with a powerful jawline and a graying crew cut approached her and extended a hand. Deep lines ran down his face and crow’s feet framed his deep blue eyes.

“Doctor Lewis? I’m Major Cartwright. I apologize for commandeering your facility, but time is of the essence and I think you’ll agree about the urgency after I brief you.” The words were spoken with a trained confidence, but his rapid presentation belied his anxiety.

“You’re turning my facility upside-down, I hope it’s for a good cause,” she said, to keep the interaction cordial and maintain control over the situation. He motioned her into the conference room.

She sank into a high-backed chair while the major fiddled with his laptop, connecting it to their often-difficult projector. There was a pile of adapters next to him. That projector was almost 20 years old, but she hadn’t been able to acquire the funding to replace it, or the rest of their decaying computer equipment. Her lead researchers, balding and white-haired Dr. Grant and the spindly Dr. Evans filed into the room, taking seats on the opposite side of the oval table. The old projector finally flickered on, revealing a paused slideshow.

“I imagine you’re wondering why we’ve taken over your labs. Well, we have a situation on our hands. If you’ve been listening to the news, no doubt you’ve heard about the riots in the capital.” He straightened, pressing a key on the keyboard. A grisly scene played on the screen. Hordes of bloody, battered forms fought with police and soldiers, shaking off any blows and injuries while continuing to advance. “Truth is, this is no political rally. These people are out of control, and we need to determine the cause. The capital has been shut down and is being evacuated, but the surrounding cities are beginning to report incidents of random, yet intense violence.” Major Cartwright stood silent as the disturbing scene looped endlessly on the wall. Anna stared and struggled to process the gruesome, visceral visuals.

“So why us? Where do we come into this?” Anna felt obligated to speak. She needed answers, to glean sense from that scene cut straight from a horror movie. “You have negotiators, police and guns. We research diseases and catalog new microbes.”

“Good question. The answer is, we can’t negotiate. Every single person we’ve managed to capture has been violent and completely uncommunicative.” The major’s brow furrowed as he drew in a deep breath. Dr. Grant fidgeted in his high-backed chair; audible squeaks broke the long pause. “What’s more, is that every time we’ve taken somebody into custody, we’ve lost control of the facility within twenty-four hours. This suggests to my superiors that this is more than a sudden wave of intense political indoctrination.”

Anna stood up and glared at the man. “So you’re saying we’re looking for an evil bug that makes people go crazy?” The idea was absurd. Anna knew there had to be some kind of logical explanation.

Major Cartwright pushed a button on his remote, and the video loop transitioned into a grotesque photograph. Limbs were strewn across the ground, flesh flayed from the bones. A torso contained by a green fully-intact Kevlar vest lay nearby, head still connected. The right side of the man’s throat was torn open, strips of skin pulled from his face, giving the appearance of a grotesque mask. Burned bodies littered the background.  Anna sank into her chair, and fought down the bile in her throat. Dr. Evans spun her chair to the garbage, and threw up. Dr. Grant sat, mute and transfixed. “What happened there?” the old man asked.

“This was the capital late yesterday afternoon, taken from an evacuation point at an elementary school. This man’s injuries were caused by unarmed civilians; some of them children,” he paused. “I will remind you that tearing off limbs is a feat of strength beyond the abilities of most people.”

“Why do the news reports say that there are riots going on, if this is the reality of the situation?” Something didn’t add up, and she wanted to know why.

“To prevent panic, we’ve limited information about the situation. We don’t have all the facts. We needed to clear out the downtown core in a hurry, but everyone in the suburbs are being asked to stay indoors. The phone lines are down and fires are breaking out. We don’t know what we’re up against.”

“Something doesn’t seem right about all of this. When did it start? Where’s the first case?”

“The first reported cases were two days ago. They were isolated incidents, random violent attacks. The subjects were very difficult to apprehended and control. From the few first responders we were able to interview, we learned the subjects were completely irrational and even attacked those close to them. They also appeared to be immune to non-lethal defense methods. One man claimed that he saw one of them get hit by a Taser with no reaction at all.” Major Grant flipped off the projector. Anna could still see the grisly image in the back of her mind. She realized that if it was biological, it would make her career. If it wasn’t, this would all be for nothing.

“We’ll go with that. So, what goodies did you bring for us?” Anna asked with an irreverent smile. Prim Dr. Evans shook her head in disapproval.

The major smiled for the first time, revealing straight, white teeth. His sharp blue eyes locked with hers. “Right to the fun stuff? I can deal with that. We’ve brought samples straight from the front lines, and some refrigeration units for said samples. I hope you weren’t attached to your cafeteria, my technicians are overhauling it as we speak.”

“My lunch was in there. What kind of samples are we talking about?” she suspected she knew the answer, but wanted to be sure.

The smile melted from Major Cartwright’s face, his jaw settled into a practiced hardness. “Bodies.”

 

You’ll get the rest on September 5, 2011.

A new Bite Sized Zombie Story, Zombie Pride is here!

Today was either objectively terrible and great. Terrible because of circumstances entirely out of my control. Great because I had a very productive day with respect to writing.

To cheer myself up, I’ve decided to polish up my latest zombie flash fiction. (with a little help from my friends, of course – get a blog or something so I can properly credit/praise you!) My logic is, if I make somebody smile, I’ll feel good, and to quote the late (and great) Jack Layton:

“My friends: Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair.” – Jack Layton

I have to say, those words really inspired me. While I may have no aspirations towards political life, I find these are words to live by. So, even though it feels like my life is falling apart, I know there is hope and I need to stay away from the trap of despair.

