Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Must Read - Plague of the Dead by Z.A. Recht


They are a pop-culture phenomenon. Not as much as say, three years ago. But they are still going strong today.

I like zombies just as much as the next guy. I've never seen any of the classic movies, I've never gone on a zombie walk, I've never created a list of necessary items I would need to have in case of the Zombie Apocalypse (not recently anyway), but I still like zombies.

Actually, it isn't really the zombies, per say, that I enjoy the heck out of. It's the state of the world a good zombie apocalypse causes and the tales of survival that come out of it.

As I said, I've never seen any of the classics: Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, etc. And I'm sure I'll burn in Geek Hell for that. No, I fell in love with the whole zombie genre thanks to Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Edgar Wright, and a little movie called Shaun of the Dead.

From there I've seen the Dawn of the Dead remake, 28 Days Later, Zombieland, World War Z, and I have Pride and Prejudice and Zombies resting softly in its cozy Netflix envelope on top of my entertainment center just waiting for me to give it a real good watch.

At one point after Shaun of the Dead I found the Walking Dead comic book by Robert Kirkman, which is still, I believe most deep in my heart, the single greatest comic book being published today. After the comic there was the television show. Which is great, not as great as the comic, but still really good stuff. In fact, as I write this, the wife and I are trying to find a few free days coming up soon so that we can finally sit down and binge-watch Season 6 which popped up on Netflix this past September 15th. From there I started watching Z Nation, which is nothing but good zombie fun.

But a few years back, in 2010, I stumbled across a zombie novel. I read a lot of novels, but never did I mix my love of zombies with my love of prose. See, I was online, browsing through the new books my local library had acquired at the time, when up popped this book. The simple cover stood out to me and the title made me pause and read the description.

It was Plague of the Dead by Z.A. Recht.

At the time I'd read this book, the whole of my zombie knowledge came from the above sources, minus Z Nation and World War Z (The movie. Yes, I know there's a book. I tried it and I didn't care for it all that much).

Based only on those sources, I'd known that there were three kinds of zombies for writers to play with:

The slow and shambling zombie. The fast running zombie. And the not really dead just mindless with rage and can run faster than you zombie

In Plague of the Dead, Z.A. Recht takes the first and third type and puts both in his novel. Which I found great fun.

This is how it works. A virus that they call the Morningstar Strain starts it all. Once you are infected, you tun into what we call a Rage Zombie.

You are alive, but you are nothing more than a mindless bag of meat that wants to bite and kill. You can die just like any other living, breathing, human being. But once you do, providing your brain is still intact, the virus reanimates your corpse and you become one of the slow-moving living dead.

My experience with zombie tales are that they are, to a degree, somewhat small and personal as they follow a small group of people as they try to find a way to survive in a world full of zombies. Plague of the Dead is a bit more global.

Here's the Amazon description:

The “zombie apocalypse,” once on the fringes of horror, has become one of the most buzzworthy genres in popular culture. Now, in Plague of the Dead, Z.A. Recht delivers an intelligent, gripping thriller that will leave both new and die-hard zombie fans breathless.

The end begins with a viral outbreak unlike anything mankind has ever encountered before. The infected are subject to delirium, fever, a dramatic increase in violent behavior, and a one-hundred percent mortality rate. But it doesn’t end there. The victims return from death to walk the earth. When a massive military operation fails to contain the living dead it escalates into a global pandemic. In one fell swoop, the necessities of life become much more basic. Gone are petty everyday concerns. Gone are the amenities of civilized life. Yet a single law of nature remains: Live, or die. Kill, or be killed. On one side of the world, a battle-hardened general surveys the remnants of his command: a young medic, a veteran photographer, a brash Private, and dozens of refugees, all are his responsibility—­all thousands of miles from home. Back in the United States, an Army colonel discovers the darker side of Morningstar virus and begins to collaborate with a well-known journalist to leak the information to the public...and the Morningstar Saga has begun.

When you finish Plague of the Dead, you are left wanting more.

Thankfully, there is more.

Three more books to be exact:

Thunder and Ashes
Survivors (with Thom Brannan)
Healers (By Brad Munson - Released today!)

Sadly, Z.A. Recht died before Survivors could be finished so Survivors and Healers were written by other authors. But though I haven't read Healers yet, Survivors was still a dang good read and fits right in with the previous two books.

So if you like zombies, survival, the apocalypse, and just good books, then I highly recommend Plague of the Dead by Z.A. Recht.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Rural Fantasy Anyone?

The Church of Minos is finished.