But you’re not here to listen to me wax poetic about Jack Layton’s philosophies, or my life. You want some zombies.

Don’t worry, I deliver. This will eventually make its way to Smashwords and Amazon, but I have no cover art as of yet.

Content Warnings: Violence (zombies), mature situations (zombies), may not be suitable for the comedically impaired.

Zombie Pride:

The steering wheel was slick with Rex Parson’s sweat. He was a stout, rotund little man. He wore oversized sunglasses that dominated the upper-half of his face. He was sweating profusely under the hot sun. He was anxious, and excited to do God’s work. He was a preacher in a small town church, and he was known for his strength of faith and conviction that homosexuality could be cured through prayer. As he drove to the city’s first annual Gay Pride parade, he felt a quiver of trepidation in his gut. The blatant immorality had to be stopped, and he was the one who was going to show those vile homosexuals that God was to be feared!

He reflected on the hours he’d spent alone at his computer, researching the complete moral degradation that was present at any Pride event. The images of the men’s perfectly toned, oiled bodies made his heart race, and he’d had trouble looking away from them. He knew the lifestyle was sin, and that it was his place to show the wrongdoers the errors of their ways before they tempted weaker souls. He’d decided to undertake this trip alone. He didn’t want to expose his congregation to this blasphemy. This was his trial, his war against the sordid abyss.

He expected the worst–a celebration of blatant carnality in defiance of God and all his laws. He knew he was the last thing that stood between the average person and acceptance of this abomination. He knew the weak-minded women and children would be easily swayed by the display of rippling, masculine perfection, and they would spread the disease of tolerance and appeasement to the rest of their population. Just as they lead Adam to sin, they would lead society to its secular downfall.

He pulled into an available parking spot about a block from the parade route. He seized his well-worn Bible from the passenger’s seat. He would don the armor of God spiritually, but physically, all he had was the Good Book. He would smite any and all who tried to force temptation upon him! He was the last pure soul.

The harsh sun glistened on his balding head. He saw a woman, her exotic costume’s wings torn and dragging behind her, running from the parade. She didn’t turn to look back. It was a clear sign from God–he was needed here to quell the rampant immortality before more minds fell under the sway of the devil.

He charged to the street corner and looked towards the awesome chaos. Bodies lay trampled in the middle of the streets, and shop windows had been smashed. The bright colors of the parade’s decor were strewn across the ground. Rex stepped over a barely-clothed man’s battered and bloody body. The man grasped at Rex’s leg and Rex kicked his arm away in revulsion as he continued towards the epicenter of the strife. He held his Bible tight against his chest, secure in the belief that God would protect him from evil.

A cacophony of terrorized screams echoed around the buildings, the sounds twisting together to become one harmonic, agonized voice. The symphony of horror was punctuated by ghoulish shrieks and howls. A bloody man wearing only black leather chaps leapt from an alleyway and raced towards Rex. “They’re coming! Run!” the man cried out breathlessly. Rex found himself distracted by the man’s powerful, intimidating physique.

“God will protect me!” Rex uttered with contempt. Clearly, this fear and chaos was divine retribution from God. There was no other explanation.

Rex began walking down the alley. He saw three figures crouched over somebody. Their backs were turned to him and they moved frantically over the fallen man. He knew this was his time. “Sinners! Repent and open your hearts to our Lord, Jesus Christ!” he shouted, speaking with a familiarity gleaned from performing so many prayer sessions for homosexual deviants. He knew exactly what they needed to hear.

The forms stirred in the distance. They turned to face him. They were all women, hair cropped short and dressed in simple jeans and white t-shirts. Under normal circumstances, Rex would have admonished them for abandoning the femininity that was demanded of them, but not this time. As they stood, they revealed the still-twitching body of a man, and they turned their faces, smeared in blood, towards him. They were coated in crimson essence from the neck-down, and it soaked through their t-shirts, which clung to their swaying breasts.

Rex took a step back; his hands trembling as they grasped his heavy Bible. He didn’t know what these demon women were, but he knew it wasn’t of God. “Jesus said:  I am the way, the –” he said, but he was cut off by their infernal howls. He froze. The sound wasn’t natural.

The women ran towards him, leaping over gruesomely disfigured bodies. He raised his Bible; it was the only object he had to defend himself with. One of them pulled ahead of the others. He swung the hefty book, hitting her in the face. She shrieked as she careened into the wall. The others were gaining ground, close behind her. Rex braced himself and readied his Bible for another smite. It had a bloody imprint on it where it hit the first woman’s face.

He swung the book with all his strength, grazing a stocky blonde-haired woman. She leapt for him and her weight knocked them both to the ground. Rex felt his head slam painfully against the pavement, and the impact knocked the wind from his lungs. As he flailed against the formidable strength of his ungodly assailant, his Bible dropped from his left hand. He felt vulnerable and unprotected for the first time in his life.

The second woman, a brunette with large brown eyes dove onto him, immediately sinking her teeth into his exposed throat. Rex tried to scream despite his painfully empty lungs, but he could not. His arms shook, but would not respond to his will. Fear overcame him as the blonde woman shoved her face into his exposed jowls as she tore the flesh from his face. He couldn’t breathe, and the taste of his own blood crept into his mouth through his ruined face. His world turned red with pain, he couldn’t help but ponder: Why has God forsaken me?