Though it won't be published through the various online retailers until 9/21, you can now purchase it from me, today, for just 99 cents.

You can still get it from Amazon, or Barnes & Noble, or iTunes, or Smashwords, or Kobo for just 99 cents as well. But only if you preorder.

Once 9/21 hits, the full price of $2.99 goes into effect.

So, preorder, or purchase today, and you get it for just 99 cents.

Don't want to wait till 9/21, purchase from me now - JUST CLICK THIS LINK

If you purchase from me, not only can you get it now, you'll also get the MOBI version for Kindle, the Epub for most other tablets, and the PDF for everything else.

Otherwise, preorder at the links below:

Still not convinced? Read the first chapter - JUST CLICK THIS LINK

Enjoy the book!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Jim Floyd and the Creeping Mucus

Earlier in the year, as I was trying to plan out what my 2016 would look like in regards to writing, I had toyed with the idea of doing just short stories.

One idea I had involved a character by the name of Jim Floyd.

Jim was, at one time back in the early '90s, the guitar player for a local hair metal band called Queen Alice.

Queen Alice was quite popular and Jim was a local celebrity.

That was until the grunge movement brought it all crashing down and Jim was forced to get a real job.

Jim goes to work as a letter carrier. It's there that his real life begins. His life as a hero.

See, I wanted Jim to come up against just some crazy stuff. His first story, The Creeping Mucus, Jim saves the town from a colossal blob-like creature that started out as one man's boogery snot wiped across a bathroom wall.

I have two other ideas that are just as ridiculous . . . what I need now is time, because I won't touch any of this until Book Three of the Chronicles of Norman is out, and I've released the sequel to Then A Penguin Walked In.

But, earlier in the year, when I was thinking of Jim Floyd and when I was coming up with the idea of the Creeping Mucus, I actually wrote five chapters.

And today, I present to you, just for the fun of it, Chapter One.

But, before I do, a warning.

This is a first draft, of course. So it's being presented here in all its typo-filled glory:

Music saved my life, then I saved the world. So I guess you could say that music saved the world. But really, I saved the world. Music was just responsible for putting me in the right place at the right time so that I could do my thing the way I was meant to.

Heck, if you really wanted to get into the minutiae of the whole thing you could even say Kirk Cobain bears some responsibility to keeping the world safe. But I wouldn’t. Sure, he played his part, but in the end it’s all me. Always has been, always will be.

You know how they say that it’s always darkest before the dawn? That things have to get real bad before they get worse. That’s what happened to me. I’d hit rock bottom in life. Id never felt lower. Then people started to die. I couldn’t let that happed.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

You need to know how I got there first. How far I fell.

See, there are certain moments in everyone’s lives, those we label as ‘defining’. Moments that change the very way we see the world around us. Moments that change us completely. One moment we see a world that is open to us with opportunity around every corner. I mean, sky’s the limit, right? You’re young, you’re full of plain old American gumption, and the world is the canvas on which you’re gonna paint the masterpiece that is your life.

Then . . . Well, that’s usually about the time the real world steps in to give you a cold dose of reality by crapping all over the fresh pot of optimism you’ve just finished brewing.

We call that a good old fashioned reality check and it happens to the best of us.

If you’re lucky, you won’t be shaking hands with your own personal reality check until later in life. I mean, they say ignorance is bliss, right. So stay stupid as long as you can, you’ll be happier that way.

For me? Well, mine came at the tender age of twenty when I’d realized that I wasn’t going to be a rock star. This was 1991 and I’d forsaken the advice of every adult that had taken a moment out their own crappy lives to give a crap about mine.

“Go to college,” they’d tell me.

“That’s not the plan,” I’d say.

“Okay then,” would come the reply. “So what is the plan?”

“Music,” I’d pronounce. “As soon as I can get the band out to L.A. we’ll get signed and that’s all she wrote.”

“But what if you don’t get signed?”

“Oh, we will.”

“But what if you don’t?”

“That doesn’t even factor in to the equation, dude,” I’d laugh. “I mean, have you heard us play? We rock the stage every night.”

My band, Queen Alice, the hottest group of malcontents ever to come out of Kansas had been riding the what they now call the hair band craze all the way to the bank. I mean, people loved us. I wasn’t lying when I said we rocked the stage every night. We brought the friggin’ house down wherever we went.

“But what if it doesn’t work out?” the adults would repeat. “Come on, James, you can’t put all your eggs in one basket, you gotta have a back up plan.”

“First off,” I’d say. “I don’t go by James anymore. It’s Jimmy,” then I’d pause for effect and pat at the wall of hair that rose from my head like a glam rock tumble weed. “Jimmy Floyd.”

I was such douche back then.

“Secondly,” I’d continue. “A back up plan is just a recipe for failure, dude. If you have nothing to fall back on, it’s only gonna to make you work for that goal that much harder. Right?”

“Well, I suppose in theory that sounds right,” they would say. “But when you look at it from a practical stand point—”

“Practical has nothing to do with it, dude. Look at my hair, for cripes sake.”

Eventually they’d give up and I’d go back rocking.

Life was good.

Heck, life was great.

I’d stand on stage each every weekend night in my leather pant shredding away at my guitar. My solos were the stuff of legend. I’d hit notes so high and so fast that the chicks in the front row would faint from pure bliss.

I was number one with a bullet and nothing was going to stop me.

Then two things happened that derailed my crazy train and left me looking like something the cat dragged in.

First, I graduated high school. Not a big, life altering event by itself. But my pops wanted me out of the house. I didn’t blame him, he was too old to handle the sweet riffs I rocked in my bedroom at all hours. It just wasn’t his thing. But the band had a plan, and my pops was willing to get on board. Six months working in the daylight hours to earn what we needed to get us to L.A. and the record contract that waited for Queen Alice. Six months of rocking every local stage we could hit to earn even more dough to get us to our destiny. Six months . . . That’s all we needed.

Then the second thing happened.

Out of the blue this little nothing of a band from Seattle called Nirvana came along, dropped a little nothing of a single called Smells Like Teen Spirit, introduced the world to grunge rock, and the face of music changed overnight.

I mean, damn, who could have seen that coming? Grunge rock? Are you serious? Three guys dressed in something you’d find digging through the unwanted bins at the Salvation Army throw three chords together and they plant their damn flag into the road of musical history forever.

My music career was pretty much over after that. Sure, Queen Alice tried to keep it going, but the people didn’t want it anymore. We even tried a name change and dove head first onto the grunge rock band wagon, but we weren’t fooling anyone. You could spot us coming a mile away . . . A glam rock band hiding in a grunge rock package. We never stood a chance.

Anyway, that was my moment. Kirk Cobain might as well have driven on down to Kansas and stabbed me in the heart with his guitar. At least then I would have gone down with people knowing my name.

So L.A., no record contract, no dream.

Then my pops kicked me out.

I stayed with Rob, my drummer, for a week before he too kicked me to the curb for being too much of a dirty slob. I mean, I thought this was rock-n-roll, but whatever.

So then I’d made the rounds with the other band mates. Iggy, the bass player, turned out to be a flipping genius and moved to Massachusetts to attend MIT. The guy’s building rockets now or something. He’s not allowed to talk about it.

Tommy, our singer, is a bigger slob than me and I ain’t sleeping with cockroaches so I baled after the first night.

That left all the ladies in my life, but they wanted nothing to do with me anymore. But hey, that was cool. Most of them had taken this whole grunge thing a bit too literal and stopped showering. Gross.

I’d had to beg my pops to let me back into the house and eventually he agreed. But I’d had to abide by two conditions.

One: I’d take the civil service exam and and get a real job.

Two: Eighty percent of what I earned went to him to hold for me.

Three: Once I’d given him enough for first and last month’s rent, I was out and into my own place.

What choice did I have? Live under a bridge or stop rocking?

I took the exam and by the fall of 1992 I was delivering mail for the United States Post Office. Heck, I’m still there to this day.

It was there, that next spring in 1993, that I came face to face with my second reality check, one in which I’d have been happy to stay blissfully unaware of my entire life, one I’d more than likely would have just shrugged off as a series of heat-induced hallucinations had it not come to life and started eating people.

That was one crazy summer.

I think I could really have a lot of fun in the world of Jim Floyd. Maybe I'll get to spend some time there in 2017.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Church of Minos Delayed

I hate to have to do this, but I've had to push back the launch date of The Church of Minos from 8/31/16 to 9/21/16.

8/31 was coming up quick, and while I believe I could have finished the book on time, it would have been a rush job and no one would have been happy with it.

The Church of Minos was meant to be about 20,000 words, which is about 5,000 words longer than the previous book, The Walrus of Death.

As of now, the book is going to be at least 40,000 and packed with some great stuff.

Norman battles goblins, ogres, a cyclops, and even a giant slug. And that's not even including the Big Bad!

So, yeah, the delay was needed. It's going to be a much better book. Lot's of action and fun.